Tentacle-Free Anime: "Tokyo Magnitude 8.0" (2009) Review
- by Kazekun, 6 January 2014
A couple of years ago Japan was rocked by an earthquake/tsunami combo which devastated the country and the lives of millions. Likewise, anime fans (myself included) were wondering what effect on the industry this would have and while it didn’t do any severe damage there, some shows were cut short and some were simply axed all together. Another lucky factor was that neither disaster really struck Tokyo. The tsunami didn’t at all, and the earthquake did minimal damage compared to other parts of the country. One anime though almost prophesized the devastation, by airing 2 whole years before the attack and documenting what would happen if such a disaster were to happen. Uncanny, isn’t it?
The story in TM8.0, unlike what actually happened in reality, secludes itself to the vast Tokyo region only, and never really delves into whether or not any other major parts of the country were affected by the earthquake. And with its focus on three wayward travelers taking the long way home through the heart of Tokyo, expounding on the complete nature of the beast really isn’t that important.
At first this makes her unlikeable and not very easy to watch, but all that begins to change over the course of the story, especially after she feels a sense of responsibility for the earthquake. I like her character arc, even if it gets a bit muddled toward the end. Yuuki, her little brother, doesn’t change at all over the story. He’s the eternal optimist and the kid who can understand what is going on around him, and he can act stronger than he looks, but he’s still a kid and can often not pay very close attention to the world changing before his very ideas.
Mari is my favorite character of the bunch. While like the other two her journey’s end isn’t handled gracefully, it is handled the best. And I feel her character has a lot more weight to her than the two kids. She is trying to get home to her daughter and mother and while taking on the responsibility of these two children she keeps her worries and stress inside so that they don’t see her falter. It’s very touching to see her take them as more or less her second kids, and it is heartbreaking to see her have to let them go near the end.
The animation is jumpy at times, especially when the animators felt the need to (badly) CGI in all the background people walking around. There was really no need for it. What is focused on is crisp and clean looking, though it may bug some people that the people of this Earth barely have noses. It didn’t really bother me, but everyone’s face is rounder because of it. The voice acting in the English dub, the version I watched, is incredibly weak. Mirai sounds like a stuck up cheerleader and Yuuki sounds like a generic little kid, if that makes any sense. The dubbing does get a smidge better by the end of the series, but not much and can make watching the series a tad grating.
Although, the English dub decides to incorporate the word “Robotaku” into the dialogue when describing one of the characters introduced in the middle session of the series. And while I’m not sure if that was in the original Japanese, “Robotaku” is worth watching the dub for to me.
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 does show promise in its story of three souls just wanting to find a way home, and while it masters that beautifully for the larger half of the story, the finale loses its oomph when it changes gears to focus on a character's fate in a pseudo-mind bending way. It feels out of place and to me takes away the power of these characters’ arcs and tries to keep the viewer frustratingly grasping at straws in the story they had become so invested in.
Final Score: 2 Children who just want to find their way home out of 5
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Tagged: Tentacle-Free Anime.