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Investigation Report On ‘Sexy Tanaka-San’ Mangaka’s Death Reveals Major Communication Gap Between Shogakukan & Production Committee

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Nippon TV has published the findings of an internal special investigation team regarding the sudden death of Sexy Tanaka-san manga author Hinako Ashihara.

The report, which was released on May 31, 2024, highlighted significant communication failures between Ashihara and the drama production team, leading to a breakdown in trust.

According to the investigation, the drama adaptation was proposed to Shogakukan in late February last year.

Nippon TV’s production staff believed Shogakukan had agreed that they could have an original ending for the drama due to the manga being incomplete.

In contrast, Shogakukan’s intention was to base the original ending on suggestions from Ashihara to avoid affecting the unfinished manga, indicating a miscommunication from the start.

Shogakukan representatives stated they had emphasized the necessity of having a screenwriter who would respect the original manga. However, the production side claimed they were unaware of this.

Despite this, the production team maintained a stance of respect, stating they would not ignore the author’s opinions.

Ashihara had insisted on faithfully adapting her manga for the drama, as she had detailed on her blog before her death. The author had outlined three conditions for the adaptation:

  1. stay faithful to the manga
  2. ensure the original parts do not affect the future of the unfinished manga by having the author provide the storyline and dialogue.
  3. do not change what the author provided, with the expectation that the original parts of the drama would be scripted based on the author’s material, potentially involving the author in writing the script.

However, investigation revealed that during subsequent meetings in March 2024, these conditions were not communicated by Shogakukan, either verbally or in writing, to the production team of the drama.

As a result, the core members of the production team were unaware of these conditions, and this intention was not conveyed to the screenwriter.

Consequently, Ashihara grew increasingly distrustful of the production side due to continued miscommunication.

Apart from the miscommunication, the investigation also highlighted potential shortcomings in the production timeline, with the drama being developed within a relatively short period before its broadcast.

To prevent similar issues in the future, the report recommends early project decisions.

Other preventive measures included early contract agreements between the network and the author and requesting direct meetings between the production staff and the author to avoid misunderstandings.

Nippon TV President Akira Ishizawa apologized for the incident and expressed a commitment to improving communication and production practices.

This investigation report highlights differences in understanding and miscommunication between the drama production team and the original manga team. Issues such as the drama production schedule, production system, and the timing of contract signing are areas Nippon TV must address more strictly in the future. Nippon TV is committed to responsibly addressing the identified issues to ensure that everyone involved in television drama production can work with greater confidence and peace of mind.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun

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