Is it Okay to Like Mirai Now? (Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 05)

tokyo magnitude 8 01 megu plans to take it easy this year

They’re close to home. The surroundings are familiar. The shelter they’re headed to is none other than Mirai’s middle school, The Rikka School for Girls. The buildings are low, and the area doesn’t seem as ruined as those they passed by. Nonetheless an 8.0 magnitude quake doesn’t fale to leave its mark. The clock face is intact but it’s glass surface is lined with cracks.

tokyo magnitude 8 05 time is broken

Mirai recounts the memory of her welcome in the somewhat prestigious school, a moment of pride for her mother who falls down in an awkward moment of triumph (and redemption, as it’s said that she wasn’t able to go to this school as a girl). The Mirai in the memory is the Mirai we’ve come to know. Embarrassed and perturbed, seemingly incapable of handling any kind of attention, lashing out in her small and bratty manner.

But there are indomitable people by her side, who want no part in her self-indulgent negativity. Mari gives perspective on Mirai’s privilege to attend this school. Yuuki is excited to enter the forbidden: it is an all girls school after all. Mirai tells him he’d be allowed to visit during the school festival, but it’s not like she’d invite him anyway. This is the Mirai we know.

tokyo magnitude 8 05 mirai embarrassed

But episode 04 did happen; and all the indignities Mirai suffered — perhaps the shittiest day of her life, were rendered meaningless by how close she was to losing not only her own life, but also Yuuki — in all the ways and possible senses of loss. There is something she can show Yuuki though. There is something she can share, something all her own and only she can make happen for him.

She wanted to show Yuuki how beautiful the stained glass in the church of Rikka School for Girls looked like, but the church was instead filled with the injured and their forlorn loved ones. This drives home how the world is now broken: the familiar is changed. It’s the same place but if feels like something else altogether. And to take this further, Mirai recognizes her first familiar face, that of a classmate: Megu, the girl who’s taking it easy this year by going on a trip to the Caribbean with her folks during summer break.

tokyo magnitude 8 05 megu can't take it easy now

Mirai didn’t like her that much, and isn’t really friends with her; but she was rather affected seeing this classmate sad, for having lost her mother. Mirai remembered enough to note how Megu invited another classmate over to share the soufflés her mother baked.

They catch each other’s gaze, but there was no further communication. What does one say from 15 feet away? How does one barely familiar approach the intimacy of loss at a time like this? Megu inconsiderate to other people’s means, could only act considerately in her way back in school: to advise Mirai to take a trip somewhere cool, because Tokyo will be hot.  I don’t know if it’s merely Mirai’s social incompetence, but there was little by way of consolation to be given. They leave the church, the stained glass has no light shining behind it. The candles on the floor don’t illuminate very high up. And even if there was beauty in the glass, it would be cruel to enjoy it amongst the wounded and the dead.

Now, is this the same Mirai we know?

I would’ve expected defeatist behavior. Her one good thing to share with Yuuki is now taken away from her.  But the encounter with Megu stirred something. Someone she knows is suffering. Despite not being her friend, or not liking her that much. She is saddened, as if she felt someone else’s pain. In human development terms, empathetic thinking is a milestone in growing children. It happens at around Yuuki’s age, when the child begins to see things from the point of view of another. There is no real graduation from this class. We never master it as human beings. So for Mirai to begin having empathy at this point is an event both big and small, but is something worth appreciating in the narrative.

There is a reward to this growth. It manifests later on she noted how the lights on the pool looked, and how it reminded her of how beautiful the stained glass in the church once was. This was the beauty she wanted Yuuki to see. In the contingency of her situation she found a way to share what she was prevented from doing, even if it was by a power that can topple the Tokyo Tower itself.

tokyo magnitude 8 05 mira mari yuuki pool like stained glass

The changed world makes for references and memories intsead of the subjects. There is a pervasive, threatening thought; that there will be but memories. What was once beautiful is no more. The shimmering lights of the illumination in the school that contingent as a matter of necessity, of emergency. The school that keeps the unworthy away, is now a shelter for whomever who needs it; now lined with cracks all over its stonework. This is what Mirai has to make do with. A representation of the memory of stained glass.

Our attention shifts to an old man, one half of a kind old couple making themselves useful in the calamity; sometimes to offer kind words, sometimes to deliver water and other necessities, sometimes just to lead the tired to a cooler place to rest.

tokyo magnitude 8 05 mirai mari yuuki furuichi offers some water

Being among the familiar, if not the intimately so, allows Mirai to experience the sorrow of others. I don’t know if enough is going on behind her eyes to appreciate the loss of old Furuichi who lost his grandchildren in the quake; but she does break down: seeing how indomitable the old man is, doing so much for so many despite his loss. There he is, congratulating the survivors for their fortune without bitterness. When he says how it should have been him who died in the earthquake, that life belongs to the young; he does not speak out of self-pity, but rather from a compassion for the injured and the dead.

