It was recently reported that Matsuki Miyu, a voice actress, has passed away, perhaps from pneumonia or related complications (RIP). She voice-acted key characters in as-yet-incomplete shows, including at least Prisma Illya (Sapphire).

This surely can't be the first time this has happened. What is typically done when a voice actor for an ongoing series (ongoing either in the sense of a continuously-aired show like One Piece or a show with future scheduled seasons like [currently] Prisma Illya) passes away?

(I see three main options - put in a new voice actor for the character; write the character out of the show; or, worst case, cancel the show altogether. But all three options are imperfect. Historically, what has been done in these situations?)


2 Answers 2


A similar thing happened with Tomoko Kawakami, who voiced Soi Fong while Bleach was still airing. While she went on hiatus due to ovarian cancer, she was replaced by Houko Kuwashima. Once the news of her death broke, Kuwashima assumed the role until the end of the series.

It's a sad day when a seiyuu passes, but the general trend has often been to keep the production going. Characters are seldom written out of the anime if they are based on an existing media (Bleach, One Piece, etc), so anything that would involve the character not showing up during critical, canonical pieces of content wouldn't be feasible.

The only times I've heard of series being cancelled is when a major player, such as the mangaka, passes away. This was done in the case of Kaze no Stigma, as Takahiro Yamato had passed away, leaving the series incomplete.


I'd pretty much say that they just find someone else to fill the role. A decent number of voice actors audition for a role, but of course only one gets the part. If something unfortunate like that happens, the production companies can, without much difficulty, find someone else to fill the slot.

It's kind of heartless to say that yeah, our favorite seiyuu is replaceable, but unfortunately, it's how business works.

Anime production companies generally won't change how they do a story or cancel a series because of something like this. When a voice actor passes away, an anime studio may already have the next 2, 3, or so episodes already animated in some form, and even more with a written script; to go back and change all those drawings/animations to write out a character is time-consuming and expensive. Frankly, it has to be someone much more crucial to the show's production to die for the companies to begin even considering these options.

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