Hiromi Tsuru, voice of multiple anime icons, leaves behind incredible body of work, startling prescient statement in her final spoken dialogue.

On the evening of November 16, at roughly 7:30, traffic camera footage from Tokyo’s downtown Shuto Expressway revealed a car stopped against the center divider with its hazard lights blinking. When the Metropolitan Traffic Police arrived on the scene, they found no skid marks behind the parked car, leading them to believe that it had slowed gradually before coasting gently to where it had stopped.

In the driver’s seat, with her seat belt still fastened, they found the body of anime voice actress Hiromi Tsuru, best known for her roles as Dragon Ball’s Bulma and Anpanman’s Dokin-chan. The 57-year-old Tsuru was rushed to the hospital, but was pronounced dead by medical staff upon arrival.

▼ Hiromi Tsuru


Tsuru had no visible external injuries, nor were there any signs of a traffic collision at the section of the southbound expressway near the Nihonbashi neighborhood, where her car was stopped. In light of that, the authorities believe it’s likely her death was illness-related, though an investigation is still ongoing.

[Update: Aoni Production, the talent agency Tsuru was affiliated with, has released a statement giving aortic dissection as the cause of death.]

▼ Memorial fan artwork, such as this illustration of Bulma holding Dokin-cham, has already started appearing on Japanese social media.

Tsuru rose to fame in the 1980s voicing such iconic anime characters as Ranma 1/2’s Ukyo and Kimagure Orange Road’s mysteriously alluring high school beauty Madoka. Her vocal talents continued to be in demand through the 1990s, when she performed the lead roles in both Ghost Sweeper Mikami and Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne, as well as recurring character Merly in sci-fi Western Trigun. Like many voice actresses, she also branched out into video game work as the anime and game industries began to increasingly overlap at the turn of the millennium, with roles in Metal Gear Solid and titles as recent as Bravely Second and Yakuza 0.

▼ Ukyo, Bulma, and Dokin-chan


As mentioned above, Tsuru was the voice of Dragon Ball’s Bulma and Anpanman’s Dokin-chan. Though she began those roles in 1986 and 1988 respectively, both franchise’s anime TV versions are still ongoing, meaning that Tsuru’s body of work continues right up until her sudden and unexpected passing. One fan-in-mourning even tacked down her last spoken lines as Bulma, spoken as the series’ team of heroes departs for a martial arts tournament.


“Everyone, do your best!…I’m counting on you.”

There’s a startling air of finality to her final words as a voice actress, and while it seems a given that Dragon Ball and Anpanman will recast her characters, for many fans their true voices will always be Hiromi Tsuru.

Sources: Jin, Sankei News, Huffington Post Japan, Anime News Network, Hachima Kiko, Oricon News

Follow Casey on Twitter where, as someone who’S life was honestly changed by Ranma 1/2 and Kimagure Orange Road, he’s going to miss Hiromi Tsuru.