TOKYOPOP has captured the hearts of many StarCraft II and World of Warcraft fans publishing manga and stories based on our favorite video game universes for the past few years. Many of you loved the Warcraft Legends and Starcraft: Frontline series. The WoW class series: Death Knight, Mage, Shaman (the latter got a NY Times Bestselling Manga highlight). The Sunwell Trilogy and the WoW: Shadow Wing — just to name a few.

Tokyopop has undergone some changes in the past months, some staff was laid off including the Blizzard manga editor Troy Lewter — great guy who always replied my emails and mediated with approvals from Blizzard to provide Blizzplanet the latest preview scans and front covers. Thanks a bunch, Troy on behalf of our visitors. Best wishes anywhere they have the pleasure of having you.

Moving forward to the reason of this special post, this morning I woke up and checked my various email accounts to find a newsletter from TOKYOPOP. The title didn’t suggest any upcoming manga, or the classic spam. It sounded pretty urgent: “A special request from TOKYOPOP founder Stu Levy – an easy way to help the Japan quake victims.”

For some reason beyond my understanding, I have kept a close watch reading and viewing anything related to Japan and their nationwide natural disaster and lingering potential threat. It would be easy for us in USA to just ignore it is happening because it is foreign matters, or because it hits a hurting place in our heart reminding us of 9/11. It hits me some. My sister was supposed to be there that day, and because she fell in the train the day before she didn’t go on September 11 to work. That saved her life. Otherwise, another would have been the story. I still remember watching on TV how the first tower fell. I rarely cry. I couldn’t stop sobbing thinking of all the people that were still inside, and those around in the outside as the debris slowly fell downwards.

It made me sensitive to other people’s tragedies. Libya massacres, Chile earthquake, Haiti earthquake, Asia tsunami some time ago, and now Japan’s tragedies. We are all part of the same body: Earth. We can’t ignore a pain in one of our limbs.

Tokyopop’s newsletter really impressed me. It’s written by Tokyopop Founder Stu Levy. He is one of the JEN volunteers (Japan Emergency Network). He didn’t ask fans to buy more manga to donate a portion of the sales to JEN. That no doubt would have somewhat helped Tokyopop’s revenue. He is selfless. Instead, he asks fans to donate JEN directly, and to mail … encouraging words to the Japanese teens collaborating in a school used as a survivor shelter. Tokyopop founder Stu Levey is helping these teens build a cooking place, cleaning the tsunami mud to prevent disease, and collaborating as a team to increase their chances for survival. There are 1,000 refugees in this school. At least 80 people sleep in each room. No electricity. It’s cold and snowing.

This selfless guy come all the way to help these refugees, and to ask Tokyopop manga fans to write these teens. Not a single time he asks you to buy more manga. It’s inspiring. How can you help Japan?

    March 18, 2011 – Stu Levy (TOKYOPOP Founder)

    Hi everyone!

    As you all know, Japan is going through a very challenging time. The 9.0 earthquake last week and the resulting tsunami caused significant damage to coastal towns throughout Miyagi and Iwate prefectures. The quake rattled and rocked us in Tokyo as well, resulting in food and gas shortages, electricity blackouts and transportation problems.

    But the people north of Tokyo (in Miyagi and Iwate) have been living a nightmare. Over 400,000 victims have had their homes destroyed – and are now living in emergency shelters. Many have lost friends and family, as well as most of their worldly possessions.

    This week I visited one of those shelters to deliver food, fuel and other provisions. The shelter is a junior high school in a harbor area of Sendai, Miyagi. The school (and neighborhood) is called Rikuzen-Takasago, shortened to TAKASAGO. There are over 1000 victims living in this shelter.

    For the first few days after the earthquake, they had so little food that they had literally only one potato chip per person for the entire day. Two nights ago we prepared their first hot bowl of rice for them from the provisions we delivered. They still do not have electricity or heat, and when I was up there it was freezing cold and snowing. 30-80 people are scrunched into each classroom, sleeping on the floor with one or two blankets each. The victims are of all ages – and everyone is urgently cleaning the tsunami mud from the school so that disease doesn’t spread.

