Earthquakes are a way of life when you live along the Ring of Fire around the Pacific Ocean. This is true for those of us along the West Coast of the US, just as it is for the Japanese. So it should come as no surprise that there have been several manga titles about disasters caused by earthquakes. With end of the world scenarios being so popular lately, this seems like a good time to look at some of them.
Metro Survive is a two-volume series published by DR Master in 2008. It’s about Mashima, a repairman who works in Exopolis Tower, a new and popular high-rise in Tokyo. Trying to get home for his son’s birthday, he gets trapped in the subway with several other people who were waiting for the train as well when an Earthquake hits. Thanks to shotty constructions, the Exopolis has collapsed, so it’s up to Mashima to lead the people out of the subway and to find a way out. But as rescue seems less likely, and food starts to run short, the survivors start to turn against each other. It’s up to Mashima to keep the group together and alive until help arrives. This was an entertaining title, and in general was a good disaster story. It has some heart pounding moments, but has a happy ending.
51 Ways to Save Her is a 5 volume series that we almost got. It was scheduled to come out one month before CMX stopped publishing. It is by Usamaru Fuyura, creator of Genkaku Picasso and Lychee Light Club. It is about college senior Jin Mishima, who is Odaiba to attend a recruitment orientation for a job at a famous TV Station. There, he runs into Nanako Okano, a goth lolita who was in Odaiba to attend a concert but was tricked out of her ticket by some jealous girls. Just as they are re-acquainting themselves, an 8.1 earthquake hits, turning Odaiba island and the entire city into ruins. It’s up to Jin to help get Nanako out safely. I was really looking forward to this series. I enjoyed Genkaku Picasso by Furyura, as well as his adaptation of No Longer Human. I really wanted to read this one. Hopefully a publisher (Vertical? Jmanga?) will rescue it and release it in the US.
Probably the best known earthquake disaster story from Japan is Nihon Chinbotsu, or Japan Sinks. Originally a novel, this story has had not just manga, but movies made of it as well. A wave of earthquakes hit Japan, awakening a long dormant volcano. This is followed by another wave of mysterious natural disasters and one scientist believes he knows why as well as the consequences. If only he can get anyone to listen to him in time. A 4 volume manga based on this story by Takao Saito, the creator of Golgo 13, is available on Jmanga.com. There is a second, much longer series that came out in 2006, the same time as a remake of the movie was released. This one is 15 volumes long, and less likely to get released here.
Taiyou no Mokishiroku or A Spirit of the Sun, is a 17 volume series by Kaiji Kawaguchi, the creator of Eagle: The Making of an Asian-American President. It is a melding of Japan Sinks and another well-known story in Japan, The Three Kingdoms. Japan is hit with a series of natural disasters (starting with an earthquake), that fragments the country, leaving it and its people devastated. The story follows the lives of its citizens as they must go to emigration camps on mainland Asia while also trying to solve the political problem of rebuilding their country. I soooo want to read more of Kawaguchi, but there is little to no chance of his titles making it over because of both their length and content. No one wants political thrillers that are 17 volumes or more long.
Nae ga Yuru or An Earthquake Rocks, is a two-volume series from 2006. It’s by Yumisuke Kotoyoshi, creator of Saber Marionette J. It follows Akito and Yuki, two young adults who meet after a gigantic earthquake has hit the Tokyo area. They start traveling together in order to survive. This title might actually have a chance, since it is short and would probably appeal to young males, considering the creator is well-known for ecchi titles. I just don’t know which publisher would take a look or chance on it. Maybe Yen Press would be a good fit?
Know of any other manga that features earthquakes prominently in the story? Leave a comment and let me know about it!