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Ichinomiya uses manga to promote textile brand

Chunichi Shimbun

A project to create costumes from the popular manga series “Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne” is under way in the textile hub of Ichinomiya, Aichi Prefecture, which recently came up with the “Costume Town” concept to promote itself.

The Ichinomiya Chamber of Commerce and Industry has gathered the best technology in the area to manufacture exact replicas of the outfits in hopes of raising the image — and value — of the “made in Ichinomiya” brand. The clothes chosen are worn by Maron Kusakabe, the protagonist in “Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne.”

The popular manga by Arina Tanemura, an Ichinomiya native, depicts the adventures of Maron Kusakabe, a high school girl with the ability to transform into a supernatural phantom thief, Kaito Jeanne, to battle demons. It was published by Shueisha Inc.’s Ribon manga magazine from 1998 to 2000 and was targeted at teenage readers.

It was also turned into an anime television series aired between 1999 and 2000 by TV Asahi, further driving its popularity and fame at home and overseas.

The chamber of commerce started promoting Ichinomiya as a Costume Town as a means of revitalizing local industry, organizing parades by “cosplay” enthusiasts and inviting them to take part in the city’s annual “setsubun” festival to dispel evil spirits.

But this time the project involves working with local industries to replicate the costumes. Tanemura has given the organization licence to use her manga characters for free.

More than 10 textile manufacturers from Ichinomiya will contribute to the project, with fabrics manufactured in the city to be used to make the outfits. Professional designers will pitch in to help as well.

Tanemura’s drawings are known for their attention to detail. Kaito Jeanne’s outfit has long belts and sleeves, and Tanemura has asked that the costumes create a sense of movement.

The project team aims to work hard to meet the request, with one member saying that “the bar has been set really high.”

Production will begin in July and the costumes will be unveiled to the public at an event in October.

In the second phase of the project, the team will create the costumes Maron Kusakabe wears as a high schooler, before she transforms into Kaito Jeanne. They are scheduled to be completed in December.

Three pairs will be manufactured for each set. One will be presented to Tanemura and the other two will be used for future exhibitions.

“I want the costumes to be of the highest quality so that people will recognize and see that they are real,” said Daihachiro Nagao, 72, the deputy head of the chamber of commerce who is leading the project.

“I also want people to identify Ichinomiya as the city of textiles to boost the development of this area.”

Tenemura says “Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne” brings back a lot of memories, as she drew the series while she was still living in Ichinomiya.

“I’m very interested in seeing how my manga character will come out live in a 3-D version,” she said.

“I have always been proud of my hometown as a city of textiles and I’m delighted if my work can contribute to Ichinomiya’s development.”

This section features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published June 13.