Workers say they will lose their jobs if they talk to reporters and their bosses find out. That makes Tatsuta’s manga, “1F: The Labor Diary Of Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant,” a rare look at the nuclear plant that suffered three meltdowns after the 2011 tsunami, and will take decades to decommission.
Tatsuta worked at the plant from June to December 2012 in part because he was struggling as a manga artist, but “1F” is his biggest success yet.
Tatsuta is a pen name. The 49-year-old artist asked that his real name not be used for fear of being barred from working at the plant in the future.
Laughter and camaraderie fill the rest area, where drinks and food are plentiful but there are no flushing toilets. In one telling scene, an elderly worker says: “This is like going to war.” Drawings show the daily routine, different kinds of masks, the layout of the grounds.
After Tatsuta had to quit when his radiation exposure neared the annual legal limit of 20 millisieverts, he decided to put down what he had undergone in manga. Almost every profession — baseball player, “salaryman,” samurai, chef — has been depicted in manga, exemplified in acclaimed works such as Osamu Tezuka’s “Astro Boy” and Oscar-winning Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away.” But no manga had ever depicted the life of the nuclear worker.