Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro (born May 19, 1975) is a Japanese manga artist, best known for the series Toriko which was serialized from 2008 to 2016 and became one of the publisher Shōnen Jump's top sellers with over 25 million copies in circulation. Shimabukuro ranked 14th on Nikkei Entertainment's list of the most successful manga artists between 2010 and 2011.
Toriko artist's arrest for prostitution
Shimabukuro made his debut as a professional artist in 1996 and first serial, Seikimatsu Leader den Takeshi! (1997–2002), earned him the Akatsuka Award for best new manga writer and the 2001 Shogakukan Manga Award for children's manga. In 2002, however, Shimabukuro, then aged 27, was arrested and convicted of violating child prostitution laws, paying a 16-year-old female ¥80,000 to have sex. Reportedly, on November 12th 2001, Shimabukuro and a 16-year old female high school student met at a hotel in Yokohama, where he allegedly paid her to engage in sexual contact. As a result of the artist's arrest, his series Seikimatsu Leader Den Takeshi! was cancelled by Weekly Shōnen Jump. Shimabukuro was sentenced to two years in prison, and the sentence was suspended for four years meaning that he did not in fact serve time in prison.
A life not destroyed
Unlike future manga authors in the 2020s like Kenya Suzuki and Tatsuya Matsuki who appear to have had their careers destroyed by arrests for sexual activity relating to young people, Shimabukuro was not dropped by publishers completely and has since built a successful career.
Like Nobuhiro Watsuki, he is a friend to the creator of One Piece - Eiichiro Oda - one of the most popular manga series and manga creators of all time. In 2011, the two created the Toriko and One Piece crossover one-shot Taste of the Devil Fruit. Shimabukuro stated that he came up with the bulk of the story while Oda gave suggestions, and the anime adaptation can be found online. In an interview about this collaboration (pictured), Oda stated that "Shimabukuro Sensei has been my good friend since he became a mangaka," going onto name his first series. This suggests that Oda knew Shimabukuro before his arrest and conviction, and has remained his friend since.
Shimabukuro has continued to produce manga successfully and finished his latest work, Build King, in 2021.