Anime and manga are media we respect highly given the immense storytelling potential of both, as well as the way in which we can be completely immersed in those universes. One reason why it is so easy to get lost in a manga is the fact that they tend to be realistic in the way in which characters tend to suffer… whether it’s a terrible school life or Armageddon, or anything in between, we can relate to their trials, tribulations and triumphs! We’re focusing on their suffering this time, delving into the ruins and bringing up the worst disasters we’ve seen in manga. These are moments that remain in memory for a long time because of the devastation they wreck in the characters’ lives, so into it we go!
10. Earthquake – Nae ga Yuru
- Authors: Kotoyoshi Yumisuke
- Genres: Mystery, Drama, Ecchi, Seinen
- Volumes: 2
- Published: February 2006 – December 2006
Japan has had its fair share of natural disasters in recent times, particularly of the earthquake variety. Nae ga Yuru follows the characters Yumi and Akito after they survive the carnage and devastation of an earthquake in Tokyo. Amidst all the chaos caused by the seismic activity, Akito and Yumi meet each other and embark on a journey of survival triggered by their mutually beneficial relationship.
Earthquakes do not need an introduction. The epic scale of their devastation varies; however, sometimes even those of the weaker variety can cause widespread panic, damage and well, death. Another thing to note about earthquakes is the fact that sometimes the initial tremor isn't the end of it all, the aftershocks can become an entire new disaster on their own. Can Yumi and Akito survive under such strenuous circumstances?
9. “It Definitely Was a Trainsmash” – Dragon Head
- Authors: Mochizuki Minetaro
- Genres: Action, Drama, Horror, Psychological, Seinen
- Volumes: 10
- Published: September 1994 – December 1999
A hideous train accident kills a vast number of Teru's classmates. Soon thereafter, he finds two survivors of the trainsmash in the tunnel, Ako and Nobuo. Unfortunately for them, however, survival proves to be more difficult than they ever could have imagined as they try their hand at digging out of the wreckage. The combined effects of starvation, as well as the growing stench of death makes one of them embark on a very dark path. All of this with the tunnel being shaken by various earthquakes makes survival for the three of them near impossible.
Ever been told "Don't worry about it, it's not a trainsmash"? Well, this definitely was. The train accident is the opening to a sequence of challenges that the main characters have to face, and as if the grief and shock of having experienced the crash itself weren't enough, Teru, Ako and Nobuo have to sift through the dead bodies of their classmates, stay alive and avoid the falling rubble from the rumblings of the Earth. Truly, truly devastating.
8. Evolution – Alive: Saishuu Shinkateki Shounen
- Authors: Kawashima Tadashi (Story), Adachitoka (Art)
- Genres: Adventure, Sci-Fi, Shounen, Supernatural
- Volumes: 21
- Published: April 2003 – February 2010
Kanou Taisuke is your average 16-year-old high schooler. He spends most of his time with his two close friends, Hirose and Megumi. Hirose, unfortunately, has much trouble with bullies, so Taisuke always shows up to defend him, even though that usually means he takes Hirose’s beatings. One day in class, Taisuke sees a jarring vision of the universe. Walking home from school, Taisuke sees a girl fall and die in front of him. Instead of shock or panic, what runs through his mind is jealousy, and he later finds out that the feeling is a countrywide phenomenon which causes people to either commit suicide, or “evolve”. However, the evolved tend to have dark intentions for the rest of the world.
Evolution is disastrous in the world of Alive due to the fact that it means that the majority of the world already feel compelled to commit suicide for reasons that are a pure enigma from the characters' perspective. These random deaths are scary, as well as disastrous considering the fact that no one is truly safe from the strange jealousy that has struck the nation.
7. Hiroshima Atomic Blast – Barefoot Gen
- Authors: Nakazawa Keiji
- Genres: Drama, Historical, Shounen
- Volumes: 10
- Published: May 1973 – September 1974
Barefoot Gen is based on the real-life experiences of the mangaka, Nakazawa Keiji, when his childhood was killed one sunny Sunday morning in 1945. After the atomic bomb drops on Hiroshima, his entire life changes forever. Twenty years after the fact, Nakazawa begins to revisit the gruesome details of that fateful day, putting his thoughts and experiences into one cohesive manga.
There isn't too much we can say about this particular disaster that hasn't been said before. The dropping of the two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ushered in a period in human history defined by worldwide fear of the technological advancements we had made, particularly when it comes to warfare. As a disaster, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima remains one of the most recognised war crimes of the modern era.
6. Viral Outbreak – Ibara no Ou
- Authors: Iwahara Yuji
- Genres: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi, Seinen
- Volumes: 6
- Published: September 2002 – September 2005
A set of twins has been separated by a fatal illness. The Medusa virus infects Kasumi and her sister, Shizuku. The virus turns its victims to stone and there is currently no cure; however, in the hopes of one day being able to cure the disease, 160 patients are cryogenically frozen. Only Kasumi is selected for the cryosleep, leaving her sister behind. At some point in the future, those who were in suspended animation awaken to a world teeming with savage monsters. Seeking answers to the mystery of the virus, the strange new world in which she finds herself and the fate of her twin sister, Kasumi embarks on a difficult journey of survival.
The outbreak of the Medusa Virus is what completely changed the lives of Kasumi and Shizuku, as well as the state of the entire world as medical professionals at the time of the virus's outbreak find it impossible to cure then and there. Upon awakening from a cryosleep which they were put into as a result of this virus, the frozen find themselves in a world filled with various monstrosities. If the Medusa Virus isn't a disaster breeding more disaster and calamity, we don't know what is.
