Earlier this month, fans of Act-Age were taken by surprise when the hit manga was forced to close. The title ended midway after its writer was arrested on charges of acting indecently towards an underage girl. In the wake of Act-Age's abrupt cancellation, fans have been wondering how the manga's artist has been faring during the ordeal, and Shiro Usazaki has just spoken out on the issue thanks to a new letter.
The artist behind Act-Age shared an official statement about the manga ending through Shueisha earlier today. Usazaki took their time to respond to ensure they got their words right, and the artist is asking fans to believe the victims rather than blame them for what happened to Act-Age. The fault, Usazaki says, lies solely with writer Tatsuya Matsuki.
"First of all, I would like to express my heartfelt sympathy to the victim and her family. It is truly an act of courage that she spoke up in the great shock and fear and didn't let go of the anger at the injury to her dignity. Although a judicial decision has not yet been made, I would like to take seriously the fact that the case as been filed based on the victim's report," they wrote (via otakujp).
Continuing, the artist says they completely agreed with Shonen Jump about canceling Act-Age. Usazaki said victims of sex crimes do not heal linearly from their trauma. Even the sight of someone who looks like their assailant can cause unimaginable stress, and Usazaki did not want Act-Age to become such a trigger. The responsible choice was to end Act-Age even though Usazaki said its unfinished finale left them disappointed.
Finally, the artist made it clear they don't want fans of Act-Age joining in on victim-blaming. Usazaki stresses the manga's end had nothing to do with the victims. If anything, fans should be lauding the victims for standing up to their assailant and reclaiming agency along the way.
"Of course, it's not the victim's fault that the work ended. It is never wrong for the victim to have spoken out, to have endured the pain, and not to ignore the molestation and sexual assault. It was the result of the right thing to do. That courage and action should not be disregarded, humiliated, or further harmed with humiliating words."
As for the case itself, Matsuki was arrested this month by police on charges of sexually assaulting a middle school girl. The cast alleges Matsuki touched the minor inappropriately before fleeing on a bike. After police reviewed security footage in the area, they discovered Matsuki may have assaulted another young girl prior to the second. When confronted about these charges, the writer said there was nothing "generally incorrect" about them.
What do you make of Usazaki's letter? What sort of manga would you like to see the artist tackle next? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to talk all things comics and anime!