Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 Review

Anime

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Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
Studio: BONES
Publisher: Siren Visual
Format:
DVD, Blu-Ray (Reviewed)
Release Date: March 21st, 2013
Price: $49.95 – Available Here

Overview
Humanity has been defined throughout its existence by it’s ability to survive. No matter the calamity we survive, we rebuild and we remember the pain. Tokyo Magnitue 8.0 focuses on the way we survive, what it means to be alive and the bonds that not even an earthquake could fracture.

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Story
Make no mistake about it, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is a very special anime series which remains very relevant in a post 3/11 quake Japan. The imagery and story conveyed in the series are affecting to say the least. BONES have handled this subject matter with great care in a way that is both compelling and thoughtful.

It is a simple premise, two children must make their way home in an earthquake stricken Tokyo. Through this premise, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 touches upon a topic which is not often explored in anime – natural disasters. While this theme has been the focus of many films and TV series, it isn’t a common subject matter for anime. There is a difference in the way Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 tackles the theme however, whereas most play it off for horror, this series turns it into a human drama about the bonds that cannot break no matter how hard the Earth may shake.

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At its core, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is about Mirai and Yuki, the two children who must journey across this wasteland where Tokyo once stood. Their relationship is the thread that ties everything together. The bond between siblings is a complicated and deep one that is difficult to understand unless you have one of your own. Mirai is tired of the world, a depressed teenage girl riddled with angst. Whereas Yuki is a wide-eyed little boy who sees magic in the world around him. The two meet with a woman by the name of Mari, who decides to serve as their guide across Tokyo.

It soon becomes clear that Yuki is the glue of his family and that Mirai depends on him for support more than she would like to admit. The relationship between the two is well defined from the get-go and the heartbreak and suffering they endure over the course of their quest to return home shows that even if the whole world fell apart around them there is nothing that could break their bond. They are family, it is a love that transcends all other and such is the case with Yuki and Mirai.

Over the course of the series, tragedy strikes more than anyone would like to see all of which culminates in what is one of the most devastating finales in recent anime history. This is a heartbreaking anime series that will hit you harder than most anime ever do. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is a magnificent tale of an unbreakable bond standing defiant against a world in flames.

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Visuals and Audio
How do you capture the horrifying nature of an earthquake without losing an air of hopefulness that things will be alright in the end? Well BONES manages to strike the perfect balance with Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, contrasting dark desolate landscapes with pockets of vibrant scenery and appealing character designs. The Tokyo setting is well conveyed with many familiar sights such as Tokyo Tower in a particularly memorable scene.

There is a level of soul on show in this series that is immediately apparent  from its aesthetics alone. Not only is the art well designed but this series is incredible well animated, giving a realistic feel to the destructive titular 8.0 quake.

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The series also features a brilliant soundtrack to boot. With many quiet moving tunes that compliment the on screen action creating an atmosphere of both tragedy and optimism.

Abingdon Boys School provide the series with it’s roaring opening theme ‘Your Song’ which is as stirring as it is exciting. This is counteracted by the smooth and reflective ending theme ‘M/elody’ by Shion Tsuji. Both tracks work a real charm for Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, setting the right tone for each and every episode.

This particular release features an English dub track alongside the original Japanese audio. I must say, the Maiden Japan produced dub is superb, with veterans Luci Christian and Tiffany Grant voicing the two leads with heart and soul that does these characters true justice.

Extras
Siren Visual’s Blu-Ray release of Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 comes packaged with a few special features worth taking a look at. Included is a special 60-minute digest of the series which is essentially an abridged version of all 11 episodes. There is also the standard trailers and clean opening and closing themes which is always nice to see. This is not bad for a Blu-Ray collection of this price, but it would have been nice to see some more insightful content, perhaps detailing the production of the series. Despite that, this is a good showing for a very solid release.

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Overall
The general question Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 poses viewers is: what would happen if an 8.0 magnitude earthquake hit Tokyo? On the surface it is an exploration of that very idea, but beneath that it’s not about the things the quake breaks, but the things that it can’t. No matter how hard the world rocks, no matter how much it all just falls apart, the love between this brother and sister won’t go with it, their bond won’t break.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is a relentlessly moving story that you’ll find yourself swept up in with ease. It will break your heart with its tragic moments and it will inspire you through moments of triumph against a harsh world devastated by disaster.

You’d be hard pressed to find an anime series with as much heart and soul as Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, there is magic in this series that few can ever grasp. It isn’t for everyone, but if you’re willing to take the journey across Tokyo, I can guarantee one thing – Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 will leave an impact that you won’t soon forget.  After all, some things in life truly are unbreakable.

9-5-capsules-out-of-10

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Senior Editor & Anime Specialist

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