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Tatsuki Fujimoto’s One-Shot Manga Stirs Controversy

Look Back One Shot manga by Tatsuki Fujimoto

The official Twitter account of Shueisha’s Shonen Jump+ online service announced on Monday that Look Back, Tatsuki Fujimoto’s one-shot manga has been partially modified post-publication due to reader feedback regarding “inappropriate expressions.” According to the tweet, the changes are made “out of a desire to avoid depicting something that could be linked to promoting bias or discrimination.”

Though Look Back was well-received in Japan, there were also concerns that the portrayal of a schizophrenic murderer encourages discrimination prejudice against people with such mental illness.

In fact, there were instances where fans with the illness, empathized with the author’s views of the manga overall, but seem to pity the public who unconsciously stigmatize a mental illness. A particular fan who succumbed to the illness pointed out the portrayal of the murderer is just the skeptical behavior of Japan towards mental illness and psychiatry, and there is a trend of disregard for intelligence and knowledge.

Now, even if the number is few, solid protests have been noted by Shonen Jump that pushed the editors to change the dialogues. Even though its a sensitive topic, most fans have understood that his real message goes beyond catharsis to be truly touching.

In the one-shot, a man saying that he was hearing voices and having a “schizophrenic episode” goes into an art school with an axe, claiming that a student plagiarized his art. Although the event still occurs in the modified version, both the references to the “episode” and to the motivation of plagiarism have been replaced with different text.

In the Japanese version, the line “According to his statement, he was hearing voices affronting him during a paranoid episode” was replaced with a line saying that he had the intention to kill the first person he laid eyes on. The lines “They’re wrong! It’s mine, isn’t it?! It was my idea first! You plagiarized my art, didn’t you?!” were replaced with lines suggesting that the artist’s creations were looking down on him adding nothing to the society but a facade.

In a nutshell, Tatsuki Fujimoto’s special one-shot manga Look Back tells a heartbreaking, poignant tale about friendship and loss. The manga was published on July 19, 2021, at midnight, the same date as the two-year anniversary of the KyoAni attack. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that Look Back was inspired by that incident, especially considering how much coverage it got. Many have claimed Fujimoto has been deeply impacted by the KyoAni tragedy and this manga is his way of looking for a way to heal. 

Fujimoto’s one-shot attracted mass attention, with the number of views exceeding 1.2 million on the day of its release. A hardcover will be released on September 3.

The Look Back one-shot hits close to home for many with its tribute to the victims of the KyoAni massacre. While the story mourns and grieves for those lost, it ends on a bittersweet note. It deeply resonated with the other creators in the industry such as Blue Period author Tsubasa Yamaguchi who described the manga as “143 pages like a flash of light” or baffled them as Oyasumi Punpun author Inio Asano.

Tatsuki Fujimoto skirts the line between fact and fiction in Look Back. As Chihayafuru author claimed,”Nonfiction always breaks us, but fiction saves us over and over again.”

On the same note, the 143pages leave us an inevitable message “Don’t look back in anger” as the author ponders through his work while mourning for the KyoAni massacre and it might be a bit of a reach with no evidence, but his own experience of losing a close one in a thoughtless tragedy. As many fans pointed out, on the first page of the manga at the top right corner, there is the word “Don’t.” On the last page at the bottom left, the words “In Anger” are visible. Combine these two lines with the manga’s title “Look Back,” and the phrase: “Don’t look back in anger,” appears; which is the title of an Oasis song, but also Fujimoto’s ultimate motto for the latest work.

To comprehend where reality ends and where fiction begins in Look Back is exceedingly hard, but it makes fans more excited about the potential of Chainsaw Man part two when it launches on Jump Plus sometime soon.

Source: Shounen Jump + Twitter via Otakomu

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