The world mourns the passing of another anime legend.

There aren’t many people for whom you can say that an entire nation would recognize their voice. In Japan, veteran voice actor Unsho Ishizuka (石塚運昇) was one of them.

Ishizuka’s production company reported four days after the fact that the Fukui-born actor passed away due to esophageal cancer on August 13. A private wake and service were held, though his family has hinted that they are planning to organize a public event to honor his various accomplishments as well.

▼ Here he is performing “Hyaku-go-ju-ichi [151],” the very first Pokémon anime ending song, live with his characteristic playfulness.

Ishizuka was best known professionally as the voice of Professor Oak, the narrator, and numerous Pokémon voices in the Pokémon anime, which began airing back in 1997–meaning that Japanese children have now grown up listening to him start them on their quests to become Pokémon trainers for a little over 20 years. His other notable roles include, but are hardly limited to, Jet Black in Cowboy Bebop, Joseph Joestar in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, Van Hohenheim in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Guld Goa Bowman in Macross Plus, and Bunta Fujiwara in Initial D. He had also taken over the role of Mr. Satan/Hercule during Dragon Ball Kai‘s run from original actor and friend Daisuke Gori, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 57.

Soon after the news was announced, Twitter tributes began pouring in from around the world. Here’s a very small sampling of them:

▼ “Mr. Ishizuka was synonymous with the Pokémon anime. My heart is filled with sadness that we’ll never again be able to hear his voice tell a story. I pray that he finds happiness in the next world.”

▼ “Dedicated to Mr. Ishizuka”

▼ Another amazing voice actor has passed away. Mr. Ishizuka, I hope you can find happiness beyond.”

▼ OK, that one really hit me right in the feels.

Japanese net users in general reacted to the news of his passing with a mixture of shock, admiration for his legacy, and musings about the fate of their favorite characters:

“Seriously? I loved his unique voice. May he find happiness in the next world.”

“This is definitely a shock. I’m incredibly sad. He played many of my favorite roles for which I have fond memories.”

“He played police detective Heiji Kozenigata in Gintama’s Hardboiled Arc…”

“What’s going to happen to Inspector Nakamori in Magic Kaito/Detective Conan??”

“It’s too shocking when a voice actor with such a one-of-a-kind voice passes away.” 

We choose you, Mr. Ishizuka, to honor today for bringing smiles to people’s faces all around the world for countless years. May you rest in peace.

Source: Oricon News via Otakomu
Featured image: Twitter/@87_hana356