    Shida-san, the students and I built an outside cooking facility since using an open flame inside is dangerous – the challenge was protecting against wind and snow.

    Even in those circumstances, the victims are working hard as a team. They are cleaning together, cooking together, carrying the provisions, helping each other out – it’s truly inspiring to see them fighting so hard to survive and overcome this tragedy.

    What really stood out to me the most was the energy and spirit of the Takasago students. When we were building an outdoor cooking facility, they all labored on various tasks we assigned them – sweeping, washing, carrying gas tanks, laying down temporary flooring, and more. We worked as a team and I could tell how excited they were to be involved – they took a lot of pride in their hard work.

    On the way home, I was listening to Japanese radio while taking turns driving the truck. The radio’s DJ was reading letters from people throughout Japan who are cheering on the victims. It is very moving to hear these letters, but I realized that none of the victims can actually hear these messages because the shelters don’t have electricity – so no radio.

    That’s when it dawned on me what WE can do together as the TOKYOPOP community. I remembered the students’ excitement when they practiced some of their English phrases for me and when I taught them some of our American handshake styles (we have so many, after all). They laughed and jumped around trying to high-five each other in the “American” styles.

    So, I thought, what if I gather letters from our community and deliver those letters to them? They can’t read much English but so many of you can draw beautifully as well as write poems, simple letters, and even some decorative Japanese phrases. Maybe you can include a photo of yourself and friends (cosplay!) – or something about you. Anything to let the Takasago students know that you are cheering them on – and to put a smile on their face.
    The entrance to the shelter – blankets are put on the ground so people can wipe the mud off their shoes before entering. There is so much mud from the tsunami that it inevitably gets tracked inside.

    Of course, the food, fuel and blankets are top priority but so many people are now pitching in that I anticipate that problem will be resolved in the next week. The real issue is how long the victims will have to live in these shelters – it could be months. So many of these shelters are schools and the schools need to start teaching. The students will have bright futures if they can make it through this trauma, not only physically but also emotionally. That’s why your letters and drawings will mean so much. It will help heal the deep scars this disaster has caused, and ease the pain of the trauma.

    So, here is my plea to you:


    We can’t do this digitally because there’s no electricity, so we have to go old school: paper! Also, I want to bring up a huge box on my next provisions trip, so please send them directly to my office in Tokyo. I know the postage is a bit more expensive, but it will save precious time to not go through our LA office.

    Of course donations to the various non-profit funds are critical but this is something that will cost you almost no money (just postage) – and it is something very special. My hope is that I can learn more about the Takasago students and introduce them to you guys next – through photos and letters from them back. For now, here’s a photo I took in the shelter’s kitchen. It’s a group of some of the students – you can see the joy and love in their faces. Your letters will guarantee many more smiles over the hard months ahead.

    Please send them to:

    Students of Takasago

    c/o Stu Levy

    Tokyo Towers, Mid-Tower 4918

    6-3-2 Kachidoki, Chuo-ku

    Tokyo, Japan 104-0054

    If you are also interested in making a donation, click here for JEN (Japan Emergency Network), the non-profit organization I am volunteering for.

    Here are a few Japanese phrases that you may want to use (some you probably already know). If you want to give the kanji a shot, don’t be shy!

    Some of the Takasago Junior High School students – their energy and enthusiasm during such a traumatic situation is infectious.


    The entrance to the shelter – blankets are put on the ground so people can wipe the mud off their shoes before entering. There is so much mud from the tsunami that it inevitably gets tracked inside.


    Shida-san, the students and I built an outside cooking facility since using an open flame inside is dangerous – the challenge was protecting against wind and snow.


    After we delivered our provisions in the school gymnasium


    Completely destroyed cars as far as the eye can see, on the way to Sendai.


    Below is a video, that I took around Sendai. – Stu

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