Aftershocks Magnitude 5.0 (Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 03)

tokyo magnitude 8 03 mari it isn't a distance we could simply walk

I’m tempted to say that Mari is the star of today’s episode, showcasing her child management skills, her calm under pressure, and overall goodness of character. No, I think that would be unfair to the work put in this episode that really put me on edge. I got pretty raw watching the earthquake aftershocks tear up the ruins further, but seriously, I was strongly affected when people got in actual harm’s way.

It was all about the effective depiction of danger.

I won’t comment on how scientifically accurate the portrayal of earthquake damage and behavior is, what’s important I believe is how well it communicated danger, how much at risk we felt our characters were, and perhaps people in general. The general threats:

Time is against them, and the journey is long.

Subtle hints are given: scarcity of food and drink (even if they scrounge together a few food items and drink, they don’t have the carrying capacity to store much for prolonged privation); Odaiba is an artificial island (reclaimed land, which is usual for coastal metropolises like Tokyo and Manila), which could sink due to the stresses of the earthquake and aftershocks; lastly, their residence in Setagaya is hardly a place that can be reached on foot.

Limitations on transportation.

All the public transportation systems are offline. The bridge is severely damaged which eliminates land crossing into the city proper. The coast guard informs them that bus boats will be ferrying batches of citizens from separate ports, but the distance to these ports is a good walk from where they stayed the night.

tokyo magnitude 8 03 family worrying about food and water

The Calamities

These threats compounded and set the stage for the challenges to our protagonists. The first calamity is a small one, but is a very good detail paid attention to by the narrative. Mirai was wearing sandals, which led to horrible blistering on her feet and behind her heels. While Mari had band aids, I was viscerally reminded of the difficulty they’re facing.

The second threat was getting separated in the crowd. This was really, really scary. It was an ever-present thing during their march. Mirai, who’s very averse to being thought of as a child refused to hold hands with Mari. This is when the first aftershock struck, startling the marching crowd and showing more damage to the immediate surroundings. Mirai found herself separated and at the mercy of strangers unsympathetic to her needs due to their own survival concerns. To me, and perhaps any kid who ever got separated from her parents in a crowd of people would be an excruciating thing to watch. The narrative moves very fast, Mari finds her soon enough — no dwelling on pathos here, but more than enough to give me terror for those few seconds.

tokyo magnitude 8 03 crush wave of people on the stairs to the pier

Together, they faced the second aftershock much better. But the third threat is probably the most terrible one for me. They were in the thick column of people descending the wide steps towards the pier, when the pushing at the top of the stairs resulted in a wave of people crashing down into each other. Two threats in one: children, Mirai and Yuuki getting trampled underfoot; and the threat of getting separated in an even thicker crowd where the chaos is even more unmanageable. This time tiny Yuuki gets pulled from Mari’s grasp, and for a moment we’re shown what he sees, a moving forest of tall, unfamiliar people. His desperate cries seem muffled — or rather, the crowd noises are muffled, a conceit in portrayal that I find effective as opposed to drowning his voice in the noises of the crowd. This time, Mirai finds him but I’m not given that much time to celebrate their reunion.

tokyo magnitude 8 03 yuuki vision separated from mirai and mari

Women and Children First

Part of what reassures me about this contingent family is that they’re going the same way home. This was very briefly threatened, but my goodness my balls got stuck in my throat when the coast guard from his megaphone asked the children to board the bus boat… only the children, first. It took what seemed like an afterthought, and a case of mistaken identity that Mari is the mother that allowed her to get on board. The uncertainty couldn’t have lasted more than a few seconds, but mannnn… it was enough to tighten my chest uncomfortably.

