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Interest
Kumamon Mascot's Origin Story Told in Educational Manga

posted on by Lynzee Loveridge

Publisher Shogakukan's Shogakukan-ban Gakushū Manga line of manga aims to tell the stories of famous people like tech entrepreneur Steve Jobs, samurai Saigō Takamori, manga giant Osamu Tezuka, athlete Hideki Matsui, and Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri. Most of the stories star influential humans, but a new volume will shine a light on Japan's arguably mostly famous mascot, Kumamon.

Kumamon is the bear mascot for Kumamoto Prefecture that rose to international recognition in the last decade. The character's simple but cute design attracted contracts for everything from personal hygiene products to toys and food packaging. The character quickly became a billion yen celebrity with the most humble beginnings. The character was the result of a six-man team that quickly grew 29.3 billion yen (US$263.9 million) in sales of Kumamon products in 2012.

The character has since collaborated with the live-action Rurouni Kenshin films, the Yowamushi Pedal and Evangelion anime series, and met actor Keanu Reeves. He's become the face of disaster relief for Kumamoto after the area suffered damaging earthquakes in 2016.

The Kumamon manga will chronicle the mascot's origins and efforts to raise funds for disaster relief in Kumamoto. Artist and Kumamoto native Shinri Mori (Gin no Shippo) drew the manga for Shogakukan. Readers who are still skeptical about whether Kumamon is worthy of lining up with previous greats in the Shogakukan-ban Gakushū Manga line need only listen to Shogakukan's Shinpei Muto. The head of the educational book line defines a great person as someone who brings hopes and dreams to life for others and has a heart.

"We are in an era where Artificial Intelligence may some day have a heart," Muto said. "I think that Kumamon is next evolution of Japan's proud mascot culture."

The Kumamon manga went on sale in Japan on Friday.

Source: Comic Natalie


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