The Internet wept as one at Eiichiro Oda’s beautiful fanart of Luffy sharing a feast with Momoko Sakura’s self-insert following her death this month.

The world of anime and manga felt a heavy blow this month with the death of Momoko Sakura, a manga artist who delighted generations of children with her cute semi-biographical antics of her own childhood. The stories of Chibi Maruko-chan are based around her own family members and drawn in a super-cute and simple style.

▼ The animated adaptation also had a well-loved and catchy theme song.

On August 15, when the 53-year-old Sakura passed away after a battle with breast cancer, the entire manga industry felt the shockwaves. Many of today’s young creators grew up with Maruko’s shenanigans; several of them have since had their own children, and fill those new childhoods with the colorful capers of the Sakura family. One famous manga creator expressed his grief in a particularly poignant way…

One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda drew a beautiful thank-you illustration in Sakura’s memory

When you think of the modern day manga industry it’s hard not to think of the pirate king of all comics, One Piece. So it’s a very touching sight to see series protagonist Luffy relaxing by the barbecue with tiny tot Maruko, and even letting her have his share of the spoils! Meat is Luffy’s all-time favorite food, so that’s no small act of kindness.

The message attached to the tweet from the official One Piece account reads:

“We received this illustration from Oda after the announcement of Momoko Sakura’s death.
They were obviously on good terms in public appearances, but were very close on a personal basis as well.
At this time, we send our prayers and good wishes for Sakura-sensei’s soul.”

The artwork has already been shared over 50,000 times on Twitter, and the tearful voices of fans around the web accompanied it on its journey:

“Oh, damn it, I’m gonna cry.”
“I’m sure Momoko Sakura is having a blast, riding on a merry-go-round in the sky…”
“Luffy gave her his portion too.”
“Just looking at this had the tears rolling down my cheeks.”

Oda has drawn other popular characters before, but this picture has a sweet sentimentality to it that we don’t often see even in his own storylines. Rest in peace, Momoko Sakura.

Source, top image:
[ Read in Japanese ]