By Mishio Suzuki / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior SpecialistActor Nobuyuki Ishida passed away on June 13 at the age of 68 due to multiple organ metastases from large bowel cancer. In 1971, he starred in the TV show “Mirrorman,” playing Kyotaro Kagami, who transforms into the superhero Mirrorman.
He was my first love. My mother was very strict about what I could watch on TV, and “Mirrorman” was the first tokusatsu sci-fi action drama she let me watch.
Born to an Earthian mother and a father from the two-dimensional world, Mirrorman suffered for this complicated background. But he fought hard against The Invaders, his archenemies, to save the Earth, and I became fascinated by him. He was strong, but he was also distressed over his parentage and worried about the time bomb embedded inside his body by his foe. Mirrorman was a tormented hero. I think I was attracted to the way he never gave up despite all the suffering.
I met Ishida for the first time in the autumn of 2005 when I was reporting on a large tokusatsu event. He looked as cool as ever, just like when “Mirrorman” was on the air. He was sophisticated and had a graceful aura around him. After we became friends, I never heard him complain about anything. He would rather gently cover over my flaws and subtly lead me onto the right track.
He kindly appeared in some of the events I organized, and I had the honor of writing an afterword for his book. When I published a book, he readily agreed to participate in a talk event for the publication. I remember that I felt like I was in heaven whenever Ishida, the hero I adored as a child, called me “Mishio-chan.”
His cheerful personality and infinite patience never changed even after he was diagnosed with cancer. In 2015, I interviewed him for an article on The Yomiuri Shimbun’s health page.
“Everyone is living the rest of his or her life. But healthy people are not notified of how long they will live. That’s why they tend to live their lives aimlessly. In that sense, you can say I’m living my life to the fullest,” he said in a matter-of-fact way in the interview.
He also wore a smile and likened the cancer in his body to The Invaders, saying he would fight against it and win.
I think he won.
Even after being told that he had stage 4 cancer, he wrote theater scripts, directed plays and appeared in many films. By doing so, he stayed true to his way of life. Even after learning that his days were numbered, he said, “That’s just data. Data is mere numbers. I’ll go on working while receiving treatment.”
He never gave way to pressure. And, just as Mirrorman showed me when I was a child, Ishida demonstrated what it is to live a life without being defeated or giving up.
I am proud to say he was my first love. I’d like to live the rest of my life properly so that I won’t feel ashamed when I see him next time. Thank you very much, Mr. Ishida.