Japanese Fans Are Worried About Franky’s Voice Actor

The popular anime show One Piece recently started a new storyline as Egghead Arc, on January 7th. However, fans on social media have noticed something seems “off” with voice actor Kazuki Yao, age 64, who voices the character Franky.

Specifically, in the January 14th episode where the Straw Hat Pirates encounter a huge shark at sea, there is a scene where Franky is hesitant to steer the ship in the rough waters but says he must do it to rescue his friends.

A Still From One Piece Anime (Credits: Eiichiro Oda)

Though the animation depicts Franky appearing confident, Yao’s vocal delivery lacked nerve and conviction in bringing the character to life at that moment.

A Still From One Piece Anime (Credits: Eiichiro Oda)

Some viewers and anime critics found this disconnect between the animation and voice acting off-putting.

A Still From One Piece Anime (Credits: Eiichiro Oda)

More broadly, many fans on social media have expressed concern about Yao’s recent voice-acting performance as Franky lacks its usual spiritedness and commitment.

A Still From One Piece Anime (Credits: Eiichiro Oda)

The vocal delivery seems detached from the animation and spirit of the character.

Concerns Arise Over Kazuki Yao’s Vocal Performance as Franky in One Piece

Fans on social media have expressed specific concerns about Kazuki Yao’s recent vocal performance as the character Franky.

A Still From One Piece Anime (Credits: Eiichiro Oda)

Some comments state that Yao’s voice sounds strange lately compared to earlier performances as Franky, wondering if the voice actor has reached his limit.

A Still From One Piece Anime (Credits: Eiichiro Oda)

Other fans ask if Yao is okay, stating he sounds like he has something stuck in his mouth affecting his speech. Overall sentiments question if Yao is alright, as his acting for Franky seems duller and lacking the character’s signature energetic spirit.

One Piece (Credits: Eiichiro Oda)

Yao is a legendary voice actor who led the golden age of anime, with famous roles in shows like “Dancouga,” “Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ,” and “Initial D.” He has voiced the unique characters Franky, Django, and Mr. 2 Bon Clay in One Piece for nearly 20 years.

One Piece (Credits: Eiichiro Oda)

Over time, fans have started whispering concerns over Yao’s health based on recent vocal performances. He has a long friendship with One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda since first playing Django.

One Piece (Credits: Eiichiro Oda)

The character Franky was supposedly created in Yao’s image originally.

But lately Franky’s voice acting seems disconnected from its distinct passionate energy that was so essential to earlier One Piece storylines over the years.

One Piece (Credits: Eiichiro Oda)

This has fans worried Yao may be struggling with vocal issues or health problems that are diminishing his iconic character acting.

One Piece (Credits: Eiichiro Oda)

Fans noticed a decline in Kazuki Yao’s vocal performances as early as the 2022 One Piece movie “One Piece Film Red.” On January 14th, a video was posted on Niconico Channel featuring voice actress Aya Hirano as a guest.

One Piece (Credits: Eiichiro Oda)

While Yao acted cheerful, compared to a few years ago he seemed markedly less energetic and smooth in his voice work.

In fact, over roughly the past three years there has been an uptick in fan concerns about the “extreme decline” in Yao’s vocal performances on social media.

One Piece (Credits: Eiichiro Oda)

Last December, he posted a photo of himself alongside veteran voice actress Masako Nozawa, which prompted worried fan comments about his apparent weight loss and questions asking “Is he okay?”

A Still From One Piece Episode 1094 (Credits: Toei Animation)

Yao continues working on the front lines of voice acting as an industry legend. But at the same time, fans hope he is taking care of his health and wellbeing.

A Still From One Piece Episode 1094 (Credits: Toei Animation)

Over a long career spanning decades, his voice work has left an indelible impact on countless anime characters and storylines.

A Still From One Piece Episode 1094 (Credits: Toei Animation)

Fans are showing their support and appreciation even in their expression of concern, hoping Yao stays healthy enough to keep passionately portraying fan-favorite roles like Franky for years to come.

Kazuki Yao’s Journey into Voice Acting

As a child, Kazuki Yao led an active outdoor lifestyle with his friends, rarely watching TV.

A Still From One Piece Episode 1094 (Credits: Toei Animation)

His father’s job as a government official required the family to relocate every 3 years. In junior high, he moved to Tokyo into housing too small for a TV, so his family went without one.

A Still From One Piece Episode 1094 (Credits: Toei Animation)

His mother and sister enjoyed musicals and plays, which Yao would attend with them.

He saw kabuki actors performing Shakespeare, solidifying his desire to become a stage actor after being captivated by a performance.

A Still From One Piece Episode 1094 (Credits: Toei Animation)

After high school, Yao joined the Matenrō Theater Company in college through a classmate’s connection. He started as a production assistant before joining the cast.

A Still From One Piece Episode 1094 (Credits: Toei Animation)

The company did not generate enough income to support itself fully, so Yao worked side jobs initially.

Realizing this routine was unsustainable, he consulted company staff who connected him with a talent agency that led to TV and film work.

A Still From One Piece Episode 1094 (Credits: Toei Animation)

This included a voice acting audition for the anime OVA “BIRTH,” marking his debut as the lead role of Shurugi Nam.

Having no prior experience in voice acting, Yao struggled to understand the technical direction.

However co-stars Keiko Toda and Jōji Yanami helped guide him through the learning process. To this day, he looks to them as key mentors in launching his prolific voice-acting career spanning decades.