I’ve been thinking a lot about the genre “soft apocalypse.” Society, as we know it, has ended. Infrastructure that we have come to rely on is no more, electricity and running water are quirks rather than givens. How do you rebuild? And not even how do you rebuild society, because that’s at least three or four or five hierarchies above where you are. How do you rebuild your life? How do you live among the ruins of everything you took for granted?
Soft apocalypse takes the tact that instead of the very 80’s notion of cannibal biker gangs raiding innocents (quick tangent: remember when Frank Miller got mugged and changed who superheroes fought throughout the comics industry? Tegan O’Neil does. Worth a read), we would, in fact, get by with a little help from our friends. Isolated pockets of community, where everyone works together because do otherwise is to sign up for extinction. You can see this in action in Hitoshi Ashinano’s manga Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō, but there’s seeds of this kind of idea in the hyper-rural anime Non Non Biyori and in the urban laboratory Arcosanti. If everything collapses, we’ll get by. It will just be at much slower pace than we’re used to.
I suppose, when the news is full of towns unpaving roads and closing schools on Mondays so that teachers can work other jobs, I need some reassurance that the end of the world is something that can be survived. That may be unrealistic, but honestly, so are cannibal biker gangs.