The anime fandom has gathered in mourning today after news from Japan confirmed Kumiko Okae has passed away. The actress died earlier today after being diagnosed with the new coronavirus disease. She was 63 years old. According to the report, Oka began exhibiting symptoms of the disease on April 3 after she underwent radiation therapy for breast cancer. The treatment was done from January to February in light of her cancer diagnosis late last year, so the actress was considered immunocompromised.
For those who have kept track of COVID-19, they will know that those who are immunocompromised are said to be at a higher risk for the disease. Any comorbidity can exasperate the condition of someone with the novel coronavirus, and that is only further multiplied as you get older. For Okae, her age and medical history of breast cancer put her at an elevated risk, so her recent sessions of radiation therapy put her in a high-risk category for the disease.
After Okae began showing symptoms in early April (via ANN), the actress was taken to the hospital on April 6 after she grew sicker. The actress was diagnosed with COVID-19 shortly. After being admitted, and she passed away on April 23 after a tough battle.
For anime fans, they will know the actress best for her work in The Cat Returns, a beautiful film done by Studio Ghibli. She played Haru's mom in the movie before moving to another iconic franchise. The actress was tasked with voicing Jenny in Pokemon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew. The minor role saw Okae play the confidant to Queen Ilene, and she helped point Ash in the right direction after Lucario appeared around the Cameran Palace.
Outside of anime, Okae was a well-known actress in the live action sphere. She got her start in the TBS series Omitsu in 1975 before moving on to projects like Ten Made Todoke and the program Hanamaru Market.
Our thoughts are with Okae's loved ones during this difficult time. In Japan, there have been more than 12,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus with 299 deaths.