Aftershock: Artists Respond to Disaster in Japan

Book Review by Sebastian Gahan - 9/3/2012

The natural disaster that tore through Tohoku on March 11th 2011 affected many millions of people the world over. In the wake of the tsunami people were homeless, displaced or missing presumed dead. Tributes poured in the world over from the people on the street to the politicians in their offices. The internet filled with speculation, exclamations of grief and much more beside and it was as if the world was joined together momentarily in shock, awe and grief as an unstoppable human tragedy unfolded before them like some Hollywood disaster movie. As time passed more tributes and fund raisers appeared all over the world and exactly one year on from the events in Tohoku it seems appropriate to mention a unique one that caught me instantly when I heard about it.

Released by the brilliantly named Big Ugly Robot publishing and edited by Adam Pasion, of Nagoya's RAN Magazine the book collects artists responses to Japan's 3/11 that vary from the direct to the surreal to the somewhat disconnected. But despite some occasionally tenuous connections the book is a genuinely heartfelt expression of how the world reacted to the almost surreal tragedy that took over the worlds hearts, minds and media. 

Formatted similarly to the manga you can buy in any convenience store in Japan the book fits in the palm of your hand nicely and is light enough to carry around without feeling heavy. In terms of content it is rich and those who have lived in Japan for any length of time (including this reviewer) will recognise the country despite the English language setting. 

This book succeeds in sheer good will terms, quality illustration and writing too. There are too many stories to mention individually but the standouts for this reviewer include Noah van Schiver's 'Usagi no Tsuki', (Rabbit Moon), the knowing humour of 'Daikon' in which the cartoonist receives many gifts of welcome from a local elderly lady and Samuel Mooney's narrative of what he was doing when it all occurred. The standout though is the excellent drawing of Ben Hutchings piece where a walk to meet some friends makes some waves in more ways than one. 

With all the proceeds from the book going to relief agencies involved in the rebuilding process in Tohoku and The Japanese Red Cross and Save The Children this book is a must buy if not for the excellent art work inside it but the sheer sentiment behind it's inception. 

The book is available from Big Ugly Robot here:

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