The World Should Just Break (Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 02)

tokyo magnitude 8 02 survivors man injured

These were almost famous last words uttered by our protagonist Onosawa Mirai before the big one hit Tokyo last episode. I’m interested in the statement itself, determining whether it is merely a strong and/or dramatic way to cue the earthquake, or something that shows a bit of character for Mirai.

It gets really interesting, if you ask me.

Mirai is not easy to like. I may find her behavior and attitude forgivable or ordinary for her age, but my compassion for her doesn’t excuse her; that is, it’s good for her to be this way or live life holding an attitude like hers. It gets worse.

tokyo magnitude 8 02 mirai difficult terrainThe radical change in terrain is a good detail paid attention to. Mirai’s self-redemption will be an uphill climb.

When I was younger I had a few lady friends with penchants for petulance and dramatics. They were much older than Mirai (university age), which made their behavior even more of a spectacle. Like her, they were dissafected with life for reasons including, but not limited to:

  • not being pretty or popular enough
  • their crushes won’t notice them, won’t see them that way
  • their classes are too boring/too hard
  • their grades aren’t good enough
  • they don’t know what to do with their life (future/career)
  • their parents don’t understand them
  • nobody understands them

With such premises, I hear the mostly jocular statement:

I want to just die.

Let that sink in a little.

I’ve read from quite a few sources over the years that Japan has an anomalously high suicide rate. I never enjoy hearing such jokes because I never feel good about humoring them. They’re less funny, and more like trolling for sympathy or perhaps just attention in any form.

Now compare it with what Mirai just said:

The world should just break.

Do you see the critical (and very interesting) difference?

First, the fundamental similarities: both statements are very selfish, and both are statements of resignation.

The first one could be read as a cry for attention, for help, at the very least should the person making the statement die. She wants people to mourn her, for people to remember her fondly, and that it was a significant/meaningful death whether it was merited or not. It wishes no further violence than guilt inflicted on others.

The second statement is malicious, even if not willfully so. I qualify this because Mirai, or whoever is saying this is probably not thinking of particular people to be broken along with the world. Nonetheless it wishes violence upon the world very explicitly. It is an anger directed outwards. Within the narrative, the statement serves as a device to create the maximum regret potential for Mirai. It acknowledges no responsibility for one’s circumstances and shifts all the blame unto the ‘world,’ which should then be punished by ‘breaking.’

tokyo magnitude 8 02 mirai abundance of mapsI like the abundance of maps, it helps the spelunking rescue mission (as long as there is light to read it)

And so in the second episode the earthquake is portrayed with greater detail. The robot convention center in Odaiba becomes a dangerous, crumbling maze that Mirai, and then Kusakabe Mari (whose character design and probable age does remind me of Balsa from Seirei no Moribito; this is a good model to emulate I think, for the purposes of this show) explore in search of the missing Yuuki.

There are suspense and action sequences/moments during the course of this search, but I don’t think they do the show that much credit (i.e. Mirai’s ‘leap of faith,’ and a number of just-in-time evading the falling debris moments). I don’t think I watch this show for those things, but I suppose I don’t mind them too much.

tokyo magnitude 8 02 mirai mari just in time

What I find more interesting is how Mirai’s characterization remains consistent. The mistakes she makes are results of the compounding of immaturity, inexperience, lack of practical sense, dismay, and excessive guilt. I certainly did not expect her to suddenly behave rationally, or follow the advice of authority, given how she is with her  own parents (the dominant authority figures in her life). She doesn’t trust Mari that much not because she finds her untrustworthy. I think it’s more of how Mirai feels that she doesn’t deserve her kindness (especially since they already ‘owe’ her for the gift for their mum) since she wished the world to break after all. As I mentioned, the girl is wrecked with guilt.

tokyo magnitude 8 02 mirai yuuki mari round birthday cake for hina

When she settles a little when they are among other survivors taking stock of the damage, she reverts to her default petulance, and vents her upset towards her mother, blaming her for their current situation. It is also interesting however, to see Mirai’s behavior this way:

She can’t handle the praise Mari has been giving her; calling her such a good sister to Yuuki. Mirai is not a liar, inauthenticity that serves self-image isn’t part of her symptoms.

She’s not ready to be treated like a good person. In her mind, she’s still the girl who wished the world should just break.

