Popular Japanese salaryman Kosaku Shima infected with COVID-19

Japanese media pointed out that this is a rare example of a well-known cartoon character infected with COVID-19. (Courtesy of @30shimakosaku/Twitter)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Kosaku Shima (島耕作), the fictional salaryman from the popular Japanese manga series of the same name written and illustrated by Kenshi Hirokane (弘兼 憲史), was reportedly diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the latest issue of Kodansha’s Weekly Morning, a youth comic magazine in Japan.

Japan’s Kyodo News reported on Thursday that the latest developments in the Sōdanyaku Shima Kōsaku (the eighth part of the series) that began in 2019 include some highlights of the pandemic. The plot is based on the experience of a friend of the author who was actually infected, the media said. This aforesaid friend is a company boss in his fifties.

Asked about the new episode, Hirokane said that he hopes to share his knowledge with readers, reminding everyone that “anyone could be diagnosed with the coronavirus.”

Japanese media pointed out that this is a rare example of a well-known cartoon character infected with COVID-19. Hirokane stressed that the series is an “intelligent cartoon” that is carried out at the same time as reality. Depicting the pandemic was, therefore, a logical decision.

Since last year, Hirokane has depicted the social situation amid the spread of the pandemic, meaning that cartoon characters now all wear face masks, even though the author says that it is more difficult for him to show expressions, making him very upset.

Oricon News reported that the cartoon series has been serialized for more than 36 years. The protagonist, Kosaku Shima, has been promoted to various positions such as section chief, director, vice-president and president until he recently became the director of the company.

At present, Kosaku Shima has smell and taste disorders but no other serious symptoms in the plot. However, he is already 73-year-old so readers are already worried that his infection would turn into a severe case.

With Japan preparing to host the Tokyo Olympics, the future plot is poised to further attract global attention.