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Japan anime lovers in shock over second high-profile death

A woman has her photograph taken with a statue of Dragon Ball character
A woman has her photograph taken with a statue of Dragon Ball character "Son Goku" in Tokyo on March 8, 2024. (AFP)
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09 Mar 2024 09:03:57 GMT9
09 Mar 2024 09:03:57 GMT9

TOKYO: Japanese cartoon fans were devastated Saturday over the death of a voice actress behind one of the nation’s most beloved anime heroines, just a day after the passing of the creator of the “Dragon Ball” mega-franchise was announced.

Voice actress Tarako, best known for her role as the happy-go-lucky and occasionally troublemaking little girl from long-running anime series “Chibi Maruko-chan”, died after an illness, her talent agency said Saturday. She was reportedly 63.

“Tarako passed away on March 4, 2024. She had been working while battling an illness since the beginning of this year, but her conditions deteriorated suddenly,” Troubadour Musique Office said in a statement.

Set in suburban Japan, “Chibi Maruko-chan” depicts the comical everyday antics of schoolgirl Maruko, loved by viewers of all generations for her kind heart and lazy personality.

Tarako’s cheerful voice as the show’s titular protagonist has entertained Japanese households every weekend during dinnertime over the last 34 years.

Disbelief engulfed Japan as the news of Tarako’s passing spread, coming just a day after the nation paid tribute to another anime legend, “Dragon Ball” creator Akira Toriyama, who died aged 68.

“I’m still in shock over Toriyama and now Tarako? Please, my mind can’t keep up with this succession of tragic news,” one user wrote on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

Indeed, the death of Toriyama continued to spark an outpouring of grief from all over the world.

“To Akira Toriyama and the millions of fans who grew up with him,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on X, posting a picture of a framed illustration of “Dragon Ball” characters, autographed by Toriyama.

Geraldo Alckmin, vice president of Brazil, also thanked Toriyama, calling his works a “legacy that has marked generations with values of companionship and loyalty”.

Having started as a manga series penned by deceased artist Momoko Sakura, herself the model behind Maruko, “Chibi Maruko-chan” was adapted into anime in 1990 and has since morphed into a popular multimedia franchise.

“We offer our deepest condolences for Tarako, who sincerely played the carefree Maruko that everybody loved”, Fuji TV, which runs the series, said in a statement.

Tarako’s funeral was attended only by close family, with a plan under way to organise a public farewell ceremony on a later date, her agency said.


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