By Nora Chang
Sakura Momoko (櫻桃子) , the creator of the much-loved “Chibi Maruko-chan (櫻桃小丸子),” died on Aug. 15 at the age of 53 after battle with breast cancer.
The funeral was already held “only by relatives and close relatives due to the will of the bereaved families,” the firm said in a statement posted on its website, together with an illustration of Maruko and her friends
Chibi Maruko-chan manga debuted in 1986, published in Ribbon—a monthly manga magazine, went on to spawn one of Japan’s most beloved anime series, illustrated by Momoko Sakura based on her own childhood life.
It is widely popular among Japan and throughout Asia, especially in Taiwan.
Till 2006, the manga version sold more than 31 million copies in Japan, making it the fifth best-selling shōjo manga ever.
The first theme song of the series, “Odoru Ponpokorin,” became a hit, selling more than 1.73 million copies in 1990.
Sakura became a manga creator in 1984 and published Chibi Maruko-chan in 1986. At its 30th anniversary, she made a speech, saying that “in the past 30 years, even though a lot has happened, both good and bad, but I am very happy and content to live as a writer. And it’s all because of you. I can’t say enough how grateful I am. Thank you.”
She said that she’s very happy and proud to have created a work that brings joy to everyone’s life. She and her family-run Sakura Production expressed that they hope the audience and readers of Chibi Maruko-chan can all go on living a happy life like Chibi Maruko-chan does in the manga.