And finally, the bridge fell. This time we see people at the mercy of the earthquake’s effects. The bus boat that was following the one they were on got swallowed by the wave caused by the large chunks of bridge falling in the water. People were riding the roof seats of the boat. All of them were swept in the water. Again, no dwelling on the scene, no extended shots of people suffering. The show trusts itself and the imagination of the viewer that danger and harm happens here. And even if I wanted to think a little more about those poor folk swallowed by the water, that same wave went after the bus boat our heroes are on. The boat stays steady, the wave passes through them before finally losing strength. And Mirai is left considering the consequences of getting on board late. They could’ve been in that other boat.

tokyo magnitude 8 03 wave swallows boat and passengers

This is the best acknowledgment for Mari, from all of us. She really did well didn’t she? And our sourpuss, wet blanket non-heroine Mirai gets to say thank you to Mari, who’s been awesome the whole episode. From her resourcefulness, her responsibleness, her patience with Mirai, never getting upset with her negativity and dangerous stubbornness; to her decisivenss in dangerous moments, and her overall upbeat and positive spirit. Hearing it from Mirai, I felt like a winner watching this episode.

Further Reading

First impressions on the show [->]

More on Mirai [->]

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.

22 Responses to Aftershocks Magnitude 5.0 (Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 03)

  1. kadian1364 says:

    Mari’s a saint and everyone else sucks. I can’t speak for others, but I would probably stop to help random moms unstuck their toddler’s stroller, or at least not try to run over and yell at kids huddling in the street, no matter how shitty my day was. Or maybe I would help them especially because how shitty the day was. But stupid guy jumping into the side of the boat made my day. 🙂

    • ghostlightning says:

      I really won’t blame the less than helpful survivors. I think it’s important to relate to them as just that: survivors. Mari is the exception, and the lack of assistance from others serves to highlight how special she is.

      As for that dude jumping the boat, his bad day got worse.

  2. sadakups says:

    Just when some say that Episode 3 didn’t went anywhere, we have this article. People can nitpick about Mirai being an ass again, or the endless screaming of their names, but that’s just the surface. When calamities strike, such things do happen and people’s survival instincts get in. Just like that guy who jumped. Maybe it was his instinct that pushed him to jump or yes, maybe he was really desperate. 😛

    Mari is indeed someone you won’t see nowadays. You just got to love her. You can say if she’s just keeping a straight face for the kids while she could be scared shitless herself. like that scene where she was grasping Mirai’s shoulders after the wave got the first boat.

    So far, this series is doing a good job at portraying emotions, and I still like this show after three episodes, and hope that it goes all the way.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Yes, I’m quite emotionally invested in this show now. In episode two I mentioned how the earthquake-related thrills didn’t do much for me, as I thought they were kind of predictable and ordinary. This episode changed all that, as you may have noticed in this post that I’ve shifted from a character analysis to paying attention to the emotions triggered in me by the portrayal of the calamities.

      People fixating on Mirai’s behavior is something I expect, I could’ve done the same but I think I’ve made a case for her characterization already, though I think there’s a lot left to be said about our sourpuss, wet-blanket, whiny non-heroine. Mirai’s fine by me.

  3. Kiri says:

    This show has done a great job in making you emotionally invested in the characters and their wellbeing. I’ve seen enough disaster movies to appreciate what stands against them, particularly the crowd thing, but yeah, that didn’t stop me from being anxious and worried about them.

    As far as Mari’s character goes, I have a general aversion towards wholly good characters since I don’t think such purity makes them very interesting, but Mari is intriguing on various other levels, such as her relationship with her own family and how that might relate to her actions and experiences with children. It’s almost like she’s atoning for something, especially since she herself mention that Mirai’s comment about her neglectful parents really hits home. Mari working so hard to take care of Mirai and Yuuki now may translate to a better understanding of how to treat her own daughter later with the bonus of healing a few of Mirai’s own insecurities. It’s touching.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Yes, you identified what makes Mari work as a character, as far as I’m concerned. Instead of being perfect, she’s atoning for past imperfection. We don’t know what this ‘sin’ is, but I’ve seen this kind of thing in Balsa from Seirei no Moribito (who Mari resembles A LOT) [->]

      Balsa tries to save a life (as a bodyguard) for each life lost for her sake (backstory stuff).

      Balsa however, is guardian to a near-perfect adolescent in Chagum (he’s really quite awesome) while Mari’s goods are shown in how she treats Mirai. Yes, it is quite touching.

