The news that 44-year-old voice actress Ikue Otani - best known for voicing Pokémon character Pikachu - had died this morning has been spreading like wildfireonline. But has she?
The rumor on various social networking sites is that Otani died suddenly this morning for no explicable reason. There is no news of her death on any major Japanese news outlet
The loss of a voice actress of such an iconic character would be front page news in Japan. It's not. Why? Because it didn't happen.
Kotaku contacted Otani's agency, Mausu Promotion, and was told by a spokesperson that the news of Otani's death is false. Otani is "healthy" and "fine", the spokesperson added.
This rumor was a hoax — a modern day Paul-is-dead online urban legend. Paul isn't dead and neither is Ikue!
Besides Pokémon, Otani has also done voice work for One Piece, ToHeart, Shenmue II, Mega-Man Legends series and many, many more. In 2006, she did take time off from voice acting during a pregnancy leave.
Here is Otani, alive and well, on one of Sanma Akashiya's TV programs, voicing Pikachu.