Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 poses a question: What would happen if Tokyo were hit by a long-expected 8.0 magnitude earthquake? How would society react? What would the world look like after it? It asks all this through the eyes of two children caught in the dead center of the tragedy.
Mirai and Yuuki are just the kind of siblings you'd expect: Mirai is a middle school student that just can't get along in life. She's constantly immersed in her cell phone and she hates how the world seems to pick on her at every opportunity. On the other hand, Yuuki is her fun-loving little brother. He's always happy and always trying to make everyone else happy. Naturally, they don't get along well like real siblings, so when Yuuki pulls Mirai along to a robotics exhibition far from home, she couldn't be less pleased if she tried.
While on the way home from the robotics exhibition, Tokyo is suddenly hit by an 8.0 magnitude earthquake, plunging the city into chaos. The two start a journey across the city as it falls apart and along the way Mirai is forced to come to terms with herself and her future.
The Disaster Genre Done Right
Of all the genres I know, the Disaster genre has always seemed to simultaneously have both the most potential and the most lazy storytelling all the time. Tokyo Magnitude does the impossible and not only tells a story that I haven't seen before, but it also does so with a genre normally used for spectacle over storytelling. The disaster is both the setting and the conflict of the series, which is artfully used to examine the characters.
Coming-of-Age Tale with a Fantastic Story
TM8.0 is three things simultaneously: it's a disaster series that explores what a situation like this would be like, it's a coming-of-age story for Mirai as she grows out of the shell she's built for herself, and lastly it's a feels trip. This is easily one of the best series I've seen in years, and probably the one I most regret missing when it was airing.
An Absurdly Powerful Second Half
The second half of the show is some of the most powerful storytelling I've seen in a long time. The show functions like Nakige because it leads up to the tear-jerking second half, and how it delivers. This is one of the select group of stories that managed to get me crying. Full disclosure, I have a personal attachment to stories like this, but there's no disputing that the final episodes of the show were epic tear jerkers.
Spoilers are Dangerous
It's probably best to watch Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 without reading anything, since the show banks hard on at least one reveal. Let's be clear, everything spoils this show. Go to the Wikipedia page, spoiled. Go to a review, probably spoiled. You get the idea. You'll probably experience a dip in enjoyment if you know about it beforehand.
Honestly speaking, it's very difficult to come up with reasons to not recommend this to everyone. This is one of the impressively rare shows that will blur lines between audiences and speak to the human in all of us. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 gloriously succeeds as a character drama and as a realistic exploration of a city after a natural disaster. Coupled with the talent of Bones' animators, this show seems like it can really do no wrong.
The only complaint I can conjure up is that it tends to take a long time to get through some of the exposition, though I argue that the long-winded bits are important to an extent.
It's definitely one of my favorite shows of this decade and it runs up there with the likes of White Album 2 for me. This is a must-watch in my book.
As usual, I claim no ownership of the images herein. This review was made with the new Ani-TAY review system. I haven't had a chance to update my system to the new one, so for the first time ever, I actually used the system I started.