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Takashi Yanase, creator of popular Japan cartoon character Anpanman, dies at 94

Takashi Yanase, creator of one of Japan's most beloved cartoon characters, Anpanman, has died of heart failure. He was 94.

His studio said Tuesday that Yanase died at a Tokyo hotel early Sunday. 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.

The round-faced, smiley hero, clad in a red suit and long cape, became hugely popular in a picture book series that started in 1969. The Anpanman television cartoon series started in 1988, and has spread to the rest of Asia.

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