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Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 Anime DVD Review

7 min read

Tokyo Magnitude 8A powerful, heart-wrenching story of perseverance and survival.

What They Say:
The devastation is unleashed in the span of seconds. Yielding to centuries of unrelenting pressure, an ancient rift in the Earth gives away and a force equivalent to over a thousand atomic bombs erupts beneath the feet of the citizensof 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 blame and huge sections of the city’s vital infrastructure are torn into shreds. For sister and borther Mirai and Yuki, it’s the start of a desparate journey back to their parent’s home in Setagaya. For motorcycle courier Mari, it means an equally titanic 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!

Concrete shatters
Buildings crumble
But for the survivors…
Love still endures.

The Review:
Audio:
For this viewing I listened to the English audio track. There is also a Japanese language track and both are Dolby Digital 2.0. English subtitles are provided as well. The sound quality was excellent. There was no directionality to the audio tracks, but given the subtle, dramatic nature of the series, it wasn’t necessary.

Video:
The series is presented in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen and it’s beautiful. The transfer is excellent. The line work is clear, the colors sharp, and as odd as it is to say about a series that deals with a horrific tragedy in a realistic manner, it is a beautiful show to watch.

Packaging:
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 comes in a standard DVD case. The eleven episodes are parsed out over three DVDs, two of which are housed on a center insert and the third placed on the inside of the back cover. The disks are easy to access and the case takes up no more room than a regular DVD.

The front cover features Mirai and Yuki running towards the foreground. A ruined overpass and a warped Tokyo Tower loom behind them in the background. The title, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 Complete Collection hovers in simple white font in the upper left-hand corner and the logo for Maiden Japan sits in the lower right-hand corner.

The title takes up the majority of the space on the spine, only this time in yellow font. Underneath it is Marai in her school uniform, and beneath that is the Maiden Japan logo.

The top portion of the back cover is taken up with small images from the show. Diving the images are two yellow text boxes, the first being a list of special features and the second a short message stating that all eleven episodes are spread out over three disks. Beneath that is the series’ summary, and below that is another scene of destruction. The final third of the cover gives the series credits and DVD specifications.

Menu:
Each menu contains the same basic elements. The majority of it is taken up by a static image of some ruined part of the city. The image is bleached out in a dull black and white with a hint of red. The series’ title is placed in the lower left-hand corner, and the DVD menu occupies the majority of the right-hand side. The menu is designed to look like the edge of a piece of paper or perhaps a photograph. Each episode is separately listed and the episode number is printed in a large black circle beside it, making it easy to see what is being chosen. Beneath the episodes are the options for languages and special features, if there are any on that disk. The show’s main theme plays on a forty-four second loop. It’s a good, simple design that is easy to navigate.

Extras:
The extras are rather unspectacular. Considering the realistic nature of the show and the pains it takes at the beginning to note that this is a work of fiction that relied heavily on research, it would have been nice to have seen some of that research: perhaps a documentary about earthquakes in Japan. This does have the standard clean opening and closing animations, but it also has a digest version. This is the first time I’ve come across a digest version of a show as an extra. Basically, a truncated version of the series is spliced together in a fifty minute version. It’s interesting, but I don’t believe that I would ever watch it instead of the eleven episodes.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Mirai and Yuki live a typical life in Japan. They go to school, they come home. They play video games. Mirai is the older of the siblings and has just entered that pre-teen period where she chafes at any parental authority (especially if that authority comes from her mother) or perceived slight. Yuki is younger and still possesses a child’s innocence and openness. Even though she consistently berates him for being young, it’s also clear that she loves her brother very much, so when their mother asks her to take Yuki to Odaiba to visit a robot exhibition, she goes through the standard bout of whining and complaining, but ultimately acquiesces. An earthquake registering 8.0 on the Richter scale hits as they visit the convention, and the two are stranded with no way of contacting their parents. Thankfully, Mari, a bike courier, decides to help them even though her daughter and mother are in Sangenjaya. Together the three make their way back to Mirai and Yuki’s home in Setagaya, battling hunger, exhaustion, heatstroke, and the danger of aftershocks.

Mirai is the focal point of the story and because of that the journey is just as much about her challenging her adolescent preconceptions as it is about going home. It’s easy not to like her at first, given her sullen attitude, but there are enough glimpses of her true personality—thanks to her interactions with Yuki—that we know there is a good person underneath about which we should care. The trials she faces are hard—much harder than any child should have to go through, and by the end it’s impossible not to cry for her and Yuki.

Make no mistake, this is an emotional series. The tragedies the three face are heartbreaking, but balancing that out are the moments of simple human kindness that buoy both their and our spirits. The human drama that plays out over these eleven episodes gradually but completely draw you in and by the second episode—if that long—you’re completely invested in the show. I don’t think I’ve been this involved in an anime since Grave of the Fireflies.

The reason for this is twofold: 1.The characters are incredibly well written and 2. The situation is portrayed realistically and with care. Mari is the type of person I would like to be if in a situation like this. Although she desperately wants to return home to check on her mother and daughter, she understands her duty as an adult to protect these two children. Even when she has very human and understandable moments of doubt, she never shirks her responsibility, and that is beyond admirable.

Yuki acts as the glue that holds the three together. He possesses a child’s indomitable spirit and optimism, and the way he tries to help his big sister are very sweet and very realistic considering his age, such as promising her his share of the household sweets when they finally get home. His easy, open love and admiration for his sister breaks down her walls and without that this journey would never have changed her.

As for the second reason, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 takes great care in depicting this tragedy in a realistic way. There is even a disclaimer that plays at the very beginning warning viewers of that fact. One element I was particularly gratified to see was that everyone banded together to help each other out. I’m not sure if this is a cultural difference or just the fact that this series strives for realism, but I couldn’t help but think if this were an American show then there would be looters and roving gangs of toughs trying to take advantage of the situation. That doesn’t happen here. This series showcases the very best nature of human beings and that is gratifying and necessary given the heavy subject matter. The way that the people react coupled with the little details such as toilet necessities and the danger of dehydration, add a level of verisimilitude that was impressive and immersive.

In Summary:
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is an incredible series that allows for a level of emotional investment I rarely find in media. The strength of the characters and the realistic, meticulous manner in which the series approaches this very real and plausible event is amazing and makes for a show that is at times heartbreaking, but ultimately uplifting. Highly recommended.

Features:
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 Digest Version
Clean Opening Animation
Clean Closing Animation

Content Grade: A+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: A
Extras Grade: C

Released By: Maiden Japan
Release Date: April 2, 2013
MSRP: $59.98
Running Time: 325 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 16:9

Review Equipment:
Panasonic Viera TH42PX50U 42” Plasma HDTV, Sony BPD-S3050 BluRay Player w/HDMI Connection

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