Japanese publishing company Shogakukan has released a detailed official statement following the recent death of mangaka Hinako Ashihara. In the official statement, Shogakukan offered condolences to the family of Hinako Ashihara. The company also apologized to its readers who have been concerned about the nature of the mangaka’s passing. Moreover, they have stated that they are also investigating to prevent this type of incident from happening again in the future. Before her death, Ashihara expressed dissatisfaction over the storyline changes in the series’ live-action adaptation.
The group in charge of adapting “Sexy Tanaka-san” faithfully and sincerely conveyed Ms. Ashihara’s request to the drama production side, and it was produced. However, it is with deep regret that we have come to this point. In order to prevent such a tragedy from happening again, we are currently conducting an investigation and will make every effort to prevent a recurrence in the future.
Aizawa Tomoko, the scriptwriter for the live-action adaptation of Ashihara’s Sexy Tanaka-san series, also issued a statement. Tomoko posted on her official Instagram account her statement, offering her condolences as well to the grieving family of Ashihara. She also stated that all of the things Ashihara on her now-deleted blog post regarding the series were new to her and that she was at a loss for words upon reading it.
The circumstances that Ms. Ashihara wrote about in her blog were all new to me, and I was at a loss for words when I read them. I was at a loss for words when I read it. Several days passed in a state of confusion as I wondered what on earth was true, what to believe, and what to do. And I am still in confusion.
She also stated that she regrets what she previously posted on social media regarding the scriptwriting process for the Sexy Tanaka-san live-action adaptation. Aizawa posted a statement on her Instagram back in December 2023 that she was initially confused as to why she was writing the script for the series despite Ashihara’s wishes for the adaptation to “stay true” to the manga’s original storyline. She even requested Nippon TV to hire another scriptwriter in order to grant Ashihara’s wishes. The mangaka ended up writing the scripts for the last two episodes, with Aizawa asking to “please avoid any misunderstanding.” That post was eventually deleted.
I deeply regret what I have said and that I should have been more careful about what I sent out on social media. I can’t stop thinking about what I would have done if I had known the truth. It is so sad. This is all I can say now without knowing the facts, but I sincerely hope that such a thing will not happen again in the future.
Aizawa also added that following this announcement, she will also be deleting her official Instagram account in a few days.
Shogakukan to Ensure Faithful Adaptation of Serialized Works
In a separate statement, the editorial department of the Anekei Petit Comic magazine, where Ashihara’s Sexy Tanaka-san was serialized, stated that they want to ensure that the works from their lineup always be adapted faithfully in accordance with the author’s wishes.
A key point of discussion from the statement is understanding the distinction between “copyright/property rights” and “moral rights.” While it is equally important that those who want to adapt a manga go through the proper copyright licensing process, the editorial team has stressed that moral rights, meaning the overall story concept by the author, must be respected as well.
There is the “right to maintain the identity” to protect the work from being altered without the author’s permission, as well as the “right to maintain reputation,” the “right to display name,” the “right of publication,” the “right to request the abolition of publication rights,” and the “right to request an increase or decrease in the number of revisions. All of these are important rights that all authors have, without the need to conclude a contract, and these are “moral rights.“
The editorial department has also commented on Ashihara’s frustration over the storytelling of the Sexy Tanaka-san live-action series, stating that people should not be in a situation where they would need the courage to speak out to protect their moral rights as an author.
In order to prevent authors from ever feeling this way again, we believe that the core part of preventing a recurrence is to make authors fully aware of their absolute right to “moral rights,” to spread awareness that their wishes will always be respected and that it is natural for them to voice their opinions.
Shogakukan has stated that they are aware as well of doubt being cast by the public on whether they have handled Ashihara’s wishes to the live-action production team to stay faithful to the storyline. In their statement, they have made clear that the magazine’s editors and the TV production team have been in communication with each other to ensure that Ashihara’s wishes were met. Nonetheless, Shogakukan assures that will continue investigating this incident to learn where both parties were lacking.
© Hinako Ashihara, Shogakukan