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October 14, 2010

Shintaro Miyawaki, 1942/43-2010

imageAnime News Network reports that the cartoonist Shintaro Miyawaki passed away on Saturday, October 9 from complications following a heart attack. He was 67 years old.

Miyawaki was best known for creating the satirical Rapeman series, which ran from 1985 to 1992. Credited as a collaboration with a writer named Keiko Aisaki, later revealed to be a fictional creation in order to soften potential criticism of the series, Rapeman involved a contractual-service businessman that handled cases brought to them by employing rape techniques by the penis-masked, pants-less titled character. "Despite regretting some of the contracts he fulfills," intones the series' wikipedia page, "he always does the job."

Thirteen volumes of the manga were released, followed by nine live-action film adaptations, a computer game with sequels and an anime version.

imageThe name and surface character attributes of Rapeman were probably better-traveled than the manga or its spin-offs because of their obviously controversial nature. Maybe most famously in American pop culture circles, the name Rapeman was at appropriated by engineeer/musician Steve Albini as the name of his late-1980s band. "You open up this comic book and there's this superhero who rapes people, as his profession. It's pretty amazing," Albini said in a 1994 interview. "So Ray Washam and I -- the drummer from Rapeman -- he and I were both sort of obsessed with this comic book for a while, we just thought it was the most amazing thing and kept looking at it, and we just realized that we should call the band that."

The character and concept also fueled the occasional sweeping declaration about the nature of manga/anime expression, as seen in this Roger Ebert column.

Miyawaki was also a gekiga cartoonist, and the ANN obituary names Hatsukoi Album and Pai no Oto Stories as works in that area of comics.

Services were held this morning. He is survived by his wife Kumiko.
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink

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