Monday, March 31, 2014
:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
Official Site: Japanese
Additional Links: ANN Entry, MAL Entry
With noitaminA celebrating their 10th anniversary, along with HardDoor's coverage of the block since 2011, I thought it was only natural to help commemorate the milestone by showcasing a 2009 title of theirs that has not only until last year been released in North America (nearly a year to the day, actually (Apr. 2, 2013)), but also has an uncanny hue to it due to events that would occur not long after. That series is Tokyo Magnitude 8.0.
The first anime to ever focus on an earthquake disaster, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 was an ambitious, but carefully-planned, production. Given the history of earthquakes in Japan, its staff approached the subject matter thoughtfully and with an eye for realism as they aimed to show what would happen if the city, based on the prediction it had over a 70% chance of being hit by a 7.0 quake, got hit by an 8.0 cataclysm. The show centers around a young, "typical teen", middle-school girl named Mirai Onosawa, who is playing chaperone for her little brother, Yuuki, to a convention in Tokyo when the city begins to shake violently. Following the aftermath, the two children, along with a female delivery worker, have to contend with the unstable landscape, tremors, lack of resources, and more as they attempt to stay safe get in touch with their loved one.
The extensive research work and interviews done in preparation certainly shows in the detailing and depictions of the seismic activity and life afterwards. The character animation may not always be as tight and some may contend with the slightly family-friendly/kiddy look of their design, as opposed to more realistic designs to go with the like environment, but they might be better characterized as more "gentle" and "soft", perhaps to take some of the edge off of the circumstances. However, one of TM8.0's greatest attributes is that it stays true to itself and its goals and approaches everything with a level of respect, and that's possibly the most important of all.
It is strange to think that no one has ever done an earthquake anime, whether on the pretext of realism and education or for big action thrills, but at least the very first one has done a very commendable job in presenting such a topic. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is not only a unique noitaminA title, or unique anime title, it is a unique work that presents a unique experience you will be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. Though it is not completely perfect, it is still an excellent series worth watching.