It’s been a while, but I can proudly say that the little drama-queen inside of me was bawling manly tears at the end of this show, something that last happened at Grave of the Fireflies, half a year ago.
First of all, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is a disaster-flick, and a good one at that, with real people in a state of disaster, in a situation that could actually occur in the real world. The show starts with… whining kids, basically. More specifically, one whining kid, Mirai, a first-year middle school student who “hates” her parents for working too much and not caring for her and her brother Yuuki. Then, on the fateful day that Mirai has been burdened to take her brother to the robot exhibition, it happens. All of a sudden, a massive 8.0 earthquake hits and in a matter of seconds Tokyo is in a state of disaster, and the journey home begins for the siblings.
You might be asking yourself by now:”If this anime made you, a drama-junkie, spill eye-fluids and compare its emotional punch to Grave of the Fireflies, why the meager 8.3 rating, while said movie is in your top 10?” Well, the thing is, “said movie” was also brilliant besides its emotional punch. The first five or six episodes in Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 were just not all that enjoyable or brilliant. Still, while they were indeed needed as build-up, I wouldn’t go as far as calling them a necessary evil. They display a realistic view on the situation after such a massive earthquake and its aftershocks. The people you meet on this journey all come across as real and there are some touching small stories in those first episodes. After the first five or six episodes the show starts to pick up a bit. The anime is still about the stories of the people in the mid of a city in rubbles, but the focus starts to shift towards the main characters and their development. The ending, oh wow, for fans of drama, the ending alone is well worth sitting through the rest for. Again, that’s not to say the rest is rubbish, it’s still quite good, but not up to that level.
The animation in Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 was good. While the character designs are fairly basic, they all look real; no pink entities are balancing on the scalps here. The backgrounds are where the show shines on the animation department. They’re detailed and really add a lot to the show, showing Tokyo in all of its ruined glory. While I wouldn’t go as far as calling the animators geniuses, it shows that they put in a lot of effort to make the anime look real and detailed.
The sound in this series is fitting. Soundtracks are almost non-existent, they’ve instead chosen to use lots of realistic background noise. If they’re in the middle of a crowd, you actually have the feeling they are, instead of in a concert hall, which added a lot to the whole feeling of reality. The OP and ED, well, let’s say that there’s no accounting to taste. They’re both good and surprisingly enough fit the show, even though they’re not what you’d expect for an emotional disaster-flick. Still, they were also not really songs I’d listen to over and over, and thus they were mostly skipped.
Overall, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 definitely was one of the best shows of 2009, and even though it IS a disaster-flick and a drama, it’s something I’d recommend to everyone, if only for the fact that they’ve managed to create this level of realism. Aside from the mentioned first five or six episodes being not-as-good as the second half, I can’t spot any real flaws. Flawlessness however, doesn’t equals brilliance. The entire show is really good (hence the 8.3/10 overall), but only the ending really shines (10/10). Expect to get a bit bored during the first few episodes, but keep in mind that it’ll be worth it.