Unshô Ishizuka, the incredibly successful and famous Japanese voice actor best known for his work with Pokémon anime, has passed away at age 67. He reportedly passed on August 13 from esophageal cancer.
Ishizuka had the voice acting career that most voice actors only dream of having. Since he first picked up voice acting in 1984, Ishizuka earned himself over 250 acting credits, with a majority of his work being in anime. In addition to his voice acting career, Ishizuka did a fair amount of narration. He has also done a decent amount of theater work, having been a prominent theater director in Japan.
The Pokémon franchise is arguably where Ishizuka's talents are most recognized, at least for American audiences. Ishizuka first started doing voice work for Pokémon in 1998, and continued all the way up until earlier this year with Pokémon the Movie: The Power of Us. His two most prominent roles in the series were as the Narrator and as Professor Oak, the Pokémon expert who concentrated on the relationships between Pokémon and humans. In addition to these two characters, Ishizuka would regularly voice actual Pokémon, including Onix, Steelix, Gyarados, Magikarp, and numerous others.
Outside of Pokémon, Ishizuka has done voice work for a number of other anime series and movies. One of his most prominent recurring roles was Jet Black in Cowboy Bebop, whom he voiced in 26 episodes of the TV series, in the movie, and even in the video game. He has also voiced quite a few characters in the Dragon Ball franchise, including Kahseral, Hercule, and, his most famous role in the series, Mr. Satan. Other large projects he worked on include Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, Wolf's Rain, The Big O, the Xenosaga trilogy, the Tekken video game series, Naruto, and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.
One of the things that made Unshô Ishizuka such a well respected voice actor was that for nearly every project he worked on, he would do both the original Japanese voices and the English voices. This is something that not many voice actors are willing or able to do, which really helped Ishizuka stand out in the industry. Additionally, Ishizuka would regularly do English-to-Japanese dubbing for American movies. One actor who he would regularly dub the voice for was Liam Neeson, who he voiced over movies such as Taken, Non-Stop, and A Walk Among the Tombstones. He would also regularly voice over Laurence Fishburne roles, in addition to doing the Japanese voice for Captain Gantu in every Lilo & Stitch movie and TV series ever made.
Though the friends and family of Unshô Ishizuka have already held a funeral for him, there is expected to be a public ceremony to remember the beloved voice actor that is currently being planned, according to the Mainichi Shimbun. Throughout his 30+ years of voice acting, Ishizuka brought entertainment to millions of viewers across the world. He is one voice actor that will be truly missed, having brought joy to children and adults for decades with his impressive voice talents. The final project Unshô Ishizuka ever worked on is Haikara-san: Here Comes Miss Modern Part 2, which releases this October.