In the face of this example, Mirai says to herself,

There are things I can do now.

The episode ends in a moment of discovery so carefully constructed by the narrative, so patiently laid. There was no rush at all, although the episode seemed to end when I half-expected the midpoint eye-catch to appear. If felt both like two episodes in terms of progress, but only half an episode in duration. I find this tremendously good. When I say how the narrative carefully constructs this moment of discovery, I mean that they could easily have brought this upon her after her near-death experience in the tower, after being so close to losing Yuuki again for reasons of anger and not just irresponsibility. She could have been given her ‘eureka’ moment there.

Yeah people change, but not by much, and not that fast. This not quite gradual, and yet carefully told change through both big frights and the accrual of smaller indignities and sorrows, is something good. It pleases me how a show named with so much bombast: Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 can be so quietly moving.

Further Reading

The answer to the question is yes.

Last week it was okay to hate her, if you’re so inclined [->]

We’ve always found it fair to have sympathy for the little devil (otou-san 2009/07/29)

If you haven’t made up your mind about this show, let Mike convince you (Mike 2009/08/05)

Useless trivium: The 3 links lead to 3 Mikes. Shhh.

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, showing a bit of character, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Is it Okay to Like Mirai Now? (Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 05)

  1. sadakups says:

    Yes, it is okay to like Mirai now. Probably, the Tokyo Tower incident really did it for her.

    It would probably hurt if just when Mirai understands her parents, she finds them dead.

    • bluemist says:

      Yes this is one of my worst predictions about this show. It’s gonna be a cruel thing to realize that just when she starts to treasure her family more things may never be the same again. A likely outcome would be one parent who is severely injured. Mari would probably be in the same boat, that as she takes care of the two kids through the earthquake she would similarly want to treat her own daughter the same way.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Yes, that would be the worst thing that can happen to her, and to Yuuki as well. It would be interesting how Mari will act when that time comes.

  2. RP says:

    There were a few moments during this episode that nearly brought a tear to my eyes. I never disliked Mirai, but she’s clearly grown a lot in the last couple episodes. She’s progressing from inwardly thinking to outwardly thinking. From “Why me?” to “There are things I can do now.” as you mention.

  3. ScrambledEggs says:

    I too was moved by this episode. I had flashbacks to the Sichuan Earthquake and the collapsing schools. Parents should never have to bury their own children, let alone dig them out of rubble.

    What’s worse is the fact that these were government-built schools, and adjacent government offices did NOT collapse. Grief turned to anger and rage at the apparent corruption that had caused shoddy construction… and of course the Party then cracked down on them.

    Also the Sichuan quake was in a remote area during the worst part of the rainy season. Help took weeks to arrive in many places. Not to mention that large amounts of aid were siphoned off by corrupt officials (or so the average citizen believes, anyway).

    At least Mari, Mirai, and Yuuki don’t have to deal with any of that crap. In fact, so far we haven’t seen much of the ugly side of human nature at all. Some rudeness, a few selfish survivors, but no downright maliciousness. And the government response has obviously been well-prepared and highly-efficient. Humans have an amazing capacity to make a terrible tragedy worse, but our heroes are lucky enough to live in a relatively decent society where that doesn’t happen as much. If nothing else, that’s something for them to be thankful for.

    • ghostlightning says:

      I’m not that familiar with the recent earthquakes (China, Turkey, Iran come to mind).

      Mike from Anime Diet shared this article in the comments section of the review I linked to above [->]

      The aricle talks about how people can behave well in the face of calamity. It seems that the people of Tokyo are consistent with some of the observations in that TIME Magazine article. I do think that Mirai, Yuuki, and Mari have much to be thankful for.

      Pardon my repeating what I said somewhere else,

      What this does, in my view is allow the narrative to concentrate on the minutiae of concerns that give such nuance to the show. The characters don’t need to, or at least haven’t needed to deal with external threats (human malice/desperation) save for the physical threat of the earthquakes.

      Thus we are treated to an examination of the nature of indignity in the fourth episode. I think shit is one of the indignities we are most ashamed of because it is a constant in our lives and we are so intimate with it. Mirai going through what she did in the first part of episode 04 was an effective set-up to a breakdown extreme even for her notable irritableness and emotional negativity.

      In a addition to this, the narrative allows Mirai the latitude to empathize with the suffering of others, because there are no external threats in the form of malicious humans.

      • ScrambledEggs says:

        Thank you for the link! That was a fascinating and inspiring article.

