One of the most recognizable voices in the Dragon Ball series tragically passed away on November 16. According to reports in Japan, Hiromi Tsuru was found dead in her car along the Shuto Expressway in Tokyo. There were no signs of trauma nor was there any damage to her car. Tsuru was wearing her seatbelt and her car’s hazard lights were on. Tsuru was rushed to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead. Tsuru was 57 years old. Despite a large body of voice acting work, Tsuru will be best remembered for her role as Bulma in Dragon Ball. Tsuru performed the role for 31 years.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Tsuru Died After Suffering an Aortic Dissection
Sankei News reports that Tsuru died from aortic dissection. It had initially been reported in Japan that Tsuru had died from some kind of illness. Officials had said that Tsuru had told friends she had not been feeling well in the days leading up to her death.
You can watch the Japanese news report on her death above. According to Mayo Clinic, an aortic dissection is a tear in the inner layer of the large blood vessel branching off the heart. The condition is deemed “relatively uncommon” and normally effects men who are in their 60s and 70s.
2. The Episode Where Bulma Went Without Underwear Left the Biggest Impression on Tsuru
Tsuru’s role in Dragon Ball is her most celebrated work. In a 2004 interview, Tsuru described Bulma’s appeal to fans of the series:
From the perspective of Goku, it seems they thought of her as an “unpleasant girl,” with her always saying selfish things. But, I thought, it can’t be helped; this is who Bulma is. Seeming well-grounded, yet also having points that are lacking. Like, flashing [Kame-Sen’nin] without any panties on. She’s a character I just love….
At the beginning, Bulma was completely self-centered, but I was conscious of her growing older. Becoming an adult, and having children… she mellowed out a bit. She became a proper mother, so she couldn’t do all those crazy things like before.
Tsuru went on to describe the scene were Bulma doesn’t wear any panties as leaving the biggest impression on her.
3. Tsuru Performed the the Voice of Penny in the Japenese Version of Inspector Gadget
Tsuru was also the voice of Naomi Hunter in the Metal Gear Solid video game series. In 2017, Tsuru voiced the character of Tiffany in the Chucky vs. Leprechaun TV movie, according to her IMDb page. Tsuru was the Japanese version of Penny in the Inspector Gadget cartoons.
Tsuru told Kanzenshuu about voicing other characters on Dragon Ball saying, “Other than Bulma, I actually did Trunks’ voice, too, when he was a baby. Although it was just crying. I don’t think I appeared in the credits. Also, I did Bulma’s daughter Bra, as well.”
4. Tsuru Was Inspired to Go Into Voice Acting After Being Inspired by Audrey Hepburn’s Japanese Voiceover Artist
In an interview, Tsuru said she was inspired to go into voice acting after watching Roman Holiday in high school. Tsuru said that the voice dubbing of Audrey Hepburn’s character by Masako Ikeda, describing it as “perfect.”
Ikeda and Tsuru would later work together on The Story of Perrine. It was when Tsuru got that role that she decided to forego her plans to attend college in the United States. Tsuru was born and graduated high school in Kanagawa, Japan.
Tsuru was previously married to fellow Japanese voice actor Keiichi Nanba in 1986, the same year she began in Dragon Ball, though the marriage ended in divorce.
5. Bulma Fans Have Been Flooding Twitter With Tributes to Tsuru
Tsuru’s fans have taken to Twitter en masse to pay tribute to the voice of Bulma. Here are some of the most poignant messages: