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Kochikame Comic Still Going Strong (September 4, 2006)

The 150th volume of Kochikame (c) Akimoto Osamu•Atelier Beedama / SHUEISHA. Inc
The long-running boys' comical manga Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Koen Mae Hashutsujo (From the Police Box at Kameari Park, Katsushika Ward), better known as Kochikame, turns 30 this year. Some 150 paperback volumes of this gag-packed comic series have been released, and they have racked up impressive total sales of more than 130 million copies.

Blending New and Old
Created by Akimoto Osamu, Kochikame has been running since 1976 as a serial in the weekly Shukan Shonen Jump comic magazine. Akimoto is prodigious, having never missed a single week of publication in the comic's 30-year run.

A scene from Kochikame (c) Akimoto Osamu•Atelier Beedama / SHUEISHA. Inc

The main character of Kochikame, Ryotsu Kankichi (nicknamed Ryo-san), is a daring policeman who is hopelessly lazy when it comes to work. He possesses superhuman power yet has a lust for money and tirelessly indulges in hobbies like playing video games and building plastic models. The story features a host of other characters, including a handsome policeman who is the son of a wealthy industrial magnate and rides around in exotic sports cars wearing brand-name suits as his uniform, and a motorcycle cop who gets charged up into a frenzy when he takes to two wheels. With such a colorful cast, zany hilarity is guaranteed.

Ryo-san has superhuman power. (c) Akimoto Osamu•Atelier Beedama / SHUEISHA. Inc

The secret of the comic's success during its long run is the clever way in which it blends old and new with the charm of its characters. The setting for Kochikame is Tokyo's vibrant old downtown district as it was in the good old days 30 to 40 years ago, complete with the atmosphere, human kindness, and community feeling of the area during that time. While the comic is gag-driven, it can also at times be nostalgic and touching, as when it portrays Ryotsu's early childhood. And since Ryotsu loves gadgetry, the series has avoided becoming stuck in a rut by incorporating into the story such cutting-edge technologies and trends as video games, computers, and mobile phones before they became mainstream.

Symbols of Success
In addition to a TV anime series that ran from 1996 to 2004, a live-action movie and two feature-length anime versions of Kochikame have also been released. A stage version of Kochikame, written, directed, and starred in by Lassalle Ishii, a comedian who portrayed the voice of Ryotsu during the TV animation series, have been running since 1999, and a special production was performed in August 2006 in commemoration of the series' thirtieth anniversary.

Creator Akimoto Osamu stands next to a bronze statue of Ryo-san. (Jiji)

In summer 2005 a stone monument was erected on the grounds of the Asakusa Shrine in Taito Ward, Tokyo to commemorate the sale of the 130 millionth paperback of the series. In February 2006, meanwhile, a bronze statue of Ryotsu was completed in front of the JR Kameari Station in Katsushika Ward, Tokyo. And a Kochikame Game Park amusement facility opened in March inside a shopping center near the same station. Now 30 years old, the venerable comic series has evolved beyond the pages of manga and is enjoyed by more fans than ever.

A number of other manga rival Kochikame for longevity, including Golgo 13, first released in 1968 and now running for 141 volumes; Oishinbo (Delicious), launched in 1983 and now running for 96 volumes; and Oke no Monsho (The Crest of the Royal Family) which runs to 51 volumes and, like Kochikame, is now entering its thirtieth year.

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Copyright (c) 2006 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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