        I mentioned China because I was in the country at the time and knew people involved. It’s interesting to compare the circumstances there with the ones portrayed here. They’re very similar in some ways, but also dramatically different in others.

        You’re right though. The absence of malice from survivors or government makes it possible for them to empathize with others. In a more hostile environment, such feelings would likely be replaced with wariness and suspicion. Touching scenes like the ones we had in this episode are possible because they aren’t threatened like that. And that is a good thing, I think.

        Oh, and I really hope that their parents aren’t dead… I would probably cry. I wonder if we’ll find out next episode?

        • ghostlightning says:

          That must have been quite the experience, to have been in China in such a time. Were you anywhere near the affected area?

          My only similar experience was way back when I was Mirai’s age in 1990, during Baguio Magnitude 7.8 [->].

          Baguio City is about 8 hours by land North of Metro Manila where I live (the epicenter is actually closer, about 3-4 North by land). We were lucky to not have experienced structural damage in Metro Manila, despite feeling the earth shake violently in our classrooms, and in our homes during the many aftershocks. But Baguio was pretty much messed up.

          We didn’t experience a societal collapse either in the localities most affected, instead our newspapers seemed very eager to report stories of heroism, valor, and survival just as the death tool numbers and the value of property destroyed.

          My experience of the event is far distant to Mirai’s though, and I wouldn’t presume to have a special understanding of what she’s going through, beyond being a conflicted early adolescent.

  4. X10A_Freedom says:

    I am currently experiencing the joys of Philippine internet, which has been *extremely* pleasant. It’s a wonder how you keep up with shows at all!

    Episode 4 I felt, “nothing happened” yet so much happened at the same time. They did not cover much distance and the timeflow was less than half a day. However, it was so moving and emotionally touching. Mirai’s character is changing and the whole dymanics in this episode is excellent.

    I look forwar to more (if the internet holds up on my holiday…).

    • ghostlightning says:

      I don’t know what to say re the internet issue. I’m on a pretty low-end wireless broadband plan. I’m just lucky I guess.

      It just staggered me to consider that episodes four and five is one day in the lives of these characters.

  5. ghostlightning says:

    This just in, from Danny Choo’s twitter feed: an earthquake hits Tokyo.

    The important bit:

    dannychoo earthquake over – mag 4 I’m fine but more importantly – the daughters and figures are safe.

    dannychoo Ah, T’was magnitude 6.9 @.@

    • sadakups says:

      Oh shoot. I hope the show doesn’t get cancelled because of this.

    • kadian1364 says:

      Some sources say 6.9, others 7.1. However, preliminary reports say no serious damage or casualties. That’s pretty wild to me, because one source said a 7.2 quake in Japan killed 6000+ people in 1995. Japan’s gone quite a ways in earthquake preparedness.

  6. kadian1364 says:

    Since the first episode, this was what I was waiting for from TM8.0. Once they got past the initial quake(s), buildings falling and stuff breaking, I wanted to see how they would handle the human drama of what happens after all the big set pieces. The survivors’ reactions, emotions, decisions, and actions once they fully comprehend the enormity of what just happened.

    If we were to break down the TM8.0’s narrative into parts, I’d say it has gone through the prelude, disaster, and survival parts, and just entered the reflection/recollecting section of the story, where the characters’ survival is mostly ensured, so they begin to ask the question, “What now?” Mirai has slowly realized that just by being alive, she can still do something. So we ask, what will she do?

    6 episodes to go, I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

    • ghostlightning says:

      I think your breakdown of the narrative makes sense, and now that there’s some new resolve in Mirai the upcoming episodes will show it being tested. That’s what I think anyway.

    • gloval says:

      We still have yet to see the rescue mecha, right?

      Write-ups like these makes TM8.0 more awesome.

      • ghostlightning says:

        No, the rescue mecha have yet to make their appearance. Part of me wishes that they’d be more commonplace than what seems to be an upcoming dramatic entrance and role. I won’t complain, I think that they’d be tastefully used.

  7. animewriter says:

    After reading all the talk about this series I mainlined all 5 episodes and I love how Mirai is being portrayed, I think they got her just right. I’ve seen many instances of Mirai’s behavior in how my younger sister and my nieces acted at that very same age. When your 12-14 years old you’re not a child anymore, but you’re really not a young man or young women yet, you want the world to notice you and have some control, and it’s frustrating when you find out you really have no control.

    So, I loved how Mirai came to the realization that small things can make a difference, and even she can so something. After spending many years in the military I learned that it’s better to keep people busy when things aren’t going well, it helps with the illusion that you have more control than you really do. I think that in upcoming episodes Mirai is going to get her chance whether she likes it or not to prove she’s not a kid anymore because I think that one or both of her parents will be dead or injured.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Yes. I had just rewatched Honey and Clover (a strange comparison, admittedly), and found similar advice re dealing with things not going well: “move your hands.”

