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Sunday, February 04, 2024 

A mangaka sadly committed suicide after controversy over a live action TV adaptation

Deadline reported on the sad death by suicide of a lady mangaka who'd been at odds with a TV studio over their take on her stories:
Hinako Ashihara, the popular Japanese manga artist perhaps best known in the United States for her Sand Chronicles series of the early 2000s, was found dead at her home near Tokyo on January 29, a day after she reportedly went missing. According to Japanese news sources, a possible suicide note was found near her body by police.

The contents of the note have not been made public. Ashihara was 50.

In the days leading up to her death, the artist had posted, then deleted, troubling blog messages expressing disappointment over a recent live-action TV adaptation of her manga Sexy Tanaka-san. The 10-part series, starring Kinami Haruka, began airing last October on Nippon Television.

In her initial blog posts, Ashihara reportedly accused Nippon Television of making significant changes to her work, in contrast to what the network had promised. The dispute between artist and network became a controversial topic among manga fans online, and the artist later apologized for her criticism, posting on Twitter/X on the Sunday she went missing, “I didn’t mean to attack. I’m sorry.” She was found dead the following day.
It's terrible when somebody with a well regarded resume like hers commits suicide. I'm very sorry to learn this happened. The Japan Times addressed the subject, discussing how there was abusive attitudes leveled at the lady:
What was essentially an industry insider skirmish grew into an all-out social media uproar. Some users sided with Aizawa, criticizing the sudden unexplained changes in the plot and saying Ashihara was being too demanding as a creator and should accept that source material needed to be changed for a mainstream TV audience. Elsewhere, Aizawa was vilified as a gensaku kurrashā, or “original work crusher,” a term for producers and writers who destroy works in the process of adaptation, and fans sided with Ashihara for being poorly treated as a creator. The topic trended for multiple days on X.

[...] Critics seem chiefly concerned with whether Ashihara’s work as an artist was respected and what the role of a scriptwriter is to begin with. What no one seems to be saying (or maybe the algorithms just aren’t showing) is what responsibility belongs to the rest of us: To the users, for their anonymous pile-ons and trigger-happy responses, the media industry, for adding fuel to the fire, or the platform algorithms, for the way they encourage careless clicking and boost sentiments strongly divided by emotions.
Here's more on The Mainichi. Seriously, I think there is something to ponder here, about how a fuss over a TV show has tragically led to a lady throwing away her life at far too young an age. If anybody's disappointed with whatever changes were made in the live action TV show, why not just change the channel, and stick with the manga, and any anime adaptations to boot? What value does an adaptation like this have that makes it so important compared to its source? Far as I'm concerned, these live action takes shouldn't have to replace the original in terms of value.

So anyway, my condolences to Ashihara's family. This is a sad incident that did not have to happen.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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