Act Age comes to an abrupt end with final chapter to be published three days after author’s arrest.

It’s be a gross overstatement to say “Japan is okay with pedophilia,” but the Japanese legal system does seem to punish offenders far less severely than many Western nations would. For example, when Nobuhiro Watsuki, creator of manga/anime franchise Rurouni Kenshin, was found to be in possession of pornographic images of girls no older than 15, he completely avoided serving any jail time. Instead, he was fined a mere 200,000 yen (approximately US$1,900 by the exchange rate at the time), and while serialization of the Rurouni Kenshin manga was temporarily suspended, it was restarted just seven months after Watsuki’s arrest.

So when manga author Tatsuya Matsumoto, also known by his pen name Tatsuya Matsuki, was arrested last weekend on charges of groping two junior high school girls on the streets of Tokyo on a night in June, skeptics wondered if he too would get off easy after admitting to the accusations, since, like Rurouni Kenshin, Act-Age is published by the company Shueisha. But while Matsumoto’s legal punishment is yet to be determined, Shueisha, which publishes Act-Age in its Weekly Shonen Jump manga anthology, has shown that it isn’t going to give Matsumoto a slap on the wrist and welcome him back.

On August 10, two days after Matsumoto’s arrest, Weekly Shonen Jump issued the following statement on both the magazine’s website and official Twitter account.

Notice of cancellation of serialization for Act-Age

On August 8, Tatsuya Matsuki, the original creator of Act-Age, was arrested.

Our managing editorial department recognizes the severity of what transpired, has confirmed the details of the incident that led to the arrest, and discussed the situation with Act-Age artist Shiro Usazaki. Following this, we have judged that it is not possible to continue serializing Act-Age.

As of the August 11 combined Volume 26/37 of Weekly Shonen Jump, we will be ending Act-Age’s serialization.

We deeply regret that a series that has been enjoyed and supported by so many fans will be ending in this manner. However, we have arrived at this decision in earnest consideration of the social responsibility of Weekly Shonen Jump.

We wish to sincerely apologize for the anguish and distress that has been caused.

This decision is especially painful for Usazaki, but we will be working hard to support her in creating new works in the future.

In addition, we will be discussing what to do regarding currently printed collected volumes of Act-Age and associated events with individual counterpart organizations, and announcing those decisions at a later date.

As mentioned in the statement, though Matsumoto wrote Act-Age, he wasn’t the one drawing it. Instead, it was Shiro Usazaki who provided the art for the series, which began serialization in 2018 when she was just 20 years old. With Act-Age rising in popularity while being carried in the pages of Japan’s most popular manga magazine, Usazaki’s professional career was off to a flying start, so it’s heartening to hear that Shueisha intends to help her find a new home for her talents.

Act-Age’s 12th collected volume, which was released just over one month ago

However, most manga, even those where the same creator is both writer and principal artist, aren’t drawn by a single person. There’s usually a team of uncredited assistants as well, and it’s unlikely that everyone involved in Act-Age’s production will be able to make a seamless transition to their next project/source of income. Then there are the other stakeholders alluded in Shueisha’s statement, from booksellers to the potential cast and crew of the planned Act-Age live-action stage play adaptation, who will have to deal with the repercussions of Matsumoto’s deplorable conduct.

None of this, of course, is to say that the effects on people’s livelihoods and artistic dreams should be prioritized over the safety of the two victims. They are, however, even more examples of how selfish and destructive Matsumoto’s behavior was, and even more reasons to be deeply angry about it.

Source: Twitter/@jump_henshubu via Hachima Kiko
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