Chinese fans of hit Japanese anime Chibi Maruko-chan grieve creator Momoko Sakura’s death
Millennials look back with love and thanks to one of their best-loved Japanese cartoons
The untimely death of the Japanese artist behind the much-loved manga and anime series Chibi Maruko-chan has unleashed a flood of remembrances on Chinese social media.
Fans have been sharing their childhood memories of the television show created by Miki Mikura, who used the pen name Momoko Sakura, who died on August 15 at the age of 53 from breast cancer, according to a statement published by her company on Monday.
Chibi Maruko-chan, known as “Ying Tao Xiao Wan Zi” or “Little Cherry Maruko” in Chinese, gained international fame after the original manga comics were adapted into a popular anime series shown in various regions worldwide including mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam and North America.
The programme was first released in 1990 and has been repeatedly broadcast since then, accompanying Chinese millennials through their childhoods.
News of the artist’s death was widely covered in Chinese media and nostalgic fans took to social media to reminisce over the show.
“Chibi Maruko-chan was my favourite, I will silently say thanks to the author from someone who is a third-grade girl at heart,” said one comment on Weibo, China’s Twitter.
“I really like Maruko. Like normal children, she was often confused and messed things up, putting herself in awkward situations,” read another Weibo comment. “Because of her, I didn’t feel terrible about myself when I was a kid.”
For 29-year-old Will Dai, who used to watch the episodes every day after school, the cartoon series was an integral part of his childhood in Beijing.
“I remember the show as being one of the first kid-oriented Japanese cartoon series that we had access to on TV in mainland China in the early 1990s,” he said.
“Looking back, it’s something that holds an ultimate comfort for me, and it reminds me of a time long gone.”
The cartoon sitcom, which depicted the quirks of Japanese family life from the perspective of a feisty young girl named Maruko, was loosely based upon Mikura’s own childhood.
Along with Crayon Shin-c han, Chibi Maruko-chan is one of the best-known Japanese anime series that first came to prominence in the 1990s. It drew some of the highest audience figures for a Japanese anime series at the time.
According to local Japanese media reports, the production company behind the hit anime wishes to continue producing the series.