Friday, 31 July 2009

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 - Episode 4

Having survived collapsing building and bridges and capsizing boats during the last episode of Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, much of this fourth episode of the series prefers to centre around the more human fallout of the disaster.

To those ends, it's fair to say that Mirai is having a pretty rough time of things, from a desperate need to visit the bathroom down to a few encounters with the less savoury side of humanity in a time of crisis such as people cutting in line and others who don't even have the time to stop and say sorry. It's hard to imagine such things happening in ultra-polite Japan, but I can only assume that it does go on, and doubtless even more so at a time of crisis.

With Mari, Mirai and Yuuki finally safely back on the mainland, most of this episode is centered around their visit to a park which has doubled up as a centre to help the victims of the earthquake, providing food and rest facilities, and dishing out emergency packs to tide people over for the coming few days. Mobile phone signals are still out of the question, and it's this that proves to be the straw that breaks Mirai's proverbial back, causing an argument and tears aplenty for both herself and Yuuki. Eventually they calm down and make up, only to find one of Tokyo's most famous landmarks about to topple down upon them...

I suppose in many ways this broad change of pace and focus was probably needed for this episode of Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 - After all, there is a lot more to an earthquake-based disaster than simply stuff falling down. When it comes to this kind of thing, Mirai and Yuuki's personal circumstances act as a good foil for allowing these kids (and they are both kids, no matter what Mirai says, as is excellently portrayed here) to show the circumstances of the situation free from politics or other concerns that might affect grown adults, giving us what is almost a wide-eyed and innocent view of such a shocking natural disaster. The spectacular collapsing landmark I just mentioned seems rather implausible for me sat here in the UK, but on that count I'll just have to take it as part of the supposedly well-researched simulations carried out from this series, and set against that knowledge I once again found that particular scene unnerving to watch.

So, my gut feeling is that this episode wasn't quite as strong as those that came before, but that "weakness" (although I don't really wish to call it that) is really an understandable one considering the nature of this show. Above all else though, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 remains a simply fascinating series to watch, if slightly uncomfortably so at times.

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