The effect of the enormous tragedy created by the earthquakes and tsunami in Japan on the anime and manga industry is insignificant in relation to the natural disaster’s enormous human cost. So far there are no confirmed reports of the deaths of any manga-ka, although numerous manga magazines including Shonen Jump have been delayed as have the broadcasts of a number of anime series. But it may be weeks before even the majority of the victims are accounted for, and a serious threat from three damaged nuclear power plants remains, so the earthquake’s effect on manga and anime appears to be a minor concern in the big picture (see The Anime News Network for a current list of delays and cancellations).
Still the spread of Japanese popular culture has undoubtedly created additional interest in and sympathy for the plight of the Japanese people dealing with these devastating events. While most American otaku can’t emulate Tokyopop’s Stuart Levy, who is actually driving supplies to earthquake victims (you can follow his efforts on Twitter), there has been an outpouring of support via the Red Cross and other international relief agencies, and the media site Crunchyroll has announced that it will match donations made through the site.
Viz Media has issued the following statement: “The terrible events in Japan affects us all at Viz Media directly, personally and professionally. Our hearts go out to those affected by the tragedy and the ongoing crisis, and we hope for a quick recovery. We know the people of Japan will persevere & prevail.
Sincere thanks to all those who have inquired about our parent companies, Shogakukan, Shueisha and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions. Our colleagues in Tokyo are safe and the situation is stabilizing, though resuming normal day-to-day business activities may take a little while. On a company level, we will be coordinating activities with our parent companies to support the disaster victims.
The victims of this tragedy are in our thoughts, and our gratitude goes out to all of the heroic people around the world pulling together to help them.”
Not everyone in Japan has been able to resist the temptation to use the tragedy to grind their political axes. Like Jerry Falwell, who infamously blamed the 9/11 attacks on America’s tolerance for lesbians, gays, and abortionists, Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara, the man behind the censor-happy Tokyo’s Youth Healthy Development Ordinance (see “Tokyo Ordinance Leads to Self-Censorship & Protest”), characterized the disaster as “divine punishment” for the “selfishness of the Japanese people.”
To anyone watching the events in Japan from anywhere else in the world, who has seen the amazing cooperation of the Japanese people, who initiated rolling blackouts before they were even asked to do so, who have totally refrained from looting, and who have cooperated with and executed relief efforts in a truly heroic manner, the comments of Ishihara are simply dumbfounding.