One Piece Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

Based on Eiichiro Oda's long running-manga series of the same name, "One Piece" first launched in 1999 and has since become one of the most popular and successful anime franchises in the world. Broadcast in Japan by Fuji TV, the series follows the adventures of a young pirate named Monkey D. Luffy, who develops strange powers after eating a Devil Fruit. Setting out to recover Gol D. Roger's mythical One Piece treasure, he forms his own pirate crew and sails across the world while battling against other pirates and the World Government's military force, known as the Marines.

"One Piece" has been on television screens for so long — having now reached more than 1,000 episodes — that some of the cast is no longer with us. The beloved anime series has hundreds of characters and is voiced by a huge number of actors, not only in its native Japan but also in various dubs. If you watched the original version of the show with subtitles or one of the English dubs put out by 4Kids or Funimation, you may well recognize some of these late voice actors.

Grant James (Pagaya)

During his time working on "One Piece," Grant James was known mainly for playing two characters. This includes the Skypiea native Pagaya, who has a major role in the Sky Island Saga and was one of the first to meet Luffy and Nami when they landed at Angel Island, as well as Zeff. This second character made James a very familiar voice to those watching the Funimation dub of the anime series outside of Japan. Zeff owns the Baratie, a floating restaurant in the Sambas Region of the East Blue, where he's also head chef.

James was involved in a wide array of acting jobs over the years, ranging from television series and films to audiobooks. While anime fans will best remember his work in "One Piece," he plied his trade on a number of other big shows during his career. Among his many memorable roles are Kido in "Baki the Grappler," Scar's Master in "Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood," Mujika in "Mushishi," and Sirius in "Nabari no Ou." He and his wife (fellow voice actor Juli Erickson) taught acting classes and became known as "the Godfather and Godmother of acting in Dallas," Erickson said in a tribute Facebook post (via Anime News Network). He died in November 2022 at the age of 87.

Keiji Fujiwara (Ryokugyu)

Keiji Fujiwara was responsible for voicing the character Aramaki (otherwise known as Ryokugyu), an admiral who is part of the Marines. Although the character was initially seen as a friendly and laid-back figure, he has shown he can be brutal when needed and becomes a powerful antagonist. He's played brilliantly by voice actor Fujiwara, who had a prolific career in the industry. Fujiwara voiced Iron Man in numerous Marvel projects, dubbing for the hero in animated releases and live-action adaptations, such as the MCU movies. He was also the official Japanese actor chosen to dub Robert Downey Jr. in the actor's various films.

In terms of anime, Fujiwara is best known for his work in the likes of "Gintama," in which he voiced the powerful ninja Zenzo Hattori, and "Hunter x Hunter," where he played rookie hunter Leorio Paradinight. And, like many of his "One Piece" castmates, he also had a role in "Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood" — he returned to voice Maes Hughes, having originally played the Amestrian State Military officer in the first adaptation of the manga, simply titled "Fullmetal Alchemist." Air Agency announced Fujiwara's death in April 2020, confirming that he had died of complications from cancer. He was just 55.

Daisuke Gōri (Dorry)

Daisuke Gōri portrayed several characters in "One Piece" between 2001 and 2010, including Rockstar and Jimbei. However, his most notable role was that of Dorry. This half giant is a fearsome warrior with a bounty of 100,000,000 berries to his name and is 158 years old when first encountered. He is a captain of the Giant Warrior Pirates and fights with the Straw Hat Pirates at various points. His superhuman strength allows Dorry to rescue his allies on several occasions, including rescuing Luffy from a dinosaur.

In 2010, the actor — who also voiced Mister Satan in "Dragon Ball" and Genma Himuro in Yoshiaki Kawajiri's violent classic "Ninja Scroll" – was found bleeding from the wrist in a street of Tokyo's Nakano ward. Police attending the scene discovered what Engadget described as a "sharp weapon" and the actor's will, leading them to treat the death as a suicide. Gōri reportedly suffered from diabetes and this is said to have led to some severe vision problems that made reading scripts difficult.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat

Kōji Yada (Zeff)

It is not unusual for regular characters in "One Piece" to have multiple voice actors. After all, the show has been on television for more than two decades, meaning many people who were initially involved may have moved on or sadly died. That is the case with the character Zeff, who was originally voiced by Kōji Yada from his debut in the 20th episode up until the actor's death. The head chef and pirate captain is a serious man who is quick to anger but has a strict code of ethics to govern his behavior.

