Tokyo Metropolitan Government disaster preparedness manual features a cartoon rhino and Manga-style comics.

Tokyo Wants to Help You Prepare for Disaster With a Manga Comic and Cartoon Rhino

Tokyo Wants to Help You Prepare for Disaster With a Manga Comic and Cartoon Rhino

The Eye
Slate’s design blog.
Sept. 25 2015 1:33 PM

Tokyo Wants to Help You Prepare for Disaster With a Manga Comic and Cartoon Rhino

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Tokyo’s city-issued emergency preparedness manual features a manga comic to help citizens visualize an impending disaster.

Courtesy of Tokyo Metropolitan Government

Vulnerable to earthquakes, typhoons, tsunamis, and other natural and man-made disasters, Tokyo is ranked the world’s second-riskiest city, according to the Lloyd’s City Risk Index. This month, citizens of Tokyo have been receiving a yellow-and-black disaster-preparedness manual issued by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

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Tokyo’s disaster preparedness manual has a cartoon rhino mascot.

Courtesy of Tokyo Metropolitan Government

But who says that a government disaster preparedness manual has to be boring? For one thing, the cover of Tokyo Busai—also available online in Japanese and English—features a cartoon rhino that leads citizens on their journey to disaster preparedness (and stars in what becomes an animated flipbook on the manual’s bottom right-hand pages).

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A page from Tokyo’s recently distributed disaster preparedness manual.

Courtesy of Tokyo Metropolitan Government

Why a rhino? “ ‘Bosai’ is Japanese for disaster preparedness and its second syllable, ‘sai,’ has the same sound as the word for rhinoceros,” reads the manual. “Bosai the Rhino is a 3-year-old rhinoceros born and raised in Tokyo. He is a very curious little guy, but is easily frightened. He’s very interested in disaster preparedness and finds any kind of disaster prevention action to be a piece of cake. His favorite action is ‘hiding under a desk,’ and his favorite phrase is ‘Let’s get prepared!’ ”

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Courtesy of Tokyo Metropolitan Government

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Courtesy of Tokyo Metropolitan Government

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Spoon & Tamago points out that the manual is a collaborative effort between design firm Nosigner, ad agency Dentsu, and the Tokyo disaster prevention department.

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Courtesy of Tokyo Metropolitan Government

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Courtesy of Tokyo Metropolitan Government

Despite the comic touches, the manual is comprehensive, including easy-to-read instructions and clearly drawn illustrations with tips on preparedness and safety. And to bring the disaster-preparedness message home, what could be more effective than an original manga-style comic showing Tokyoites in the throes of some hypothetical near-future disaster? Called Tokyo “X” Day by Kaiji Kawaguchi, it “vividly describes how Tokyo would be like just before and immediately after a major earthquake,” the manual reads. “Imagine yourself in these situations and take actions to be prepared.”

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Tokyo X Day by Kaiji Kawaguchi is a manga comic to help drive the disaster preparedness message home.

Courtesy of Tokyo Metropolitan Government

Kristin Hohenadel's writing on design has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Fast Company, Vogue, Elle Decor, Lonny, and Apartment Therapy.