Shiro Usazaki understands fans are upset about the series ending, but asks them to keep those feelings to themselves.

Earlier this month, manga creator Tatsuya Matsumoto, known professionally as Tatsuya Matsuki, was arrested by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police on charges of inappropriately touching a junior high school girl on the street before riding off on his bicycle. Matsuki admitted to the crime, and soon after Weekly Shonen Jump, the manga anthology in which Matsuki’s Act-Age manga was serialized, announced that the series would be cancelled.

But while the vast majority of manga have a single person who works as both writer and principal artist, Act-Age was different. Although Matsuki handled the series’ plot and dialogue, the illustrations were by up-and-coming artist Shiro Usazaki.

Act-Age was the first major success for the 22-year-old Usazaki, and its serialization in Weekly Shonen Jump, by far Japan’s most popular manga magazine, was a major feather in the cap of such a young artist. Because of that, many would understand if Usazaki were upset about the sudden end to her big break, but in her first public statement since Matsuki’s arrest, Usazaki, through her Twitter account, made very clear where she thinks people’s thoughts should be.

On August 8, Tatsuya Matsuki, the original creator of the manga series Act-Age, which I am the artist for, that I, Shiro Uzaki, am the artist for, was arrested and detained on charges of indecent behavior and sex crimes against a junior high school girl

First, I would like to express my sincere sympathies to the victim and her family. I think it took great courage to overcome the shock and fear she was feeling, and to raise her voice in anger at the affront to her dignity.

No judicial ruling has been handed down yet, but as a result of the victim notifying the police, this has become a criminal matter requiring arrest and detainment, so I am taking the situation very seriously. I comprehensively accept the decision of the Jump editorial division to cancel the serialization of Act-Age, and to take [similar] actions regarding the sale of collected tankobon volumes, merchandising, and other promotional/collaborative planning for the series.

The damage from sexual offense does not heal on its own with the passage of time. From now on, the victim will have a sense of fear that should not be necessary, tensing up when she passes by a person of similar appearance [to Matsuki], increasing the speed she walks at, and feeling frightened walking on the street at night. It is possible that even seeing Act-Age itself could result in her feeling frightened, and considering this, I have decided that the decision to cancel the series is appropriate.

In addition, I have a request for all fans who have enjoyed Act-Age. Thank you for supporting the series. Act-Age ending only part-way through its story, under these circumstances, is something I find as regrettable as all of you do. However, expressing lament about the end of the series will make the victim feel pressured, and so it absolutely is something that should be avoided.

This is obvious, but the series ending is not the victim’s fault. Making her voice heard after the incident, instead of silently bearing the pain of a chikan sexual offense, is definitely not a mistake. What has transpired since then is a result of her doing the right thing. I believe that statements that make light of her courage and actions, or look down on or shame her for them, should not be made.

I do understand the feelings of those for whom manga is a life-saving source of emotional support, and fans for whom Act-Age gave them something they could feel passionate about in this life. I too draw life-saving emotional support from manga, and what has happened fills me with sadness. But please do not turn that love in ill-advised directions of violence. Please think clearly, consider various perspectives, don’t let yourself get wound up over baseless rumors, and consider what should and shouldn’t be said.

In closing, I solemnly hope that the victim will receive the necessary psychological care and can live a peaceful life in which nothing like this will ever happen to her again.

So yes, Usazaki understands that fans wish they could still be reading new chapters of Act-Age, and if it weren’t for the heinous crime committed by Matsuki, she’d like to be drawing them too. But she also believes that both her and fans moving on from the series is the best way to help the victim move on with her life.

Source: Twitter/@uszksr via Hachima Kiko
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