New statues from megahit comic and animated TV series "One Piece" will be installed throughout the southwestern prefecture of Kumamoto to promote tourism and the area's recovery from two massive earthquakes in 2016, the prefecture said Wednesday.
The new figures, depicting protagonist Monkey D. Luffy's crew, will be erected in areas that were heavily damaged in the April 2016 earthquakes. They are to join the statue of Luffy, unveiled last November to commemorate author Eiichiro Oda's reception of a prefectural honor for his support of Kumamoto's rebuilding efforts.
(Kumamoto Gov. Ikuo Kabashima announces the locations to install "One Piece" statues.)
The prefecture plans to add eight new sculptures, four of which will be installed by next March. The remaining four will be erected during the subsequent year.
The statue of Vinsmoke Sanji, the crew's cook and a martial artist, is to be installed in the town of Mashiki, which saw its community center badly damaged in the earthquake. That of archeologist Nico Robin is to be located in the town of Minamiaso, which accommodated Tokai University's School of Agriculture until its temporary relocation due to the quakes.
The prefecture has also prepared a plotline for the new statues, in which Luffy and his crew land in the areas devastated by the Kumamoto earthquakes and learn about the locals' widespread hardships. Luffy then orders his crew to aid in the region's recovery, with each crewmember solving issues according to their skills.
Kumamoto Gov. Ikuo Kabashima explained the rationale behind the chosen locations during a press conference, expressing how visitors to the selected sites will be able to learn about the disaster.
"There is a certain creativity and potential in touring the damaged regions (via the statues). I am convinced that this will lead to further support," he said.
One Piece, depicting the adventures of Luffy, who aspires to become a pirate king, and his companions, is a manga series in the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine. Over 430 million copies of the comic books have been printed in at least 42 countries and regions, according to the prefecture.
On April 14, 2016, a magnitude 6.5 quake struck the region, followed by a M7.3 temblor two days later. Fifty people were killed when buildings collapsed on top of them, and over 200 others died in the aftermath of the disaster, while more than 200,000 residences were destroyed or damaged in Kumamoto and Oita prefectures.