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Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 – Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 25, 2013 by  



Created before the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami disaster of 3/11, “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” was an anime series that posed the question of “what if” a significant earthquake hit Tokyo.  An anime series that is heartbreaking but also filled with hope.  “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 Committee. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 – Complete Collection

YEAR OF SERIES RELEASE: 2009

DURATION: 1-11 (325 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Maiden Japan

RATED: TV 14

Release Date: April 2, 2013

Directed by Masaki Tachibana

Series Composition: Natsuko Takahashi

Music by Ko Otani

Character Design by Atsuko Nozaki

Art Director: Mika Nakajima

3D Director: Eiji Inomoto

Anime Production: BONES, Kinema Citrus

Featuring the voices of:

Satomi Hanamura/Luci Christian as Mirai Onosawa

Yuko Kaida/Shelley Calene-Black as Mari Kusakabe

Yumiko Kobayashi/Tiffany Grant as Yuuki Onosawa

Ai Nonaka/Brittney Karbowski as Aya

Christel Takigawa/Monica Rial as Newscaster (herself)

Hiroshi Naka/David Matranga as Seiji Onosawa (Mirai’s father)

Kikuko Inoue/Maggie Flecknoe as Masami Onosawa (Mirai’s mother)

Narumi Takahira as Meg

Takeshi Aono/John Swasey as Mr. Furuichi

The devastation is unleashed in the span of seconds. Yielding to centuries of unrelenting pressure, an ancient rift in the Earth gives way and a force equivalent to over a thousand atomic bombs erupts beneath the feet of the citizens of the world’s largest mega-cities! For the people of the greater Tokyo area, the results are catastrophic as even “earthquake-proof” buildings sway like weeds in the wind, gas mains rip open in gouts of flame and huge sections of the city’s vital infrastructure are torn into shreds. For sister and brother Mirai and Yuki who were caught in the earthquake while in Odaiba during summer holiday, it’s the start of a desperate journey back to their parent’s home in Setagaya. For motorcycle courier Mari, it means an equally frantic battle towards Sangenjaya and her own daughter and mother. Joining together in an epic odyssey through the mangled streets, these three must brave impossible obstacles and endure unspeakable hardships and heartbreak, with no way of knowing if their loved ones are even still alive. But they’ve no other choice! In the aftermath of nature’s fury, only the strongest of will and most courageous of heart can hope to survive in TOKYO MAGNITUDE 8.0!

The Great Tohoku Earthquake of March 2011 in which a magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit the coast of Japan and caused a tsunami in which 15,882 people were killed, 6,142 were injured, 2,668 people are still missing and over 650,000 people have lost their livelihood.

Prior to this devastating earthquake, there has been a lot of talk about what if a great earthquake hit Tokyo.  Because back in 1995, people of Japan were rocked when a 6.8 earthquake hit the city of Kobe.  Known as the “Great Hanshin Earthquake”, 6,434 people lost their lives but with the Kansai area a distance away from Tokyo, the only major earthquake that was recorded in Tokyo was in September 1923 when a 7.9 earthquake hit Izu Oshima Island in Sagami Bay.

The earthquake devastated Tokyo and killed over 105,000 people.

Having been to Japan and have had discussions with friends about earthquakes, the only discussion prior to 3/11 was “let’s hope it never happens in Tokyo!”.

But with the Great Tohoku disaster, many around the world witnessed the destruction, the death and how Tokyo was crippled by the disaster, even though the epicenter of the earthquake was many miles away.

But the question still persists…what if an earthquake hit Tokyo?

In 2009, the anime studio BONES and Kinema Citrus released an anime series based on that “What if?” scenario with “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0”.   An eleven episode series directed by Masaki Tachibana (“Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex”, “Eureka Seven”, “Noir”) and a screenplay by Natsuko Takahashi (“Antique Bakery”, “Bleach the Movie: Fade to Black”, “Gakuen Heaven”, “Yatterman”, “Vandread”).

The series would feature music by Ko Otani (“Eyeshield 21”, “Ashita no Nadja”, “Colorful”, “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing”, “Shakugan no Shana”), character design by Atsuko Nozaki (“Mass Effect: Paragon Lost”, “Eureka Seven”, “Ergo Proxy”, “Naruto Shippuden”) and art backgrounds by Mika Nakajima (“Motto to Love RU”, “CANAAN”, “Angel Beats!”).

