Death, Rebirth, and the End of Coppelion

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Coppelion, the science fiction manga about genetically engineered clones tasked with finding any remaining survivors in a radioactive Tokyo, finally wrapped up last month on February 20, 2016.

Running since 2008 for over 20 volumes, Coppelion has had a rather turbulent history. Its story about an earthquake that triggers a nuclear meltdown in Japan and changes the course of many lives went from “what if” to “what now” with the Fukushima Triple Disaster on March 11, 2016. Its animated adaptation was canceled, then revived with heavy censorship and a strange modification to its aestheticsCoppelion has seen multiple tonal shifts over the course of the series that had people wondering if it was a manga about radiation or an excuse to see high school girls fighting.

For all its ups and downs, I believe tha its author Inoue Tomonori had the best intentions in mind throughout Coppelion‘s run. Elements that one might assume were there merely to cater to manga readers actually carried with them a great deal of subtlety, and the subject of nuclear power never truly disappeared from the manga. In fact, I suspect that the decision to conclude Coppelion at this point is very deliberate and designed to make a statement.

Not only was the final chapter of Coppelion published in Monthly Young Magazine right before today, the fifth anniversary of 3.11, but the initial disaster that sets the story of Coppelion is supposed to take place this year, in 2016. What better place could there be to bring this narrative to a close?

Though I have no evidence as such, I think it is very likely that this final chapter was planned to land in this time frame, as a symbolic reminder of the potential dangers of nuclear radiation, as well as the problems created when both people and the governing bodies responsible for its regulation become negligent towards nuclear safety.

You can read the Coppelion manga online at Crunchyroll.

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