Manga readers are concerned about the fate of Kosaku Shima, whose corporate developments they’ve been following since 1983.

There aren’t a lot of manga series that have been in continuous publication since almost four decades ago. Kenshi Hirokane’s well-established Kosaku Shima series, however, is one of the few that can lay claim to that proud designation.

Serialized in Weekly Morning magazine since 1983, the series, now in its eighth arc, follows the career and ongoing promotion of fictional salaryman Kosaku Shima. The latest series is titled Sodanyaku Shima Kosaku (Senior Advisor Kosaku Shima/相談役 島耕作) which began serialization in 2019. Besides its longevity, the manga is well-known for accurately depicting Japanese corporate culture, a result of the author’s lived experiences while working for Matsushita Electric for four years before becoming a manga artist, along with a heavy dose of social consciousness. Over the years, the storylines have depicted real-world happenings such as Japan’s bubble economy in the 1980s and its subsequent collapse as well as the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami.

This time around, it seems like even Kosaku is unable to escape the ubiquity of a global pandemic as is hinted on the illustrated cover of the February 10 issue.

“Don’t miss it! The biggest crisis strikes Shima…”

The chapter title, “Too Close,” is another indicator that something may be amiss:

▼ Chapter title page

The real shocker, and in many readers’ eyes undeniable proof that the titular character has contracted COVID-19, comes in the last page of the installment as Kosaku is eating some takeout curry and something dawns on him.

“I can’t taste or smell anything…Could this be…?”

Furthermore, the text on the right-hand side reads, “He was unwittingly in close contact with an infected person…Kosaku Shima is in a state of emergency!!”

Net users were abuzz at the prospect of Kosaku’s impending battle with the disease, with some bracing themselves for the character potentially being killed off and others spinning the topic into morbid humor territory:

“Did they really have to take it that far?!”
“This can’t be the end for him!”
“The title of the ninth series will be ‘Patient Kosaku Shima’ [poking fun at the practice of naming each series after Kosaku’s newly promoted work title].”
“No, no, it will be ‘Company Funeral Kosaku Shima.'”
“It’s especially bad when older people contract the disease…is he going to make it?”

Since the chapter ends cryptically, readers will have to tune into the next installment for the news to be officially confirmed.

If you’d rather celebrate long-running anime series with a heavy dose of escapism, and not realism, maybe One Piece’s or Detective Conan’s recent 1000th episode celebrations are more for you at this time.

Source: Otakomu via J-Cast News
Featured image: Twitter/@morningmanga
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