Sano Nami: Fans Worldwide Mourn Manga Author

Sano Nami: Fans Worldwide Mourn Manga Author

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Sano Nami's manga
Picture: HARTA COMIX
Colleagues and fans around the world took to social media to express their appreciation for Sano Nami after she lost her battle with cancer.

A worldwide outpouring of grief and appreciation erupted on X (formerly known as Twitter) this week after manga publisher HARTA announced the death of beloved manga-ka Sano Nami (佐野菜見). HARTA, a subsidiary of KADOKAWA, conveyed that the 36-year-old lost her battle with cancer earlier in August.

Sano Nami’s work

Source: HARTA COMIX

Sano’s best-known work is 坂本ですが (Sakamoto Desu Ga), translated into English as Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto (English; Japanese – Note: links are Amazon affiliate links). The series details the adventures of the protagonist, the single-named Sakamoto, an unusually handsome and talented high school student.

Sakamoto ran as a serialized manga in Harta’s magazine Fellows! from 2011 and 2015. Harta publishes the series in collected form in four volumes. A 13-episode anime aired in 2016.

Her next major series, ミギとダリ (Migi & DaliJapanese; no official English translation yet), focuses on the Sonoyama family. The husband and wife adopt a young boy, Sonoyama Hitori, who has a secret: he’s actually twins named Migi and Dali.

(There’s some wordplay going on here: his name, Hitori, written in this story with the kanji 秘鳥, can also mean “one person” in Japanese. And “Migi and Dali” sounds like “Migi and Hidari” – i.e., right and left.)

Migi & Dali find peace and acceptance with the Sonoyamas. However, their real goal is to find the person who killed their mother seven years ago.

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The anime for Migi & Dali is currently under production and will air in October 2023.

“If I get past this, I can write some amazing manga”

The official announcement from Harta, the Kadokawa manga magazine that serialized Sano’s work. (Source: Harta official account via X)

Born in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture in 1987, Sano Nami made her debut in Fellows! in 2010 with the story Non-Sugar Coffee. 2013’s Sakamoto Desu Ga? was her breakthrough hit, earning accolades from readers.

Doctors diagnosed Sano with cancer this year. The mangaka seems to have kept many of the details of her fight private. According to news reports, Sano’s family says the cancer was aggressive: it took her life after only one month.

According to HARTA, Sano had said before receiving treatment, “I feel like, if I can get past this, I can write some amazing manga.”

“She was sincere about manga,” HARTA’s statement continued. “She was someone who enjoyed the effort she spent growing as a mangaka so she could craft interesting stories.”

Sano has reportedly wrapped directorial work related to the anime for Migi & Dali and was in discussions for her next manga series.

An outpouring of love

The news shook fans in Japan and around the world. HARTA’s post on X garnered nearly 115,000 reposts. Similarly, Unseen Japan’s announcement on our X account drew over 10,000 reposts from fans distraught by the news

“May Sano-sensei rest in peace,” said Japanese X user @kusanagikanon. “I got to know her work through Sakamoto Desu Ga?, and read her other titles with joy. Nothing but shock at this sudden announcement.”

“I loved Sakamoto. One of very few manga that kept me engaged and intrigued throughout it all,” wrote VTuber Mucius Merryweather.

“The artist was truly a genius. I hope she will rest in peace.”

Residents also mourned Sano in her hometown of Nishinomiya. The town has garnered “holy site” status among manga and anime fans, as multiple locations in the city and around Kobe appear in Sakamoto. Sano used her high school, Nishinomiya’s Naruo High School, as the model for Sakamoto’s school. A stamp rally campaign sponsored by Hanshin Electric Railway attracted fans both locally and from abroad.

“Her love for this area abounded in her work,” said Hanshin’s Yuyama Sayoko. “She taught so many people about this area.”

A former classmate, now 35, described Sano as “quiet” but also “a hell of an artist”. He remembers Sano drawing backdrops for Naruo High School’s cultural festivals.

“I’m in shock,” said a 35-year-old woman visiting Nishinomiya. “I got to know this place through Sakamoto Desu Ga?. It’s a very special work for me.”

Remembering Sakura Momoko, The Creator of Chibi Maruko-chan

Sources

漫画家・佐野菜見さんが死去 36歳 『坂本ですが?』『ミギとダリ』など描く. Oricon News

『坂本ですが?』作者の漫画家・佐野菜見さん、約1カ月のがん闘病の末に逝去 「新連載の打ち合わせを進めているところでした」. ITMedia Netlab
人気漫画「坂本ですが?」作者早世、西宮で惜しむ声と感謝相次ぐ 阪神沿線に舞台が集中「地元愛が随所に」. Kobe Shinbun NEXT

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Jay Allen

Jay manages the technical writing practice for ercule, an SEO, content strategy and analytics firm. A lifelong geek, wordsmith, and language fanatic, he has level N1 certification in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT).

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