Seibu Railway Co. kicked off an online crowdfunding campaign on July 7 for a project to revive a train decked out with a theme based on the popular space adventure franchise "Galaxy Express 999."
Seibu ran "Galaxy Express 999" trains until December last year, when operations ceased due to the aging mechanics of the trains. Hordes of fans of the trains based on the popular anime and manga series turned out for a farewell event on Dec. 20.
Now, the private railway operator has teamed with original manga author Leiji Matsumoto, civic group Amaneri-kai, the Institute of Creative Industries and Culture, and CyberAgent Inc., the operator of crowdfunding website Makuake, to bring back the "Galaxy Express 999" trains.
The consortium will also set up a study group chaired by Matsumoto to proceed with efforts to develop products and services featured in works of fiction using science and technologies jointly with researchers and companies.
Under the “999 realization project,” a train will be decked out with illustrations on its exterior and also re-create the world of the space-traveling steam locomotive for the interior, in addition to introducing cutting-edge technologies.
The project group plans to use an eight-car 20000 series train for various events and work together with local areas to promote the campaign. The group intends to solicit sponsor companies for each car of the train, with the ultimate goal of having a futuristic steam locomotive-type train running on a Seibu line.
The crowdfunding campaign offers various levels ranging from 5,000 yen ($40.50) to 100,000 yen, with returns including riding on the train for its first journey and receiving a personalized hanging train strap. Those who pay for the most expensive tier, which is 100,000 yen, are entitled to have lunch with Matsumoto and receive an illustration of Maetel, the series’ iconic character.
The crowdfunding campaign will run through Sept. 29, with a goal of raising 29.99 million yen. The promotional train is expected to make its debut in December.