5. Spontaneous Combustion – Enen no Shouboutai (Fire Force)
- Authors: Okubo Atsushi
- Genres: Action, Sci-Fi, Shounen
- Volumes: TBC
- Published: September 2015 –
In this world, humanity is plagued by a strange condition: people randomly burst into flames! With people living in fear of the flames, a certain faction has risen up in order to combat the fires which have, for a long time, sent humanity into living in fear. These people are the Fire Force, a group of skilled firefighters who put their very lives on the line in order to extinguish the flames which have burned away human hope.
The universe of Enen no Shouboutai is very similar to the one in which we live; however, the high prevalence of spontaneous combustion causes everyone to live in perpetual fear of their own bodies. It changes everything with regards to each character's life and livelihood as the very concept of life being short and extinguished in an instant becomes ever more real for everyone therein.
4. Emergency Landing – Cage of Eden
- Authors: Yamada Yoshinobu
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Ecchi, Fantasy, Shounen
- Volumes: 21
- Published: November 2008 – January 2013
On their way back from a school trip, Akira and his classmates find themselves in a panic when their plane crashes on a strange island. Waking up to an empty cabin, Akira jets outside only to find a species long thought to have been extinct, and to make things worse, some of his classmates have been eaten alive, while others have lost their minds and have resorted to killing each other. Now Akira and the others must find a way to survive in a situation more dangerous than they could ever have imagined.
The extinct species found on the island is the dinosaurs, ravenous creatures which help themselves to the hapless students in Akira's class. The crash landing of the plane is the disaster in question; however, due to the fact that it is the very reason why they find themselves fighting for their lives on the island. The crash itself claims no fatalities, but the subsequent horrors which face Akira and his classmates make this disaster highly noteworthy.
3. Meteor Impact – 7 Seeds
- Authors: Tamura Yumi
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Mystery, Drama, Horror, Romance, Sci-Fi, Shoujo, Psychological
- Volumes: 35
- Published: October 2001 – May 2017
In the near future, a meteorite collides with the Earth, causing the extinction of all life on the planet. Luckily for humanity; however, the government had foreseen this sequence of events and developed the Project “7SEEDS”, in which five sets of seven young individuals were selected and placed into teams, then subsequently cryogenically frozen in order to preserve mankind. Upon awakening, the SEEDS realise the harshness of the world to which they awaken, one unlike the one they knew. Without friends and family, the SEEDS must find a way to survive and complete their mission: the propagation of humanity.
The most shocking thing about the situation in the manga 7SEEDS is the fact that the human race had known of its imminent extinction and had no choice but to preserve certain individuals. This meteorite's destruction of the planet created a situation that is not only physically taxing, but also emotionally and mentally chaotic for the select few who have been tasked with the monumental work of reviving the human race.
2. The Earth’s Decay – Marginal
- Authors: Moto Hagio
- Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Shoujo, Shounen Ai
- Volumes: 5
- Published: August 1985 – October 1987
In the year 2999, only eleven cities remain on Earth. The planet has undergone severe climate change and a biochemical apocalypse has brought about the extinction of women. For centuries, the males of Earth have survived through dependence on a single woman, the Holy Mother, using her ova to create genetically engineered children; however, a terrorist named Grinja assassinates the Holy Mother. In order to avoid mass panic and hysteria, the government covers up the assassination, as well as their frantic efforts to create a new being: a male capable of giving birth. Kira is the product of this genetic experiment, and he finds himself involved with Grinja the terrorist and Ashijin, a man who claims to be Kira’s owner. With the weight of his existence bearing on his shoulders, Kira must find freedom in a world that has long since forgotten all about it.
The severity of the situation in Marginal cannot be underestimated – the very structure of the human race has been altered entirely and the various climatic, geological and psychological changes have created a society that has so many conditions geared towards its complete annihilation. For centuries, the males have held on to existence through a means that isn’t humane, all for the sake of survival. Imagine living in a world where the propagation of your species is rendered impossible.
1. Rise of the Dead – Apocalypse no Toride (Fort of Apocalypse)
- Authors: Kuraishi Yuu (Story), Inabe Kazu (Art)
- Genres: Action, Mystery, Horror, Sci-Fi, Shounen, Psychological
- Volumes: 10
- Published: September 2011 – August 2015
When 16-year-old Maeda Yoshiaki is falsely convicted of murder, he is sentenced to Shouran Academy Juvenile Detention Center and placed in Cell 4. His cellmates are Iwakura Gou, Yoshioka Masafumi and Yamanoi Mitsuru, all of whom have colourful pasts and different reasons for being behind bars. The prison itself is a hellish place caught in the midst of a violent power struggle; however, things get so much worse when a van carrying prisoners crashes into the prison, exposing the inmates to the reality outside: the world has fallen into chaos brought about by a zombie apocalypse. Now Maeda and his cellmates must survive in a world littered with reanimated corpses hungry for their flesh.
The world literally goes to Hell in Apocalypse no Toride as the entire world is overrun with zombies of different types and forms. The damage is permanent and certain characters regard the changes to human physiology to be the next step in evolution. People are dying and have no idea how long they’ll last in a world built to kill them, a world where the surviving humans are just as untrustworthy as they were before the apocalypse came.
Death, destruction, devastation and calamity are a sometimes unavoidable part of life. Disasters can take various forms and take countless lives as they have done in the past and one of the greatest abilities of the medium that is manga is the ability to use disaster and calamity to set off incredible narratives in the respective stories. Are there any disasters in manga we forgot to mention? Drop a comment below and tell us all about the devastation - trust, we want to know.