Saturday, 29 August 2009

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 - Episode 8 redux

If there's one major drawback to my "stream of consciousness" style of 'blogging here, it's that sometimes pretty important points can go unnoticed until you sit down to actually think about it in a comprehensive way. It appears that in the case of episode eight of Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, the immediacy of my writing form has actually missed a hugely important point, and thus for the first time ever in the history of this site I've found myself sitting down the next morning to rewatch an episode and pen this "redux" entry about the aforementioned episode of this series.

The reason for this requirement of a complete rethink about the episode is, quite simply, a discussion of what is real and what is not in the context of the instalment - To a certain extent, this is due to Tokyo Magnitude 8.0's prior use of "dream" sequences, and on this occasion what appeared to be a nested dream sequence but, on closer inspection, is in fact only a single scene while the scene which immediately follows is unabashed reality.

Ergo, the question pinging around the Internet like wildfire this morning is - Is Yuuki alive? A question to which the answer appears to be no; instead, the Yuuki we see playing football and walking with his sister is simply a figment of Mirai's imagination, as she goes into denial about her brother's loss. Note how Mari doesn't speak to or acknowledge Yuuki at all in this episode, how she phones Mari's parents, the presence of only two sleeping bags outside the hospital rather than three, and how the concern and bottled-up emotion I mentioned in my original entry all appear concentrated towards the young girl.


I would say that this episode requires a second viewing just like the movie The Sixth Sense, but in a way this episode almost is The Sixth Sense, and to be honest I'm a little torn on how these revelations regarding this instalment affect my judgement on the episode. On the one hand I think the prior use of dream sequences has come back to bite the producers here, confusing reality and imagination to such a degree that it made this episode difficult to pick apart - Perhaps that was the aim though. Moreover, I'm vehemently argue that the scene where Yuuki's death is announced is animated and directed to too great an extent to look like a dream sequence - The angles, colour palette, lighting and even background audio all suggest an otherworldly atmosphere, which perhaps tips the balance beyond simply making an intense moment stand out towards making it seem unreal. Finally, there's also the question of why Mari says nothing to Mirai about her delusions during the remainder of the episode - Sure, she's upset too and to constantly remind a young girl that her brother is dead is a nightmare scenario, but she's a responsible grown-up (and has proved to be such throughout this series) so would she really shy away from it, let alone let Mirai leave the hospital grounds while she's suffering from such mental trauma?

Those points aside, my wider impression however is - Well done Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. We reside in a world where unhappy endings are almost unheard of, even in anime; we simply expect the protagonists to survive no matter what, and it's this blase attitude of the viewer which is at least partly responsible for taking Mirai's beliefs as "canon" over any other evidence. The death of someone so important to the story really rams home the impact of the earthquake on a personal level - Whether the coverage of the disaster and its human toll provided by this episode intensifies or dilutes that coverage is a subject for another day, but I think that as long as this whole "is he or isn't he?" saga isn't dragged on too far into the next episode then this is quite the masterstroke for this series that, in a sense, moves it onto a whole new level. We've spent this whole series watching other people left wondering whether their loved ones are alive or dead; now, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 has managed to manoeuvre us into those shoes for ourselves.

10 comments:

Sebastian said...

Well, I certainly wasn't expecting that episode...

Couldn't read the redux until after I had seen it, but i did shed some manly tears there...

I definately agree with the animation style though. It does feel too unreal, even though it is real. Really messes with you just a little bit. Question remains though, is Mirai just in denial and this is how she deals with it, or is she actually undergoing some form of post traumatic stress, as hallucinations on this scale are aren't something small.

Anonymous said...

I think it was a dream sequence. We were shown that she had a dream inside of a dream before waking up to reality. Producer's were probably hoping to trip up some people, and they probably succeeded in that sense, considering Yuuki's dialogue were as vivid and alive as ever in the episode. Still, Mari's behavior and all the hints floating around points to the fact that he's probably dead.

