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Crowdfunding project kicks off to create manga promoting Okinawa history, culture

The Okinawa Times

An Okinawa resident, originally from the U.S., is calling for donations to publish a manga book and an animated film through crowdfunding to promote the unique history and culture in the prefecture, which historically had been the independent Ryukyu Kingdom until the late 1800s.

The driving force behind the project to create the anime “Tedashiro no Kuniuta” (“The Song of the Sun Goddess”) is Julia Aimi Olivares, 30, from Minnesota, whose mother, Kazumi Mechler, hails from Naha, Okinawa.

Olivares, who had lived in Okinawa for about 10 years from when she was age 8, is well-versed in the regional culture and has won a top prize in a Ryukyu buyo dance competition, which was organized by The Okinawa Times.

Olivares returned to Okinawa from the United States in 2015 and set up a content production company, Ten Tun Ten Inc., in the town of Nishihara in the prefecture the following year. In establishing the company, she drew from her experience working at a California publishing firm specializing in the gaming and anime business.

In a fantasy story written by Olivares, Maka Arakaki, an female college art student who learns to perform Ryukyu traditional dance, meets Ba Kensai, an official from the Ryukyu Kingdom who time-travels to the modern world.

The duo defend Ryukyu, struggling against a bid by the central Japanese government to integrate the kingdom as a prefecture under the control of the Meiji Era government.

Olivares will try to collect ¥1 million by Aug. 1 to fund the project, aiming to publish a manga e-book based on the story in February 2018 and create an anime film in 2019.

“I will promote Okinawa through the anime utilizing a lot of materials and human resources,” Olivares said. “I will let people all over the world know about Okinawa and love it.”

The crowdfunding campaign, continuing through Aug. 1, can be found at: https://a-port.asahi.com/okinawatimes/projects/tedautaproject.

This section features topics and issues from Okinawa covered by The Okinawa Times, a major daily in the prefecture. The original article was published on June 2.