Few things in this world we live in are more destructive and impactful than a natural disaster. Tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, and in this case earthquakes are shear works of nature that do nothing but leave ruin in their wake. To focus a series on this sort of event in anime is unlikely to do much but show their influence on people who are affected by them. So, obviously I knew from the get go this wasn’t going to be some cheery ride to hop onto. I ended up watching this series as an agreed trade-off with a friend of mine over on the anime community site Hummingbird. I gave him a show and in return he did the same. What I got was something unexpected and altogether quite memorable. This was my journey with Tokyo Magnitude 8.0.
Alright, so let me get the stuff I didn’t like out of the way first since this was overall a very good time for me. My only true complaint during my watch was the animation itself. I feel like this series may have been experimental in nature so not a whole lot of budget went into the development. Tons of CG(good and bad) plagued the series back drops. I didn’t so mind seeing it on machines and buildings being shaken as that’s more than understandable and sort of more practical in the grand scheme of things. However, using it on massive numbers of humans in the background is jarring, and just doesn’t blend very well at. Despite the usage of a shading effect to make it look less obvious, the series was overrun with CG people distracting my eyes from the subs by how unfitting they were. When it comes to the point of making me almost miss dialogue it’s a little too frequent and needs to be adjusted. I don’t know what sort of budget went into making this project however, so it may have just been impossible with the materials and funds the animation team had available. Certainly this show does not rank up amongst the best efforts made by Studio Bones but animation isn’t the only thing that lends to a fruitful watch. As well as me being no expert on the whole situation, it’s unfair to be overly critical on a series for looking average. That is generally unimportant and shouldn’t be a major deciding factor in one’s enjoyment of the story and other elements within.
Now on to the good stuff that made me a happy camper. As I’ve grown to be a larger consumer of the anime medium I tend to find myself being more engrossed and involved with shows that are atypical in design. I’m not really talking about the real artsy stuff that makes you take college courses worth of info to try to dissect, and more series that are very unanime. By unanime I mean those works that stay away from the now beloved typical tropes of the medium. You know what I mean by that too if you are a frequent watcher of material of the modern era. We have this almost social norm to accept that series should have specific character archetypes and the search for best girl becomes a frantic and violent war of meandering about what really is important. So many viewers let themselves get conditioned to be okay with accepting no change or anything that breaks the mold. And while yes there is certainly nothing wrong with having your own individualized tastes to enjoy your hobby, I find myself to be a person who sometimes wants to see more of the overall capability that anime is capable of. I want shows that don’t rely on selling points to make themselves work and more on their storytelling and world building to capture the viewer’s heart. This is what I got with Tokyo Magnitude 8.0.
What I loved the most about TM 8.0 was its willingness to look at a natural disaster for what it is, a disaster. There is no better way to put it than that. Taking time to sugarcoat how much pain, and suffering something like an earthquake can cause does nothing but hide the true story. Showing the hardships and devastation is what I want because it is what is real. So, during the small run of 11 episodes I really wanted to see the journey of our small cast. The series is basically only about 3 people. A woman and two kids. We see every small portion of Mirai, Mari, and Yuki’s adventure and I think that is the best choice they could have made in the end. It’s a very sorrow filled narrative and it doesn’t try to hide that fact in the least. Most times people would then ask, “Doaks ,ummm why do you like this show if it’s just a depressing filled bottle of sadness and death above earthquakes?” Which I would reply to, sometimes the best stories are the ones that hit home the hardest. I don’t want to get into clear specifics as that would spoil the fun of it all, but this show was actually something very moving for me.
It’s well known from my closest friends that I’ve gone through a fairly rough time the past year of my life and recent events did nothing to help that. Well, TM 8.0 actually helped me get out of the depression I was feeling not too long ago. By facing the ideas of pains, death, and trying to recover from loss the show attacked some emotional parts of my very self. I’d been struggling to get my mind back in a place that I could be satisfied with because how much sadness and pain I had experienced was overwhelming me. I was starting to become a shell of myself. A few factors alongside this show really did something for me. One day I will type a spoiler filled explanation on how this journey was one that resonated with me on a personal level but for now lets just say this series was exactly the thing I needed to watch to over come my struggles.
Other small things I want to make note of. Mirai’s seiyuu was phenomenal and it really disappoints me that she has hardly done any other voice work. The opening and ending both were fairly interesting, especially from an artistic standpoint. The OP showing manga-like illustrations depicting the quakes overall power and destruction, and the ED showed the idea of a brighter future through photographs. I think most people know the idea that pictures can say 1,000 words, and I think it rings true that it brings a sense of hope and light to a past that was littered with nothing of the sort. I feel like the OP to ED transition is meant to signify the overall theme of the show in a subtle way about how we can move on through any hardship if we fight for a better future to spend with our loved ones. It was small, sweet, and reminds me of a certain young boy in the show. On a final mention, I want to see this director do more work. He also did the SOL gem Barakamon from 2014 and I think if these two shows are any indication of his talent that he needs more work to be given to him!
Alright, let me wrap things up here then. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 was a series filled with a variety of emotion. While yes sadness reigned atop many parts of it, the final message was one of happiness and forward thinking. This show was the kind that fits right in with my own mindset and I feel that is a large reason it was such a hit with me. It now ranks as only the 3 anime related work to make me cry and I stand by the idea that if something can move me to tears that it must be at least worth my time on some level. Trade-offs can really go either way but this time it was nothing but the best for me. I’m quite pleased I watched this show and I think it will be something I shall never forget as it lives within my heart.
Other anime things you may want to watch because they made this brick cry!
And that’s a wrap! On to the next post! I certainly hope you enjoyed it at least a little bit. Any thoughts, comments, or concerns you have? Feel free to leave them in the comments below or at one of my other social media locations. Until next time….Safe travels my little wandering readers.