As for when they'll break this news to Mirai, I don't really know. It could be the next episode, the episode after, or it could be by the finale of the series when she finally goes home.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to add, that while Mari has proven to be a responsible adult, she had also taken on the responsibility to see those kids hom safely. The fact that Yuuki died because of probably lack of attention from the concussion he suffered earlier probably weight heavily on Mari's mind as her fault for neglecting his injuries. She feels responsible for his death, and that's probably why she breaks down in tears and apologizes when Mirai tries to cheer her up about her own family, despite Mirai's loss.

kadian1364 said...

After watching said episode 3 times through, I remain unconvinced of the theory of Yuuki's death everyone's tossing around. Each piece of evidence I've seen is inconclusive at best or highly circumstantial, and can really be explained away by just about anything. Let's take the list of questions from the comment in the last TM8.0 post.

Q: Why are they out of an overcrowded hospital so quickly?

A: We actually don't know the length of time they spent in the hospital. It could've been a couple minutes or a couple hours. A complicated surgery procedure would certainly be the latter, right? And definitely enough time for Mirai to pass out twice.

Q: What were those 'legal' papers?

A: Possibly anything. Hospital services statement, health check-up report, etc.

Q: Why were there TWO death dreams?

A: To press all the same buttons they did the first time? Kind of cheap, but not impossible, considering how many times we were faked out Yuuki's death throughout the series.

Q: Why doesn't Mari say a word to Yuuki after he's 'better'?

A: No real explanation, but by itself it doesn't mean anything. It could just be coincidence.

Q: Why does Yuuki never actually touch his bag?

A: Again, possibly coincidence. Not conclusive either way.

Q: Why does Mari keep apologizing and break down in tears when Mirai talks about how better Yuuki is?

A: Relief that she doesn't have to be the strong one all the time, that Mirai's optimism pulled Mari's anxiety about her daughter and mother to the surface.

Certainly, there are questions left unanswered. Particularly, Mari seems to be hiding something, but that's been my feeling since the beginning of the series. It is possible Yuuki could be dead, but the preponderance of evidence, the burden of proof, hasn't been shifted away from my initial impressions yet.

wakka9ca said...

@kadian1364:

http://i27.tinypic.com/k99ab6.jpg

the proof is Yuuki's death certificate.

It says as causes of death "cranial hemorrhage due to external injuries" and "respiratory failure"

Hanners said...

The biggest (and perhaps most subtle) hint for me that Yuuki could actually be dead aside from those already mentioned by kadian is the sleeping bags we see after Miari wakes up from the second death "dream" - There are only two bags between Yuuki, Mirai and Mari. Again, you could explain it away, but it seems odd to me.

wakka - Great image, thanks for posting it. However, I'm guessing that was taken from Mirai's first "dream" sequence, which does actually seem to be an actual nightmare, so that one may well be a red herring.

Anonymous said...

First Isara, now Yuuki.
This season is particulary dangerous for anime-main-charakters.

Chris said...

I think that the beginning of the next episode will settle everything, I think the bridge that Mari and Mirai are now crossing is very symbolically important and when Mirai gets to the other side she won't be able to find Yuuki. As Mirai is calling for Yuuki, Mari will say something like "Mirai, I'm sorry but Yuuki's ....." and everything will come flooding back to Mirai and we'll see the whole "second dream sequence" in full, and we'll see that Mirai was so distraught that she had to be sedated.

Last night I chatted with someone who's very fluent in Japanese and he told me that Mirai's conversations with Mari were already indicating that she knows Yuuki is dead. He told me that Mirai used the tense of "had" when Mirai told Mari that Yuuki aways hid how sick is was, and he also said that Mirai was speaking in a past tense voice when she was walking with the illusionary Yuuki. I can't tell if this is exactly right because I not that fluent in Japanese. But, if that's the case then Mirai's mind is coming to terms with Yuuri's death and all it will need is a small push to bring her back, it won't be pretty but kids are very resilient.

Cezanne said...

I wasn't expecting this episode either, it through me for a loop. I know a lot of the episode could be explained away as coincidence but I have to say Mari not speaking to Yuuki nor even acknowledging Yuuki is just too strange. Plus the 2 sleeping bags, makes me honestly believe Yuuki is dead. Poor Mirai is suffering. I'm anxious to see how they tell her the news. I sincerely hoped they all made it home safely.

usagijen said...

did someone just say, Sixth Sense?