The cartoon images of Shin-chan and his family. [Global Times]
China's manga world is mourning the death of Japanese cartoonist Yoshito Usui, who gained worldwide fame as the creator of the Crayon Shin-chan series.
The 51-year-old cartoonist had been missing since September 11 after he went hiking by himself on a mountain range north of Tokyo. His body was discovered and identified by authorities nine days later. Police said he died of a collapsed lung after falling off a cliff.
His Chinese fans have been sending thousands of tearful tributes to Usui on Baidu Tieba, a famous web forum in China. The Chinese website has set up a special section for mourners grieving over the loss of their favorite cartoonist.
"Farewell, Shin-chan's father," many netizens posted.
Popularity in China
Crayon Shin-chan follows the adventures of five-year-old Shinnosuke "Shin" Nohara and his parents, neighbors, and friends. Much of the humor in the series stems from Shin-chan's occasionally weird clothing and behavior, as well as his inappropriate use of language.
Since Crayon Shin-chan was introduced to China in the 1990s, the funny little boy has become popular among cartoon enthusiasts, especially young people.
"I love Shin-chan very much!" Jing He, a 27-year-old IT engineer in Shanghai said. He has watched the cartoon series on the Internet since his college years and fell in love with the annoying little cartoon character.
"I cannot help laughing every time I watch the series," he said. The cartoon imp with heavy eyebrows and a childlike voice often causes trouble for his parents and tutors. He likes to drop his pants and dance naked, chat up beautiful girls and uses adult speech patterns.
Jing also found profound meaning in a comic strip that laughs and sneers at many problems people face in their daily lives, such as Shin's mother buying expensive clothes that she would never wear.
"Shin-chan is a very confident and individual character, and he never get depressed," Jing said. "Sometimes I wish I were him."
"About four in five of my classmates like Shin-chan," said Wang Feiyu, a Peking university student, "and I also like many other Japanese cartoons, such as Chibi Maruko-chan and Doraemon."
Wang said she could find pure pleasure and feel completely relaxed watching the Japanese cartoon series. She said many comic book characters in mainland cartoons do not seem natural, so they are not as enchanting.
"They are always trying to teach you something," she said.