Mystery still surrounds death of Crayon Shinchan creator

TOKYO —

The death of Yoshito Usui, 51, creator of manga and anime Crayon Shin-chan, has left a lot of people stunned. A long-time friend, commenting at his unexpected tragic death, said: “The last time I saw him was in spring. We hadn’t seen each other in a while. He was a man of few words but a good listener, always observant and looking for ideas to use in his work. So I was astonished to hear him say that he no longer wanted to work, that he had nothing to write about any more. He seemed emotionally exhausted… When I heard the news that he was missing, I honestly got this really bad feeling.”

The writer’s body was found a week after he was reported missing on Sept 19, under the cliff of a mountain bordering Gumma and Nagano.

A spokesman for Futabasha, the publisher of the manga series, said that Usui must have accidentally fallen based on the digital camera found at the scene, the last image of which was the bottom of the cliff.

However, it remains questionable if the misfortune was indeed an accident. A number of people had noticed a change in Usui’s behavior. A neighbor said, “It was the day after he was reported missing. I happened to walk by his home, and heard the voice of a middle-aged woman who must have been talking to someone over the phone. I heard her say, ‘What am I to do if he’s killed himself!’ It sounded like she was on the verge of a breakdown.”

On the very same day, Usui’s wife had gone to the police to state that family and relatives were concerned that his disappearance was no accident but possibly indicated suicide.

A source at the publisher said that the writer, who used to go scuba diving and fishing with work-related friends, had stopped all such recreation in recent years. Another acquaintance also noted how he had become introverted over the last 2 to 3 years, which worried many who knew Usui. Fellow writer Sumishi Alan comments that the comedic nature of Usui’s manga had changed since 2007, incorporating more serious themes such as terrorism, alcoholism and death wishes. Referring to some Crayon Shin-can episodes, Alan says he felt Usui was under emotional stress.

That Usui was a devotee of Jehovah’s Witnesses is a well-known fact. When the writer purchased a 200-tsubo plot of land in Kasukabe in 1994, he had a church facility constructed adjacent to his home. Both he and his wife devoted their time proselytizing through door-to-door visits and distribution of church publications.

According to the source at Futabasha, Usui was known in the industry to read out the New Testament for a full 20 minutes at each meeting with his publisher. While he wasn’t necessarily being pushy, some people were surprised when Usui would give them a copy of the Bible as a gift. But his devotion to the faith seemed to have diminished about three years ago, as noticed by the aforementioned friend. It was around the same time that Usui began suffering from severe back pains, which limited his activities.

A clinical psychotherapist speculates the writer’s condition may be explained by male menopause, where hormonal imbalance can trigger insomnia, chronic fatigue, depression and even suicidal wishes. “Provided that the writer was experiencing depression, it’s conceivable that he deliberately chose to go to a dangerous place, whether or not he had any intention of killing himself.”

What thoughts had crossed the writer’s mind as he stood at the top of the cliff will never be known.

  • 0

    nemoflow

    So he was a nutter.

  • 0

    BurakuminDes

    Is it just possible that he has faked his own death in order to promote his latest blockbuster? I notice it has been shifting many tickets since his "death". I guess it is hard to fake a dead body though...

  • 0

    Tahoochi

    As long as it wasn't murder, what does it matter to us if it was an accident or suicide? He's dead, we'll never know, case closed. His family will suffer enough by not knowing whether it was suicide or not, they don't need the media and the whole country asking the same questions. Loved his stuff, but not a fan of JW.

  • 0

    stirfry

    found at the bottom of a cliff...obvious suicide...mystery solved...maybe if the keystones had a brain they'd be able to figure things out

  • 0

    lunchmeat

    it’s conceivable that he deliberately chose to go to a dangerous place, whether or not he had any intention of killing himself.”

    What thoughts had crossed the writer’s mind as he stood at the top of the cliff will never be known.

    By us. Two do know.

    It's over. Crayon Shinchan lives on. The writer is trying to milk this for all it's worth, which isn't much.