Further Reading

The set-up for regret: Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 01 [->]

I think it’s very interesting to watch the episode keeping in mind some earthquake science provided by The Deathseeker (Panther 2009/07/15)

Psgels is calling this show the anime of the season; the post also makes a good point re Mirai’s wilfulness is what found Yuuki, and not Mari’s sober and conservative advice; I’m not going to be that generous because they found Yuuki after Mirai finally agreed with Mari to head for the exits (psgels 2009/07/17)

Can’t stand Mirai? You’ll just love Chagum (also comes with Balsa!) [->]

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
This entry was posted in analysis, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to The World Should Just Break (Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 02)

  1. Orcinus says:

    Come to think of it, when we were all that age, all those little things mattered, that it was the world to us. I certainly remembered that a lot during my High School years and early on in university.

    It certainly feels different when we look at it when we’ve gone past that time and we’re jaded about it that we can easily take it in stride, and look at things in the long run.

    When you shift all that anger onto “the world”, it’s shifting all the pressure and anger away from yourself. There are two directions for all this energy to go: directed outwards or it folds toward inside yourself. When that emotion doesn’t go into an outlet and goes toward yourself, it’s a buildup toward self-harm.

    In those situations back then, I felt that I couldn’t see myself as a good person because I couldn’t reach certain “standards” that I thought were normal among everybody else, and I was always, and still now, worried over “getting there” or not; “I can’t believe I’m still stuck here like this when everybody else is like xxx yyy” .

    • ghostlightning says:

      Self-entitlement is a dangerous thing. It’s not even just a misplaced confidence of ‘deserving’ the best out of life. It’s an irrational sense of competition to be just as everyone else. It’s related to, but not quite ‘keeping up with the Joneses.’

      Where you are is where you are. Making it wrong is a pointless exercise I think. Where you want to go is anywhere you say it is, but it is dangerous I think to make ‘not being there yet,’ a problem that says something about you.

      It is the meanings derived from this kind of thinking that determines anger and actions based on them, and Mirai is proving be such a fascinating study for me.

  2. bluemist says:

    Ouch this will be an painful show for me to watch, and I meant that in a good way. I like destructive entertainment in general, like disaster movies and physics-laden games. But when you mix that with great characters and stories typical of the anime medium it is a recipe to make me cry. I think there are aspects in worst-case scenario stories like this that will definitely bring our the worst and best in humanity. Something for me to look forward to.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Go ahead and watch it. I think it’s too early to declare this show excellent or definitive in an objective way, but I do enjoy it a great deal in my fashion. I recommend that you watch it.

  3. tj han says:

    Great post, girls suck indeed in real life. They all behave like little spoilt princesses, and the ones who are actually good basically think too much like guys and are more interested in being career women lol.

  4. lelangir says:

    Nice post, great observations. I’m wondering what you think of this postulate: TM8.0 as radical slice of life. ?

    • ghostlightning says:

      Slice of life is taken to be ‘common’ or ‘ordinary’ life, removed from life-changing events. If we risk committing the fallacy of ‘high redefinition’ (as coined by Julian Baggini), we can indeed can make a case that this show is a radical version within the SoL genre.

      How?

      We contextualize the period post-earthquake as ‘the new normal.’ This show, instead of constantly showing narrow escapes from falling debris, crevasses, etc. it would rather show a lot of quiet wandering through the wrecked city, telling the story of the city as it once was. Flashbacks for the three wanderers/refugees will most likely be slices of their lives from more unexciting (conventional SoL) times.

      Conversations between the three characters act as reflections on the flashbacks and storytelling between them. Action/behavior after these reflections will be the observable ‘growth.’

      So, even if there would be a particular survival issue per episode, the journey itself will consist of many SoL elements.

      Thinking about this makes me wonder about the necessity to postulate the show as a ‘radical’ version of Slice of Life. We can simply say that it is a survival story that relies on SoL elements as significant narrative components.

  5. sadakups says:

    As much as there could be more Mirai hate brewing (possibly), I still am looking at Mirai’s redemption at the end of this show. In other words, I am rooting for this girl. And yes, I so agree with how some people think they’re being pitiful or that they hate the world so much because they don’t get what they want.

    As I said in Episode 1, I like how they made Mirai like what she is and how she is still the same in Episode 2 (of course you don’t change character in that span unless we Fukuda at the helm). There’s the obvious of her being “broken down” along the way and then have that turn-around at the end.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Yes, I’m counting on her redemption.

      However, wouldn’t it be interesting if this show would become quite the unconventional tragedy by having Mirai end up even more bitter than how she started? I would find this even more fascinating.

      • sadakups says:

        I’m good with both scenarios though.

