On March 11, 2011, a 9.1 magnitude earthquake struck off of the coast of Japan. The epicenter for this quake was just off the coast of Honshu (the largest island of Japan) and it was determined that this was the largest earthquake to ever hit Japan. The subsequent tidal wave measured at 55.88 meters (a little over 183 feet). The quake and the tsunami took the lives of 15,950 people. The earthquake and tsunami were just the beginning; Fukushima’s nuclear power plant was also damaged. Eventually three of the reactors went into meltdown, irradiating the air, ground, and water.
This reads like the back story of a science fiction movie but sadly, the events of March 11, 2011 are all too real. This disaster caused left thousands homeless, hundreds of buildings destroyed and those that survived were left with their lives changed forever.
There are thousands of stories about that day and the aftermath but being the animal lover I am, one story stood out. His name is Naoto Matsumura and he stayed behind in the 12.5 exclusion zone to rescue the animals left behind. His story is retold in the graphic novel, Guardian of Fukushima written by Fabien Grolleau with illustrations by Ewen Blain.
After ensuring his family’s safety, Naoto Matsumura, a farmer by trade, took it upon himself to go around to his neighbor’s properties and rescue as many of the abandoned animals he could. Matsumura collected cats, dogs, pigs, cows and even an ostrich. Though the animals he rescued may not have had long lives ahead of them, Matsumura did not want to see them suffer in their final days.
Guardian of Fukushima is a heartbreaking story of a man who helped those who could not have helped themselves and in doing so he reminded us that all life is important. The story is well written but due to the subject matter it is impossible to refer to it as “enjoyable.” I will say that it was educational because this was a story I knew nothing about. I did like learning about the Japanese folk tales of the catfish, the dragon and the turtle.
Guardian of Fukushima is published by TOKYOPOP. This 144 page book is suggested for reading ages 10+ and retails for $19.99. Guardian of Fukushima is available wherever books are sold.
GUARDIAN OF FUKUSHIMA is the second title in this new catalog of TOKYOPOP graphic novels published under its “Comics That Matter” initiative, which also includes 2022’s release of VICTORY FOR UKRAINE, an impactful collection of nine stories by Ukrainian creators focusing on the heroism of the Ukrainian freedom fighters in the face of overwhelming forces.