'My Hero Academia' publisher Weekly Shonen Jump and series creator Kohei Horikoshi are facing mounting criticism from fans following a controversial chapter of the long-running manga.
In Chapter 259, published on February 2, a new character called Maruta Shiga sparked outrage as some readers pointed out that he shares a name with a Japanese covert-ops. This historical figure notably experimented on Chinese and Korean prisoners of war during the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II.
Following this discovery, fans have also noticed that popular character Katsuki Bakugo, among others, shares a birthday with Nazi party leader Adolf Hitler.
Readers of the manga took to social media to express their grievances about this apparent offense, and "#Hero_do_not_harm_innocent_people" was trending on Twitter for some fans.
Author Kohei Horikoshi apologized for the unintentional connection between his creation and the war crimes on February 3, but he has been silent on the matter since then, leading many fans to question his future with the series.
“By using the name ‘Maruta Shiga’ in chapter 259 of My Hero Academia, I deeply offended a great number of readers,” he said of the matter. “I am truly sorry about this.”
He also added an explanation as to how the character came to be called Maruta Shiga. “The character decided to take part of All For One’s last name (Shigaraki) and make it his own (Shiga)," he explained. "I gave him the first name 'Maruta' because he's round and plump. Any other meaning is coincidental.”
The publisher issued this apology on February 7, after fans had been posting on Twitter using the hashtag "#Apologize_Horikoshi."
Chinese-based companies Tencent and Bilibili also removed the manga from their platforms, according to an Abacus News report. Bilibili said the move was “in accordance with China's policies.”
On Twitter, fans could be seen throwing volumes of the manga in the trash, tearing up multiple chapters, and berating Horikoshi online about the issues.
The manga industry is known for its incredibly long work hours, giving writers tight deadlines to constantly produce new chapters. With stresses already piling, some fear that this online rancor could result in Horikoshi’s departure.
“I swear, if the Internet becomes the reason why Horikoshi gives up on MHA, I'll never forgive y’all," one fan wrote of the controversy.
Those who are sympathetic to Horikoshi have been rallying under the "#WeSupportYouHorikoshi" tag.
So let me get this straight. There are people LEGITIMATELY mad, that some characters in a manga/anime share a BIRTHDAY with bad guys from history? Seriously? Sharing a birthday? I'm struggling not to laugh right now. #WeSupportYouHorikoshi don't let these people bother you. pic.twitter.com/FbqIYsoTlY
— KingdomAce♧The Analyst (@JordanAnalyst) February 13, 2020
The tag was popularized by YouTuber ‘Chibi Reviews,’ who is similarly concerned about the MHA writer, since he's been “unusually quiet since this all started.”
“I just really hope that Horikoshi is staying strong,” Chibi Reviews said in a video. “Because what’s going on is not right. Even if he made an honest mistake about a name, what’s going on right now is not right.”
Regardless of whether people are supportive of Horikoshi or not, all fans are awaiting further comment from him after the latest developments.