Fukuoka: Anime beauty sees passengers off at airport

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A visitor snaps a photo of a full-size statue of anime character Maetel, which stands in Kitakyushu Airport’s departure lobby.

KITAKYUSHU — In celebration of its 15th anniversary, Kitakyushu Airport has installed a full-size statue of Maetel, a main character in the popular “Galaxy Express 999” anime series, in its departure lobby.

“Galaxy Express 999” is the masterpiece of manga legend and Kyushu native Leiji Matsumoto, who spent his youth in Kitakyushu.

The statue was crafted from fiber-reinforced plastics and stands about 190 centimeters tall. Entities including the municipalities where the airport is located — Kitakyushu and Kanda — have come together to commission the statue from Toei Animation Co.

A message from Matsumoto himself was read at the statue’s unveiling ceremony on March 14. “It brings me great joy to have Maetel installed at the gateway into Kitakyushu.”

The Kitakyushu municipal government has reported that the airport has been heavily affected by the coronavirus crisis, as its foot traffic is expected to drop from about 1.57 million in fiscal 2019 to about 300,000 in fiscal 2020 — a decrease of about 80%.

The municipal government is working to promote the airport through events that aim to make people more willing to pay a visit.

A map of Kitakyusyuu Airport