Yes, really. I don’t want to justify how she was with Yuuki. I don’t want to make excuses for her citing the indignities she suffered throughout the day. I don’t want to make the same arguments about her being a kid in the beginnings of a most awkward adolescence. I don’t want to even make the structural excuse of her role to contrast the good in the other characters, and allow Yuuki and Mari demonstrate their powers: to be beatifically child-like, and to be the most responsible of adults, respectively (these characters would need a person to play off with).
So I give everyone permission (not like anybody really needs one from me) to go ahead and hate Mirai.
Only I won’t join you.
Why do I love Macross? Is it because it’s the best anime ever made? No, not at all. The best kinds of shows don’t really need me to love and champion them. They kind of speak for themselves. I don’t mind it that not a lot of people write about Legend of the Galactic Heroes the same way usagijen minds how not a lot of people write about Skip Beat [->]. Even if LotGH isn’t really for everyone, it’s very difficult to dismiss it as an inferior work in relation to other shows.
And so Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, this episode is dominated by the distasteful behavior of its lead. While this doesn’t really make me consider it less of a show, it’s worth considering. Mari isn’t an anti-hero that has a powerful charisma, like a Lelough Lamperouge or a Yagami Light. Her immaturity and lack of good sense isn’t compensated for by attractive features or character design like how Ranka Lee gets by.
In short, Mirai needs my compassion. The other characters (from other shows) I mentioned make a play for my admiration and they win it to varying degrees, but what Mirai gets from me is a compassion that I imagine Mari would give. This isn’t a statement that she deserves compassion, only that she needs it and it just so happens that I’m willing to give it.
But enough about me. Consider the indignities a young girl can suffer in a day:
- The discomfort of holding in one’s shit in public.
- Rudeness of adults and the inability to stand up for one’self after being cut into in line (while desperately holding in one’s shit).
- Having to use a paper toilet when the shit does happen (in public).
- Running out of one’s preferred food (cup ramen).
- Having such food you couldn’t get spilled on you.
- Diarrhea-colored mud on your food ration packet.
- Having your toes trampled on by strangers’ muddy shoes.
That is one shitty day, and it’s far from over. At some point during that multiple-string combo of indignities Mirai gets a view of body bags stacked, and loaded into a truck. I wonder if these deaths give her a sense of perspective towards her indignities. She’s suffered these small privations, now knowing that she hasn’t paid the price others have. She still has the rest of her life to live.
But she did get a sense of perspective. However, it showed up differently than I hoped. She then became afraid that she would be alone because her parents may be in body bags somewhere. And what does she do with the perspective she gained? She couldn’t really lash out at the world anymore (it already broke), so she took it out on her favorite thing: her mobile phone.
While Mari was asking around, getting their bearings so to speak, Yuuki was trying to make conversation with his sister.
It’s quite interesting to note how Yuuki asks for support: he gives it first, even if indirectly, by cheerful talk.
Yuuki is concerned about the plant they planted in school. This is a rather heavyhanded contrast to Mirai’s self-centeredness. But Yuuki may just be afraid to ask about what he really wants to know: if their parents are inside some bodybags in places unkowable to them.
She throws her phone away, Yuuki gives it back. She throws it away again. Yuuki gives it back, then she throws it away without looking… And THEN, Mirai blames everything on Yuuki. Way out of line; Yuuki could only respond in tears,
I just wanted to see it. I wanted to see the bridge. You said they wouldn’t take us anywhere even though it’s summer, so I thought I’d go to see the bridge with you.
There’s a place in hell for people who can be cruel to such good-heartedness from such a sweet little boy. Does Mirai know what she’s doing? Yuuki runs away in tears. I can’t even tell what’s going on with Mirai at this point, but she does end up looking for him and almost loses Mari in the process.
We see Yuuki, wandering towards the Tokyo Tower, and as an aftershock hits my heart breaks just a bit seeing Mirai’s phone in his hand. This just kills me.
Mirai catches up to him, taking his hand to tell him they can find their way back. But even Yuuki knows what his sister lashed out to him with: that they don’t know if their house is still standing even if they do know their way back. This was why he wanted to go up the Tokyo Tower, so he could see.
Wouldn’t you also feel better if you knew it was? [okay]
And then the cat’s out of the bag. They’re afraid that their mom and dad are already dead, and they couldn’t stop crying now, wailing it all out and attracting concerned strangers the way Mirai’s grim ‘I’m not a such a child that I’d need the indulgence of an adult’ act never could. While Mirai was rather trampled on by adults during her litany of indignities, the kind of adults who showed concern here are much older, senior citizens perhaps.
And as if by magic, they cried themselves out of their abject despondence and misery. Yuuki’s indestructible again and even Mirai is genki and optimistic. It’s amazing what a good cry can do. I don’t think I shall underestimate it.
Then the Tokyo Tower falls. The show makes the statement, “Tokyo’s really broken now.” Yuuki will no longer be able to climb it and use it as a vantage point to assess the damage on their house.
Debris would’ve killed Mirai, but Yuuki saves her, knocking her out of the way of falling chunks of Tokyo Tower. AND BY APPEARING AS IF HE’S DEAD LYING STILL FACE DOWN IN THE DEBRIS, HE THEN TROLLS HER for great justice. It’s a cruel, cruel thing to do. I can’t say that she didn’t have it coming.
Their eventual reunion with Mari, where we see her treat Yuuki’s cuts and bruises forcibly tells me how much of a difference it makes when there’s no adult to supervise these kids. They really could’ve gotten themselves killed, with their fear and nerves and lack of adult sense. I leave this episode disappointed in Mirai, for being even more like herself than usual, and for being the story when something as amazing as the Tokyo Tower falling happened. Then again, the great thing about Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 isn’t how the world just broke, but rather how a contingent family lives through this, their broken and still breaking world.
It’s anti-climactic, but let us go back to Mirai’s shitty morning. Mari suspected that Mirai’s upset stomach (indigestion) was caused by the cake they had the previous day. otou-san in his work on Mirai as a character noted the symbolism behind the sliced cake her mother bought for her own birthday represented the fragmentation of the Onosawa family, while I note that Mari’s birthday cake for her daughter is round (though an imperfect circle, ruined by the earthquake!) represents Mari’s family being held together by love. Mirai ate from that cake, and I noted in episode o2 that she wasn’t ready to be treated like she was a good sister, as a good person; she now clearly shows (via symbolism) how she isn’t ready for the kind of love and familial togetherness represented by the round cake that wasn’t really meant for her, only given due to the generosity of Mirai; the cake she failed to digest.
The case for Mirai (otou-san 2009/07/29)
Mirai eats round cake [->]