The concept of the series is based on a prediction that there is a 70% chance that an earthquake that is 7.0 magnitude will hit Tokyo in the next 30 years. Wanting to achieve realism, the series would show what happens if an 8.0 magnitude earthuake hit Tokyo.  Bones collected and tabulated research on previous earthquakes and interviewed individuals who were affected by the earthquakes and also feature the efforts of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, Japan Coast Guard, Tokyo Fire Department and Tokyo Disaster Medical Assistance Team deployed during the aftershocks.  Also, to add some realism to the series, FNN newscaster christel Takigawa is featured as a news reporter during the series.

And now “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” will be released in America on April 2013 courtesy of Maiden Japan.

“Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” is a series that focuses on a 7th grader named Mirai Onozawa.  Despite attending the prestigious Rika Girls Academy, she’s a bit bothered with life as her parents are constantly working (and arguing), never having the time anymore for her and her younger brother, third grader Yuki.  And she is not sure what she wants to do in life.

With a robot exhibition taking place in Odaiba, Yuki was hoping that his parents would take him there but instead, their parents tell Mirai to take them because they are too busy with work.

Of course, Mirai is not so thrilled of having to bring her little brother to a robot event, but her parents are making her do it.  Because it’s their mother’s birthday, Yuki wants to buy their mother an earring at the gift shop.  While buying it, a motorcycle courier named Mari Kusakabe ends up taking it.  But she decides to let the kids have it and purchase it for their mother, of course, Mirai tries not to show any thanks because she doesn’t like being treated like she’s a young girl.

As the two are about to leave the center, Yuki tells his sister he needs to use the bathroom and will buy them a soda after he is done.

As Mirai is outside of the entrance, she wonders what she will do with her life and text on her cell phone that she wishes life would come to an end.  Immediately after, a great earthquake hits Tokyo Bay and Odaiba begins to crumble.

With destruction and injured people all around, during the chaos, Mirai tries to look for Yuki, putting herself in danger.  She is nearly killed but is saved by Mari Kusakabe, the woman she met at the gift shop earlier.  Mari tells Mirai that she will help her look for Yuki but to be careful because of the danger and the aftershocks.

While the two are nearly killed from falling debris, they manage to find Yuki and both head to the Fuji TV building where they seek shelter, as all roads are blocked and there is no way to get across from the bay as the bridge has been damaged.

Both Mirai and Yuki learn that Mari is a mother of a four-year-old and she wants to get back home to see if her daughter and Mari’s mother is OK.  Because their place is going the same direction of where Mirai and Yuki’s parents live, the three make a promise that together, they will get back home.

But with all the destruction in Tokyo and the danger that surrounds them, will they get back home?  Will they have a home?  But most importantly, are their loved ones alive and well?

VIDEO:

“Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” is presented in 1080i High Definition. While an anime series released back in 2009, it’s important to note that this is a TV series and that you can expect to see some softness.  But the series looks incredible in terms of detail, especially capturing the scenery of well-known areas within Tokyo.  The structures are full of detail and while character design is not as detailed compared to other series, it works perfectly for “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” as it shows the nature of the children and capturing emotion through their facial expressions.    But the series looks great on Blu-ray!

AUDIO:

“Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” is presented in Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0.  It’s primarily a front-channel driven soundtrack but the dialogue and the sound effects of the rumbling of the earthquake is quite clear.  Both voice acting is well-done but for a series that is very emotional, I tend to prefer to watch the series in its original Japanese.  Satomi Hanamura, Yuko Kaida and Yumiko Kobayashi do a stellar job in this series as voice talent.  The addition of real FNN newscaster Christel Takigawa as a newscaster in the anime series is also awesome. But for the most part, depending on which version you watch, both soundtracks are well-acted.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” comes with the following special features:

  • Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 Digest Version – For those who want to watch an abridged hour version of “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0”.   I do recommend watching the entire series!
  • Clean Opening and Closing Animation

“Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” is an anime series that dares to ask people of what if there is an earthquake in Tokyo?

In my past visits to Japan, many times I have stood looking from the largest buildings in Tokyo, and just seeing how every structure is built so close together, how traffic is so busy but also asking the question, is Tokyo prepared if an earthquake hits the area?

I surely asked this question quite a bit after the Great Hanshin Earthquake.  But the answers that I would hear from friends is they don’t think about it and just hope it never happens.

But things changed after 3/11.  I covered the Great Tohoku earthquake and tsunami disaster on social media and also followed the coverage from Japan and abroad.  And while far from Tokyo, the earthquake was so powerful that Tokyo had damage, people felt it from afar and like everyone around the world, we saw the damage from that earthquake and what came afterward.

