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Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 – Anime Review

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TM8 dvd 3d_125x-1Title: Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
Format: DVD / Blu-ray
Published by: Siren Visual (Australia) | Maiden Japan (North America)
Audio: Hybrid Dub
Subtitles: English
Special Thanks: Siren Visual for kindly providing me with a DVD review sample of this release

Imagine if an earthquake as powerful as magnitude 8.0 struck Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, today… Who would we think about and what should we do at that moment? This is a tremendous human drama that portrays the connections and human bonds in the most extreme situations. 13 year old Mirai and her 8 year old brother, Yuki are left away from home when the catastrophically large quake has hit Tokyo…

Most of the mobile phones are dead. There is no clue as to whether their parents are safe. The only thing that Mirai is sure of is that she remains with her brother Yuki, and Mari, whom she just met. She also knows that the three of them must continue walking through the devastated city of Tokyo to make their way home. On their way, the three face numerous struggles, while receiving the kindness and help of others. It is through this journey that Mirai realizes what is really important to her, what it is she must protect, what it means to be alive. What awaits them at the end of this journey?

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Before beginning this review I would like to apologize for the lack of reviews as of late – with the last one of a DVD release made back on the 16th April 2013. Unfortunately I had three pretty large assignments due on essentially the same weekend, and having underestimated the amount of work in them I spent most of the last two weeks working on them. That being said, all three are completed and submitted now so it is back to reviewing titles!

Siren Visual are pretty much the noitaminA kings of Australia, having licensed and released many titles that have aired during the renown block – including Australian firsts to Australian exclusives. While there had been a slight wait since the North American release by Maiden Japan, the team at Siren this March released Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 – another more serious titled that aired in Japan during 2009 (Therefore before the tragic 9.03 magnitude earthquake in Japan on the 11th March 2011). How did it fare? Well what I can say off the bat is that I went into this series intrigued… and spent the last few episodes with a consistent stream of tears pouring from my eyes – it is both a heartwarming and tragic series.

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Storyline

The storyline follows a first-year middle school student by the name of Mirai Onozawa, who upon the insistence of her younger brother Yuki takes him to an robot exhibit in Odaiba, Tokyo. As the title may imply the city is hit by a magnitude 8.0 earthquake which ravages chaos within the city and leaves both of them at risk. Having lost Yuki, she trudges around the now remains of the museum with the assistance of an older woman named Mari Kusakabe. Upon locating him and discovering that they all live in the same direction, the three pair up and make the long and journey back to Sangenjaya – a journey that is filled with a number of perils.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is based upon a prediction that in the next 30 years, Tokyo directly has a 70% chance of being hit by an earthquake at a magnitude of 7.0 or greater – and the development team attempted to realistically depict the after-effects to some extent. While there are several hints towards the broader after effects of the earthquake (and the after-shocks that followed), for the most part the film is essentially about the three travelling home while attempting to stay safe and coming across many individuals that help them alongside the human and organizational responses to the incidents that occur. That is not to say that they don’t pay attention to detail, and while some things could very well have been fictitious in nature, it carries across a sense of realism to the post-earthquake response you would expect from the country.

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Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 was more about the characters than anything else, and the small main character cast of three do their job well. The story is primarily told through the viewpoint of Mirai, and given her personality and mentality as well as the changes that progress through the episode, it is a wise move. Neither Yuki or Mari miss out on their development either, and all three characters do receive some interesting backstory and character development that does truly shine in the episodes. Unfortunately, I found it hard to take some of the events within the earlier episodes seriously when looking at things in a realistic sense. This is not to say that the outcomes would not happen, but several major incidents as a result of after-shocks always seemed to occur when the trio were inconveniently in place. This might be considered nit-picking however.

While looking at the series as a whole, I felt satisfied with the amount of content they had covered… it was noticeable that the pacing was far too slow especially considering noitaminA episodes generally only have 11-episodes to get everything across to the viewer. Especially in the earlier episodes I thought while most of the content was important, they could have distributed their time more effectively. Of course, as I said at the beginning there are plot twists that may have you bawling your eyes out, but at the same time there are several moments that leave you with warm fuzzies….. but in the end you may not find it ending on the generic happy ending.

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Design

Having dealt with many of Siren Visual’s DVD releases in the past, they are usually of pretty good visual quality. However it was noticeable (Especially playing the DVD on my Playstation 3) that the visual quality of this release wasn’t up to their usual standards and to me would be average at the very best (I found it better playing in a window on my computer) and does vary during the episodes. Not sure if this carries over to the Blu-ray edition however. That being said, the design quality does vary but is overall satisfying.

As you may expect from the title, the teams at Studio Bones / Kinema Citrus delivered some well detailed albeit dilapidated buildings alongside high production quality on some of the disasters that befall the trio such as the fall of the Tokyo Tower. Character designs also go well with the show although are nothing special, while environment designs are also pretty much the same. They also found some reasoning to add the element of randomness to a couple of their episodes – such as in Episode 6 where they included a dog randomly walking down the street for no reason at all (Perhaps this is not important but the first time I watched it I was left wondering what their reasoning was).

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Music / Voice Acting

While perhaps a little simple on the animation side, both the opening and ending sequences for Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 packs some visual and audiological quality. The opening sequence Kimi no Uta by abingdon boys school provides some impressive music from the moment the song begins while the ending sequence M/elody by Shion Tsuji is a bit more relaxed but still provides an enjoyable melody. The rest of the musical backing for the show is rather bland, but does at times rise up to the occasion and provides that added kick the scene needs.

While it is noticeable that they used some of their secondary and minor voice cast members more than once (Examples include Brittney Karbowski, David Matranga and Greg Ayres) more than once during the episodes with pretty much the same tone of voice, the main voice roles really do shine. Luci Christian, Tiffany Grant and Shelley Calene-Black voice Mirai, Yuki and Mari respectively, and all three suit their characters exceptionally well – especially Tiffany Grant who was very hard to pick up without reading into who voiced Yuki myself. Given this is one of the first English dubbed films by Maiden Japan I have watched, I thought their production was pretty good in regards to voice acting.

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Extra Goodies

While keeping pretty much the same extra content as Maiden Japan had for their North American release, there is still only a small set of goodies in Siren Visual’s release of the series. These include:

  • A 51 minute digest film that edits the film (In some parts quite significantly) to give you the overarching storyline in a third of the time it would take you to watch the entire series. Dubbed in Japanese only.
  • A slideshow of screenshots from scenes in the film – just over five minutes in length.
  • Trailer for the Show

Surprisingly they didn’t include clean opening/ending sequences in this release however.

Final Word

While Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 did leave a bit to be desired in terms of pacing, character development and the overall plotline I think worked well. As with most of the noitaminA releases done by Siren Visual in Australia, they will not be for every anime fan – but those whom have joined other similar titlesmay very well find themselves intrigued at the 11 episode series that has been produced. Just be sure to grab a box of tissues to wipe your eyes with if you tend to be a bit emotional with sadder stories.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 - Anime Review 3
Sam
Founder of The Otaku's Study. I have been exploring this labyrinth of fandom these last fourteen years, and still nowhere close to the exit yet. Probably searching for a long time to come.

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