'Dragon Ball' Voice Actor Shozo Iizuka Dead at 89

Shozo Iizuka, the Japanese voice actor known for his roles in anime shows like Dragon Ball Z, Astro Boy, Mobile Suit Gundam, and more, has died. Iizuka died from heart failure on the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 15, his agency, Sigma Seven, confirmed, per The Japan News. A funeral service was held for his close family shortly after his passing. Iizuka was 89.

Born in Tokyo in 1933, Iizuka eventually moved to Iwaki City in Fukushima. Growing up in Iwaki City left Iizuka with a distinct accent, according to Crunchyroll, which was notable throughout his decades-long voice acting career. The star's career began after he graduated from Nihon University, Iizuka landing his first role as the voice of Kin Sankaku in the 1963 Astro Boy series, which is regarded as "an incredibly influential piece of anime history," CBR.com noted.

Iizuka, however, was best known for voicing Nappa in the Dragon Ball franchise. The character, a Saiyan warrior and second-hand to Vegeta, was a fan-favorite character, with Iizuka remaining attached to the role across numerous episodes of Dragon Ball Z as well as appearances across the franchise in video games and movies. ComicBook.com reports that Tetsu Inada now voices the character overseas. In addition to Nappa, Iizuka also portrayed Android #8 in several Dragon Ball installments.

A prominent figure in anime, Iizuka other voice acting credits include roles in Ashita no Joe, Mobile Suit Gundam as Ryu Jose, Urusei Yatsura as Daimajin, and Genji Kamogawa in Hajime no Ippo. He was also well-known as the Japanese voice of Doctor Neo Cortex in the Crash Bandicoot video games. As a Japanese dub artist, Izuka also dubbed live-action roles such as Parker in Alien, Arnold French in The Departed, and Sallah in Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade. He voiced Carl Fredrickson in Pixar's Up, Billy Bones in Treasure Planet, The Horned King in The Black Cauldron, and Dr. Jumba Jookiba in Lilo & Stitch. He retired from many of his roles in 2020. At the 2022 Tokyo Anime Awards Festival, he received a Merit Award.

News of Iizuka's passing saddened anime fans, many of whom have taken to social media to pay tribute to the influential figure. On Twitter, one person wrote, "RIP Shozo Iizuka. Voice acting in tokusatsu would not be the same without you." Another fan remembered Iizuka as "a performer with the perfect balance of warmth and gravitas."