The editorial department of Shogakukan’s Big Comic Spirits released a statement in the magazine’s issue #28 on June 13, 2022, revealing their decision to suspend author Masaru Miyazaki and artist Osamu Uoto’s Ganbaryonkaa Masako-chan for an indefinite time.
The manga, which revolves around the 2017 Moritomo Gakuen political scandal in Japan implicating former Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and his wife Akie Abe, was supposed to resume in the May 9 issue of Big Comic Spirits. However, the resumption of the series was postponed, as the editorial team looks into the past editions of the manga, which handles this sensitive topic.
“We are currently reviewing the past editions of this work to see if there are any areas that require more consideration or nuances that should be expressed more precisely for those who have cooperated with us in the past. For this reason, we are postponing the resumption of the series, which we had planned to begin with Issue No. 23 (on sale May 9), and will be suspending it for the time being,” the statement read.
Ganbaryanko Masako-Chan is a manga which focuses on the lives of Masako Akagi and Toshio Akagi, whose lives have been greatly affected due to a political scandal. It began serialization in Shogakukan’s Big Comic Spirits on Jan 24, 2022.
Though the manga is labelled as a work of fiction, the character Masako is modelled on the real life Masako Akagi. In fact, references were taken from the book “I want to know the truth” that was co-authored by Masako Akagi and Fuyuki Aizawa, which details her struggles to uncover the facts behind her husband’s death.
The documentary features hand-drawn portraits of former prime minister Shinzo Abe and others, who were said to be involved in the scandal.
The team working behind Ganbaryonkaa Masako-Chan also interviewed Masako, who asked them to “portray the truth about her husband” in the manga. She also asked the editors to keep the narrative light-hearted, which resulted in the title of the manga being Ganbaryonkaa Masako-Chan, which in the Okayama dialect, translates to “Are you doing your best Masako?”
The author imagined that her husband Toshio would be calling out to her in this way.
The sensitive nature of the content and the implications of putting out such a story is speculated to be the reason why Big Comic Spirits decided to suspend the serialization of the manga.
The editorial department apologized to the fans of Ganbaryonkaa Masako-chan for the inconvenience caused and stated that they would continue to produce the magazine with great care so that they can keep producing sincere works for their readers and for the “people who have been cooperating” with them.
On Feb 9, 2017 Asahi Shimbun reported that the central government of Japan had sold the 8,770 square metres (94,400 sq ft) property in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, to Moritomo Gakuen, a Japanese private school operator, for around ¥134 million. This was about 86% less than the land’s estimated value.
The school had then gone on to name Prime Minister Abe’s wife, Akie Abe, honorary principal of the elementary school, Mizuho no Kuni.
The falsification of the documents took place, according to the authors, once the scandal came to light and an investigation was ordered. The story of the manga parallels Masako’s actual struggle.
The plot of the manga can be described as follows;
Masako’s husband Toshio is an upright and honest employee who works at the local finance bureau for the Ministry of Finance. However, he is forced to falsify some official documents, to conceal the names of the people who are involved in a case of selling state-owned land at a cheap rate. When Toshio commits suicide after being cornered and forced to commits acts of injustice, his wife Masako decides to fight against the system to find the truth about her husband’s death.