Mie: Who took Maetel statue’s mask?

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The statue of Maetel without a mask is seen in front of Uenoshi Station in Iga, Mie Prefecture.

IGA, Mie — A mask covering the mouth of a bronze statue of Maetel, a popular character from the “Galaxy Express 999” manga, in Iga, Mie Prefecture, has gone missing.

The mask was secured with a wire to prevent it from being blown away by wind.

Courtesy of Iga city government
The statue of Maetel wearing a mask on July 18

Believing that the mask was purposely taken by someone, the city of Iga filed a stolen item report with the Iga police department.

The Maetel statue, along with a statue of Tetsuro Hoshino, the main character in the manga, was installed by Kintetsu Railway Co. in 1998 at a different location in Iga. Both statues were moved in 2001 to their current location near the Iga Line’s Uenoshi Station in Iga.

Iga Railway Co. runs ninja-themed trains designed by mangaka Leiji Matsumoto, the creator of “Galaxy Express 999,” on its Iga Line.

In May 2020, the city put masks on the two statues to encourage residents to wear them and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Maetel statue was outfitted in July with a new mask sporting a logo commemorating the 100th anniversary of the opening of the entire Iga Line.