Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mitakihara Town's rise to power: the stuff of fairytales

Mitakihara Town's rise to power: the stuff of fairytales

By John Houston
The Daily Magi
July 1, 2038

The story of Mitakihara Town is one of rapid growth and development, one of overcoming the odds and performing beyond all expectations. It is a story driven by youth and a Canadian pride that is so strong that it cannot be unshaken for decades to come. Jim Valkanis, the nephew of Australian club football manager Michael Valkanis, is Mitakihara University's resident historian and a member of the university's staff. He is responsible for assembling the archives of many events and mementos spanning nearly three decades of tradition. Valkanis has been a resident of Mitakihara since 2015.

"The story of Mitakihara Town began in the late 1990s, when the 100 First Families, the largest wave of Issei Japanese immigrants in many generations, descended on what was originally Parksville," Valkanis said. "They had a master plan, to create a carbon copy of Mitakihara Town, Japan, but bigger and better. Locals welcomed the idea and made a referendum to choose whether to reincorporate as a new city or keep the old name. The referendum was in favor of reincoporation, 70 to 30, and on January 1, 2000, Parksville was refounded as Mitakihara Town, British Columbia.

"At the time, Mitakihara had a population of 23,000 people and was a small city on Vancouver Island. During the city's first decade, Mitakihara experienced steady grown in spite of the construction of new buildings and houses for families to move in. In April 2010, a historic event took place in Mitakihara, Japan. A young woman named Madoka Kaname saved the city from Walpurgis Night, the most dangerous witch in history. Her wish was to rewrite the rules regarding magical girls, but she also had a second witch, and that was to found a university in Mitakihara, Canada that would not only rival Harvard, Cambridge and Oxford in terms of prestige, but eventually surpass it. Her wish was granted, and after she moved to Canada with her brother Tatsuya and several of her business partners, Mitakihara University was founded on October 3, 2010.

"This came at a perfect time for Mitakihara Town because the original university buildings would have been used for office space and residential housing, along with a junior high school. Those plans were scrapped, and as the university continued its road to hosting its first classes in August 2011, the university announced that Tatsuya Kaname—who was magically turned into an adult that was two years older than Madoka, who in turn earned an honorary doctorate from the University of Tokyo for her heroics in Japan—was named head coach of the football team. A list of 70 players were lined up to fill the roster of the team, who would begin a conference tour that took over a decade, starting with the Pac-12.

"Many in Mitakihara and outside of Mitakihara doubted whether this was a good idea for Magi football to thrust itself immediately into the first in their first year. Fears rang out that their very first opponent, Arkansas, would demolish them by halftime. No one gave this small, new university and chance.

"Four quarters late, Madoka shocked the world. This school, which used the colors of dark pink, light pink and white as its school colors, destroyed the Razorbacks from head to toe. And it happened again, against Alabama. And to the opponent after that. And the opponent after that. News agencies from around the world were flocking to Mitakihara University. Recruitment and enrollment hit record numbers. And everyone in Canada wanted to wear the colors of the school, which was a source of pride for the city in spite of them being seen as 'too girly' in nature.

"When the team won its first BCS National Championship, a rout of the Nevada Wolfpack, fans were storming Mitakihara's version of Harvard Square, Madoka Square. There was dancing in the streets, hugging, kissing, and a massive parade took place on campus, with buildings still being constructed.

"And the following year, it happened again. Perfect season, another national crown. And again. And again. The Puella Magi Option game became the in-thing. Coach Kaname didn't realize it at the time, but he had developed a monster. Soon afterwards, the other sports teams took notice and started to win games left and right. As of right now, every team that plays in the NCAA and in club competition has won at least six national championships. Mitakihara Athletics has won the last 15 Director's Cups and Capital One Cups. And enrollment is now capped at 100,000.

"Mitakihara University is the largest university in Canada, and because of this, Mitakihara Town's population has grown to 200,000. The campus turned this small city on Vancouver Island into one of the best college towns in North America. There is a youthful vibe...a fresh, energetic spirit in this city fueled by its people, who hail from every corner of the world. Japanese and Japanese-Canadians account for 40 percent of Mitakihara's population, making it one of the largest Japanese communities in Canada, if not the largest. Koreans and Korean-Canadians make up 25 percent, Anglo-Canadians account for 15 percent, and the rest consist of people from other races and ethnicities.

"On January 1, 2040, a new era will take place in this city. The city of Nanaimo will no longer exist and will be incorporated into Mitakihara Town as a district. The referendum passed today and soon, this young city will be even bigger and new possiblities will take shape. And all of this wouldn't have been possible without Mitakihara University blazing a trail for the community it is so attached to. It's the stuff of fairytales, really."

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