Any lingering doubts I may have had about whether popular graphic media such as anime and manga (comics) could be accepted alongside more “serious” means of delivering socio-economic analysis were dispelled when this landed in my inbox: I am a digital cat: A Japanese future. It is a short message about the challenges facing Japanese society by economist and novelist Peter Tasker, rendered as a manga by artist Toshio Ban. What’s impressive is that it appears alongside essays from a large list of global leaders on Japan’s economy, business, and cultural opportunities and challenges in a new book, Reimaging Japan: The Quest for a Future That Works (my copy just arrived). It was compiled and edited by leading international management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. The project had started long before the earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan, but the crisis has made the consideration of a new plan and action all the more imperative.
*UPDATE (8/8/2011): I am a digital cat is not actually included in the final version of the book, having been submitted too close to the publishing deadline, but does appear on the web at the link above and is considered part of the broader body of work comprising the Reimagining Japan project. Many thanks to executive editor Brian Salsberg for providing the clarification.
The idea that these rich media could be good ways to carry environmental messages and depict efficient lifestyles is one of the primary reasons that I am diving deep into Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. The other is that I was just looking for an excuse to read comic books. As I’ve only recently started, I won’t go into much detail now. I’ve read the first two of the seven volume manga and am about to re-watch the film version. The film is based on some of the content of these first two and, while certain plot lines differ significantly, the central idea is similar. In a nutshell: relentless pursuit of industrial growth has polluted the world (seemingly) beyond remediation, which leads to conflict between the surviving inhabitants for scarce resources like clean water and air.
The morning after finishing volume two, in what seemed to be either a hallucination or a timely case of life imitating art, I came across this item as I was scanning the news:
“A special meeting of the United Nations security council is due to consider whether to expand its mission to keep the peace in an era of climate change. Small island states, which could disappear beneath rising seas, are pushing the security council to intervene to combat the threat to their existence. There has been talk, meanwhile, of a new environmental peacekeeping force – green helmets – which could step into conflicts caused by shrinking resources.” (full article at the Guardian)
I’m hoping this is the universe telling me I might be onto something.