So what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate when discussing the eathquake, tsunami, and nuclear threat in Japan? The past month has had the public struggling with the answer to that question, with certain political pundits getting chastised over tasteless jokes, Gilbert Gottfried losing his Aflac job, and, most recently, certain nuclear meltdown episodes of The Simpsons getting yanked from the air. Cartoonists are feeling the heat, too, especially since it seems nearly impossible to refer to the earthquake without referencing something from Japanese pop culture.
But… what if those pop culture references came from someone who actually experienced the earthquake? That’s what happens in the webcomic Joe Is Japanese. The production crew at Fates.com get an email from the man he based the main character off of, a 35-year-old animator named Koga Sato. It’s a really bizarre e-mail, referencing everything from Mike Tyson to Ronald Reagan to a huge somewhat buff Jesus. But it’s also very personal. There’s a harrowing scene where Koga realizes that cities have been permanently wiped off the map and anxieties over what’s to come. On the surface, it’s a little silly to be shoehorning such strange observations into a national tragedy… but when you think about, it’s also a testament to Koga keeping his spirits up while struggling to communicate the magnitude through shared, innocent cultural references.
Which, when you come to think of it, is a lot more deeper and touching than lazily showing Ultraman running from a giant wave.
(h/t Robot 6)