An increasing number of manga works are depicting the world after the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami where familiar landscapes were destroyed beyond recognition and survivors are left with uncertain futures.
These manga artists seem to be coming face to face with the reality weighing heavily on their own minds.
"JoJolion," the eighth story arc of the long-running series "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure" that started in the 1980s, began in the June issue of Shueisha Inc.'s monthly Ultra Jump comic magazine released in May. It is explained at the beginning of the story that the town of Moriocho has been greatly damaged by the powerful earthquake.
Moriocho, which was featured in one of the "JoJo" arcs, is part of "S City." It is a suggestive of Sendai.
The explanation continues: "The numbers of dead and missing people, lost homes and businesses, as well as evacuees, are as reported."
What draws attention is the land formation known as "Kabe no Me" (the eye of the wall). It was created after the ground was lifted, resulting in a 10-kilometer stretch of what appears to be an embankment.
"I had decided to have the story take place in Moriocho from the very beginning, but the earthquake happened while I was developing the idea," "JoJolion" artist Hirohiko Araki said in a statement released by the publisher. "I couldn't avoid (the issue) because Moriocho is modeled after Sendai. I had been thinking of extraordinary geographical formations, but I think there couldn't have been something like 'Kabe no Me' if it weren't for the disaster."
Kotobuki Shiriagari was quick to publish a short manga titled "Umibe no Mura" (the seaside village) in the May issue of Enterbrain Inc.'s monthly Comic Beam magazine, released on April 12. It was only a month after the twin disaster occurred.
"I thought I'd draw it now even if it could be inaccurate," Kotobuki said in the comic magazine.
"Umibe no Mura" depicts the future set exactly 50 years after the disaster. In "Furueru Machi" (the shivering town), which ran in the July issue, Kotobuki portrays a pregnant woman who has lost her fiance and is scared by aftershocks and radiation contamination.
Comic Beam has also been eager to publish manga works that deal with the disaster. An episode of Masumi Sudo's "Niwasaki Anbai" in the June issue shows a girl who lost her family. And in the July issue, Takashi Imashiro's "Bokeman" portrays a Tokyo salaryman who is endlessly irritated and scared.
"With an event so enormous like this, it is only natural for manga works to reflect it," Katsuhiko Okumura, the magazine's chief editor, said. "It may be difficult to do it right away because the reality is ongoing, but there will eventually be full-length stories."
Meanwhile, manga works that have portrayed nuclear power plants before the disaster struck are grabbing attention.
"Coppelion," a manga series by Tomonori Inoue, running in Kodansha Ltd.'s weekly Young Magazine since 2008, is set in Tokyo in 2036. The nation's capital has been reduced to ruins due to radiation contamination from a nuclear disaster in 2016.
It is an action-packed science fiction manga centering around a trio of high school girls. But it often portrays scenes and characters that can no longer be dismissed as mere fiction. They include a nuclear power plant designer who regrets the past, and Self-Defense Forces members abandoned by the government after they were exposed to radiation during their rescue operations.
An animated adaptation of "Coppelion" was planned before the March 11 disaster. However, it seems difficult for the project to proceed for the time being.
After the March 11 earthquake, an older manga that was released after the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear accident also became a popular discussion topic over the Internet and elsewhere.
"Die Energie 5.2 11.8," by the late Jun Mihara, a manga artist known for "Hamidashikko" who died in 1995, was released in 1982. The mystery revolves around an electric power company and the anti-nuclear camp.
The protagonist works at the utility but is skeptical about the company's nuclear plant. However, he also has a distrust of those who criticize the nuclear plant while they enjoy their lives made possible by the huge amount of electricity generated.
"Jun Mihara Collection of Works: '80s," which was released under Hakusensha Inc.'s Hakusensha Bunko label and includes the short, was reprinted in June.
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