Sad news in the anime world. Keiji Fujiwara, best known as the voice of Leorio in Hunter x Hunter 2011 and Maes Hughes in both Fullmetal Alchemist series, passed away from cancer on April 12. He was 55 years old, and had one of the most prolific careers in the history of voice acting in Japan.
Fujiwara was born in Tokyo in 1964, and started out as a stage actor before moving on to voice acting in the 1990’s. His first big role was the little known Crayon Shin-chan, but quickly made a name for himself as one of the most prolific anime voice actors in the business. He’s been a part of classics both new and old, in everything from Re:Zero and Attack on Titan to Ranma 1/2 and Gundam Wing.
Of course, most people will remember him for his roles as Leorio and Maes Hughes. They are fan favorite characters in two of the greatest anime ever made (don’t @ me), and Fujiwara brought them both to life with his passionate, outstanding performances. As a huge Hunter x Hunter fan, it’s a real bummer to think if the series ever returns (which, to be fair, is a BIG if), it won’t have Fujiwara hamming it up as Leorio anymore.
As if those roles weren’t impressive enough, the guy also did a ton of voice acting in video games and even Hollywood movies (well, the Japanese dubs, anyways). He was the voice of Reno in the recent Final Fantasy VII Remake, and frickin’ Iron Man in all the Japanese Marvel movie dubs. Whenever a role needed a grizzled badass with a heart of gold, Keiji Fujiwara was the man for the job.
I don’t know a lot about voice acting, and honestly I’m terrible at remembering even famous Hollywood actors’ names most of the time. But I think it’s amazing how prolific and talented this guy was, and his passing is a loss for the entire anime community. Best wishes to his family and loved ones in this sad time. RIP