Get out the tissues because this hand-drawn thank-you manga from creator to fan will hit you right in the feels.

After a 15-year run, Bleach came to a close in August, and fans around the country began grieving for the loss of one of Japan’s longest-running and most popular series of all time. Plagued by setbacks due to the creator’s ill health, the fact that the series was successfully completed at all is thanks to one particular fan, who the creator is now desperately trying to find out more about with the help of Twitter. Tite Kubo, the series creator, has posted a photograph of the letter received from the fan, along with the envelope it came in, in an effort to gather any information about the person, who didn’t include a name nor a return address. According to Kubo, this letter was one of the driving forces that helped him rise above his personal difficulties and spurred him on to complete the manga.

Kubo’s message here reads: “I’ve uploaded a photo of the actual letter itself. It doesn’t matter what type of information it is, but if you know anything, please send a message via the below form.”

After being absent from Twitter for over a year, Kubo made the return to social media on 31 October, where he posted a number of photos of himself cosplaying as Bleach‘s villainous character Mayuri Kurotsuchi in early November. Today, his tweets took on a more serious note, as Kubo shared an 11-page manga he’d drawn, revealing the touching story of how Bleach really ended, recounting his personal difficulties and the effect that the above-mentioned fan had on him after he received his letter. Let’s take a look at the tweets below.

Kubo begins the manga with a message to fans, saying that since Bleach ended three months ago, he’s been able to spend some time at home relaxing with his wife, but throughout those months, he couldn’t help feeling that there was still something left undone.

He felt he’d received so much and was yet to return anything, so he would like to take the opportunity here to once again say thank you to all his readers.

It’s thanks to each and every one of his readers that he was able to continue writing Bleach for 15 years, and was able to finish the final chapter in a fitting way; the way he had wanted to from the very first chapter. Over the years, he has received so many letters from fans, ranging from 3 year-old children to 78 year-old women, and he’s read and kept each and every one of them. The letters were a great support.

In the tenth year of the series, Kubo’s health failed. He went to the doctor, who told him it was a cold, but he wasn’t able to fully recover like usual. He was in bed for weeks at a time, and even when he got a little better and took care of himself, he would come down with a cold again. This continued for a long time.

He thought he’d failed as a manga artist. Manga artists are meant to produce quality works in a set period of time, and with the story only partly finished, he didn’t know whether to continue the series on his own or simply finish it. Each and every single day he wondered what he should do and how he should end the series. It was around this time that he received a bag of mail, and inside was one letter, with no name or address on the envelope.

Inside the envelope was a letter from a boy who was sick in hospital. His medicine was no longer working, and he was now confined to his bed, unable to enjoy anything because even watching TV or playing games made him remember the times when he was with his friends.

Though his doctor and parents never said anything, he learned on his own that his illness was incurable, and when he told them he just wanted to die immediately, they asked him to try to enjoy the remainder of his life as best as possible.

The remainder of his life would be a year-and-a-half.

The boy wondered how he could enjoy anything when he couldn’t move from the confines of his bed. After thinking about it, he decided to immerse himself in the world of manga, as it would be something that he could enjoy without having to be constantly reminded of his friends.

After reading various manga, he came across Bleach. He immediately wanted to read the next volume, and for the first time since he was hospitalised, he began to think about “tomorrow”. Bleach changed his world and gave him the strength to live again.

Kubo then illustrates a heart-wrenching part of the letter where the boy says he has asked for this letter to be sent after his death, which means he is no longer in this world.

Ending the letter is a final request for “Kubo-sensei”. It says: “Please draw Bleach the way you want to, right to the very end. That is what I would want to read.”

Now where are those tissues? Better keep them handy because there are still a few frames left for us to get through.

Kubo writes: “I have a request for everyone.”

He first acknowledges that it’s terribly rude to request something from his readers while expressing his gratitude towards them in this manga, before asking, “Won’t you please help me find the sender of this letter?”

He understands it’s a selfish request, but Kubo says he wants to say “thank you” to the boy.

“Because he hasn’t been able to read this thank-you manga.”

Now where are those tissues again? This beautiful, yet heart-wrenching tale of inspiration from the world of Japanese manga is making people cry around the nation. Local news outlets have picked up on Kubo’s story, and his image of the letter received more than 180,000 retweets in less than a day.

With so many people touched by the story, we hope someone somewhere will be able to connect Kubo with the sender of the letter so that the manga artist can finally pay his respects to the fan who inspired him.

Source: Net Lab
Featured image: Twitter/@tite_official

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