Friday, 17 July 2009

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 - Episode 2

The climax to the opening episode of Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 took us to the brink of the massive earthquake that underpins this series, leaving this second instalment free to really let loose as the quake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale does its damage.

Now, I'll be the first to confess that I've never experienced an earthquake so I'm not exactly qualified to comment on such things, but the earthquake as portrayed here certainly had what was very much a believable element to it - From footage I've seen of real life earthquakes, the swaying motions and physics of buildings collapsing and the like felt more or less spot on, making for an almost unnerving viewing experience.

Where this episode really excelled however is in its depiction of the aftermath of that initial earthquake - Rather than taking the Hollywood movie stance of panic and people running everywhere, all we see here is an eerie silence as people slowly pick themselves up, look around and come to terms with what's happening. There's no all-out mayhem here, simply everyone quietly evacuating and looking for safety. Everyone, that is, except for Mirai, who goes on a panic-stricken search for her brother who is still missing, eventually finding herself helped out by Mari, the woman we met briefly in the last episode.

Beautiful is most certainly the wrong word to use in conjunction with this episode of Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, but there is almost a certain horrific beauty to the way the structural results of the earthquake are depicted here, with floors running at bizarre angles, floods and fires abound and the ever-present danger of powerful aftershocks. This episode doesn't really shirk from showing the human tragedy of this powerful earthquake either - It may not go for a blood and guts approach, but the quiet horror of seeing evidence of dead bodies trapped beneath the rubble was no less powerful for that.

Overall then, this instalment served as a perfect follow-up to that excellent opener, and seems to suggest that Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is going to do everything that it needs to do, and everything that it promised to, in terms of both story-telling and realism - Even sat here in front of a PC, I found myself oddly immersed in the terrifying world that this episode managed to construct for itself. Perhaps the real challenge for this show is the one ahead though - With the main earthquake over and Mirai's brother safe, how interesting from both a factual and emotional stance can this series make the siblings journey home? I for one have absolute faith in them right now though, based upon what I've seen thus far.


otakubaka said...

i was just thinking of watching this

Janina said...

Yo. I liked the idea of having the siblings seperated for a while, and then chronicling her search for her brother. It was a very very good way to start the series. I am curious now that they've found each other what's going to happen next?

Michael said...

Having lived in Tokyo for five years, and knowing people's attitude to it, it's pretty realistic, if eerie. People who live in Tokyo KNOW the big one will hit eventually, and they live with that fatalistic knowledge that the city sits right on the junction of three tectonic plates, waiting for one big tremor...

I myself was there when the big Niigata earthquake hit, and it certainly rattled the tables in the chinese restaurant we were in in Tokyo. But people just hold onto their food, wait for it to stop, and then carry on eating.

Of course, none of us realised how big the earthquake was at the epicentre until later.

But this is a country that lives with annual emergency drills, almost weekly shakes of some noticable kind in Tokyo, and, endless documentaries by the local networks of the simulated devastation a big one will have on the city. Knowing that tens of thousands of people will die, everyone just carries on. Shouganai-yo...

Real kudos to this anime for having the guts to portray this in a realistic fashion.