  4. Shinmaru says:

    The sound direction is especially effective in this episode, particularly during the scene where Yuuki is briefly separated from Mirai and Mari. My heart pounded like crazy just hear the constant taps of everyone marching past Yuuki and dragging him further away from his loved ones. I wanted to give the poor little guy a hug the whole time.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Yeah, that moment is a winner. They drowned out the crowd sounds and fixated on the voices of the separated siblings. It was quite effective for me as well.

  5. X10A_Freedom says:

    The episode really speaks for itself. Very good, suspenseful and psychlogical episode. The only dissapointment is, the second boat did a complete 360, instead of capsizing. I expected to see its underside after the wave passsed and floating people around it.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Did you expect that out of knowledge of nautical physics? I think it’s quite beyond me, but do explain why you’re disappointed.

      Ditto for the people floating around it.

  6. RP says:

    The aftershock disasters were scary, but perhaps the scariest part was the herd mentality of people during a disaster. I thought Bones did a pretty good job of animating that. It’s so easily avoidable, I’m always appalled when I read of reports of people being trampled to death.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Yeah, the crowd behaving like that is pretty frightening especially given how tiny our protagonists are. Showing Mari as powerless against it increased my dread.

      • X10A_Freedom says:

        It’s simple – since it’s a disaster movie afterall, making the boat capsize properly, thus making us think of the people trapped inside would have made the whole scene more shocking and gripping that just a 360. Also, once a boat flips over (it’s got to have flipped, looking at that precarious angle in your screenshot), the centre of gravity becomes much lower so that it’s extremely hard to right a boat again. That said, the crucial unknown is the undercurrent mechanisms of a wave, but I’ve never heard of a boat doing a 360 nonetheless.

  7. omisyth says:

    Aside from the young or frail, I believe that many would survive that large wave. It didn’t seem so powerful as to immediately kill everyone in it.

    Since TM is on Noitama, I wouldn’t assume that the show would be too violent, but some of the moments could’ve been a bit more gritty for me (though that’s not saying that the show isn’t suspenseful and cringe-worthy as it is). The worst moment for me was when Mirai spotted that women fall within the crowd. Literally, a two second shot of her falling and disappearing in the mass – I shudder to think what may have happened to her.

    Also, LOL at the fail of the ACTION HERO jumper.

    • ghostlightning says:

      I agree about the wave not immediately killing everyone, but the frightening part for me there is not knowing if most of the people are competent swimmers; also, not knowing how physically fit they are after an exhausting walk through that crowd and after a night of privations. And if not death by drowning, knowing the terror, discomfort, and inconvenience being in the water like that with all the shit uncertainty going on around them… I shudder.

      How would you want it grittier? I’m quite interested to hear this.

      Yeah, regarding that woman… I like it how we’re not shown the ends of the suffering, only given the idea that it happens. This makes me more full of dread, than actually showing someone get crushed.

      After reading a bunch of posts around the sphere about this episode, I find the attitude towards the jumper to be quite dismissive, and treat him as some kind of comic relief.

      I can’t bring myself to do so, thinking of the kind of night he’s had, and perhaps the family he has that he has no clue where and how they are. I saw a desperate man at the and of his wits, and I did hope that Mari could’ve helped him up the same way she assisted the lady with the 2 children.

      • omisyth says:

        For instance, when the highway fell the camera was much further back then I would’ve expected it to be. In different circumstances I would’ve expected there to be a close-up of the debris, perhaps with the outlines of people’s lifeless bodies behind a cover of smoke. Yes, I am deeply disturbed. Also, with that aftershock mid-ep that bled into what I assumed was the commercial break. It ended too abruptly for me, not enough detail.

        What makes me think that man was mostly for comic relief was the fact we’re shown him getting rescued by the coastguard seconds later. It’s just as you said: most of the time what the show doesn’t show us is what makes these moments more powerful. Since we’re shown he’s completely fine, I think we’re meant to dismiss his actions as more comical than tragic.

        • ghostlightning says:

          Okay gotcha.

          With regards to failjumper, I thought that him being fine was an emotional hook that made me feel all’s kind of okay now. Our protagonists are home free until the end of the episode. You could make a case that the failjump is funny, though I was certainly not laughing.

          It made me unprepared for the bridge toppling and the wave of terror.

  8. Pingback: The Deathseeker » Blog Archive » Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 03 - AfterShocks

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