Cartoonist pledges to draw attention to cerebrospinal fluid disease with new manga
Popular manga artist Izumi Matsumoto who was forced to give up work six years ago because of heavy headaches caused by depleted cerebrospinal fluid now says he wants to produce comics that help promote understanding of the disease.

Matsumoto, from Tokyo, 46, debuted as a cartoonist at age 23 and his comic series, "Kimagure Orange Road," which ran in the top manga magazine Shonen Jump, helped make him one of the most popular cartoonists in Japan.

Once referred to as "the bible for Japanese youth in the 1980s," the series about school life was adapted as a TV cartoon and as a movie.

Sometime around autumn 1999, one manga magazine announced that it would run Matsumoto's new work early the next year. His fans were looking forward to it, but it never appeared.

Earlier in June 1999, Matsumoto had felt hot flushes in his neck when he was lying at home and experienced paralysis in the lower part of his body. It was then he began suffering from headaches.

Cartoonist Izumi Matsumoto
Matsumoto described the feeling at that time as if he was "carrying a 100-kilogram weight" on the back of his head and neck.

"I felt terribly weary and didn't want to do anything," he said. "I felt that I needed to draw something, but I couldn't hit upon any idea."

He saw doctors at more than 40 medical institutions who explained his symptoms in various ways. Matsumoto was told that he was depressed, that he lacked exercise and even that his suffering was due to the fact his teeth were not well aligned.

After seeing a newspaper article about depleted cerebrospinal fluid in May 2004, he visited Sanno Hospital in Tokyo's Minato-ku in July that year, where doctors discovered a fluid leakage.

Matsumoto had been hit by a car when he was three years old, and had often experienced stiff shoulders since then.

"It's possible that his cerebrospinal fluid began leaking because of the accident. I guess his condition worsened because he worked very hard," a Sanno Hospital doctor said.

Now that his condition has improved, Matsumoto is talking with a publisher about the possibility of starting work again. And he plans to draw a manga about his disease.

"I think many people around the world who suffer from depleted cerebrospinal fluid often don't understand the cause of their pain," he said. "I want to boost awareness of this disease around the world through a cartoon." (Mainichi)

September 3, 2005