Hi people ;),
I’m back for the first time in about two months. I’m not in the mood to make excuses, so let’s just jump right into it :D.
I’ve been rewatching Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 with my parents, and enjoyed it’s safe to say that it’s receiving praise all round from us. But there’s one thing that we all agree that really grabs us by the feels and throws us into the world of Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 – that is, the atmosphere. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 sucked me in, invested me in the characters and never had me unconvinced of what was going on.
Note: this wasn’t a review, but in case you were wondering, this got a solid 8.5/10 for enjoyment – as you’ll probably guess after reading this post :p .
Yuuki is a kind-hearted and pure-spirited boy who has a tirelessly positive outlook on life despite any of the negative aspects of it, such as his family relations. Mirai, the older sister, is generally disillusioned and upset with the world. Her parents constantly fight and her parents are at work until late into the evening and never seem to have time for her or her brother even during the holidays. Her grades are slipping and she has no clue what she is aspiring to be, she spends most of her life escaping it on her phone.
When her younger brother asks to go to a robot convention in Odaiba, her mother, too busy to take him, tasks Mirai with taking him to the convention for the day. However, some time after arriving, they are hit by an earthquake (I’ll leave you to guess how strong it was 😉 ). A woman, Mari, who had met them several times already during the day, finds them, they begin their long and often perilous journey home together in post-earthquake Tokyo.
It can be hard to get ‘sucked into’ an anime, especially when it has an art style that doesn’t go for the cutting-edge relaistic type, per se. And, to be honest, the character designs in Tokyo magnitude 8.0 are pretty simplistic. However the series conveys to us the atmosphere in such a way that, despite this glaringly obvious detachment from reality, we just felt ourselves falling comfortably into the characters shoes for the majority of the show, the exceptions being when you realise your about to cry and don’t want to show make yourself into an awkward mess in a silent room. What? Just me? …. ‘Kay, n-never mind…
So how does it do it? In short, the way characters react to situations, especially the two children Mirai and her incredibly innocent younger brother, Yuuki, are incredibly well done and relatable. Again – given the simplistic character designs, it’s no mean feat that the animators managed to produce facial expressions and body language so catchingly realistic that they achieve more in this department than most anime I’ve seen to date. And a huge boost was given to the characters by the voice actors, who responded the varying situations as dynamically as the characters that they played.
They moved, behaved, cried, laughed and panicked just like any two children caught up in a disaster situation such as that of an earth quake. And, children being children, they seemed to magically evoke an intense emotional response from me as a viewer, especially as we grow more attached to the characters as the story progresses. The writers used the child characters really well in this sense – not in an evil way of course :), but in the way which any sensible writer would use o their advantage – as they use the juvenile characters really well to elicit a kind of paternal/maternal response in whoever is watching it.
And that isn’t to say that the other main character, Mari, was lack-luster in any sense. Sure, the focus was far less on her, but she catalysed a great carer-child dynamic that worked very well given the situation being portrayed. As I said: it was easy to step into the kids shoes and feel everything which they were (probably a feeling recognised more easily for those with siblings to be fair, but something that pretty much anyone can get if they have had a similar friendship or other relationship), but I feound it easy to step into the motherly and protective Mari’s shoes too and understand the concern she felt for the two children.
It was this understanding of the characters that allowed the chemistry to flow in the anime and also propel the sense of atmosphere further and make it more effective by syncing them with me, the viewer.
Finally, they always make sure not to overload the more intense scenes and desensetise the viewer to this atmosphere which they dobtless spent hours creating. This is important because there does often come a point in many anime where they try so damn hard to hit you with an emotionally impactful scene or make you get all feelsy that it just starts to come off as contrived. Overdoing atmosphere gets in the way of a show because instead of feeling an impact, the repetetive nature of said atmosphere comes to feel like mere fanservice.
This happened to me when I watched Your Lie In April. I mean, sure it was sad, but they tried to make me cry so much throughout the series that the end actually had very little emotional effect on me. And Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 made absolutely sure not to shove feels down our throat and only sparsely place the more intense emotional or atmospheric scene. The anime manages to keep a kind of ‘sobre’ tone to it, not trying to ‘produce’ emotions or reactions in the characters, and in doing so makes us appreciate and understand the characters and their emotions more purely, and savour the scenes which actually do have emotional impact.
And this was all within the first few episodes – don’t worry because it never lost its charm. The anime stayed right in its comfort zone and skillfully played to my sense of apprehension, excitement and emotion throughout, and always made me empathise with the characters in almost every situation. How? Well, as I said before, while the situations the characters went through were quite unique and different from the daily life of me or you, the nature of them was something we could all relate to. We’ve all lost our mum or dad in a large department store once or twice when we were little; we’ve all been worried about someone close to us; most of us, fortunately, know what it is like to grow attached to close friends or family members, and so on.
Anyway, that’s all I’ll say for now, so go and watch it yourselves to see how atmosphere can be done well.
So that’s it from me – I’m glad to be back!
See you guys soon.