The Straits Times
Popular anime characters who will be mascots for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics include (from left) Astro Boy, Sailor Moon, Crayon Shin-chan, Luffy from One Piece, Naruto, Jibanyan from Yo-kai Watch (front), Goku from Dragonball Z and Cure Miracle and Cure Magical from Pretty Cure. (tokyo2020shop.jp/File)
Anime characters have turned out in force to support the Japanese sports teams in the Tokyo Olympics to be held in 2020.
While other countries have often created mascots for their Games, Japan has a legion of existing comic characters from which to choose from.
A total of nine were unveiled as Tokyo 2020 ambassadors in a video by the Olympic Channel, an official web-based channel for the Olympics.
The video has been viewed more than 2 million times since it was posted on Facebook on Jan 20.
The ambassadors include Astro Boy, Sailor Moon, Crayon Shin-chan, Luffy from One Piece, Naruto, Jibanyan from Yo-kai Watch, Son Goku from Dragon Ball Super and two girls - Cure Miracle and Cure Magical - from Mahou Tsukai Pretty Cure.
From a robot boy to a ghost cat, the range of characters is wide and seemed designed to cater to a variety of anime fans.
They are emblazoned on the Tokyo 2020 merchandise, which is on sale at the Tokyo 2020 shop (http://tokyo2020shop.jp/).
Popular video game character Super Mario - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe donned the iconic costume - also made an appearance last year at the close of the Rio Games.
It's likely part of Japan's strategy to lure more tourists to its shores using manga and anime.
In September last year, leading manga and video game and publishing company Kadokawa, Japan Airlines and JTB, Japan's largest travel agency, launched the Japan Anime Tourism Association (Jata).
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