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.