Dragon statue unveiled in Kochi Pref. town

The Yomiuri Shimbun
“Ryu to Sobakasu no Hime” (Belle) director Mamoru Hosoda, right, sees the statue of a character from his animation at the Yokogurayama Natural Forest Museum in Ochi, Kochi Prefecture, on Friday.

KOCHI — A statue of a dragon character from “Ryu to Sobakasu no Hime” (Belle) was unveiled Friday in Ochi, Kochi Prefecture, where the animated film is set.

Director Mamoru Hosoda’s movie features several places in the prefecture, including the Niyodo River, which runs through the town. The Aso Submersible Bridge, which spans the river, also appears in the story on the route the main character Suzu (Belle) takes to school, and it has become a popular place to visit for the animation’s fans.

The dragon character’s piercing eyes, sharp fangs and cape have been elaborately rendered in this about 2-meter-high and 2.6-meter-wide statue. Originally created by figurine maker Kaiyodo Co., the statue was later purchased by the Ochi town government for about ¥5.5 million.

“The statue captures the dragon’s features very well and was made with passion,” said Hosoda, who attended the unveiling ceremony at the Yokogurayama Natural Forest Museum. “I’m sure children will have a good time with it, taking pictures with it and getting inside the cape.”

As to why he chose the town as the film’s setting, the director said, “The beauty of Niyodo River harmonizes with the lives of the people living in the area. I imagined that Suzu must have lived here as well.”

The statue will be on permanent display on the museum’s third floor along with panels that compare some of the area’s locations to how they are depicted in the movie.