KUSHIRO, HOKKAIDO – The Hokkaido city of Kushiro has started a promotional effort in which it seeks to raise its profile by creating a girls’ manga series set in the region.
Authored by Hisa Kyomachi, “9: Kimi Ga Iru Machi De Koi O Shita” (“9: I Fell in Love in the Town Where You Live”), is set in Kushiro, with the government using the ¥12 million in central government-provided regional revitalization funds to pay for its production costs and expenses, including research on the region and interviews with locals.
The series started in the Oct. 5 issue of Sho-Comi, a popular girls’ comic magazine by major publisher Shogakukan Inc. The twice-a-month publication boasts a nationwide circulation of 138,000, with high school girls its target market.
The first episode starts with a scene in which the lead character, a teenage pitching prodigy from Tokyo, steps off a train onto a station platform in Kushiro. The boy had decided to quit baseball and switch schools after his team lost in an elimination round of the popular national high school baseball tournament at Koshien Stadium near Kobe. But he becomes inspired by a new classmate’s passion to revive the school’s baseball club, which is poised to be abolished.
Product placements abound in the manga. The last half of the first episode features Nusamaibashi Bridge, a popular tourist spot in the central city known as a great place to view Kushiro’s sunset, touted as “one of the world’s top three sunsets.”
“We are hoping this comic will help make Kushiro known more widely,” said Takahiro Kanno, chief of the city management department.
A bookstore in the city set up a special section featuring the comic. A store employee said the latest issue was selling well thanks to the new series.
In preparing to pen the series, author Kyomachi visited the city’s famous tourist sites, including the Kushiro Marsh and Lake Akan, and interviewed local high school students, according to municipal officials.
Kushiro-born manga author Yuuki Obata, whose popular comic “Bokura Ga Ita” (“We Were There”) was made into a film, helped mediate between the publisher and the municipality.