The Quake in Japan: How Geeks Can Help

WARNING: This post contains a lot of SERIOUS BUSINESS. We will return to our regularly scheduled anime squeeing in due course.

By now, you’ve probably heard all about the massive quake and tsunami in northern Japan, which has devastated the country and resulted in thousands dead, wounded, missing or homeless. This particular story hits close to home for me as I used to teach English in Fukushima prefecture, one of the worst hit areas in the quake. Luckily, it sounds like my town was spared the worst, but I still have yet to hear from many people, and I am genuinely worried about them. I am sure I’m not the only GDG regular with friends and acquaintances in Japan, and we are all thinking of them in this difficult time.

Japan is also a country near and dear to the hearts of many geeks, even those who may not have friends or family there. It’s the birthplace of anime and manga and a source of some of the best video games in the world. Many of us have been touched or inspired by the creativity of Japanese artists, writers, musicians, actors and programmers. Now it’s time for us otaku to give a little back. Geeks as a whole are a very charitable lot – fandom fundraising for Haiti and Pakistan was very successful and supported by geeks of all kinds and creeds – so I am sure many of you are eager to help, or at least to find out a little more about the people and industries affected. As such, here are a small collection of links that may be of interest to geeky well-wishers.


Confirming Survivors


For those that have friends and loved ones in Japan and are trying to find out if they are okay, Google has set up a dedicated People Finder where you can search by name or provide information about missing persons. The search engine is not perfect – Google states they can’t verify any of the information, and there seem to be many people not included on the database – but it’s a good place to start, particularly as it seems to be doing a good job of helping various people share information (e.g. verifying for others that you’ve spoken to an individual and confirmed they’re all right).


For those of you that may not know anyone personally but are worried about the various people in the anime and manga industry, there are two resources of note. The first is a spreadsheet with a list of all confirmed and unconfirmed seiyuus, mangakas, musicians, artists and a few game producers as well; the list is being updated as people confirm tweets and blog posts, but there are still some names that are not on the list at all (you can ask about anyone they missed here). AnimeNewsNetwork has a similar list; while not as in depth, this is a verified and confirmed list of all “alive and well” industry people. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a similar list for the gaming industry as of yet. Several game designers, including Hideo Kojima, have tweeted that they are safe, and we have confirmation that Nintendo and Square-Enix are okay as well. Of course, our hopes and wishes are with them all, as well as the countless other non-industry people affected by the quake and tsunami.


Geeky Charity


There are plenty of charity options available to those who wish to donate money for relief; AnimeNewsNetwork has a good list here. Crunchyroll has announced that it will match donations, and you can also donate (and receive sketches or other swag) via American Cosplay Paradise, Funimation voice actor and artist Micah Solusod, and even Lady Gaga.


For those who really want to get their geek on as part of their donation, or who may want to contribute their creative or crafty talents to a good cause, I highly recommend checking out the LJ community Help_Japan. Similar to its predecessors Help_Haiti and Help_NZ, Help_Japan is a fandom/geek-based charity auction where fans can bid for commissioned fanart, fanfiction, icons, photo manipulations, filks, and all sorts of geeky arts and crafts; bidders compete as per a regular auction (though some are set up as raffles or “buy now” auctions) and the winner will receive their prize after providing proof that they have donated the amount promised to a vetted charity (e.g. PayPal receipts). It’s a wonderful way to help those in need, and you may get something you like out of it as well. So if you have a talent for fanart or geeky crafts, or if you’ve always wanted a picture or fanfic of your favorite crossover couple, there’s never a better time to go for it; it’s all in a wonderful cause. If you need more information or want to ask some questions, please check here.


Lastly, for a more general and free way to help not only Japan but all countries in need, all while testing your brainpower, I highly recommend checking out FreeRice. The concept is awesome, fun, and simple; you answer multiple-choice questions on a variety of topics (such as English vocabulary, classic artwork, math and geography) and for every question you get right, the sponsors donate 10 grains of rice to go to hungry people all over the world. It may not seem like much, but believe me, the quizzes are addictive (and get very tough!) and the rice soon adds up. I cannot confirm that FreeRice is dedicating resources and food to Japan specifically, but chances are that they will be lending at least some support… and at any rate, there are still plenty of places in the world that still need our help as well as Japan. Plus it’s free and fun!


Send Well-Wishes


No matter whether you are looking for loved ones, donating to charity or just observing from afar, please keep the people of Japan in your thoughts. We wish them all the best in the trying times ahead.


Please feel free to post any relevant news, links or other info in the comments.

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