If you’ve watched the immensely popular Dragon Ball Z Kai or Dragon Ball Super anime, you know his voice. If you’ve watched an English dub of any anime made over the past couple of decades, there’s a better than even chance you’ve heard him. Christopher Ayres was the voice of Frieza, the Dragon Ball franchise’s most iconic villain, and many other characters through his work at the anime licensor Funimation and beyond. He passed away Monday, October 18, at age 56.
While Ayres will certainly be best remembered as Frieza among fans, he played roles in series and movies such as Black Butler, Sengoku Basara, Claymore, Gantz, Godanner, Hetalia: Axis Powers, Initial D, One Piece, and countless others (seriously, look at his list of credits over at his Anime News Network encyclopaedia entry, and try to count them — it’s a lot — and that’s not even counting his prolific ADR directing work). Ayres started his acting career at age 6, starring in a commercial for Lollipop Soft drinks. He worked on and off-Broadway before moving into the world of dubbing, starting at the now-defunct ADV Films, and later at Funimation, where he took over the role of Frieza from previous actor Linda Young in 2009, when Dragon Ball Z Kai premiered. Ayres was a frequent guest and panelist at anime conventions and taught fight choreography for school and stage plays.
In 2017, Ayres was diagnosed with end-stage COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and required a double-lung transplant to survive. He announced in 2019 he had one of the necessary transplants but suffered years of health complications until his death earlier this week at the age of 56. Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this unfortunate time.