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Space Brothers Manga's Serika Fund Supports ALS Research

posted on by Jennifer Sherman

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease and motor neurone disease (MND), features in Chūya Koyama's Space Brothers manga. In the lead-up to the International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations' global day of recognition for ALS on June 21, the manga and its partners launched the Serika Fund (Serika Kikin Uchū Kyōdai ALS Project).

The project's website states that "Serika Fund is an activity to gather research and development funds to find ways to treat ALS." The editorial department of Kodansha's Morning magazine, Gildan Brands, Silk Master, Take Frontier, Torico, Vanfu, Erina Izawa, Hiroaki Doi, and Hiroyasu Yamauchi are collaborating on the project.

The project is selling T-shirts, silicone wristbands, and stickers to raise funds for ALS research. The "Serika Fund 50,000-Yen Support Set" is also available for 50,000 yen (US$448). The set includes a set of a foreign edition of the manga and stickers. The set is offering the manga's first 15 compiled book volumes in Chinese, first 23 volumes in Korean, first 19 volumes in Taiwanese, or first 10 volumes in French.

ALS impacts two characters in Koyama's manga. Serika Itō's father passes away from the disease, and she decides that she wants to further development of a possible cure or treatment for ALS. She applies to the astronaut program with Mutta in order to support research aboard the International Space Station. Astronomer and the Nanba brothers' mentor Sharon Kaneko also receives the diagnosis of ALS.

Serika Fund released special Serika and Sharon manga chapters for the campaign. They are available to read for free on the project's website. The manga will also appear in this year's 27th and 29th issues of Kodansha's Morning magazine on June 1 and June 15, respectively.

ALS is a degenerative disease that causes the death of neurons that control voluntary movements. The disease causes muscle stiffness and twitching, as well as weakness that worsens as muscles decrease in size. Well-known people diagnosed with the disease include baseball player Lou Gehrig and physicist Stephen Hawking. The cause of the disease is largely unknown, and there is no cure. According to Serika Fund, about 9,000 people in Japan have been diagnosed with ALS.

The official Space Brothers Twitter account participated in the ALS "Ice Bucket Challenge" in 2014. The account posted a .gif of Mutta pouring ice water on Deneil Young. JoJo's Bizarre Adventure creator Hirohiko Araki and Funimation also participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Source: Comic Natalie


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