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The body was discovered 120 meters below the mountain's Tomoiwa cliff and reported at about 10:25 a.m. on Saturday by a male climber. Usui's backpack, camera, and other items had fallen about 50 meters away. Inside Usui's backpack was his mobile phone, wallet, and clothes. A police helicopter from Gunma Prefecture airlifted the body on Sunday afternoon. Police from the nearby town of Shimonita concluded that the 51-year-old creator died from collapsed lungs and other injuries sustained across his entire body sometime in the afternoon of September 11.
According to Usui's family, Usui had said that he was "going hiking for a day in Gunma Prefecture," as he often did, on the morning of September 11. His mobile phone was last detected in the vicinity of Karuizawa, a town about 100 kilometers (about 60 miles) northwest of his Kasukabe home, on Monday. Karuizawa is located in the mountainous eastern part of Nagano Prefecture, near the border of the equally mountainous Gunma Prefecture.
In particular, Usui was said to have expressed his intent to climb the Arafune mountain, which towers 1,422 meters (4,665 feet) high at the border between Nagano and Gunma Prefectures. According to Gunma Prefecture's police, there are no guardrails near the top of Tomoiwa cliff, but the established climber's trail is too far from the cliffside for someone to fall. Authorities had been searching this area since his wife reported his disappearance on September 12, after he did not return the night before.
The editorial staff at Futabasha's Manga Town magazine has stated on Sunday night that the "future publication [of Crayon Shin-chan] is to be determined." Futabasha said it was "going through great shock, now that the worst outcome has come to past. There are no words to express the anguish of the surviving family, but we just pray for his happiness in the next world."
Update: More background information added.
Update 2: Crayon Shin-chan follows the exploits of Shinnosuke Nohara, a mischievous (fictional) kindergartner in Usui's own Kasukabe City. Usui launched the manga in Futabasha's Weekly Manga Action magazine in August 1990, and he has continued to work on the series after moving it to Manga Town and other Futabasha magazines. Shin'ei Doga has been adapting it into a top-5-rated television anime series since 1992, and the television series has itself inspired 17 anime films.
CMX Manga has been releasing Yoshito Usui's original Crayon Shin-chan manga in English in North America. Funimation has been adapting the Shin-chan television anime series into dubbed English, and the Adult Swim network used to run episodes every Sunday morning.
Update 3: According to Futabasha in a Monday news conference, the last photograph in Usui's digital camera was of the bottom of the cliff from the vantage point of the top. Futabasha's staffers believe that Usui accidentally fell while taking photographs of the cliff. Thanks, Toru. Source: FNN News (streaming news conference)
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