After Yuko Mizutani, Chibi Maruko-chan‘s seiyu for big sister Sakiko, passed away from breast cancer last month, Oricon reports that her character has been recast with Michiko Toyoshima taking her place in the role. Having previously voiced Kuina in One Piece and Shion Hibiki in Zatch Bell!, Fuji TV has announced that Toyoshima will start as Sakiko in the episode airing on June 5th. Mizutani’s last two performances in the family comedy anime series were aired on May 22nd and Sunday, May 29th.

Kobunsha’s Josei Jishin website also posted an interview that same Sunday with anime director Mizuho Nishikubo, who was married to Mizutani. He spoke about her struggle to complete her last episode as Sakiko at the recording session on April 22nd. She was feeling sick, so Nishikubo accompanied her and she held a wash basin throughout the recording, finishing it “through sheer force of will only”, in his words. But with her husband and the staff helping her through the process, she could say “I did it”, and was then able to go home. Mizutani said herself she was pleased that she could get through the recording, as the episode focused on Sakiko, so her character had a lot of lines.

Nishikubo added that Mizutani’s health deteriorated just a week later, and that she spent the last two weeks of her life in hospital. Even then she had the show’s script with her, as she planned to carry on working, but her condition continued to worsen throughout her final days.

Besides playing Sakiko, Mizutani was beloved by otaku worldwide as the original voice of Digimon Adventure‘s Sora Takeonuchi. Her many other characters included Tenchi Muyo!‘s Mihoshi Kuramitsu, Nadia – The Secret of Blue Water‘s Marie, and her most recently cast role as Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal‘s Ikuko Tsukino.

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