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Chibi Maruko-chan Manga Creator Momoko Sakura Passes Away at 53

posted on by Egan Loo
Her shōjo manga inspired 2nd most-watched TV anime, running for almost 3 decades

Momoko Sakura, the manga creator best known for the long-running Chibi Maruko-chan manga and anime, passed away on August 15 at 8:29 p.m. due to breast cancer. She was 53. Her family already held a private wake and funeral services.

TARAKO, the voice of the title character in the Chibi Maruko-chan anime, commented on Sakura's passing. TARAKO said that it was much too soon, as Sakura had so much she still wanted to do. Shueisha's Ribon magazine Editor-in-Chief Sōichi Aida also paid his respects, saying that the feeling that her passing was too soon will never go away. Still, he said the cheerful, smiling faces of Maruko and her friends will always keep shining in the hearts of all her readers from children to grown-ups.

The staff of her Sakura Production studio posted the following drawing of her many characters:

Sakura was born on May 8, 1965 in Shimizu City, Shizuoka. She made her professional manga creator debut while she was still in college in 1984, and she serialized the Chibi Maruko-chan manga in Ribon from 1986 to 1996. The comedy manga, which follows the everyday life of a third-grade schoolgirl, has about 32 million copies in print. Sakura launched a four-panel version in a Japanese newspaper in 2007, and she ended that version in 2011.

Sakura launched the Chibi Maruko-chan Kimi wo Wasurenai yo manga as a tie-in to the Eiga Chibi Maruko-chan: Italia kara Kita Shōnen anime film in September 2015, and ended it in December of that year. She also launched the spinoff manga series Chibi Shikaku-chan in Shueisha's Grand Jump magazine in 2016.

The original Chibi Maruko-chan manga inspired a television anime that is consistently the #2 rated anime series after Sazae-san. The first anime series ran from 1990 to 1992, and the ongoing second series premiered in 1995. Sakura herself composed the theme song "Odoru Ponpokorin."

The 1,000th television anime episode aired in 2012, and the show now has more than 1,100 episodes. The series celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2015, and Fuji TV said on Monday that it will continue airing the TV anime for the foreseeable future.

The Chibi Maruko-chan manga inspired two three-part live-action television specials in 2006, followed by a live-action television series from 2007 to 2008.

Sakura's Coji-Coji manga also inspired a television anime from 1997 to 1999. Her "GJ8 Man" character received its own net anime series with English subtitles in 2016.

Sources: Momoko Sakura's official blog, Oricon via Hachima Kikō

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