Voice Actor Shinji Nakae Passes Away
Author: John Paul Cassidy
Special Thanks to James Ballard
On the afternoon of June 28, voice actor Shinji Nakae died of liver cancer in Tokyo at the age of 72. Nakae was at a social welfare hospital in Koganeishi City in Metropolitan Tokyo at the time of his death.
Born Yoshitaka Satou on April 20th, 1935 in Tokyo, Nakae belonged to the company Aoni Productions. As a voice actor, he was well known to audiences as one of Japan’s most enduring TV and movie announcers.
Fans of tokusatsu fantasy will best remember him as the narrator of Toei Co., Ltd’s Masked Rider shows. He narrated MASKED RIDER (Kamen Raidaa, 1971), MASKED RIDER V3 (Kamen Raidaa Buisuri, 1973), MASKED RIDER X (Kamen Raidaa Ekkusu, 1974), MASKED RIDER STRONGER (Kamen Raidaa Sutoronga, 1975), (NEW) MASKED RIDER (Kamen Raidaa, a.k.a. SKY-RIDER, 1979) and MASKED RIDER SUPER-1 (Kamen Raidaa Supa Wan, 1981), as well as the 1983 Masked Rider team-up special NO. 10 IS BORN! ALL MASKED RIDERS UNITE!! (Jugo Tanjo! Kamen Raidaa Zenin Shugo!!), which not only featured the then-latest Rider, Masked Rider ZX (pronounced “Z-Cross”), but is considered by some fans to be the swan song for the classic Masked Rider series. He also narrated MASKED NORIDA (Kamen Norida), a 1988 parody of MASKED RIDER by the TV comedy troupe The Tonnels.
His other numerous narration works in the tokusatsu field were Tsuburaya Productions’ MIGHTY JACK (Maitei Jyakku, 1968); the Japanese version of Gerry Anderson’s SECRET SERVICE (1969 – titled LONDON COMMAND X/RONDON SHIREI EKKUSU), Toei’s TRANSFORMING NINJA ARASHI (Henshin Ninja Arashi, 1972); Toho’s WARRIOR OF LOVE: RAINBOWMAN (Ai no Senshi Reinboman, 1972) and DIAMOND EYE: WARRIOR OF LIGHT (Hikari no Senshi Daiyamondo Ai, 1973); DINOSAUR EXPEDITION TEAM BORNFREE (Kyoryu Tankentai Boonfurii, 1976 – the basis for the film RETURN OF THE DINOSAURS); LIL’ SUPERMAN GUNBARON (Chiisana Supaman Ganbaron, 1977) and VOISLUGGER (Boisuraggaa, 1999). He also narrated films such as Toho’s THE PROPHECIES OF NOSTRADAMUS (Nosutoradamusu no Daiyogen, 1974) and THE WAR IN SPACE (Wakusei Daisenso, 1977), as well as TV dramas such as the Kokusai Films/Mannensha series WILD 7 (Wairudo Sebun, 1972) and the Toei show SPECIAL INVESTIGATION FRONTLINE (Tokusou Saizensen, 1977).
Besides his narration work, he is also known as the voice of two villains from the hit Tsuburaya Pro sci-fi series, ULTRA SEVEN (Urutora Sebun, 1967): Alien Metron (from Episode 8, “The Targeted Town”) and Rock Alien Annon (from Episode 16, “The Eyes that Glow in the Dark”). He also did the voice for Goggle-Robo, the giant robot rode by the titular team of the 6th Super Sentai Series, GREAT TASK FORCE GOGGLE V (Dai Sentai Goguru Faibu, 1982).
Of course, Nakae was no stranger to the anime medium. His narration works included TOMORROW’S JOE (Ashita no Jo, 1970; Mushi Production), COSMIC KNIGHT TEKKAMAN (Uchu no Kishi Tekkaman, 1975; Tatsunoko Productions), Episode 4 of BE FIRST, CROMARTIE HIGH SCHOOL! (Sakigake!! Kuromati Koko, 2003; Production IG), and FRUITS BASKET (Furutsu Basuketto, 2004; Studio Deen). He also did the voice of Burchdorf in LEGEND OF THE GALACTIC HEROES (Ginga Eiyu Densetsu, 1988; Kitty), MARMALADE BOY (Mamaredo Boi, 1994; Toei), Lyndon B. Johnson in the Japanese version of the video game, METAL GEAR SOLID 3: SNAKE EATER (2004; Konami), and recently, Doctor One in GAIKING: LEGEND OF DAIKU-MARYU (2005; Toei).
In 2002, he was the announcer for Fuji TV’s game show, FOUNTAIN OF TRIVIA ~WONDERFUL USELESS FACTS~ (Toribia no Izumi ~Suburashiki Muda Chishiki~), and in 2006, he was the announcer for Nintendo video game commercials.
But in 2007, Nakae’s health deteriorated. On May 12, over a month before his passing, he retired from FOUNTAIN OF TRIVIA and was replaced by Ryuusaburou Ootomo.
Shinji Nakae will be a tough one to truly replace. May he rest in peace.