Although Yada was arguably best known for his role in "One Piece," it was far from his only anime credit. From the '70s sci-fi series "Space Battleship Yamato" and the gripping anti-war movie "Barefoot Gen" to the action series "Fist of the North Star" and the always-fun "Detective Conan," Yada worked in a variety of genres. His talent agency, Aoni Production, announced his death from kidney failure in 2014. He was 84.

Nobuo Tanaka (Vice Admiral Jonathan)

An important figure in the G-8 Arc, Vice Admiral Jonathan acts as an antagonist to the main characters. Voiced by Nobuo Tanaka, Jonathan could be said to be the main antagonist of this particular storyline. He leads the Marines stationed at the G-8 Marine base where the Going Merry becomes trapped following the events of the Sky Island Saga.

Having previously worked closely with Sakazuki (or Akainu, as he is sometimes called), Jonathan acts as the chosen protégé of the fleet admiral and is also married to another important figure in the form of head chef Jessica. While he managed to capture the Straw Hats, the vice admiral doesn't follow them after their escape, revealing that he only used the pirates as a way to motivate his men and show the importance of the G-8 base.

Tanaka portrayed Jonathan over the course of 11 episodes throughout 2004. Prior to his work in "One Piece," the actor had roles in shows like "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure" (he famously played Dio Brando in the original 1993 OVA) and the soccer series "Captain Tsubasa." He also voiced a member of the Mamma Aiuto Gang in the Studio Ghibli film "Porco Rosso." In Japan, Tanaka was also known for being the official dubbing artist for both Sidney Poitier and Burt Reynolds. The actor died in 2018 from esophageal cancer at the age of 83.

Ginzō Matsuo (Smoker)

Smoker is another vice admiral within the Marines and acts as the officer in command of the G-5 base. Making his first appearance in the 2000 episode "The Town of the Beginning and the End – Arrival at Loguetown," he was initially voiced by Ginzō Matsuo, who is sadly no longer with us. Following a brief absence from the series, Smoker returned, this time portrayed by Mahito Ohba. He shares a close bond with Tashigi, acting as her direct superior, and has been a longtime adversary of Luffy, even though the pair have worked together on occasion.

Matsuo was a well-known Japanese voice artist. His credits include portraying Ossan in Mamoru Oshii's "Ghost in the Shell," Nôfu in "Dragon Ball Z," and Yoshiyuki Takesue in "Neo Ranga." He will be best remembered for his work on the long-running series "Ninjaboy Rantaro," voicing the ninja dog Hemu-Hemu in over 800 episodes of the show between 1993 and 2001. According to Anime News Network, Matsuo was only 49 years old when he died in 2001, with the cause of death reported as a subarachnoid hemorrhage. His "One Piece" part was his final voice acting job.

Gorō Naya (Crocus)

Played by Gorō Naya for much of the show's history, Crocus first appeared in "One Piece" during the episode "The First Obstacle? Giant Whale Laboon Appears." Technically a doctor and lighthouse keeper, Crocus is also a skilled botanist and acts as a guardian for the giant whale Laboon, who the Straw Hat Pirates encounter when they travel to the Grand Line. During his early life, Crocus served aboard the ship of Gol D. Roger, the legendary pirate who helped start the Golden Age of Pirates. An ally to Luffy, Crocus even provides him and his crew with the magical compass known as the Log Pose.

Naya had an extensive acting career, voicing characters in a wide array of projects. This includes video games such as "Xenoblade Chronicles," the animated adaptation of "The Lord of the Rings," and the beloved anime series "Lupin the Third." Hayao Miyazaki fans will recognize him as the voice of Yupa in "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind." The Hokkaido-born actor died in March 2013 from chronic respiratory failure at the age of 83. The role was later taken over by Masuo Amada, who debuted as the character in 2021's "The Promised Port! Wano Country Arc Act 3 Begins." 

Takkō Ishimori (Sengoku)

In "One Piece," Takkō Ishimori gave his voice to the character of Sengoku, who was once a fleet admiral serving with the Marines. He went on to become an inspector general, investigating corruption within the organization. A significant figure during his generation, Sengoku battled against the likes of Gol D. Roger and Whitebeard in his earlier career. He first appeared in the episode "The 100,000,000 Man! The World's Highest Authority and the Pirate Blackbeard" and quickly became an enemy to Luffy, considering him a threat to peace and stability in the world.

