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Unsho Ishizuka, voice actor of Pokémon's Professor Oak and many more, dead at 67

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Aug 17, 2018

Japanese actor, voice actor, narrator, and theater director Unsho Ishizuka – famed for being the voice of Pokémon’s Professor Oak – has died, multiple reports confirm. Ishizuka, who also narrated the Pokémon anime in Japanese, died at age 67 on Aug. 13 from esophageal cancer, according to major Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun.

As well as narrating and voicing Oak, Ishizuka was also a regular in both the Japanese and English-language versions of the Pokémon anime, voicing Onix, Steelix, and many more Pokémon creatures. His trademark deep, booming voice lent itself to older characters, including Jet Black from the animated series Cowboy Bebop and Captain Matthews in the role-playing video game Xenosaga.

Ishizuka also voiced the roles of Mr. Satan in the Dragon Ball franchise and Heihachi Mishima in the Tekken series, taking over from voice actor Daisuke Gori, who died in 2010 after being diagnosed with diabetes mellitus.

Tributes from fans poured out on Twitter following the news, including one from PokéJungle, a Pokémon community account, that read: "It is with a heavy heart that we share the news that the Japanese voice actor for Prof. Oak, Unshō Ishizuka, has died. RIP and many thanks for your superb performance of an iconic character." 

Twitter user Gwyn Campbell also pointed out why there had been discrepancies over his age in some Japanese reports, explaining: "Given his age, Ishizuka-san was listed by the traditional Japanese age counting method, which put him at 68. By modern & western standards, he was 67." 

Regardless, it wasn't enough time. May he rest in peace, and his legacy live on.

Were you a fan of Unsho Ishizuka's work? Pay your tributes in the comments below.