Akiyama's career began in Canada as a graduate of George Brown College's theatre program, leading to roles in Canadian TV series Seeing Things and Check It Out. Those early appearances would lead to roles in romantic drama Captive Hearts, David Cronenberg's 1988 film Dead Ringers and CBC's Street Legal.
Akiyama's on-screen profile grew with his role in Robert Longo's 1995 cyberpunk thriller Johnny Mnemonic, playing whip-wielding villain Shinji who is set on chasing down star Keanu Reeves.
Akiyama starred in a number of other films shot in the Toronto area, including Resident Evil: Afterlife and Repo Men. He also appeared in Adam Sandler's 2015 film Pixels as Toru Iwatani, the designer of Pac-Man, who attempts to stop the iconic character from devouring a city.
Akiyama's voice acting can be heard in a number of animated series. He voiced Iceman, Silver Samurai and Sunfire in the X-Men Animated Series and Malachite/Kunzite in the original English version of Sailor Moon.
He was also involved in theatre, performing in both the Toronto and Broadway productions of Miss Saigon, in addition to Sally Han's Naomi's Road and Hiro Kanagawa's The Tiger of Malaya.
Akiayma continued to work until his diagnosis with bladder cancer late last year. Find posts in tribute from fans and contemporaries below.
RIP Denis Akiyama. You were always someone I looked up to as an actor, father, husband and human being. The Asian Canadian acting community lost a giant today. Love you, man. #fuckcancer— Paul Sun-Hyung Lee (@bitterasiandude) June 30, 2018
We're very sad to learn that Denis Akiyama has passed away. He was a talented and prolific actor, and portrayed Tong Si Hung in Human Revolution. His performance played a big part in setting the bar for our conversation system. Our condolences to his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/yg42SxXTyH— Deus Ex (@DeusEx) July 1, 2018
R.I.P Denis Akiyama 😥 We lost another one way 2 soon. Terrific actor and an even better person. My condolences to the Akiyama family. ❤🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/weksPMpjXp— Junior Williams (@Canadio66) June 30, 2018
Heartbroken to hear about the death of my Pixels costar Denis Akiyama. RIP my friend. https://t.co/1REQ9CSZfV— Josh Gad (@joshgad) July 3, 2018
Rest in peace #DenisAkiyama. I'm so glad I got to work with and get to know this supremely cool man. He played Koji on #Carter but was in a TON more. Though his characters weren't always, he was rock n roll through and through. #FUCKCANCER— Kristian Bruun (@MrKristianBruun) July 1, 2018
Last week our dear friend Denis Akiyama passed away. Represented by Robyn Friedman for many years, Denis' work spanned decades and touched many people.— Fountainhead Talent (@fountainheadzup) July 4, 2018
Visit https://t.co/ERrHNkAxK5 for more details. pic.twitter.com/CzG71PvnN8