Posted by psgels on 18 September 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0



One thing I love about watching anime is that sometimes, there are these series that come from absolutely nowhere and blow you away. Tokyo Magnitude is one of those series. It’s based on a “what-if” scenario: what if modern-day Tokyo were to be hit by a massive earthquake? This actually is a very likely scenario: it turns out that there is a 70% chance that Tokyo will be hit by an earthquake of magnitude 7.0 in the next 30 years.

Tokyo Magnitude shows that even in the city that is probably the most well-prepared city for an earthquake, it would still be plunged into chaos if an major earthquake actually were to take place. Tons of people would end up either dead or injured, even more people would lose their homes. The creators end up portraying this sense of chaos and despair incredibly well.

The series follows three people in particular: two siblings Mirai and Yuki and an adult called Mari, however that doesn’t stop the creators from showing how everyone else is doing. They make really well use of their budget to create an identity for every single passer-by: they take care in emphasizing that every single person in the background was also just a regular person who also was hit by the earthquake, who also may or may not have lost someone, or might be separated from his or her loved ones. This series really managed to create a setting that feels real, in which just about everything is filled with details that make the setting come alive. Figuratively, of course.

The first half of the series is mainly this, while the second half, in which the chaos tones down a bit, changes the direction of the setting in a character-study of the lead characters. I’m not going to spoil exactly what happens, but both halves are equally bittersweet. You do need to know that the second half does this at the sacrifice of a bit of realism, though. The second half is much quieter in comparison to the chaotic first half, but that really allows the plot to be very subtly developed, and the emotions to sink in.

The biggest flaw of this series is a little disclaimer at the start of each episode, which claims that this series is as realistic as possible. While this series is indeed very realistic (more realistic than like, 98% of all other anime out there), there are points that could not have happened in real life. Besides, it’s a rather pretentious disclaimer anyway: instead of telling us it’s realistic, we’d rather like to be able to judge ourselves.

Nevertheless, at this point Tokyo Magnitude has the potential to remain a classic in anime. It’s believable, depressing, but also uplifting, fresh and inspired. There’s been a lot of discussion going on whether or not this series took the right turns along the way, but personally for me, it has been an amazing series. Most people who know this blog will know that I’m already a big fan of the Noitamina timeslot. Aside from Honey and Clover, I’ve seen every single show that came out of it, and Tokyo Magnitude has become my favourite series out of all of them.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 10/10

25 Responses

  1. reverse says:

    even though I did displeases most part of the storytelling, but I would say I agree with this score
    personally I would give the storytelling 8/7 instead of 9, since you rarely give 8/7 for good series I guess 9 work as well

  2. Tiago Sá says:

    A bit let down by the ending, because, in the end, it’s series about the death (and life, I guess) of one person. It’s all very well done and executed, and you do feel sad, but this kind of melodrama is not really spot on when it comes to lasting impression… But it’s nice that there’s stuff about earthquakes and the like. It’s just that, in terms of personal relationships, it doesn’t teach you nothing…

    Not my cup of tea, but it’s well done and is entertaining, so I guess it’s ok.

  3. Solaris says:

    Oh-oh! I would rather praise Psgels because he can do reviews without spoiling anything. It was not like this once upon a time when i first started reading this blog. That time i avoided reading anything unless i watched all of the episodes reviewed. Kudos to you PsGels.

    This evening i’ll watch the last episode and write down my last impressions. See ya!

  4. Perrin4869 says:

    Incredible anime, especially in the second part, in my opinion. In my opinion it could have used some more subtlety in the end of episode 10, and the robot otaku didn’t add anything to the anime, but then again it managed to pack a punch anyways, and it felt genuine (even if not realistic) until the very end. I usually don’t like Bones anime (I hated the first FMA, and I never got to finish Eureka 7, even though I got to episode 37 or something. The cheese!), but when they come up with something good, they completely blow me away. Darker than Black II in 21 more days! Don’t let me down Bones!

  5. Tiago Sá says:

    Yeah, Darker than Black is the piece, but Soul Eater was also pretty awesome, even if the storyline was poor after they deviated from the manga.

  6. supertauren says:

    You’re right about the disclaimer, I think it takes away from the show quite a bit because instead of enjoying the show, I think a lot of people, me included, ended up being distracted by pointing out things that aren’t realistic.

    Overall though, great show! I was surprised that it was that good because when I first heard the premise I didn’t really think much of it. I’m glad I read your reviews for the first few episodes and watched this show.

  7. Solaris says:

    Well they didn’t screw up the ending. I was glad. Thjis was easily one of the best series of the year. Not the best, but i cannot yet figure it why. Maybe the second part of the anime turned out just too melodramatic for my taste, but i woulkdn’t complain that muc about it. The show had good chars and a stron storytelling. The ending was satisfying too. Well let’s move to the next one. Bye bye Mirai see you.

  8. Odderkid says:

    Yeah, this is easily on of my favorite new shows of the year. I guess I never minded the whole Sixth Sense scenario because I usually enjoy the emotional impact of anime the most in shows. And this one had a helluvan impact. I was a little hesitant to get into this at first, but the reviews here seriously got me hooked – thanks! Gonna miss marking Tokyo Magnitude every Thursday on my calendar…

  9. Steelman says:

    Great ending and great show overall. My second favorite this year after Clannad After Story.

