Joji Yanami was a mainstay in the Dragon Ball franchise. During his career, he voiced a number of Dragon Ball characters, as well as serving as the anime’s narrator. His agency Aoni Production announced that the veteran voice actor passed away on December 3 at the age of 90.
Nikkan Sports reports that a closed funeral service was held for his family members. Aoni Production wrote that it wanted to express its sincere gratitude to Yanami for his kindness during his lifetime.
Born in Tokyo, Yanami began his career in the 1960s, voicing characters in Wolf Boy Ken, Osomatsu-kun, Cyborg 009, and the Moomin anime. During the following decade, he landed roles in Ashita no Joe, Devilman, Mazinger Z, and Cutie Honey. Yanami also voiced Gennai in Digimon and a handful of characters in Time Bokan.
But perhaps, he’s best remembered for his Dragon Ball work. In 1986, he would begin working on the first anime series, voicing the Narrator, Dr. Briefs, King, Dr. Frappe, and Mousee. For Dragon Ball Z, He would once again narrate the show as well as voice the characters Kaio-sama (aka King Kai) as well as add Bobbidi to his line-up of DB voices.
His most recent Dragon Ball work was voicing Kaio-sama and doing narration for Dragon Ball Super in 2015. That same year, he also did narration for Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’. Yanami would go on extended leave, the roles would be recast, and those performances would be his last, bringing an end to a body of work that spawned over five decades.
Yanami’s career encompassed so much anime history—from when anime was coming into its own to when it truly went global. He had an amazing career, voicing a variety of memorable characters in now classic anime.
May he rest in peace.