        • ghostlightning says:

          And there’s also the EPIC end: where the earthquake creates a time-dilating sphere colored like Jupiter, and then Yuuki discovers RahXephon in the ruins of the robot convention in Odaiba.

  6. Seinime says:

    They used her character in a somewhat positive drive. I like it.

    • ghostlightning says:

      I’m glad you do. I want more people to enjoy this show and have more people to discuss it with. Please say more what you mean by positive drive?

  7. kadian1364 says:

    My dad’s a big fan of Sci-Fi channel original movies, mostly an assortment of bad disaster movies or creature features and sequels (and when I say ‘bad’, I mean that the collective standard of quality they set would make Gundam Wing look like War and Peace). Anyway, he often records these films and watches a bunch of them on weekends. Of course, I love the guy, so I’ll watch some too just to humor him. (Did I mention that they’re really bad? And that I measure my love for him by the number of terrible movie watching experiences I’ve accumulated?) Well, you know how in those really bad kinds of monster or disaster movies, the characters are cookie-cutout stereo-types, the monster/disaster never actually shows until way past the midpoint, plot events are reduced to a string of cheap thrills, and at the very beginning you know exactly how things will play out at the end: who will live, who will die, and who will come up with the crazy plan to save everyone in the end? My point being, I’m really, really glad Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 isn’t like them. Maybe I’ll even show this anime to him sometime.

    (Funny how 10 years ago, my dad was chaperoning my sister and I to the first Pokemon movies in theaters. Now that I’m in college, I get to return the favor, plus interest!)

    • ghostlightning says:

      Awesome story, and not that strangely fitting for this show. My dad watches pretty much anything, but I will never voluntarily watch anything with him again because he spoils what happens (even inventing stuff up for shows he hasn’t seen yet) very loudly all the time. I love the guy, but I’ve done my time lol.

      I think your dad will like this show a lot. Mechafetish’s mom enjoyed the first episode ^_^

  8. Sakura says:

    I truly hope that as the series goes on she loses some of her immaturity.

    I fluctuate between understanding why she’s the apathetic creature that she is, to wanting to slap it out of her. My childhood was a whole world of SUCK, with sporadic sprinklings of sort of happiness. It continued to suck, my anger and depression swirled around me, forming a permanent knot in my stomach that made me feel sick to the soul.

    I hated feeling that way and realized if I wanted my life to be better, the only person who could do that was myself. Sitting around moping and wishing for escape wasn’t going to do it. If I wanted my life to change I had to start off with changing my attitude.

    BUt I guess you can’t be too hard on her, we’ve all been that age and probably had similar feelings after all.

    Can anyone truly say they’ve never had a point in their life where they feel that no one understands them. Or that the world is against them or unfair. You either do something to change your fate, or end up as one of those unfortunate statistics who chose the cowards way out.

    Life is what you make of it, of course when you’re young its hard to see that. Some of us learn that with experience, others sadly never learn that lesson.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Well said! But how long did it take? How much is ‘some?’

      Can we expect that much in the 8 episodes or so left?

  9. Moonlily says:

    One of the thoughts that came to mind when I watched the second episode was the degree to which Mirai and Yuuki depend upon one another. With their parents working and quibbling all the time, those two basically only have each other to lean upon around the house. So while I agree that guilt does propel her to some degree, I do wonder how much of it is due to her reliance upon Yuuki, especially when the air around her family life starts becoming toxic.

    • ghostlightning says:

      That’s a precious observation you’ve got there. This reliance on Yuuki would actually compound the guilt!

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  11. If Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 counts as slice of life then it’s possible I might have cracked the large brick wall between me and a gateway into the genre (anime wise that is since I’ve always loved a good live action SoL story) so somebody please let me know if it qualifies.

    • ghostlightning says:

      I don’t think it qualifies, strictly speaking. Rather, as I said to lelangir, it’s a drama that uses slice of life devices.

      Regardless of genre/category, it’s a good watch. I wouldn’t worry about the classification.

  12. X10A_Freedom says:

    Finally found time to catch up on this one. It’s pretty good. Mirai shows a lot of symptoms of a severely depressed person. Guilt, self-pity, hate for the world, hating your own life, lack of self-confidence etcetc. Mirai really reminds me of a phase of my life when I was really indifferent about my family but I’m pretty sure I’d be dead worried like Mirai for missing family members after an 8.0!

    • ghostlightning says:

      Glad you enjoy it, and I’m pleased to have my feelings about the show validated; though not really that pleased to find out so many of us feel and behave like Mirai at some point in our lives.

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