A beloved Japanese actress known in the world of anime and popular television series died of COVID-19.
Kumiko Okae, whose real name is Kumiko Owada, passed away from pneumonia complications caused by the novel coronavirus on April 23 at a Tokyo hospital. She was 63 years old, Nippon reports.
While best known in the Pokémon community for playing the character Officer Jenny in the “Pokémon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew” movie, Okae was also a popular actress and television presenter in Japan.
Since debuting as an actress in 1975, she appeared in dramas and variety shows, such as “Renso Game” on NHK. She also hosted the “Hanamaru Market” morning information show from 1996 to 2014 for Tokyo Broadcasting System Television Inc.
Other voice talent work included the role of Elina in the movie “The Dog of Flanders” and Haru’s mother in the Studio Ghibli study project called the “Cat Project” (1999) which would later become “The Cat Returns.”
Okae reportedly developed a fever on April 3. When her condition worsened three days later, she was rushed to a hospital in Tokyo. She later tested positive for COVID-19.
According to the management office, Okae received radiation therapy from January to February for the breast cancer she was diagnosed with late last year. It is believed that her immunity was weakened from the therapy, making her more susceptible to a viral infection.
Since Okae’s hospitalization, her husband, 69-year-old actor Baku Owada, and her eldest daughter and actress, 36-year-old Miho Owada, have been staying home. Both have yet to show any symptom of COVID-19, reports Japan Times.
“We are very saddened and cannot believe this, it is very frustrating and we cannot think of anything right now,” the two said in a joint statement.