Ishimori was an experienced voiceover artist and dubbing specialist, providing Japanese dub work for films such as "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure," "Ghostbusters II," and the "Harry Potter" franchise, where he was the actor behind the Sorting Hat. In terms of anime, he was best known for his "One Piece" role, but he also voiced characters like Yuu Isayama in "Ga-Rei: Zero" and the King of Xerxes in "Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood." His death was announced in 2013, with heart failure confirmed as the cause. He was 81. "[I] wanted to act more and more together, and I wanted to learn a lot more from him," friend and fellow voice actor Nobuyuki Kobushi said in a tribute tweet.

Kazunari Tanaka (Tararan)

Tararan was a general in the zombie army created by Dr. Hogback. Voiced by Kazunari Tanaka, he resembled a giant zombie with a monkey's head and hands. Overconfident and rash, Tararan made it clear to his foes that he wanted nothing other than to completely destroy them. He led the Spider Mice aboard Gecko Moria's giant island ship Thriller Bark. Using his massive webs, the villain was able to capture the Straw Hats, trapping the Thousand Sunny and forcing the crew to disembark onto the Thriller Bark.

Tanaka voiced a handful of minor "One Piece" characters between 2008 and 2012, but he was best known for Tararan. He debuted as the character in the episode "Disappearing Straw Hat Crew! The Mysterious Swordsman Appears!" However, this was far from Tanaka's only anime role. He was perhaps best known for voicing Keishin Ukai in over 50 episodes of the volleyball anime "Haikyuu!!" as well as for his various roles in the "Dragon Ball" franchise. He died in 2016 from a brain hemorrhage, his talent agency Aoni Production announced. He was just 49.

Toshiko Fujita (Big Mom)

Big Mom, whose real name is actually Charlotte Linlin, is a powerful figure within the world of "One Piece." The captain of the appropriately named Big Mom Pirates, she stands out as a female in a male dominated profession. Big Mom has a huge bounty on her head as one of the former Four Emperors and acts as a major antagonist during several arcs. Her crew is made up of her offspring, of which there's many – Big Mom has 39 daughters and 46 sons in total.

The character was originally voiced by Toshiko Fujita, a Chinese-born voice actor who worked in showbusiness for decades. She dubbed English language films and worked on lots of anime over the years. In the 1980s she voiced characters in films like "Space Adventure Cobra" and "Wicked City," and, more recently, she voiced the queen in "Hellsing Ultimate." Her most famous role was probably Taichi Yagami in the "Digimon" franchise. She died in 2018 at the age of 68 following a breast cancer diagnosis. Mami Koyama took over her "One Piece" role starting from the episode "Totto Land! Emperor Big Mom Appears."

Chikao Ohtsuka (Gol D. Roger)

Within the world of "One Piece," Gol D. Roger is a legendary figure who is possibly the most famous pirate to have ever lived. Roger was executed by order of the World Government, but before his death he urged others to go and look for his hugely valuable treasure trove, which would become known as the One Piece. Having conquered the Grand Line and grown in power and wealth, Roger eventually turned himself in after discovering that he would soon die from a disease that no one could cure. His final speech set in motion the Golden Age of Piracy and cemented his status as a legend.

Chikao Ohtsuka provided the voice of Gol D. Rogers from his debut in the very first episode up until 2012. He portrayed the character more than 300 times over the years, with his final performance as the famous character coming in "Hero of the Slave Liberation – Adventurer Tiger." Outside of "One Piece," Ohtsuka was well known for voicing characters in various animated series and video games, including Captain Hook, Dick Dastardly, and Professor Moriarty. His best known role in Japan was probably as the voice of Doctor Eggman in the "Sonic the Hedgehog" series. His talent agency Aoni Production confirmed his death in 2015, revealing he had died due to ischemic heart disorder. He was 85.

Kinryū Arimoto (Whitebeard)

Whitebeard, or Edward Newgate, was one of the most powerful pirates in the "One Piece" world before his death. He lived during the era of Gol D. Roger and was something of a rival to him, becoming known as the world's strongest man following the death of the Pirate King. Voiced by Kinryū Arimoto in Japan, Whitebeard was originally an orphan before becoming an accomplished pirate, eventually rising to become one of the Four Emperors.

Arimoto was a regular in live-action TV shows and films. He often provided Japanese dubbing for actors such as Christopher Walken, Jeremy Irons, and Ed Harris in addition to his work in anime. The Tottori-born actor played characters in the likes of "Gundam Seed," "Psycho-Pass," and "Bleach," in which he voiced Ginrei Kuchiki, the 27th leader of the Kuchiki Clan. He died in 2019, Kotaku confirmed. "He was 78 years old and had been suffering from esophageal cancer since last year."

