Creator of Japanese cartoon figure Anpanman dies

TOKYO — Takashi Yanase, creator of one of Japan’s most beloved cartoon characters, Anpanman, has died of heart failure, his studio said Tuesday. He was 94.

Yanase died at a Tokyo hospital early Sunday, Yanase said in a statement. He had been treated for liver cancer since August.

Anpanman is a superhero with the head made of anpan, or bread filled with red bean paste, a typical snack in Japan. In the cartoon, the round-faced, smiley hero, clad in a red suit and long cape, fights his archrival Baikinman, or a germ man, while rescuing the weak.

The self-sacrificial hero, who even allowed starving people to bite into his head, rose to stardom in Japan in a picture book series that started in 1973, racking up sales totaling 68 million copies over the past 30 years. The Anpanman television cartoon series started in 1988, and has spread across Asia, where is also popular in places like Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The cartoon series, “Let’s go! Anpanman,” entered the Guinness World Records in 2009 for the largest number of characters at more than 1,700.

A former graphic designer, Yanase debuted as a cartoonist and served as lecturer on a “manga school” quiz show on Japan’s NHK television.

“Mr. Yanase was the Anpanman. He embraced us gently and taught us to share,” actress Keiko Toda, whose voice was used for Anpanman’s character on the TV show, said in a statement. “We’ve lost a precious guiding post.”

Makoto Amano, an official at the publishing agent, said Yanase had briefly retired before the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters, but returned to work after learning that an Anpanman theme song was cheering up residents in the disaster-hit region, Kyodo News agency said. On Saturday, he was still discussing ideas with his staff about an upcoming Anpanman film set for release next year, Kyodo said.

Yanase, known for his pacifist messages, also wrote poems and lyrics for children’s songs.

“It’s October as usual. I’m doing fine, so please feel at ease,” he closed his monthly poem greeting published on his website.

More in Local News

Army nurse from Everett has vivid memories of ‘forgotten war’

Barbara Jean Nichols, 95, served near the front lines in Korea and Vietnam, and in Germany.

In county overdose crisis, nasal spray has saved 100 lives

About 900 local law enforcement officers have been trained to use naloxone to revive opioid users.

Edmonds to add bike lanes in two areas

Crews will begin the first phase of work Thursday and Friday, weather permitting.

Woman fatally shot at home near Everett

Another woman and three children, who were also in the home, were not injured.

Serial killer wannabe admits trying to kill man she met online

She told police she planned to rip out her victim’s heart and eat it — and would continue killing.

Woman injured after losing control of her pickup

A 50-year-old woman was injured Tuesday after her pickup lost… Continue reading

Boy stuck in child care instead of going to school

District says it can no longer provide transportation for the special-needs student.

Hurry! Target will take your old car seat, but not for long

The seats will be taken apart and the various materials recycled.

Sheriff’s Office receives national recognition

Sheriff accepts award “notable achievements in the field of highway safety” over the past year.

Most Read