  • 0

    womanforwomen

    oh so the JWs were messing with his life? they have extra love for people who have property. And they say the contributions are made voluntarily by the beleiver!

  • 0

    memyselfI

    his death is not a mystery, he took his own life.... This happens all the time to actors, actresses,comics, musicians and comic book writers.

    He was depressed, he had writers block and have been doing the same character for a long time. Decades or whatever. It happens he took his own life off a dangerous cliff. not mountain. watch it on youtube. It's a cliff with a sharp edge not mountain.

  • 0

    memyselfI

    he went alone which is another sign of suicide. Why hide the facts, he got depressed and jumped off.

  • 0

    Lowly

    Never been to that place but Jpns mts are steep and there are plenty of places where you could slip and fall and die if careless.

    but-- Male Menopause??

  • 0

    Tommygun

    Just because we are in Japan and because he fell off a cliff doesn't mean it's suicide. It could easily be an accident too.

  • 0

    Potsu

    How did that anime even get on TV ? Odd country that allows that kind of rubbish for kids.

  • 0

    dammit

    Mystery?

    He was on a cliff. He ended up at the bottom.

    He fell by accident, jumped, or was pushed.

    In the absence of evidence of murder, it's hardly relevant whether he topped himself or not. Only the family would really care, because they'd be the ones left feeling guilty for not helping him get over his depression (and for letting him go up a mountain on his own.)

    And yes, it is a rubbish anime. But it's more for the parents than the kids, and many parents won't let their kids watch it. Including me. But it's shown in many English speaking countries too don't forget, with it's American dubbing.

  • 0

    Lowly

    What I've read of the manga is often pretty funny. TV show I imagine is same. Why is it rubbish for kids?

  • 0

    Potsu

    Lowly: "TV show I imagine is same. Why is it rubbish for kids?"

    Watch the show first with your kids.

  • 0

    dammit

    It's funny really, but it's a bad influence.

    Imagine all the worst possible things little kids could ever do, then roll them all into one badly drawn boy named Shin-chan.

    Then imagine your kids copying him.

    That's the worst part.

    Plus the badly-drawn bit.

  • 0

    cow76

    The best thing about Japanese cartoons is that they feature vaguely realistic family settings and thus children can relate to them. Chibi Maruko, for example, has a three generation household and many problems are ones faced by children. It's better than the crap we had on TV as kids - killer robots for boys and sparkly ponies for girls.

  • 0

    scoobydoo

    The last thing that went through his mind? Thats easy, I've heard that Joke before. Shinchan obviously had a bad rep because when I nick named a neighbors kid Crayon Shinchan for good reason, his mother started to hate me.

  • 0

    NeoJamal

    Come on baby, come on baby, can you eat an onion???

    double entendre in a Kids show's opening tune? I WOULD'VE NEVER!

  • 0

    ppayne

    Avoids the obvious 崖の上のしんちゃん joke...

  • 0

    Mittsu

    Nice language skills ppayne. But what does it mean?

  • 0

    pmddbzaotil

    Just so everyone knows, the Japanese Shin Chan is different than the American version. It's Funimation that made it so adult-oriented. So for everyone that says how it's a bad show to watch you must understand that the real Japanese version can be watched/read by kids whereas ours shouldn't be.

  • 0

    mellowmonk

    If it was suicide, he would have taken off his shoes before jumping.

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ek20060117wh.html

    To second what pmddbzaotil wrote, it is truly a shame that the American version of "Crayon Shin-Chan" wasn’t made truer to the original. I wouldn’t say Funimation’s version is “adult oriented” so much as “sexually frustrated nerd oriented.” Having enjoyed the original shows ever since they first came out, I find Funimation's hack job unwatchable. English-subtitled videos on the Web, even if badly done, will still give you a better feel for the unique humor of the original.

  • 0

    MichelleSarah

    "No, there's no point. We factor that in when determining whether the death was a suicide [if the shoes were deliberately removed the death is deemed less likely to have been an accident or murder]. Other than that, it's irrelevant."

    But still a cool article, mellowmonk.

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