Takeshi Aono (Dracule Mihawk)

The talented swordsman Dracule Mihawk was one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea before they got disbanded by the World Government. During his career, the man known as Hawk Eyes founded the Cross Guild and also trained Roronoa Zoro in swordsmanship. Dracule was voiced by Takeshi Aono, who is sadly no longer with us. The Hokkaido native worked on almost 300 productions during his career and appeared in some of the biggest anime franchises, including "Dragon Ball," in which he played King Piccolo. Other notable anime credits include the cult classic film "Ninja Scroll" and the acclaimed series "Monster."

Aono also worked extensively in video games, with roles in "Dead or Alive," "Tekken 5," and the "Mega Man" franchise, where he played the villain Dr. Wily. One of his other notable parts came in the "Metal Gear Solid" series, lending his voice to Colonel Roy Campbell. In Japan, Aono also acted as the official dubbing artist for Joe Pesci and Christopher Lloyd — he dubbed the part of Doc Brown in "Back to the Future." He retired from acting in 2010 due to ill health and died from a brain aneurysm two years later, aged 76.

Tetsuo Gotō (Hannyabal)

When viewers first meet Hannyabal, he is the vice warden of the Impel Down, an underwater ship that acts as a maximum security jail to hold the World Government's most dangerous criminals. As such, he is one of the leading antagonists during the Impel Down Arc, opposing Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates while attempting to stop a mass breakout at the prison. Following the events of the time skip, Hannyabal is promoted to chief warden.

Tetsuo Goto was responsible for voicing Hannyabal in "One Piece." The actor began his career in live action television before transitioning to voice work in video games and animated franchises. Fans of the games "Professor Layton and Pandora's Box" and "Tales of Vesperia" may well recognize his voice, and he also portrayed figures in shows like "Naruto," "Hunter x Hunter," and "Dragon Ball," to name but a few. He died in 2018, with Japanese media reports confirming that he had been diagnosed with cancer. He was 68.

Jim White (Lao G)

Voiced in Japan by Tetsuo Gotō and Jim White in Funimation's English dub, Lao G is a character who didn't appear in "One Piece" until 2013. He first popped up in the episode "The Mastermind in the Shadows! Doflamingo Moves" and is a major figure within the Donquixote Pirates. Working directly under Donquixote Doflamingo, he follows his captain's orders without question and proves to be a strong adversary for Luffy and the rest of the Straw Hat Pirates. Doflamingo and the Donquixote Pirates were ultimately defeated in a battle with the Straw Hat Pirates and the Heart Pirates, with the Marines capturing Lao G and many other officers.

A veteran voice actor who regularly dubbed anime for English language releases, White was also known for portraying Zeke's Grandpa in "Attack on Titan" and fans of "Fairy Tail" will recognize him as the narrator of the most recent adaptation. The Oklahoma native also lent his voice to characters in the video game "Borderlands 2" and made a live-action appearance in "Dallas" in 2013, playing a guest in the episode "JR's Masterpiece." He also worked as a radio host before his death from lung cancer in 2022. He was 73.

Iemasa Kayumi and Toshiya Ueda (Nefertari Cobra)

Although most people would not consider Nefertari Cobra a regular character in "One Piece," he has had a significant part to play in the events of the story. As the king of the Arabasta Kingdom, he led the Nefertari family and was vital to the plot of the Arabasta Arc as events largely took place in his land. Throughout the first decade or so of the show, Iemasa Kayumi provided the voice for Cobra.

An experienced voice actor, Kayumi was once the official dub actor for Frank Sinatra in Japan. His career saw him work on big anime films like Hayao Miyazaki's "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind" and the seminal cyberpunk thriller "Ghost in the Shell," as well as shows like "Pokémon" and the beloved "Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood," widely considered to be one of the best anime shows of all time. Talent agency 81 Produce revealed in 2014 that the actor died while receiving treatment for an undisclosed condition at the age of 80.

After his death, Toshiya Ueda briefly replaced Kayumi as the voice actor for Nefertari Cobra. Sadly, Ueda is also no longer with us. According to the voice actor's agent, he died in February 2022 at the age of 88. His final role was Vilk in 2021's "The Promised Neverland," which was nominated for dozens of awards.