Nurhasanah, the Indonesian voice of Doraemon, passes away at 62

Nurhasanah (center), best known as the Indonesian voice of cartoon character Doraemon, posing with her family in front of a Doraemon diorama. She passed away on Sunday, July 12 at the age of 62. Photo: Instagram/@nurhasanahdora
Nurhasanah (center), best known as the Indonesian voice of cartoon character Doraemon, posing with her family in front of a Doraemon diorama. She passed away on Sunday, July 12 at the age of 62. Photo: Instagram/@nurhasanahdora

Indonesia has lost another iconic voice actor after Nurhasanah Iskandar, best known as the Indonesian voice of cartoon character Doraemon, passed away yesterday at the age of 62. 

The news of Nurhasanah’s death was first confirmed by her children through her Instagram page yesterday evening.

Innalillahi wa innailaihi rojiun [We surely belong to God, and to Him we shall return]. Our mother, Ibu Nurhasanah, passed away today at 3pm. Please forgive the mistakes my mother  made during her lifetime,” the caption reads.

Dana Robbyansyah, Nurhasanah’s son, said that his late mother had long suffered from stroke.

“My mother had the third stroke attack. Her breathing was aided by a breathing tube. She had suffered from stroke since 2017,” he said yesterday.

Her death shocked many Indonesians who grew up watching the hugely popular anime series, as she passed barely a month after Prabawati Sukarta, the dubber for the character Shizuka, died at 64.

Born on May 20, 1958, Nurhasanah was the longtime dubber for Doraemon from 1993 to 2017, the year she fell ill. Prior to her Doraemon stint, she worked at state-owned public radio network, Radio of the Republic of Indonesia (RRI), in the department of radio drama production. 

In an interview with Antara in 2017, Nurhasanah said that several of her colleagues at RRI were dubbing for Doraemon, which was first broadcasted by RCTI in 1988. Prabawati was already the dubber for Shizuka, while her senior was the dubber for the spoiled rich kid character Suneo.

On the days of Doraemon recordings, her colleagues usually gathered around before going together to the studio.

“I thought, ‘How pleasant it is to gather, going to record for Doraemon, it’s probably great to dub for children’s movies?’” Nurhasanah said at that time.

The life-changing offer came from Prabawati when the first Doraemon dubber, Anita Riyadi, was about to be replaced. She said she’d asked Prabawati then about what Doraemon’s voice sounded like because she hadn’t seen the anime series before.

“Prabawati said, ‘You watch it first on Sunday morning. You surely can do it.’”

After 13 years of voicing Doraemon, Nurhasanah briefly took a break because she was replaced by another dubber. Her other voice works included telenovelas and Indian films.

Doraemon is the titular and main character of the manga series of the same name by Fujiko Fujio, the pen name of manga artists Hiroshi Fujimoto and Motoo Abiko. The male robotic cat with the fourth-dimensional pocket was sent back in time by a young man named Sewashi Nobi to improve the life of his great great grandfather, Nobita Nobi, in the past. In the story, Nobita was said to have a business in the future, but left his family line with financial problems due to his incompetence.

Nobita always had poor grades and bullied by his schoolmates, such as Suneo and Gian. Throughout the story, Nobita always asks the robot cat Doraemon for his magical futuristic gadgets to help him in life, including getting the attention of Shizuka. Nobita and Shizuka eventually married in the future.

The first Doraemon manga series was published in January 1970, and the anime adaptation was produced in 1979. The popular anime series, which propelled the character to iconic status in Japanese pop culture, ended in March 2005 with a total of 1,787 episodes.

To celebrate the anniversary of the Doraemon franchise, the new animated series began airing in 2005 with updated character designs as well as new voice actors and staff.

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