Guardian of Fukushima is a luminous story of disaster compassion

Guardian of Fukushima is a luminous story of disaster compassion

Guardian of Fukushima

Author: Fabien Grolleau
Artist: Ewen Blain
Publication date: February 28, 2023

“In fact I used to be scared. Very scared, even.
“What do you think about? »
“I puzzled what penalties this may have on my well being. Then I considered my animals. I assumed it wasn’t proper to desert them… there… in Fukushima… within the coronary heart of the irradiated zone.
Deserted practice tracks, a knocked down home and a wandering ostrich set the stage for the story. With a lucid and positive line, the French inventive crew of the author Fabien Grolleau and artist Ewen Blain set up the stakes and motivation behind a person’s self-sacrificing actions.

So begins the transferring and magical graphic novel Guardian of Fukushimalaunched by TOKYOPOP in February as a part of their Comics Matters Initiative. It is onerous to make a e-book a couple of pure catastrophe fulfilling to learn, however Grolleau and Blain did it with respect and charm.

A person of motion

The e-book relies on the true story of Japanese farmer Naoto Matsumura, who stayed behind throughout evacuations in his hometown of Tomioka. Amid the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear energy plant catastrophe in 2011, he fed and cared for pets left behind, and continues to at the present time. I knew I needed to learn this e-book and it is an honor to see it once more.

As we go into the story, we see a little bit of the agricultural lifetime of the Matsumura household in Tomioka. Then we’re on the bottom with individuals within the neighborhood because the catastrophe unfolds. Matsumura is together with his mother and father and his younger nephew who’s visiting.

Matsumura's little nephew runs through a field with a dog.

The sensible manner the household offers with the continued losses within the days that observe is heartbreaking in its understatement. There may be actual private tragedy right here, combined with magical symbolism that’s by no means brutal. Grolleau and Blain pack lots of energy into minimal pages. Blain’s natural type and painterly colours harmonize completely with Grolleau’s sober and considerate phrases. Their rhythm is spacious, letting the sorrow breathe. But in addition they present moments of quiet magnificence and hope within the midst of disappointment. Apart from his home, we do not see a lot of what made Matsumura what he’s. However simply taking a look at his actions tells us so much.

A real story that has grow to be legendary

You would possibly know Matsumura’s story from the information (though I wasn’t, so I am very grateful to those creators for bringing it to my consideration). He nonetheless lives within the radiation zone, in some way withstanding far higher each day publicity than most individuals over their lifetime. Earlier than I even heard the small print, I had a lump in my throat. It’s onerous to not be moved by his braveness and immense concern for our fellow human beings within the face of a pure and, in some methods, unnatural catastrophe. The European inventive crew will need to have felt the identical, as a result of in an interview on the finish of the e-book, they acknowledged that the message and influence of its story, regardless of being set in Japan, is common.

Matsumura pushes a hay cart and is surrounded by cows.  He's laughing,

Within the interview, author Grolleau additionally shared that – whereas he researched his topic fairly extensively – he and Blain took creative liberties within the service of the story: “If we’re not essentially correct in actuality, we hope to be devoted to the spirit of Matsumura and Japan on the whole. I’m happy to listen to specialists say that we’ve got not betrayed them. As somebody with some Japanese heritage myself, I discovered the crew’s respect for the person and his nation’s expertise actually shined by means of. Extra documentation and historical past are included within the again for these whose appetites have been whetted.

As talked about, the story takes legendary turns. The gods and males of outdated Japanese tales seem within the bedtime tales Matsumura tells his younger nephew, within the boy’s desires, and in hints of affect throughout catastrophe scenes. The compositions are fantastically thought out and voiced by Grolleau and Blain, strolling the fantastic line between naturalist and surrealist. All through the e-book, people photos give an epic contact at sure moments.

Understanding the Fukushima Catastrophe

Whereas I’ve nice respect for documentaries, the story in some way feels “more true” to me emotionally than a purely journalistic take (though there isn’t any scarcity of realism). The symbols that inhabit this world of historical past make the unthinkable occasions all of the extra resonant and lend a sort of higher which means to the tragedy and the higher forces at play.

A giant wave crest, with the words: The earth is shaking, the wave is overflowing

The story can also be a cautionary story concerning the dangers of nuclear power. It provides no easy solutions, solely onerous questions on its human and animal prices.

At its beating coronary heart, the story is a couple of outstanding man who noticed an opportunity to alleviate the struggling of many animals and save lives, and did it. He looks like a person of few phrases, however these he shares imply so much: “All lives matter.”

Kudos to Grolleau and Blain for skilfully choosing up an already deep story. I might advocate Guardian of Fukushima to anybody.

A crane flies in a white sky.

Guardian of Fukushima is now obtainable in print and digital from TOKYOPOP.

Take a look at The Beat’s evaluations part for a brand new graphic novel assessment each Friday in 2023!

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