A year later, I covered the rebuilding effort and even two years later, I still feel uneasy because many people are still displaced, damage may have been cleaned up but those areas affected are uninhabitable and even the nuclear plant still has issues to this day.

With discussions of having a second Tokyo which may be relocated or whatever ideas that government officials have in Japan, the fact is that the probability of a great earthquake in Tokyo is high. The expected death toll would be high.  But there has to be preparation for such devastation.

But two years prior to the Great Tohoku Earthquake of 2011, BONES and Kinema Citrus had created “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0”.  Watching this anime series, I felt numb.

I have been to Odaiba several of times and I love the area.  In Japan, it’s still the area to visit for the Tokyo Anime Fair, the Gundam Front, Fuji TV or Joypolis. It’s an area near Tokyo Bay that one wants to visit to get away (without leaving Tokyo) from the concrete jungle and be near the water.

But in the anime series, the earthquake happens right on the bay.  While images of 3/11 and the tsunami still on our mind, it’s important to remember that the wall that was built in Sendai to prevent a tsunami disaster, did not work.  The earthquake was much too powerful that the flooding was unimaginable.

While I’m not sure if the same result would happen to Odaiba, for this series, the tsunami was less of the factor but more of the earthquake and its continued aftershocks.

The efficacy of this anime series lies upon its two characters, a seventh grader named Mirai and her younger brother, third grader Yuki.  These two children are like any other children you would meet in Japan.  But without their parents, they receive help from a woman who is a mother, and together, they are stranded in Odaiba.

We see the chaos that ensues as people want to escape from Odaiba to get back into the city and the only way out is through the water bus.  But the continued aftershocks that were still big, were continuing the damage on the structures.

We know from the Great Tohoku earthquake that this is true, aftershocks continued continuously, nearly non-stop after the first major earthquake.  We learned that damage blocked any way from people getting in and out and the trains were out of commission for over a week.

But Mari, Mirai and Yuki make it back to land and are brought to Shiba Park.  For those who have been to Japan, it’s the closest park to Tokyo Tower.

In the anime series, we see emergency services that are stationed for emergency supplies.  But we see how the aftershocks are still causing damage and we see the fall of Tokyo Tower.  The falling of Tokyo Tower is important because it establishes that nothing around Tokyo is safe, major landmarks, buildings, danger is all around you, especially since everything is close in quarters to each other.

But one thing you will notice is showing the Japanese spirit of how emergency services are deployed but even with a major earthquake, there is only so much that can be done and thus, chaos will be everywhere around the city.  From people waiting to get into a port-a-potty to having no place to sleep but on the ground.

While I’m not going to explain any more details regarding the three primary characters and what happens as they try to get back home to their loved ones, it’s important to note that like the Great Tohoku Earthquake and the many stories that aired on the news, for many family’s that were near the epicenter, many stories of these individuals are not always happy.

Many loved ones are lost, many injuries, many homes destroyed, work destroyed and people are displaced to another location.  Two years after 3/11 and the stories are still the same.  People who can’t go back home.  Families separated or family leaving other family behind to pursue opportunities far from where the earthquake hit.  And this is just a few of the problems as food contamination by nuclear waste, abundance of waste still needs to be addressed and the rebuilding efforts continue.

What “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” show us is that there is hope after tragedy but also not being 100% but still showing how Tokyo can easily be destroyed by an earthquake, tsunami or fires, because everything is in close proximity.

I know that people, especially people I know in Tokyo, don’t want to imagine such disaster to happen in their lifetime but sometimes to prepare, one needs to be awakened by that possibility of “What if?”.  “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” did that in 2009, the Great Tohoku earthquake confirmed and also let everyone see firsthand the widespread damage but how devastating and earthquake can be for Japan and also Tokyo.

As for the Blu-ray release of “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0”, picture quality is very good, the detailed background art for the noticeable locations were well-done but the voice acting is absolutely wonderful and heartbreaking.   The animation and just the pain that you feel from the writing can be felt and if thought “Grave of the Fireflies” or even “CLANNAD” made you cry, “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” will also make you tear uncontrollably.  As one can expect from a disaster storyline, it’s inevitable.

You also get a digest version for those who don’t want to watch all eleven episodes but seriously, I can’t imagine this series being reduced to an hour long, it’s a series that must be experienced and that is by watching all eleven episodes.

Overall, “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” was created before the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami disaster of 3/11.  “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” was a bold anime series that posed the question of “what if” a significant earthquake hit Tokyo and people saw a glimpse of what could happen in 2011. “Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” is an anime series that is heartbreaking but also a series showing hope.  Highly recommended!

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