Veteran Japanese actor, in-game voice actor, Tetsuya Watari, dead at age 78

Tetsuya Watari before his demise

Known in the Japanese entertainment industry as a prolific actor throughout his career, especially as an action star back in the ’60s up until the ’80s, Tetsuya Watari is dead at the age of 78 due to pneumonia. The announcement of his passing came after a family funeral.

Tetsuya Watari first came into the scene after joining Nikkatsu studio, seeking to kickstart a career in acting. Back then, a fresh graduate from the Aoyama Gakuin University, the actor’s rose to fame, draws credit from his appealing camera presence and good acting.

Groomed for Success

Part of his rise to fame is thanks in part to Yujiro Ishihara who played a pivotal role in shaping Watari as an actor. Subsequently landing him starring roles in films like Seijun Suzuki’s Tokyo Drifter (1966) and Toshio Masuda’s Outlaw: Gangster VIP (1968).

In 1971, following Nikkatsu’s shift towards making Roman porno, Watari left the agency for Ishihara Promotion. The talent agency that Yujiro Ishihara himself started in 1963 and the same company he will eventually have an important role as an executive.

Despite the shakeup, the actor sees his transition from one agency to the next, not a hindrance. Although, bumps were present during this timeline of his career. Partly due to a rising illness that had him withdraw as a potential casting member in a signature gangster series, Battles Without Honor and Humanity, from 1973 to 1974.

A Big Comeback

Despite missing out on Kinji Fukasaku’s proposed series, Watari subsequently managed to take the leading role for the biopic, Yakuza Graveyard (1976). Which, drawing from a stellar performance as a rogue police investigator in said film, earned him the Blue Ribbon Award for Best Actor. His first accolade since having taken the path towards acting.

When appearing for roles in movies, Tetsuya Watari’s preoccupation also involves him taking part in TV series, since 1971. Taking a few leading roles throughout, including Seibu Keisatsu (1979-84) and Taiyo no Hoero (1096). That is, before becoming the president of the very same agency that handles him. It follows the event of Ishihara’s death in the late ’80s and is a role he fulfilled until 2011.

Throughout his career, Watari has had a few serious encounters with diseases. Two most notable of which are rectal cancer in 1991 and a heart attack in 2015. However, both of which he overcame which led to the continuing of his profession in the world of show business.

Into the Video Game Industry

Deviating from his usual predisposition as the man in front of the camera, the actor later discovered voice acting. He subsequently gets to voice as Shintaro Kazama in the popular SEGA video game title, Yakuza.

Image used courtesy of JS Media/YouTube Screenshot

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