It's a truly sad day for Japanese cinema. Legendary actor Kunie Tanaka, who also served as the inspiration for One Piece's Admiral Kizaru, has passed away at the age of 88.
NHK confirms that Tanaka passed away on March 24, 2021. Although the cause of death was not revealed, the Battles Without Honor and Humanity star was reportedly surrounded by his family in his final moments.
Tanaka was born in the Toki district of Gifu, Japan. He had a small role in the Akira Kurosawa film The Bad Sleep Well and would later work with the director again in 1962's Sanjuro. Tanaka was best known for playing the lecherous Aodaishō in the Wakadaishō film series.
Kunie Tanaka, the iconic Japanese actor who served as the inspiration for Admiral Kizaru's design, has sadly passed away at age 88, the final of the Admiral actor inspirations to do so.— Artur - Library of Ohara (@newworldartur) April 3, 2021
May he rest in peace and be forever remembered pic.twitter.com/MHtayCDIXw
In addition to appearing in several Japanese films, Tanaka was nominated for several awards for his performances. He took home the Best Supporting Actor award for his role in the 1993 Yoji Yamada movie A Class to Remember. The movie itself also won the Best Film award.
Tanaka's legacy is truly exceptional considering that he has been immortalized in pop culture. Eiichiro Oda was inspired by the Gakko star's image, leading Oda to model the One Piece manga character Kizaru after Tanaka.
It's interesting to note that all of the Admirals in One Piece were inspired by real-life talents. Yusaku Matsuda was the inspiration for Aokiji and Bunta Sugawara is the real man behind Akainu. Shintaro Katsuo served as the inspiration for Fujitora while Michiyo Kogure is Momousagi's real-life counterpart. Chaton was designed after the legendary Kiyoshi Atsumi.
Goodbye Kunie Tanaka, you will always be remembered.