If you missed the news lately, the Kumamoto Prefecture in Kyushu, Japan was recently hit with a series of earthquakes, the foreshock on April 14th and the mainshock on April 16th. The earthquakes reached a magnitude of 7 on the Richter scale and have devastated the communities of the Prefecture and surrounding area, including as far away as the Ōita prefecture.
48 people have been confirmed dead, while thousands more have been hospitalized with injury. Over 40,000 people have been evacuated from their homes as a result of the quakes.
The image you see above is a message penned by Eiichiro Oda, the mangaka responsible for One Piece. Kumamoto is Oda's hometown and so he felt personally attached to plights of the people there. The official One Piece twitter tweeted that image of a hand-drawn Luffy and Kumamon, the official mascot of the prefecture.
Here's what it says in English:
There was a big earthquake in Kumamoto. (all of Kyushu) I was born in Kumamoto, it's my hometown. To those who were greatly affected by the damage, I hope you're doing well from the bottom of my heart. I was able to directly contact my family and friends, but they're all very scared. But they're doing their best. Everyone I got in touch with said things to put me at ease. They're so tough!! But there is a limit to how long people can steel themselves. Before that thread breaks, I want to calm them down somehow. It's crucial that adults don't worry their kids. Most of all, I want to make kids laugh! If they laugh, adults can do their best! It's still hard now for ordinary people to lend a hand, but I will definitely help with the relief effort. Stay strong, however you can!!
Oda was not the only member of the One Piece team to speak up in support of the earthquake victims, however. The voice actors for the Straw Hat Pirates also lent their voices to support Kyushu. Ikue Ohtani (Chopper), Kazuya Nakai (Zoro), Akemi Okamura (Nami), Yuriko Yamaguchi (Robin), Kazuki Yao (Franky), Kappei Yamaguchi (Usopp), and Mayumi Tanaka (Luffy) each have promised to do their bests to help the victims in some way or at least encourage them to stay strong and happy. Each of them signed the board above as a gesture of support for the struggling civilians.
The Strawhats weren't the only anime/manga stars to lend their voices to the effort, though. Hajime Isayama, the mangaka for Attack on Titan is also from close to the affected region: Hita in Ōita Prefecture.
Isayama also contributed a drawing as support for the victims. It shows Eren, Mikasa and Armin with Kumamon and Mejiron, Ōita Prefecture's bird mascot. Isayama wrote on his blog accompanying the image: "When times have been tough for me, even under very harsh circumstances, I'm reminded of manga heroes who fight for their lives, and I remember that they toughed it out. I drew the illustration with those feelings."
Though these artists can't do a whole lot in terms of helping on the ground level with the victims, they have chosen to lend their support in the best ways they have available to them; their art. It shows a passion for their homes and their people, and the will of the nation that rallies strongly around their own in times of crisis.