Keiji Fujiwara, Japanese Voice of Axel and Reno, Passes Away at 55

Keiji Fujiwara was known worldwide as the seiyuu voicing Axel in the Kingdom Hearts series and Reno in Final Fantasy VII Remake.

Keiji Fujiwara, the seiyuu most notably known to the game community as the Japanese voice of Axel / Lea in Kingdom Hearts, has passed away from cancer. He was 55 years old.

Air Agency, the seiyuu agency Keiji Fujiwara was affiliated to, announced on April 16 that Fujiwara passed away on April 12, 2020. Keiji Fujiwara was one of the most prolific and talented seiyuu, Japanese voice actresses and actors. He had nearly 40 years of career. His most popular roles included Maes Hughes in Full Metal Alchemist, Shingo Shoji in Initial D, Ali Al-Saachez in Gundam OO, Sven Vollfied in Black Cat, Ladd Russo in Baccano, Leorio Paradinight in Hunter x Hunter 2011, Eugen in Granblue Fantasy, or Holland Novak in Eureka Seven. When it comes to western media dubbed in Japanese, Fujiwara was also the Japanese voice of Robert Downey Jr., dubbing him in Marvel movies as Tony Stark.

In Japan specifically, Keiji Fujiwara was incredibly popular as the voice of Hiroshi Nohara, the father in anime series Crayon Shin-chan. Back in 2014, Fujiwara appeared in a series of hilarious Crayon Shin-chan commercials as well.

Fujiwara was also the voice of Ardyn Izunia in Final Fantasy XV, and the voice of Reno in Final Fantasy VII related material such as Advent Children and Crisis Core. He recently voiced Reno again in Final Fantasy VII Remake. Keiji Fujiwara had an incredible and distinctive voice that every anime fan and Japanese games fan know or at least heard once in their lives. He will be dearly missed. We offer our deepest condolences to his family.

Many other seiyuu and Japanese companies have started sharing homages to Keiji Fujiwara on social media as well.

Arc System Works offered their condolences. Fujiwara voiced Kagura Mutsuki in the BlazBlue series.

Toshio Furukawa (Piccolo in Dragon Ball) shared his shock and sadness. The two of them were longtime colleagues and appeared in many anime series together.

Ryohgo Narita (Baccano, Durarara author): “I couldn’t thank enough Fujiwara Keiji for his work as the voice of Ladd Russo in Baccano and Kuzuhara Kinnosuke in Durarara. He was always so friendly with everyone during the dubbing. There’s a part of myself that still can’t believe he’s not with us anymore. I pray he will rest in peace.”

Mika Kanai explained they used to be in the same theatrical troupe in the past and how he played a big role in her choice to become a seiyuu.

Yasunori Matsumoto.

Shigeru Chiba.

Official Japanese Twitter account of the Avengers series.

Homage from illustrator Kei-co.

Riot Games Japan. Fujiwara voiced Master Yi in the Japanese version of League of Legends.

Aquaplus. Fujiwara voiced Haku, one of the protagonists in Aquaplus’ Utawarerumono series.

Naoya Shimokawa, President of Aquaplus: “This is too sad. I was on the phone with him just a while ago”

Falcom. Fujiwara voiced Neil Burns in the The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky Drama CD.

Yui Ishikawa.

Fumi Hirano.

Yoko Shimomura (Composer of the Kingdom Hearts series).

Kemuri Karakura (Mangaka of Donten ni Warau). Fujiwara voiced Taiko Kumo in the anime adaptation. Kemuri Karakura thanked him for his amazing performance.

Megumi Ogata. She worked with Fujiwara many times, and the performance which left her with the biggest impression was when they were voicing together the drama CD of Radical Hospital, a gag manga by Ayu Hirano.

Arisa Komiya. She played Yoko Usami (Yellow Buster) in the Tokusatsu series Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters in 2012. In her tweet, she said Fujiwara taught her a lot about voice acting thorough the show. Fujiwara was voicing the robot Cheeda Nick in Go Busters. A few years after that in 2016, Arisa Komiya became big as an idol seiyuu with her role as Dia Kurosawa in the Love Live franchise.

Homage from illustrator Agahari. She drew one of her favorite characters voiced by Fujiwara: Volcott O. Huey from Broccoli’s iconic anime and game series Galaxy Angel.

Wataru Hatano. He always admired Fujiwara and often received warm advice from him.

Haruki Ishiya. He said it’s thanks to Fujiwara he’s who he is now.

Ayana Taketatsu. She said Fujiwara often helped her out at work and events.

Yuki Kaji. He mentioned Keiji Fujiwara was a father figure to him, someone he always admired, and how he will keep living on inside us through the characters he voiced. Fujiwara voiced Hannes in Attack on Titan.

Miyu Tomita . They worked together on The Magnificent Kotobuki in 2019.

Homage from illustrator Kamin, whose favorite Fujiwara voiced character is the Chief in Armored Core V.

Yuki Gotō. She said she grew up hearing his voice. They worked together in the 2008 anime Hyakko.

Kaori Nazuka. Thanks to Granblue_en for the translation.

Yuichi Nakamura: “Just a little while ago, I got into the wrong studio and we chatted a little, who could’ve known it’ll be the final time I speak with him…”

FLOW, who did one of the opening songs of Eureka Seven.

Rie Tanaka said the last time she met him was for a Granblue Fantasy recording.

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Iyane Agossah

Living near Paris, Iyane is the head of Japanese content at DualShockers. You can reach him on Twitter at @A_iyane07

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