    But seriously, go watch Honey & Clover. The second season is among the best dramatic shows ever.

  10. Sywen says:

    I think most are misunderstanding the disclaimer.
    they nowhere say it’s realistic. they say they are “striving for a sense of realism, however circumstances may be different to the real thing”

    It’s fiction.. not a docu ;)

    Personally i find this show the best from 2009 so far and i’d rate it 10/10

  11. dickens says:

    A series with a great start that unfortunately got bogged down in B-movie theatrics which ruined the tone created in the first half. Anyways, if you want to a watch a *real* classic vaguely related, see: Grave of the Fireflies.

    I thought completely the opposite – I thought the first half was quieter and gentler while the second half felt like it was forcing drama in a way that was too jarring of a change (with liberal use of cliches like bait-and-switch death scenes)

    Overall I’d give it a 6/10. Great potential but it didn’t know where to go with it so it fell back on anime cliche.

    For me the best series on Noitamina remains Honey and Clover.

  12. Mike says:

    Heh, it seems like TM8 is a bit of a love it or hate it show, especially the 2nd half.

    For me personally, I found TM8 to be much more emotional and touching than Grave of the Fireflies, which tbh, is rather… meh.

    In the end it’s all personal taste, so YMMV :P

  13. dickens says:

    They are very different in getting across their themes. The way that TM8 tries to tug at the heartstrings is a lot more direct than Grave and I can see people who disliked Grave liking TM8 for that reason.

  14. Davey J. says:

    I agree with you full heartily in this review. I didn’t mind that the show abandoned some realism in the second half, as it helped develop Mirai. This show was a nice breath of fresh air. I remember watching the first episode and thinking

    *Spoiler alert*

    That you know who would kick the bucket but I quickly dismissed the idea because I thought the creators would have the guts to do it. But they did and I was impressed by it.

  15. Ves says:

    I agree, it was a really good series. No superheroes here to save Tokyo, just a (rather) realistic story.

    I loved the backgrounds – detailed, well shaded and very realistic. I can even see the grains in some of the wood! Or perhaps it’s just because I’ve been watching some old anime lately so suddenly everything looks good.

  16. Megris Vernin says:

    I liked the series but for some reason this last episode hit me really hard. I haven’t suffered any big loss or anything but I felt really reconnected with Mirai. I was basically tear-eyed for the last ten minutes or so. This is coming from a male who rarely cries over anything. Emotionally this anime has hit me more than Windaria or even the ending to Clannad-Tv did. This is one of the reasons I love shows that really realism and that characters can suffer loss to. I see it in a few American shows like Battlestar Galactic, but rarely.

  17. fireryone says:

    I found a link to Yuki’s Death Certificate on the TM8.0 Wikipedia article discussion page:
    http://i27.tinypic.com/k99ab6.jpg

  18. Den Lim says:

    I didn’t really think it was a ghost… more like a product of Mirai’s brain due to shock and trauma.

  19. Nck says:

    I just watched the ending of the episode! I think the ending was perfectly fitting into the series, and Mirai is a hell of a good character! The ending made me cry!
    Great review!

  20. Aryo says:

    Manly tears were shed!
    Happened only 3 times so far while watching anime, so imo that’s a good sign for me how touching it was.

  21. Buff says:

    *SPOILER*

    I believe it wasn’t a ghost, but rather the effects of the shock of losing her brother. Mirai was like the old lady who lost her grandchildren. But I’d call this denial. As you can see Yuki was the opposite of Mirai, she was quiet and Yuki telling her what to do.

    Mari had the reaction of shocked when Mirai told her she was looking for Yuki, I thought she had some really bad news and that was the reason. But I guess she failed in what she felt there.

    The anime is very realistic even in a psychological level which is very professional to treat. I’ve been in shock a few times and I can tell what’s being in denial for a while, but this took so long.

  22. Z.N. Singer says:

    Oh good, that’s exactly what I hoped for out of it. I’d already planned to give it the old three episode test run, but it’s nice to have an extra infusion of hope and encouragement as I do.

  23. Jesse says:

    I just finished watching it today and i can’t even describe how great of a series it was. I’ve seen so many animes and i’ve only cried once, but i literally cried the entire last episode. Not just like tears rolling down my cheeks, i mean like i had a breakdown. I’m a guy and i don’t cry a whole lot, but when you have a guy like me bawling his eyes out, you know its a good anime. I agree with what you said in the review, but i think it was more hectic near the end becuase of all the tension build up and Yuki. Overall it was incredible and it has surpassed all of the other animes i’ve watched (and i’ve watched the big one’s).

  24. Firechick says:

    I didn’t notice this, but I’m starting to notice some kind of symbolism in Mirai and Yuuki’s names. Mirai means future, showing in the beginning that Mirai didn’t know what to do when she grew up, but after the earthquake she does and that a better future awaits her. Yuuki’s name means courage, and in a sense he helped Mirai move on with her life even though…y’know. He helped Mirai get home and gave her the courage to do so.

  25. OMG says:

    I guess 30 years was a bit off, wasn’t it?

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