Joji Yanami death: Tributes pour in as Dragon Ball Z voice actor for 'King Kai', passes away at 90

Joji Yanami, who voiced King Kai since Dragon Ball series' debut, passed away at 90 (Image via FUNimation, Toei Animation, Fuji TV)
Joji Yanami, who voiced King Kai since Dragon Ball series' debut, passed away at 90 (Image via FUNimation, Toei Animation, Fuji TV)
Abhirup Sengupta

On December 3, Joji Yanami, who voiced King Kai in the Dragon Ball series, passed away at the age of 90. He voiced multiple characters in the famed anime series as a voice artist. However, Yanami was most renowned for portraying North King Kai through his vocal performance.

On December 14, voice actors’ agency Aoni Production released a condolence post regarding Joji Yanami’s death. The original Japanese transcript, when translated to English, reads:

“Our actor Joji Yanami died at 10.59 pm on December 3, 3rd year at 10.59 pm. We would like to express our deepest gratitude to you for your kindness during your lifetime…”

While the cause of the actor’s death is unknown, multiple local publications have reported that a private funeral ceremony has already been held for the late Joji Yanami.

Here’s how Dragon Ball fans are reacting to the demise of voice actor Joji Yanami

Several fans of the anime franchise paid their condolences with Dragon Ball, especially King Kai references. King Kai died in the Upper World (or Heaven) and had a halo on his head in the series.

Very sad to share that Joji Yanami, the voice for Totosai in Inuyasha, King Kai and the Narrator in Dragonball Z, Gilmore in Cyborg 009, Ganfall in One Piece and many more, has passed away at the age of 90. Thank you forthe wonderful memories you've given fans all over the world.
R.I.P.🌟Jôji Yanami (voice actor)August 30, 1931-December 3, 2021He was always in Japanese anime. Thank you for many memories.
Saw Yatterman trending, and, of course, I went searching for anything drama / movie related.The news related to it is that the anime's voice actor for character "Boyacky" has passed. R.I.P. Jōji Yanami#ヤッターマン #Yatterman #櫻井翔 #sakuraisho #嵐 #Arashi
While not unexpected after his retirement and declining health, the passing of Joji Yanami hits hard.Spending my early teens watching Dragon Ball Z, his voice felt like an old friend. He was your narrator- welcoming you to the world every time.Not to mention the characters.
So sad to learn Jōji Yanami has passed away at 90 years old. I knew him most as Master Roshi but his legacy as a seiyuu will live on forever. May he Rest in Peace.
@Kotaku I know someone will say "collect the Dragon Balls to receive him"
@Kotaku you deserve the halo on your head, legend
Joji Yanami 1931-2021I pray for his soul... You did your best.…

Exploring Joji Yanami’s legacy

The late Joji Yanami forayed into voice acting in the early 1960s and has had an extensive career as a voice artist, which spanned over 58 years. Yanami debuted in the industry as the Boss in Toei Animation’s Wolf Boy Ken in 1963. Five years later, he voiced Dr. Isaac Gilmore in Cyborg 009.

After several voice roles throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Joji Yanami (aka Shigemitsu Shirato) voiced Dr. Bali Bali in the 1980’s animated series Astro Boy. Later, the Tokyo native joined the cast of Dragon Ball as the Narrator, Dr. Briefs, King, Dr. Frappe, and Mousse, in 1986. He also voiced a Digimon character named Gennai in 1990 and beyond.


According to his IMDb profile, the late nonagenarian Joji Yanami has around 201 credits, about 45 of them belonging to the Dragon Ball projects. Yanami was also credited with performing in multiple end-credit sequences of anime, including the likes of 1975’s Time Bokan and 1977’s Yatterman. However, he had also voiced respective individual characters in the two series.

After an extensive career, in 2015, Joji Yanami took a medical leave from his work, citing medical reasons. Prior to his retirement, Joji worked on Dragon Ball Super. However, he was later replaced with Naoki Tatsuta as King Kai and the narrator.

Edited by Yasho Amonkar
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