Posted March 14, 2011on:
Japan gets a lot of earthquakes — when I was living there, there were at least 3 or 4 medium-sized quakes a year — but this one was definitely different. The Japan Meteorological Agency now measures it at 9.0 on the Richter scale, the largest earthquake in recorded Japanese history.
You’ve heard about the damage and destruction by both the earthquake and the tsunami. Over 2800 are confirmed dead, and hundreds if not thousands more are missing. There are millions of homes without power, and dozens of workers are working frantically to avert a nuclear disaster. In that context, it seems trivial to worry about a small slice of Japanese pop culture, but that’s the connection that many outside of Japan have to the island nation of 120 million people, and that’s where we are.
In the aftermath of the massive earthquake and tsunami, people both inside and outside Japan have begun to do what they can. The US, Australia, China, Taiwan, Germany, UK, and France, among others, have sent supplies and search and rescue teams to assist. (The Japanese suggested the name “Operation Tomodachi” (friends).) The Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, and other international non-governmental organizations have sent teams as well.
Due in part to the ongoing nuclear plant issues, rolling blackouts were instituted, and the entire country is being asked to save energy. On twitter, people are calling it Operation Yashima after the events of Evangelion episode 6 where the entire electrical output of Japan is used to launch an attack on an invader.
Tokyo was relatively lightly hit compared to Sendai, but more than a quarter of Japan’s population lives in the Tokyo metropolitan area and the anime and game industry (as well as almost everything else) is centered there. Because the trains in the Tokyo area (which usually carry more than 10 million people a day to and from work) were out of service immediately after the earthquake, it took many people hours to get home. Phone and internet service was also spotty, so some people were not able to check in for hours or even days. Fans put up lists of popular voice actors and actresses who had checked in as safe, and fellow voice actors (in particular Asanuma Shintarou and Iwao Junko) interacted with fans directly via twitter to keep their spirits up.
In addition, comic artists both pro and amateur are promoting a campaign on twitter and social picture site Pixiv. On twitter it’s called “Draw for Japan” (started by Ito Noizi, see above). On Pixiv it’s called “Supporting Victims of the Off the Coast of Northeastern Japan Pacific Ocean Earthquake” (that’s the official name of the quake in Japan) or just “Nihon Ganbatte” (Do your best, Japan).
Milky Holmes, the seiyuu group from the anime of the same name, released their song “Itsudatte Supporter” (Supporting you at all times) on Youtube, citing the wish to cheer up as many people as possible.
Many anime- and game-related events were postponed or cancelled over the weekend, and a number of anime broadcasts were postponed as well. Affected shows include Gosick, Koreha Zombie Desuka?, Moshidora, and Oniichan no Koto Zenzen Suki ja Nain Dakarane!?.
If you are interested in helping, right now the best way is to donate. Here are some international organizations that are involved in aid and assistance in Japan:
Red Cross (or text REDCROSS to 90999)
Finally, on a personal note, I do not know anyone in the most-affected areas, but I have spent time in Sendai and in the Iwate prefecture. It is a beautiful area and the people were fantastic. I can only hope that their lives can soon regain some semblance of normalcy.