When one mentions a disaster, people tend to recall the common images of devestation, devestation, and disarray. Typically, people recall the bleakest, most depressing aspects of the matter, with good reason. However, there seems to be something more in the wake of this particular tragedy. In the ten days that followed the earthquake, we’ve seen a swell of support rising across Japan. What began as a series of well-wishers on blogs and social media has exploded into a larger, far more amazing phenomenon.

The phenomenon began as one could expect: musicians began charity drives, and companies announced that they would donate to the efforts. Anime broadcasts were delayed, and focus on the disaster was paramount. Most would figure that things would end there. However, this seemed to kick off a snowball effect. The first real spark of the extraordinary began on March 13, when Yoko Kanno posted a song dedicated to the disaster’s victims, and Haruhi illustrator and Takehiko Inoue added pieces of art dedicated to the victims to their Twitter feeds. Two days later, thirty-five manga creators, from Nodame Cantobile’s Tomoko Ninomiya, to DiGi Charat’s Koge Donbo, to Fairy Tail’s Hiro Mashima, announced that they would collaborate on a special doujinshi, the proceeds from which would be donated to the victims of the quake.

As the business week began, pieces of art in support of the victims began to populate popular manga magazine sites. Morning and Evening‘s pages were plastered with over a dozen pieces of art, and just as many messages of support from the cast. Akira Toriyama created a special piece that adorned the Shonen Jump website, and Japan began to restore anime broadcasts to give aid to children nationwide. Even popular radio stations were joining in the effort, as Tokyo FM began playing anime themes instead of its normal programming lineup. The phenomenon reached its latest, most impressive phase in the past few days, as twenty-five voice actors banded together to perform a song of support for the struggling nation, in a gesture that echoes the two We Are the World concerts. Yesterday, ANN reported that voice actress Yukana, Full Metal Panic! author Shoji Gatoh, and illustrator Shikidouji reunited to present a special message from Tessa Testarossa, whom Yukana played in the Full Metal Panic! anime. This is particularly impressive, as she hadn’t portrayed the character since 2006, when the FMA: The Second Raid OVA hit Japanese retailers.

The growing optimism in the industry seems to be a symptom of a far larger development. Japan, as many know, is a country that has an outwardly clean appearance that belies a much darker side. Yakuza in Roppongi, perverts in trains, and corrupt politicians seem to be the norm. People were growing cynical and distant, as the nation slowly drifted apart from within. In a recent New York Times article,Fractale creator Hiroki Azuma observed a far different situation today, than what existed only weeks before. “Only recently the Japanese people and the government were seen as indecisive and selfish, muddled with complaints and bickering. But now, they are boldly trying to defend the nation together, as if they are a changed people,” he mused, before stating that he wishes “to see a ray of hope in this phenomenon.” Even outsiders are beginning to notice this, as reporters tell astonished tales of citizens remaining calm in the face of destruction. There has been no looting, no rioting, and surprisingly little crime given the situation, as people have given mostly positive statements about nation as a whole.

Whether Azuma’s hopes are reality or merely a pipe dream, it’s easy to see that things are changing in Japan. And, in turn, this will lead to a ripple effect across the country’s society, as the very fabric of Japan is altered going forward. As people begin to clear the rubble, and build new structures, one can only hope that the people continue to build bridges between themselves. This period is critical. As time moves forward, one can hope that what is beginning as Gainax posting supportive pictures to their site can help to re-kindle the nation’s sense of worth in itself.


A special message from Tessa