Yukiko Okada (Born as Kayo Satō; August 22, 1967) was a Japanese idol singer in the 1980s. She was a winner of the talent show, Star Tanjō! (essentially a Japanese predecessor to American Idol) and pretty much after that, the rest is history.
Known as "Yukko" to her fans, Okada debuted with the single, "First Date" on April 21, 1984. Her 1986 single "Kuchibiru Network", reached number one on the Oricon weekly singles chart dated February 10, 1986. She was on her way to becoming a star and had she continued, would've been as big a star as Seiko Matsuda; another idol singer who was also very popular in her time. Yukiko would've always been remembered for her simple voice and being cute, petite, and innocent.
But tragically, what she will be forever remembered for, is her untimely death.
On April 8, 1986, neighbours reported the smell of gas coming from Okada's aparment, a rescue team was called and found Okada, crouching in a closet, sobbing with her wrist slashed. Okada's manager arrived and she was taken to a Hospital and then to the Sun-Music Agency building. While her manager and the staff were discussing how to avoid a media scandal as news of her suicide attempt had already leaked out, Okada ran to the stairs, reached the roof of the seven-story building, removed her shoes and jumped. She died the instant she hit the ground.
She was just 18 years old.
The reason why she took her life is, and likely will forever remain, unknown.
But of course, that didn't stop Wild Mass Guessing, resulting in some "credible" theories that some consider to possibly be the reason why she ultimately did it. Yukiko was said to be extremely overworked and stressed, and she reportedly did not tell anyone of her personal problems, which could've resulted in stress bottling up the point where she couldn't take it anymore. Yukiko was also isolated, both from her family whom she'd moved away from to become an idol, and her friends. She'd moved out of the apartment she shared with fellow idols into her own place in '85 and she had graduated high school in '86, leaving her friends behind. Even her reported best friend stated that Yukiko never opened up to her about her problems. Yukiko was by all accounts, a Stepford Smiler in the last part of her life, who possibly just didn't want to be an idol anymore.
Yukiko was also expected to essentially be a "character", playing a smiling, happy that did not reflect on her real self, resulting in the exact opposite of Becoming the Mask. Yukiko possibly couldn't take pretending to be a smiling idol anymore and seeing no way out of this life ahead of her, she ended it.
But the most popular theory is that it was due to her wanting to pursue a relationship with, and ultimately being rejected by Toru Minegishi, an actor who was old enough to be her father. This is due to Okada stating; "I thought of somebody" when asked why she tried to kill herself and her manager discovering notes written by Okada describing her longing to be with Minegishi. A detailed research and few speculations could be found here.
Copycat suicides followed afterwards from distraught fans, with one even committing suicide from the same building. and the term "Yukiko Syndrome" was coined. with roughly around 30 deaths attributed to it.
Okada was cremated and her ashes are buried in the Jouman-Ji Temple in Nagoya, Japan.
Information on Okada is sparse in the west as her time was obviously before the rise of the internet, so if you have some time to spare, a 3-part fan documentary entitled "KANASHII YOKAN: The Life and Legacy of Yukiko Okada" chronicling Okada's entire life can be found here
It's now been over 30 years since her death, but Yukiko's memory is still fresh in peoples mind. On April 8 every year on the anniversary of her death, fans gather and lay a memorial for her, both on her grave and on the spot she died, proving that even though she is gone, she will never be forgotten.
- [1984.9.5] Cinderella
- [1985.3.21] FAIRY
- [1985.9.18] Jyūgatsu no Ningyo
- [1986.3.21] Venus Tanjō
Provides examples of:
- Accidental Misnaming:
- A nervous Okada introduced herself as 'Yukko' and the name has since gotten stuck until becoming an Affectionate Nickname.
- On her TV debut as an idol, the host referred to her as "Ukiko Okada" and also mis-identified her song First Date as First Lady.
- Blind Without 'Em: Yukiko was actually very near-sighted and would wear glasses with thick, bottom of milk bottle-like, lens in her private life.
- Dead Artists Are Better: By today's standards, Yukiko is not at all that remarkable and even her voice was nothing special. There are definitely better and more talented idols from her era, yet the reason why she's so well-remembered and cherished today is because of, well, her suicide at such a young age.
- Driven to Suicide: For reasons that are, and will forever remain, unknown.
- Idol Singer: The most basic example of one.
- Moe Stare: You're blind if you've not seen this in her music videos. Or picture above...?
- Seppuku: See above on how it counts. There's mention of her name in the trope itself.
- Teen Idol: As expected of fresh-faced Idol Singers.