Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 Ep. 4

tmag1

I feel like I don’t “get” Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. In the aftermath of a huge earthquake, a bunch of flat, uninteresting characters wander around and evade danger by a small margin once per episode. Even if I could be persuaded to care about how Mirai is predictably maturing from a boring, whiny girl to a boring, slightly less whiny young woman, what exactly does the earthquake have to do with anything? I thought the show was about the disaster, but as E Minor has complained before, all we’re getting is one small story about 3 incredibly ordinary people living in a country that is probably the best prepared for a large earthquake in the entire world. People shove each other while waiting in line for free, plentiful food and supplies, oh the humanity. And the only insight that painstaking research we’re informed about at the beginning of each episode seems to have given the writers is that after a massive earthquake, large man made structures may collapse.

The show doesn’t really delve into the specifics of an earthquake’s physical effects, and if they wanted to paint a picture of the human drama associated with a natural disaster they couldn’t have picked a worse setting (imagine if this were set in L.A.; people would be shooting each other dead in the street over bottled water if it went anything like New Orleans). On top of that, the three characters we’re supposed to give a shit about are basically static and unappealing; the perfect mommy figure and two crybabies who are slowly growing up. What am I missing?

11 thoughts on “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 Ep. 4

  1. psgels

    Um, isn’t the definition of a “flat character” (and a “static” one as well) a character who never changes? Doesn’t Mirai and Yuki’s development mean that they aren’t?

    The creators could indeed have picked some of the most spectacular cases, like you see in the programs on National Geographic channel a lot, but I think that it was the whole point of them to pick just a bunch of random people to focus on, especially since millions of them are going though similar things. The choice of focusing on three people, rather than the entire earthquake was most likely to show the earthquake from the point of view of people who randomly got caught in the disaster.

    As for the characters: I’m not really sure what you consider as a good cast of characters. Indeed, if you need your characters to be perfect, above 14 years old and with the IQ of around Light from Death Note then you indeed won’t get much of enjoyment from this series (that’s a bit of an exaggeration of course, but you get the point). The thing with this show is that the characters are supposed to reflect real people: flawed instead of their overidealized stereotypes that you usually see in anime.

    I guess that it’s a matter of taste though. Like I said above, I have no idea what your tastes are, but I suspect that you don’t seem to like anime about little kids. Do correct me if I’m wrong, though.

    Reply
    1. E Minor

      The choice of focusing on three people, rather than the entire earthquake was most likely to show the earthquake from the point of view of people who randomly got caught in the disaster.

      The choice to focus on two little kids and a woman was to tug at emotional strings while faceless extras get to do the real dying and suffering, stuff that is only mentioned with a passing glance. We never see anything in-depth about them because we’d rather see Mirai’s predicable mood swings and call it character development. This anime is boring and derivative.

      As for the characters: I’m not really sure what you consider as a good cast of characters. Indeed, if you need your characters to be perfect, above 14 years old and with the IQ of around Light from Death Note

      Come on, no need to strawman.

      Reply
      1. psgels

        Granted, the strawman was a bit to much.

        But I don’t see why there necessarily needs to be a focus for people to die here. The thing is that these “faceless extras” look exactly like the random people that you see around in the case that you yourself were to get caught up in such a disaster. It’s true that in an earthquake lots of people die, but there are many more people who end up surviving, and the media tend to deliver a warped image on this issue.

        I actually believe that killing off people is a cheaper shot at sympathy than showing all of the subtle details that the survivors have to go through, like finding food, toilets and worrying about whether their friends survived. But it’s like Hashi said below: “Maybe liking this show comes down to whether one can empathize with the main character or not. I can. Many people can’t. Fair enough.”

        Reply
        1. E Minor

          It’s a disaster anime. People suffer if they do not die. I’m not seeing enough of the suffering. Look, I’m not a sadist; I don’t want to see people die just for the sake of people dying, but stories like Mirai’s gang succeeding in face of all the suffering requires an equal but opposite story to provide enough contrast (I’m beginning to hate this word), one that does not exist in this anime at the moment. We have mostly Mirai’s gang succeeding above all odds and just random people dying so Tokyo comes across as an exceedingly unrealistic anime. I look back to the last episode when it seemed like Yuuki was about to be separated by the uncontrollable gang. I thought to myself, “Wow, are they finally gonna separate the three? Will they weave an interesting story of Yuuki struggling to make it by himself?” But nope, Mari and Mirai eventually get to Yuuki and my hopes that the anime would get interesting got dashed. I do not once in this anime fear that anything would happen to the main characters. Making it so obvious that Mirai and gang will succeed while only unattractive, faceless people die delivers no drama, no contrast, nothing.

          Reply
          1. TheBigN

            I guess what I’m wondering is how brutal, or tough, do you want the journey to be for the main trio, or at least if the show covered other people?

            Reply
    2. The Fin Post author

      You’re correct, I did misuse ‘flat’ and ‘static’, but the changes they’ve gone through so far are so ubiquitous in cartoons that they’re as boring as characters who don’t change at all. By triumphing over hardship they’ll learn a lesson about responsibility and family, etc. etc., it’s all very familiar, very Disney, and not very interesting. And I don’t really see how they’re flawed besides Mirai, Yuuki is just the perfect little trooper and Mari is an entirely one-dimensional surrogate mother.

      You can call my objections to the characters a matter of taste, but it has nothing to do with age, they’re simply not entertaining to me.

      Reply
  2. hashi

    Sorry, we have complete disagreement here. These are great characters, especially Mirai. And I have no interest at all in another helping of mindless LA violence. That’s not drama, it’s fanservice.

    I’m not sure what more delving into the specifics of an earthquake’s effects you want, now that we have seen sudden initial earthquake, aftershocks of various intensities, cracks in the ground, cellphone service out but TV service available, buildings crumbling and some falling, windows blowing out, a wave from a fallen bridge swamping a boat, the need for toilets, having to walk home, the quiet clearing up of bodies, etc. The producers have to be careful not to turn the show into a dry, “educational” anime. I’m sure more details will come out as the show goes on.

    Maybe liking this show comes down to whether one can empathize with the main character or not. I can. Many people can’t. Fair enough.

    Reply
    1. E Minor

      And I have no interest at all in another helping of mindless LA violence.

      What does this even mean? How was any of the conflict in LA mindless but somehow following a schoolgirl around not fanservice?

      Reply
    2. The Fin Post author

      My point about L.A. isn’t violence, it’s just that the damage and suffering they show in Tokyo seems pretty minor compared to how a major earthquake would effect any other country in the world. Look at what happened in a comparable 8.0 quake a few thousand kilometers east in Sichuan in 2008, 70,000 dead and much more physical destruction.

      As for detail, everything you listed seems like common knowledge except for maybe continued TV broadcasts. I don’t know that the show would be any more interesting as an educational anime, but the note at the beginning of each episode about the research did make me expect more detail about less obvious effects. Maybe, as you say, it will be come more in-depth later, but at the moment the earthquake honestly seems incidental, any number of other circumstances could have effected the characters in similar ways.

      Mirai might be a more realistic character than the precocious, short-skirted stereotypes of girls her age pushed by other anime, but regardless of how sympathetic she is I just don’t find her very interesting. Billions of children mature in similar ways, going through moody or self-centered phases and then becoming more sensitive to others’ feelings. I don’t understand the appeal of watching this particular one.

      Reply
  3. Pingback: The Deathseeker » Blog Archive » Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 04 - Tokyo Tower Collapse

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