Hachiya, Kazuhiko. 2011.  Unchi, Onara de Tatoeru Genpatsu Kaisetsu: Onaka ga Itakunatta Genpatsu-kun. うんち・おならで例える原発解説〜おなかがいたくなった原発くん [Explaining the Nuclear Accident with Farts and Poop – Nuclear Reactor Boy’s Upset Stomach]. YouTube video, 4:34 min, posted by GenkiRadio, Mar 16, 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sakN2hSVxA&

This short animation by the media artist Kazuhiko Hachiya has made the rounds since the early days of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power station. On March 15, four days after the tsunami crippled the Fukushima plant and brought the nuclear fuel in the reactors 1 through 4 to the brink of a meltdown, Hachiya posted a series of tweets that explained what is going on inside the power station through bathroom humor. We can assume that children are the target audience of the resulting video, a thoughtful feat of science, technology, medical, and disaster communication for kids. Hachiya presents the catastrophe using the iconography of Japanese ‘cute,’ or ‘kawaii,’ in which the highly dangerous Fukushima No.1 plant becomes Nuclear Reactor Boy, a little guy with merely an “upset stomach.” The workers at the facility risking their lives while desperately trying to avoid further damage of the nuclear fuel rods are depicted as doctors working “around the clock to make sure Nuclear Reactor Boy doesn’t poop.” The possibility of the reactor container explosion is likened to “poop,” and the radioactive emissions are likened to passed gas that a “Sniffer man” judges the “stinkiness,” or safety, of. This well intended animation avoids the fear-mongering that characterized the foreign press during the first two weeks after the earthquake. It also cautiously hints at the complicity of a general public that has in the past consumed energy without reflecting upon the severe problems and dangers resulting from nuclear power generation until the crisis. On this token, to some, the animation may evoke images of earlier promotional videos for children during the 1990s, in which the nuclear energy industry convinced people of the safety of this kind of energy. – Christian Dimmer

FILM: Explaining the Nuclear Accident to Kids – Nuclear Reactor Boy’s Upset Stomach (2011)
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