Horrible news: voice actress Tomoko Kawakami passed away last night after a long battle with ovarian cancer. In addition to touching audiences around the world with her powerful performances as the heroic Utena (Revolutionary Girl Utena), the delicate Misuzu (AIR) and the fierce Soi-Fon (Bleach), Kawakami is a frequent voice heard in magical girl series, often in supporting roles. She has been heard in Card Captor Sakura as the voice of Rika, in Uta-Kata as Satsuki and Puni Puni Poemi as Mutsumi. Perhaps her most memorable (if not very well-known) magical girl role was that of Konoha Haida in Magical Project S, a sequel to the Magical Girl Pretty Sammy OVA. Konoha, the heroine’s brassy classmate, one day picks up her magical baton and is turned into the World’s Worst Magical Girl, “Magical Girl Funky Connie”, who generally lets crime run rampant and uses her powers to hit on her crush from class. Kawakami’s energetic voice lent the role a fun dynamic, which is often sadly forgotten in favor of Rumi Kasahara’s even sillier and more over-the-top Pixy Misa role.
Perhaps it seems bad taste to highlight one of Kawakami’s humorous roles at such a sad time, but it speaks to her incredible range as an actress, to be able to perform a heartbreaking role like Utena, Air or Kanon in addition to a lighthearted role like this one. Kawakami’s work has touched audiences for over ten years now, moving them to tears or to laughter. Please keep her family and friends in your thoughts today.