Friday, June 13, 2008
The adventures of Petty Officer 3rd Class Jack Ohara, the fictitious Japanese-American Sailor stationed aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73), hit the streets of Yokosuka, Japan. "CVN 73," a manga or comic book featuring Ohara, his shipmates and the aircraft carrier they serve aboard was received with fanfare from local citizens of U.S. Navy's host community. Yokosuka resident Sato Hikaru waited patiently in the line that stretched several hundred meters down Route 16 for her chance to get a copy of "CVN 73," because she said it was a good opportunity to learn about the U.S. Navy. "The reaction is quite incredible," said Cmdr. David Waterman, commander U.S. Naval Force Japan public affairs officer. "It's very, very popular from every level of the government, the U.S. government, Japanese government, and of course, the citizens." In Japan, manga are very popular and read by people of all ages. They often cover a wide-range of topics, ranging from action-adventure to business. "You can see the popularity is quite fierce," Waterman said. "What we did was find a way to get across our messages to the Japanese public in their favorite reading material--a great, fun way to learn about it. There are some people in the Japanese populace who are a little worried about GW's (George Washington) arrival and this is one way we can get messages across about the professionalism of the Sailors, the safety of the ship, how we train for all types of contingencies." "It's a very good idea to make a manga," said Hikaru.Rainy weather didn't deter manga fans or interest in unveiling "CVN 73" to the public. Approximately 800 copies were given away during the first three hours of distribution, as the artists who created the comic were available to meet enthusiasts and sign their copies. Ohara, the main character of "CVN 73," illustrates the pride and professionalism of U.S. Sailors. Readers follow Ohara as he gets accustomed to his new ship and learns that life ashore is much different than life at sea. Ohara goes through many new challenges, including getting used to the tight spaces on the ship, dealing with the loud and busy environment of the flight deck and learning his duties during his first general quarters drill. "It's a great story," Waterman said. "It's a story about a young Japanese-American Sailor who gets on board George Washington in Hawaii, he transits on its way to Yokosuka, he learns about himself, and he learns about the ship." The Navy hopes their new comic book will give Japanese citizens a better understanding of how the Navy operates and introduce them to the many struggles Sailors experience when adjusting to life in a new country. Approximately 25,000 copies of "CVN 73" will be distributed to Yokosuka area residents at open base events and at other Navy functions. The Navy isn't alone in hoping the manga brings a better understanding of naval life to the Japanese public. Hikaru said she hopes the manga will bring Japan and America closer to each other.