Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 Episode 3 – Burning Bridge

Tokyo Magnitude screenshot 3-1

In this episode Mari, Yuuki and Mirai are looking to get back home but first they have to get off Odaiba. Episode deals with the behaviour of the crowd, lack of compassion and chaos in a disaster.

Here are a few more earthquake disaster tips, problems and observations taken from this episode.

  • Mobile phones might not be able to make calls, but depends on affected wireless infrastructure.
  • Japanese convenience stores give out food in times of crisis.
  • Fires still going on, gas leaks a common source of the problem.
  • Aftershocks may go on for a couple of days.
  • People can act differently in a disaster, most people looking out for their own well-being.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 Episode 2 – Breaking World

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 Screenshot 2-1

Striving for a sense of realism, many simulations were thought of to create this story, however, circumstances may be different to the real thing.”

The above quote is the foreword at the start of the anime that sums up the direction of the show. So in this second episode we see some of the situations that can arise. The current focus is on Odaiba and we are shown the effects of the earthquake on this artificial island. We see water flowing up through the cracks in the ground, warnings of tsunamis and aftershocks. In the buildings debris is constantly falling down, the floors are flooded and fires are burning.

The character names are revealed in this episode as Mirai Onozawa (3rd year middle school), her brother Yuuki Onozawa (1st year elementary) and Mari Kusakabe (single mother, motorbike delivery driver?). I am liking the focus on real life details and interested in how they will get off Odaiba with rail lines damaged and the bridge not likely safe to cross. I am looking forward to see how Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 progresses.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 Episode 1 – Odaiba Sinks

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 Screenshot title

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is probably the most anticipated show of the summer anime season that is an original concept. After following Eden of the East until completion for the last few months my focus will now be on this Bones (Eureka 7, Rahxephon, Full Metal Alchemist) produced work.

The lead character is Mirai, a middle schoolgirl who is beginning her summer break. She has typically hardworking parents who are spending too little time with their kids. As a result Mirai is forced to take her little brother Yuuki to a robot exibition in Odaiba (large artificial island in the Tokyo bay). Mirai is dejected, annoyed with life and is confused on what she is going to do in the future. The episode ends with a magnitude 8.0 earthquake hitting the center of the Kanto region, northern part of the Tokyo bay.

This show makes an awesome first impression with the opening sequence which consists of moving stills of recognisable Japanese locations and landscapes as if they had been through an earthquake. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 looks to be a disaster show with drama and adventure elements. I am interested in the direction and concept of a real life disaster show with no robots or fantastical aspects in sight. It is the first time anything produced by Bones is set in modern day Japan and doesn’t involve robots.

The Twelve Kingdoms

The Twelve Kingdoms anime TV series Screenshot

Animation ProductionStudio Pierrot

Director Tsuneo Kobayashi

Well crafted Japanese fantasy

The Twelve Kingdoms is an often mentioned example of one of the best fantasy works in Japanese animation. It certainly had the right backing with NHK and animation by Studio Pierrot (Bleach, Naruto). Like similar fantasy titles, such as El Hazard and Escaflowne, high school students are transported to a fantastical country full of different people, creatures, culture and rules. The Twelve Knigdoms TV series is based on the light novel by Fuyumi Ono which in turn was influenced by Chinese mythology.

The two words that sum up this show are adventure and politics. It starts of with the journey of the main characters understanding and fitting into this foreign world and the latter half of the series it more politically focused. The 45 episodes really allow the characters to progress and transform and allow the paths of different people to intersect. The enjoyment of the political drama is what it is and depends on how much you like feudal drama. It is done in a serious manner with little room for comedy or deviation from the story progression.

The problems with the show lie in the at times irrational character decisions that can make episodes seem drawn out. The series doesn’t have a conclusive ending and you could satisfactorily stop watching after certain arc points. For example the last episode is a recap of the preceding 6 episode arc. The Twelve Kingdoms is not a must watch show but is genuinely enjoyable if you are looking for fantasy themed Japanese animation.

Rating – B +

Genre – Fantasy, Drama, Adventure Length – 45 Episode series Year – 2002-2003

Genius Party Review

Animation Production – Studio 4C

Graphically and thematically diverse collection of shorts of varying quality.

Genius Party screenshot 1

Genius Party – Atsuko Fukushima (Animator) – Dialogue less opener, visually fun to watch.

Genius Party screenshot 2

Shanghai Dragon – Shoji Kawamori (Famed Mech Designer and Escaflowne Creator) – Enjoyable premise, kid finds a device that creates whatever he can draw, giant robots.

