Osamu Ichikawa (who voiced Boddole Zer in Macross and Norris Packard from Gundam 08th MS Team) died of a heart attack a few days ago. While I’ve experienced fairly little of his work (having only heard his voicework on Voltes V’s Heinel and Daimos’s Richter in SRW after years of watching local dubs of said shows), I feel sorry for the man’s passing. RIP.
And so I come up with a question. What happens to anime characters with dead seiyuu?
After all, anime characters are identified through their character designs and voices. Especially the voice, which is one of the few tangible things that connect these animated constructs to the real world. Seiyuu influence characters (and sometimes, vice-versa) so much that fans blur the lines between them. Tohru Furuya will always be Amuro Ray, and Shuichi Ikeda is immortalized as the Red Comet, etc. When you change the voice, everything changes. Akira Kamiya‘s Ryoma Nagare is worlds apart from Hideo Ishikawa’s batshit insane take on the man.
So why is Bandai/Sunrise yet to find replacement seiyuu for Bright Noa and Sayla Mass? Every new Gundam media with voice-over content has been full of recorded lines from Hirotaka Suzuoki and You Inoue. Even the “fully-voiced” SD Gundam G-Generation Spirits had Bright entirely silent during the Hathaway’s Flash scenario. Perhaps Bright is far too awesome to be voiced by anyone else?
On the other hand, we have Kenji Nojima and his work as replacement seiyuu for Hikaru Ichijou, after Arihiro Hase’s untimely demise. Nojima provided Hikaru’s voice in SRW games, as well as Macross Ace Frontier.
RIP, you wonderful people, who lent your great voices to characters that we’ve treasured throughout the years, despite the sad reality of your job. You’ll live on in our hearts.