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Shueisha Issues Formal Apology for My Hero Academia Character's Name

posted on by Lynzee Loveridge

Following the widespread removal of the My Hero Academia manga and anime from Chinese digital platforms this week, the staff of Weekly Shonen Jump manga magazine publisher Shueisha issued a second apology on Friday in Japanese, English, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Korean.

The apology reads:

Formal apology for the name used in My Hero Academia in Weekly Shonen Jump Issue 10, 2020

Regarding the character "Maruto Shiga--which appeared in chapter 259 of My Hero Academia (Weekly Shonen Jump Issue 10, February 3, 2020), a large number of readers from China and other countries have pointed out that the name evokes memories of the tragic past. "Shiga" is part of another character's name, and Maruta (kanji: round + fat) reflects the appearance of the character in question. Any apparent reference to historical events was wholly unintentional. Despite this, the character's role as a doctor for the evil organization, combined with his name, ended up being hurtful to overseas readers in China and elsewhere. The editorial department out to have taken the time beforehand to put more thought into this. We did not, and for that, we are profoundly sorry.

With all sincerity, we realize the gravity of this issue and will change the name both in the physical volume release and, as soon as possible, in the digital version of the chapter.

So that this kind of issue does not occur again going forward, we intend to devote our energies toward deepening our understanding of a variety of historical and cultural matters. By being more intimately aware of the thoughts and feelings of those from all walks of life, we will deliver manga that can be loved by all.

February 7th, 2020

Shueisha's message also included an additional apology from My Hero Academia creator Kōhei Horikoshi.

By using the name "Maruta Shiga" in chapter 259 of My Hero Academia, I deeply offended a great number of readers. I am truly sorry about this. The character--with deep reverence and wanting to feel closer to the League of Villain's former boss, All For One--decided to take part of All For One's last name (Shigaraki) and make it his own (Shiga). I gave him the first name "Maruta" because he's round and plump. Any other meaning is coincidental, and I had absolutely no intention of hurting so many readers, which I now know that I did. I apologize from the bottom of my heart.
Going forward, I will do my utmost to make sure that this sort of thing never happens again.

Kōhei Horikoshi

The name of a My Hero Academia villain reopened wounds in China leading to the series' manga and anime to be pulled from bilibili and Tencent and the possible cancellation of the mobile game My Hero Academia: Strongest Hero by Chinese studio Xin Yuan. Horikoshi stated he will change the name of villain Daruma Ujiko after the character's real name was interpreted as a reference to victims of human experimentation during World War II. The manga villain, who is shown to engage in human experimentation himself, had his full name revealed in chapter 259 as "Maruta Shiga."

"Maruta" was the code-name for human experimentation undertaken by the Imperial Japanese Army's Unit 731 during the Second Sino-Japanese War of World War II. The Chinese victims of the experiments were called "maruta," the Japanese word for "logs" as a reference to the facilities cover story that it was a lumber mill. Victims, including children, the elderly, pregnant women, and the mentally handicapped, were purposefully infected with diseases, dissected, lobotomized, and amputated while still alive.

English-language news service Abacus reached out to bilibili and Tencent regarding the manga's removal from its services. bilibili stated that the removal was "in accordance with China's policies" but declined to comment further. Tencent did not respond to Abacus' request for comment.

Source: Weekly Shōnen Jump's official Twitter account

This article has a follow-up: My Hero Academia Manga Updated With Villain's New Name (2020-02-10 18:53)
follow-up of My Hero Academia Manga, Anime Removed from Chinese Digital Platforms
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