Genius Party Screenshot 3

Deathtic 4 – Shinji Kimura (Background Artist and Art Director) –  Zombie kid finds a living frog, world full undead, zombie police (above right).

Genius Party Screenshot 4

Doorbell – Yoji Fukuyama (Manga Artist and Story) – Disappointingly bland.

Genius Party Screenshot 5

Limit Cycle – Hideki Futamura (Animator)- Philosophical monologue, 18 terribly boring minutes, just fast forward through it.

Genius Party Screenshot 6

Happy Machine – Masaaki Yuasa (Kaiba, Mind Game, Kemonozume Director) – Same animation style as kaiba, cute but quickly descends into abstractness.

Genius Party Screenshot 8

Baby Blue – Shinichiro Wantanabe (Cowboy Bebop Director) – Pulls a Makoto Shinkai, guy is about to move to a different town and spends time with childhood friend, bike chase scene pretty awesome.

Overall a decent collection of shorts but none stand out as a must watch.

Rating – B

Available on DVD (86mins)

Michiko to Hatchin Review

Michiko to Hatchin op screenshot

Animation Production – Manglobe, Caliente Latino

Director – Sayo Yamamoto

Stylish Action Packed Drama; think a more realistic Black Lagoon set in Brazil-like environments.

22 episode original animated television series produced by Manglobe (Samurai Champloo and Ergo Proxy) and first time director Sayo Yamamoto (storyboard and episode director credits for Eureka Seven, Samurai Champloo and Death Note). Starring Japanese movie and drama actresses Yoko Maki (Michiko) and Suzuka Ohgo (Hatchin) with music produced by Shinichiro Wantanabe (Cowboy Bebop) and brazilian band Kassin + 2.

The concept behind the show is simple, escaped high security prisoner Michiko Malandro is determined to reunite the orphaned Hatchin with the former gang leader and father Hiroshi Morenos. This sets the show up for plenty of confrontations with the police and gangs underlined with archetypal drama. The typical plot is made more interesting by being set in a South American/ Brazil environment, a lessor used setting for Japanese animation.

The draw of the show is action. It is fast paced and stylish with mostly hand to hand combat and pistols. The action scenes are full of unexpected moves and are cinematic with the music kicking in at appropriate points. The music plays an important part in setting the mood and makes the action scenes much more enjoyable.

A key common trait of good anime is that there are a lot of side episodes that are just as or even more fun to watch than the main plot episodes. In Michiko to Hatchin there are all sorts of weird, absurb and funny side episodes that could be seen stand alone. They are near to the quality of the side episodes in Cowboy Bebop.

The only think stopping Michiko to Hatchin from being a classic is the not so great underlying story. It is a definite watch for the action genre fans.

Rating – A –

Genre – Action, Drama Length – 22 Episode series Year – 2008-09

Nana Review

nana tv season 1 black stones

Animation ProductionMadhouse Studios

Director Morio Asaka

Perfect mix of music, romance and drama.

The Japanese television animated series Nana is adapted from the popular manga by Ai Yazawa and is produced by Madhouse Studios. Morio Asaka known for his strong portrayal of female characters excels with the source material and does the best directorial work of his career so far. Nana is an intertwining story of two girls named Nana in the world of music in Japan.

Out of all the shojo/josei Anime that I have watched (i.e. Nodame Cantabile, Honey and Clover, Paradise Kiss) this is my favourite. The music, character design, art direction, and writing are all excellently put together. The standout is the music starring Anna Tsuchiya and Olivia which are a step above in quality of anything else in Anime. The deep punk voice of Anna Tsuchiya fits Nana well and the opening theme “rose” is my favourite in Anime of all time. The iconic punk culture of Japan is well represented in the character design and clothing.

A strong aspect of this Anime are the relationships explored between all of the character. The essence of friendships and romance has been allowed to develop and progress throughout the 47 episodes. The most emotional developments involve Nana the lead singer of the Black Stones as she deals with problems of vulnerability, loneliness and dependence on others. The problems that arise in a group of people in a band who are always together are highlighted. The other Nana, also called Hachi, has her own problems surrounding her relationship (as an outsider) with the band members as well as in her love relationships. The changing relationship between the Nana’s is ultimately what drives the show.

There is no excuse for not watching this. If you have to watch one shojo Anime this is the one;  if you already are a shojo fan then my strong recommendation should come as no surprise.

Rating – A+

Genre – Music, Romance, Drama Length – 47 Episode series Year – 2006-07

Adaptation of  the first 12 volumes. Second season is expected to happen once the manga has been completed (currently on volume 21). Available on DVD and iTunes. Two live action movies have be released and cover roughly the same volumes (surprisingly well done and worth watching).