My Hero Academia creator Kohei Horikoshi has apologized to fans of his manga after some readers perceived the recently revealed name of a villain to be a reference to Japanese war crimes during World War 2, stating that this reference was unintentional and that he will change the name for future chapters.
Chapter 259 of My Hero Academia begins by finally revealing Maruta Shiga as the name of the mysterious scientist seen throughout the manga providing support to the villains and who was responsible for the creation of the Nomu, the All for One quirk, and for experimenting on Tomura Shigaraki:
In Japanese, the word ‘Maruta,’ which translates literally to logs and timber obtained from trees, is considered derogatory and insulting due to the term’s historical connotations. During both the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War 2, Imperial Japan operated a research facility named Unit 731, which regularly engaged in biological warfare experiments and human experimentation on political prisoners and prisoners of war, many of which were Chinese or Korean. As the original cover story for the Unit 731 facility was that it was a lumber mill, staff took to dehumanizingly referring to their human victims as ‘marutas,’ equating their deaths to the felling of trees.
Some fans, particularly Korean and Chinese fans, were quick to believe that the use of ‘Maruta’ in the character’s name was an intentional reference to Unit 731 and quickly grew outraged, demanding Horikoshi apologize for this perceived insult and spawning the hashtag campaign “#Apologize_Horikoshi.”
Using the derogatory term as the character’s name in the comics is an insult to wartime victims and victimized countries. I think the author must apologize openly and sincerely! pic.twitter.com/haAYqIOpcF
— Faust (@FaustCrimson) February 3, 2020
I come from China. I loved this cartoon very much.
But first of all, I am a human,a Chinese. We cant forget history and the dead in World War II.
I want to get an apology.We want to get an apology.Bad English.
— winter_beast_ (@eWhbgTlgiZMqBBS) February 3, 2020
For world wide fans. Especially Chinese and Russians whose ancestors were suffered from Japanese army,
Please be alert.
They might use your past just for fun.
It’s us now but next turn will be yours.
— 흉폭한 다람쥐 (@i_luvmaself) February 3, 2020
The outrage was covered by YouTuber Hero Hei.
Horikoshi eventually took notice of the outrage, taking to his personal Twitter page to clarify that he did not intend to reference the atrocities of Unit 731 in naming the character and that he “will replace the name in the future.”
— 堀越耕平 (@horikoshiko) February 3, 2020
A translation of the Tweet via Google Translate reads:
“Many people have said that the name Shiga Log, which appeared in this week’s jump, recalls historical events. I didn’t mean to put that in mind when naming. We will take your comments seriously and will replace your name in the future.”
However, some this did little to quell the outrage, as many felt that Horikoshi’s apology was unsatisfactory and failed to address their concerns. The continued outrage led to Weekly Shonen Jump issuing a statement reiterating the decision to “change the character’s name.”
Their statement reads:
“[Announcement] We have received some concern that the character, [Shiga Maruta (志賀丸太)], who appears in the 10th issue of the Shonen Weekly Jump (released on Feb. 3rd) [My Hero Academia], has a name that “may call actual historical events to mind”. Neither the author nor the publisher had that kind of intent when creating the name.
“But, as referring to the actual historical events that are completely unrelated to the character was not our intent, after conferring with the author, we have decided to change the character’s name when the manga comes out in the comics.
Feb. 3rd 2020
Weekly Shounen Jump Editorial Department”