OBITUARY: Lam Pou-chuen 1951-2015

Hong Kong’s voice of Doraemon, Lam Pou-chuen, dies aged 63

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 January, 2015, 5:07pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 January, 2015, 2:45am

The distinctive Hong Kong voice of popular Japanese cartoon character Doraemon died suddenly yesterday, aged 63.

TVB actor Lam Pou-chuen was found unconscious by family members at home in the morning, Tsang Sing-ming, the station's deputy controller of publicity, said.

Lam was rushed to Nethersole Hospital but his daughter, who is also a voice actress, later informed TVB of his death.

A TVB voice actor since 1971, Lam had dubbed more than 100 characters in cartoons, television series and films. He became the voice of robot cat Doraemon when the station began airing the manga animation series in 1982. The show first hit television screens in Japan in 1979.

Lam left TVB in the 1980s and returned in 1993. Apart from that period, he had been the voice of Doraemon in animation series and movies for over two decades.

Other cartoon voice-dubbing roles included Garfield the cat, Amuro Ray of Mobile Suit Gundam, Genzo Wakabayashi in Captain Tsubasa, Hiei in Yu Yu Hakusho and Squirtle in Pokemon. He was also the voice of greedy Qing dynasty official He Shen in television series The Bronze Teeth, and the sarcastic narrator of variety programme Neighbourhood Treasures.

In movies, he was the voice for stars such as Sammo Hung Kam-bo and George Clooney.

In his last media interview on Monday, Lam told RTHK how his unique voice affected his daily life: "Sometimes when I shop in wet markets or travel in a van, people ask if I am a voice actor."

Born in Macau, Lam came to Hong Kong as a secondary school student. After graduating, he worked as an office boy for a bank, but a self-recommendation letter he wrote to TVB changed his career path.

Yesterday, fellow actors were shocked to hear of Lam's death, while fans from across the generations mourned the loss of the city's most recognisable voice.

Director Patrick Kong Pak-leung shared some words recorded by Lam on the internet. Many fans in the film industry would ask Lam to record personal messages on their phones, he said. "For those of my age, who wouldn't be a Doraemon fan?" asked 41-year-old Kong.

Singer Ivana Wong wrote on Facebook: "Can ding-dong (the former translation of Doraemon) never grow old? Rest in peace."

Keith Yuen Kai-yeung, a Doraemon fan for two decades, said Lam's death marked the end of an era, adding that his voice remained one constant in a show that had seen many changes.

Shortly after Doraemon creator Hiroshi Fujimoto died in 1996, the Hong Kong translation of the cartoon title was changed from "ding-dong", meaning twinkle, to Doraemon.

Nobuyo Oyama, who was Doraemon in Japan from 1979 to 2005, retired at the age of 74. Drawing styles of the cartoon also changed over the past decade.

"Only the voice of Lam remained unchanged. He was the remaining link to the original Doraemon," said Yuen.

Other fans posted the trailer for the upcoming 3D film Stand by Me Doraemon, which debuts in Hong Kong cinemas next month.

"I can no longer stay here. I really have to go," says the voice of Doraemon in the trailer.