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Train station in Tokyo scores a goal with Captain Tsubasa manga makeover

The image of Tsubasa Ozora from the "Captain Tsubasa" series doing an overhead kick is seen on the ceiling at Yotsugi Station, Katsushika Ward, Tokyo, on May 21, 2019. (Mainichi/Shohei Kawamura)

TOKYO -- Yotsugi Station on the Keisei Oshiage Line in the capital's Katsushika Ward is sporting a new look inspired by the popular soccer-themed manga and anime "Captain Tsubasa," turning the stop into a popular destination in its own right.

The design has been put up here because Captain Tsubasa's creator, Yoichi Takahashi, is a born and bred local. The series is famous worldwide, and operator Keisei Electric Railway Co. hopes the new look will score a hat-trick of increased national and international visitors, as well as promote regional revitalization.

Captain Tusbasa tells the story of soccer player Tsubasa Ozora and his rivals including Genzo Wakabayashi and Hyuga Kojiro growing as individuals through their competition with one another. The manga began in 1981 and as the protagonists have developed, so too has its setting broadened, starting in Japan and then moving to locations overseas. The story is still serialized today, although on an irregular basis. The manga and its TV anime adaptation are said to have had a strong influence on soccer players at home and abroad.

The most eye-catching part of the station's new kit is beyond the ticket barriers. Its football field design stretches across the floor and to the walls. On the ceiling, Tsubasa Ozora himself makes a dynamic overhead kick. At the station entrance's stairs, Tsubasa and his sworn friend Taro Misaki can be seen doing a "twin shot," a move from the series in which two players launch the ball at the same time.

A mural of a host of characters from the "Captain Tsubasa" series is seen near the stairs of Yotsugi Station, Katsushika Ward, Tokyo, on May 21, 2019. (Mainichi/Shohei Kawamura)

Even the escalator handrail belts have famous quotes by the series' characters printed on them. An artwork of Tsubasa constructed from some 110,000 railway tickets is set up in the space in front of an elevator. When trains pull into the station, the anime's ending theme song plays over the speaker system.

The Captain Tsubasa-inspired refurbishment was completed at the end of February 2019. Since then, the operator says it has become common place to see fans taking photos of the new interior. Images on social media commenting on how cool and exciting it looks have been cropping up too.

According to Keisei Electric Railway, the number of passengers using the station who don't have a commuter pass is up 10% from last year, which they believe is down to the "Tsubasa effect." Katsushika Ward has already commemorated the manga in other ways, including putting up bronze statues of the series' characters around the area, and setting up a Captain Tsubasa signboard to promote the ward. A bus service featuring an illustration of the series' characters also runs in Katsushika. Events and sales of related products are currently planned for Yotsugi Station.

An artwork of Tsubasa Ozora from the "Captain Tsubasa" series, sporting a "Yotsugi" team shirt, made from some 110,000 train tickets is seen at Yotsugi Station, Katsushika Ward, Tokyo, on May 21, 2019. (Mainichi/Shohei Kawamura)

A representative for the Keisei Electric Railway said, "We hope that foreign visitors to Japan will alight at this station when heading to central Tokyo from Narita International Airport and enjoy experiencing the local area, thereby helping to revitalize it."

(Japanese original by Shohei Kawamura, Tokyo Bureau)

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