Voice actor Fujiwara Keiji passed away recently on April 12, 2020 at the age of 55 due to cancer. In my eyes, he was one of the greatest, and I had even written a little about him in my review of The Wonderland. That’s why I really wanted to delve into my absolute favorite performance of his: Holland from Eureka Seven.
Holland is amazingly written, and one of many examples of both the rich characterization and extensive character development that help make Eureka Seven such an absolute masterpiece. He’s the leader of Gekkostate, and thus the most prominent face of rebellion against the government. He’s initially worshipped as a hero by the protagonist Renton, but as the two get to know each other, their relationship changes because Holland is not a perfect human being. He’s hot-headed, ill-tempered, and impatient. Perhaps more importantly, he has long envisioned himself as a hero of sorts—not out of a desire for glory but a feeling of dire necessity. When he begins to realize that he’s not the “chosen one,” so to speak, his character’s journey becomes about learning how to support just as much as he leads.
What Fujiwara gave to Holland is a performance that’s always convincing. The turbulent storm of emotions that reside in Holland having to do with his position, his self-image, and his relationship with both his real and adopted family, are always delivered with such absolute sincerity thanks to Fujiwara. To be sure, Eureka Seven is full of excellent acting from everyone involved, but Holland is a downright challenging character to give voice to, and Fujiwara just nails it. I can actually close my eyes and hear his performance in my head—the expressions of joy, frustration, enmity, and sadness.
Finding out a voice actor is gone always feels like a bit of a shock. It’s less a matter of age, I think, and more about knowing that you’ll never hear their performances ever again. And unlike movie actors, their physical appearance is not as major a factor in the types of roles they can land (though many actors do transition to older characters over time). Fujiwara’s passing is not necessarily surprising, but I do wish he could have kept contributing his immense talents to projects of all kinds. He will be immortalized in roles like Holland in Eureka Seven, and the world is a better place because of what he gave.