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Chinese fans mourn death of creator of anime 'Chibi Maruko-chan'

This undated photo shows copies of the popular Japanese comic book "Chibi Maruko-chan." (Kyodo)

BEIJING (Kyodo) -- Chinese fans of the long-running manga and anime series "Chibi Maruko-chan" have taken to social media to mourn the death of its Japanese creator Momoko Sakura.

Sakura died of breast cancer on Aug. 15 at age 53, her office said Monday. Her untimely death was also reported by news media in China, where the anime series is known as "Ying Tao Xiao Wan Zi" and is popular among young people.

Chibi Maruko-chan is "one of my most important childhood memories," a person said on Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, with other people expressing their own reactions on the microblogging site.

A Chinese woman in her 20s told Kyodo News, "I studied Japanese by watching it."

The semi-autobiographical TV series starring a 9-year-old girl recorded a 39.9 percent audience share in October 1990 in Japan, one of the highest figures for an anime series.

The slice-of-life comedy depicts Momoko Sakura, nicknamed Maruko, and her family and friends in what is now the city of Shizuoka in the mid-1970s.

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