Mangaka Makoto Raiku, known for creating the Zatch Bell! franchise, took to Twitter on Feb 12, 2024, to express his concerns about the lack of transparency surrounding the suicide of Hinako Ashihara following a statement released by Shogakukan editors.
Although Raiku commended Shogakukan, the publisher of Ashihara’s work ‘Sexy Tanaka-san,’ for acknowledging Ashihara’s good character, he criticized the company for failing to shed light on the events leading to her suicide.
The mangaka highlighted Ashihara’s deleted blog post, where she exposed her exchange with the scriptwriter of Sexy Tanaka-San, and social media posts before the suicide as evidence of a deeper issue that remains hidden.
“Well… Now, regarding the incident involving Ashihara-sensei, I’ve also strongly voiced my opinion, so I’ll write about my thoughts on the comment by the editors of Shogakukan’s First Comics Department regarding the ‘Sexy Tanaka-san’ incident involving Ashihara-sensei that was released the other day.
One good aspect of this comment is that it accurately conveys Ashihara-sensei’s good personality and character.
Other than that, I’m sorry, but the feeling remains that the incident is still in the dark.
Since Ashihara-sensei exposed her exchange with the drama scriptwriter on her blog, suddenly deleting that blog and posts on X, and leading to suicide, the circumstances leading to that, the ‘why,’ are not understood. It’s in the dark.“
Raiku then went on to voice concerns about the implications for author protection within the publishing industry. Without a comprehensive understanding of the incident, he questioned the measures that publishing companies would undertake to safeguard their creators and prevent similar tragedies in the future.
He further criticized the statement as he observed a perceived emphasis on emotional appeal rather than addressing the core issues at hand, suggesting that they tried to cover up crucial details about the situation.
“Without understanding that, it’s also unclear what the publishing company will do to protect its authors to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.
Reading this comment, I can only interpret the circumstances leading to suicide as something terrible that cannot be written publicly.’
In the full text of that comment, it seemed like the editors wrote a lot about their regrets, but it also looks like they’re covering up the crucial part with a comment appealing to emotions.“
The lack of clarity, according to Raiku, leaves manga artists feeling anxious and vulnerable. He expresses his own hesitation to engage in media collaborations until secure contracts can be ensured.
Moreover, the absence of explanation from Nippon TV on the incident and Shogakukan’s reluctance to further address the matter just amplifies Raiku’s scepticism on the industry’s commitment to accountability.
“The anxieties of the manga artists probably won’t go away. Of course, I’m the same, and there’s also a choice not to engage in media mix when trying to adapt my manga. At least until I can confirm a contract that’s 100% safe, I won’t move.
Ideally, I would like explanations from Nippon TV as well, but it’s highly unlikely. Shogakukan probably won’t touch on this anymore either.
I’m also thinking about not touching on this matter on X anymore, but the fear harbored by manga artists won’t disappear. I believe it’s not just me, but surely, all manga artists, and perhaps even novelists. When trust towards business partners disappears, the business will continue to shrink.
That’s all. End of story.“