Message of heartfelt thanks is mixed with cautionary advice as artist passes away far too young.

Like many Japanese illustrators, Kuro Hekiten’s plans for late December were to exhibit and sell his works at Comiket, Japan’s largest convention for self-published dojinshi anime/manga-style art and comics. He was so enthusiastic that he arrived early, helping to set up desks and booths in Tokyo Big Sight’s west hall, where his publishing group would be manning a booth.

▼ One of Kuro Hekiten’s on-site snapshots

He described the atmosphere as “the calm before the storm,” looking forward to the coming excitement once the convention was up and running and the hall filled with fans and fellow artists.

▼ A sample of Kuro Hekiten’s artwork

But while Kuro Hekiten intended to spend the last few days of 2018 at Comiket, the event also turned out to be where he’d spend some of the last few days of his life. At some point during the multi-day event (which was held between December 29 and 31), the 44-year-old Kuro Hekiten collapsed on the show floor as a result of coronary thrombosis (a clotted blood vessel). The exact date and time of Kuro Hekiten’s collapse is unclear, but he was still tweeting photos of his booth as late as the morning of December 30.

On January 7, Kuro Hekiten’s blog was updated by his younger brother, who sadly informed the artist’s fans that his sibling had passed away in the hospital on January 1. However, mixed in with the heartbreaking news was a message of touching gratitude. Kuro Hekiten’s younger brother, who was at Comiket when his brother collapsed, wrote:

“By the time I noticed my brother had collapsed, the Comiket staff and other attendees were already administering CPR to him, someone had called the paramedics, and countless other people were doing what they could to help.”

One quick-acting person brought a defibrillator, and a nearby attendee who happened to be a nurse offered her assistance.

The artist’s brother continued:

So many people, who’d never met my brother and didn’t even know his name, tried to save him, acting so quickly and earnestly. The staff and other attendees even formed a barricade to keep the walkways clear so that the paramedics could get to him, and transport him to the ambulance, as quickly as possible.”

Unfortunately, Kuro Hekiten’s condition proved fatal, and he passed away in the hospital. However, his brother wanted to make absolutely certain that no one felt like their effort had been pointless, as the temporary prolonging of his life allowed his relatives a chance to say a peaceful good-bye.

“In the end, my brother couldn’t be saved, but because of your efforts, his family was able to be with him in his last moments. Thank you all so, so much.

He was not lonely in his final moments, and I would like to express my family’s deep gratitude.”

Still, Kuro Hekiten’s younger brother feels the pain of having lost someone he loves, and he also took the opportunity to make an important request of those who share his brother’s passion for creating anime-style art.

“My brother had not previously suffered from any major illnesses, but you couldn’t even generously say that he led a healthy lifestyle. He’d stay up all night for days on end trying to meet deadlines, then have to sleep through the day. He had poor nutrition and smoked a lot, and I think these things were major factors in his passing away at just 44 years old.

I think that there are many people who work in the art and manga fields who live similar lives, and I humbly ask that you take this as an opportunity to reexamine your lifestyle, for the sake of yourselves and those you love.”

Between the mad dashes to snatch up limited-quantity merch and jostling for position at cosplay photo shoots, it can be easy to see attending Comiket as an exercise in purely indulgent self-satisfaction. But the kindness shown by those who sprang to Kuro Hekiten’s aid, and the peace it provided him and his family with, is a touching example of how something as presumably shallow as a shared love for anime can bring people together, and hopefully by heeding the advice of the artist’s younger brother, they’ll be able to continue those connections into old age.

Source: Kuro Hekiten official blog via Hachima Kiko