Monday, August 19, 2013

Anime Review: Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

To recap for people who haven't read anything on my blog, during the summer I usually take advantage of the DVD collection at the university where my mother works but for some bizarre reason they only let you check out two DVDs at a time and often times someone else in my family wants to check out DVDs as well. Far enough and earlier this summer I spent a lot of time checking out the DVDs for the final season of Veronica Mars and some classic Doctor Who and didn't give the animation section even a glance. I did check around the end of July and realized my mistake since there were actually a few things I wanted to watch a little time to achieve it so I buckled down and got to work, first with a noitaminA series I hadn't seen before and one which I feel like is a little less known.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

Summary: Unlike her name, Mirari has no idea what she wants to do in her future and no interest in seriously thinking about it beyond what she wants to do for vacation this summer. What she doesn't want to do is take her little brother Yuki to a robot exhibit across Tokyo but soon Tokyo rumbles and everything in her life seems trivial compared to it. Now the two of them, plus a motorcycle courtier they had met earlier in the day, Mari, must trek the miles back across Tokyo to get home and find out what, if anything, and who (if anyone they fear) still awaits them.

The Good: Few shows make me cry since, while I do cry more than I like in real life I just find it hard to get emotionally invested enough in characters to find something worth crying over. But this series did it, I think it was because it tried so hard to be faithful to what would really happen in Tokyo, how people would die, how buildings would keep crashing down in the aftershocks, and the kindness and joy that you can still find despite it, that it just did it. So, if you plan to watch make sure to either keep tissues around (this show made me tear up about once every two episodes which is a record) or prepare yourself emotionally for a lot of very nature feeling tugging on your emotions*. Except in one instance, which I'll be addressing below, very little felt melodramatic as well, the story let it's events speak for itself without having the characters add on commentary about how it's A Very Sad Thing and I think that really helped the story to work (not to mention it would have felt completely out of place for any of the characters to say that, while it's sad all three of them would rather spend their time moving forward instead of staying trapped in the present).

The Bad: There is An Event which happens in the show which is rather important, in some ways even more important than the earthquake itself, and the show takes entirely too long to fully address it. Think of a romantic shojo story where two characters clearly have crushes on each other yet take forever to confess and apply that pacing to a non-romantic setting. After double checking the episode numbers I've realized that this felt like it took even longer than it had and, since I had heard something about it (but I half-dismissed since it was so, odd, sounding) that my have contributed but I felt like in a show which succeeded in evoking real human drama and development yet felt like it needed this element that maybe it shouldn't have been a tv series after all, maybe it should have just been a movie and slimmed down the story just a bit to fit.

The Production Values: There really wasn't anything about the art, the music, or even the voice acting that really stood out to me. The character designs remind me a tiny bit of Eden of the East (which is ironic since that was the show right before this one so the two were most likely designed without ever having seen what the other looked like) and neither the opening or ending songs grabbed me which in a way sums up the entire show, it was perfectly fine but didn't grab me the way I had hoped, perhaps this is why I rarely see people talk about it.

So for having its heart in the right place but not quite succedding in execution (first I don't like Mirai and then I have issues with that Event) I'm giving this one three out of five stars and I don't see myself buying it anytime soon. As far as I know Sentai hasn't put this up for streaming outside of their own site (which is all dubbed and you have to be a paying subscriber to see past the first episode) so if anyone does want to check this out they'll either have to do that, get a hold of the DVD, or just sit tight for a bit. Lately Sentai has been adding more of their catalog onto hulu where it's free for all to watch (so expect more of their titles soon), although a lot of those have been recently aired shows and so far I haven't noticed a pattern to figure out when shows will go up. But I think there's a decent chance this one will pop up on hulu by the end of the year and if not I'm sure Netflix will have the DVDs by that point if they don't already.

*and keep tissues nearby anyway