On Tuesday, Act-Age manga writer Tatsuya Matsuki was present for a hearing at Tokyo District Court. Matsuki plead guilty to the charge of an indecent public act with a female middle school student. The district prosecution is seeking a served prison sentence for Matsuki for one year and six months while the defense is asking be let off with just a suspended sentence. The defense argues that the backlash, such as his manga series being canceled, is punishment enough for what happened.
Tatsuya Matsuki (writer) and Shiro Usazaki (artist), launched the Act-Age manga in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in January 2018. The manga was successful among fans and critics and was nominated for Kodansha’s 43rd annual Manga Awards last year.
If the defense request is granted by the judge, Matsuki would avoid jail time if he keeps in good behavior during the one year and six months of his suspended sentence. A verdict is expected to be delivered on December 23rd.
Matsuki made the statement in court that he was experiencing many worries and anxieties and was shutting himself away and not talking about them. He claimed he was desperate and had a dangerous complex towards women. This all culminated in acting out on a stranger. He added that there is no way to apologize to the victim for what he did.
The manga author was indicted by the court for the second out of two indecent public acts that he allegedly committed around June 18th. The prosecutor’s office, however, did not indict Matsuki for the first incident. The first incident reportedly happened the same day around 8:00 pm, an hour before the reported second incident.
Japanese news outlet NHK reported back on August 8th that Matsuki gave himself up to Tokyo police and was arrested on suspicion of committing an indecent act with a female student of a city middle school. According to police, the girl was walking in the Nakano ward of Tokyo on June the 18th at around 8:00 pm. This was when he approached the girl from behind while on a bicycle and touched her inappropriately on her chest.
Afterward, it was said that Matsuki fled the scene on the bicycle. The girl went to the police, who analyzed security camera footage from the local area to investigate. Police discovered through the footage that, about an hour later, a similar incident happened on a nearby Nakano road with a different local female middle school student, involving a suspect who resembled Matsuki as well. He reportedly told Tokyo police that “there’s generally nothing incorrect” with the accusations presented.
The editors and executives of Shueisha‘s Weekly Shonen Jump magazine announced two days after the reported incident, on August 10th, that they had unilaterally canceled the further serialization of the manga series Act-Age. The only chapter that was shipped after this announcement was the chapter that appeared in this year’s 36th and 37th combined issue that shipped just a day after the announcement on August 11th, which is the final chapter of Act-Age. Shueisha also has completely ceased all sales and distribution of the manga’s physical and digital volumes.
The digital manga platform MANGA Plus by Shueisha announced on August 8th that it would not publish the final chapter on its platform. Likewise, Viz Media announced on August 10th that it will not publish the final chapter on its English Shonen Jump digital platform and further removed its listing of additional compiled volumes. However, chapters 26-45 will be added to the service after their translation. Stage company Hori Pro announced it has canceled the upcoming stage play adaptation of the manga as well.
The artist for Act-Age, Shiro Usazaki, later offered an extensive comment last month regarding the arrest and the fate of the manga in which they express sympathies for the victims, who Usazaki said “bravely spoke up about the incident despite their shock and fear.” Usazaki elaborated that no one “naturally recovers” from sexual assault and how even seeing a person similar in dress and appearance to the assailant may trigger victims to respond in specific ways and forever creates unneeded stress in their lives. Usazaki mentioned further that they do not want the Act-Age manga to be a work that causes unpleasant reminding reactions from the victims, and so considered the cancelation of the manga to be the best thing to do.
While Usazaki also regretted having to end the manga midway, they urged fans of the manga not to harass or blame the victims of Matsuki. She expressed clearly that the manga’s cancelation is not the their fault and that it is not a mistake that the victims spoke up about sexual harassment. Furthermore, the manga illustrator added that she sympathized with fans of the manga but cautioned and pleaded against readers using that love for the wrong purpose of inciting violence. She instead urged fans to think clearly and always consider what should or should not be said. Usazaki concluded with her hopes that the victims receive the proper care and live happy lives.