      Even if it is an illusion of control, there is a positive correlation between productivity and self-esteem. Mirai has no real interests yet and not much to do or be productive about. Her saying that ther are things she can do now can be a very big deal.

  8. Sorrow-kun says:

    *Dramatic music*

    *Lots of tears*

    When was it ever… not OK… to like Mirai?

    • ghostlightning says:

      Last episode (04), when she blamed Yuuki for the earthquake. That was despicable. No matter, I forgave her (not like it’s my place to do so, but rather within the context of liking and disliking her as a character).

      WRL’s coverage of this show reads mostly as apologetics for Mirai, which wasn’t the initial intention. I only find her as a fascinating portrayal of a girl her age. I ended up being in a discourse, among the posts I read about this show, that seem to like it except for Mirai.

      Now that I think about it, why do I find myself fascinated by her and at the same time put off by the Gundam characters such as Katz Kobayashi, Saji Crossroad, and Hathaway Noa? Is it because they’re male and I’m not moe for them? That I expect manly things from them that I excuse Mirai for not having/doing? Is it because they’re males in mecha anime? I think Alfred Izuruha from War in the Pocket makes for the most useful comparison though.

      • Sorrow-kun says:

        Well, not being a Gundam man myself, I guess the reason is part-expectation and part-context. There’s an expectation in a Gundam series for characters to take things by the scruff of the neck and be GAR and shake things up when their backs are against the wall. It’s a little harder for Mirai to do that. She’s just one person, and her helplessness in this situation is being revealed to an extent that she (and, I guess, to a lesser extent, the audience) is far from comfortable with. That’s probably why she’s more, dare I say it, sympathetic… it’s a situation that’s more realistic and one where just one person’s actions isn’t going to magically make everything better (which I guess is why any War in the Pocket comparison is going to be more apt… not that I’ve seen it).

        So that’s why I don’t think there’s any problem with being apologetic for Mirai. She’s coping with a terrible situation in a way that’s… typical. The circumstances and her history go a long way to explaining her behaviour.

        • ghostlightning says:

          Yeah, it’s the context. It’s not just the male roles, but also the type of show. For a male pilot to act like Mirai in a Gundam show would be very upsetting for me.

          What you said about realism is good, I suppose. I had just finished reading Bokurano (I still have garden implements and cutlery run through all over my body) a few minutes ago. The characters are mostly Mirai’s age and are put in situations that are even more extreme than Gundam or Evangelion. The care in depicting these kids will be a standard by which I’ll hold such characters. So sorry Gundam emotards, you’re pretty ass.

          I actually think Mirai would do fine in such a context, the same way I think Canaan would do well in a Buster Machine, and Senjougahara would be smashing in an Variable Fighter. Pardon my mecha obsession.

    • TheBigN says:

      I agree with this. Even with episode 4, I could understand her feelings regarding the outburst, as it was a perfect way to show that even though Mirai probably doesn’t consider herself to be a kid anymore, she sure as hell can still act like one. And that’s even true with people much much older than her in life. :3

      • ghostlightning says:

        True, re much older adolescents acting this way, or even young adults. I look at mecha anime, Gundam shows for example (notable for its grim and dark tone) where the adolescents are similarly petulant and immature.

        I could wish that the same level of characterization could’ve been given to some of them.

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  11. DonKangolJones says:

    I finally showed back up!

    I was doing my best not to hate Mirai & the show was doing its best to change my mind. And I suppose its nice to see her get a bit of rest in this episode. I say “rest” because probably ANYDAY would be better than the day she had in ep4. I think sitting down in a less tense atmosphere (and a cooler one thanks to that nice old man) did wonders for her. I still expect Mirai to be Mirai when push comes to shove. By that I mean I expect her to still act closer to her brother’s age than Mari’s, and make irresponsible and selfish comments and decisions when daytime comes back around.

    I will give the 3 of them credit though, for being incredibly lucky in terms of circumstances and meeting each other, and strong. Episode by episode we see people crack under the pressure. They’ve yet to snap. Yet.

    • ghostlightning says:

      I will give the 3 of them credit though, for being incredibly lucky in terms of circumstances and meeting each other, and strong.

      Yes, this. Here’s something to consider though (originally a comment I made on Panther’s post on ep 04):

      I had thought just now: the absence and impotence of men in this narrative. Yuuki is not a man, but a child. Mari is not a man, she is a milf (LOL jpmeyer coining ‘Milfquake 8.0′). With the collapse of the Tokyo Tower, the capital’s premier phallic symbol, the emasculation in the show is complete.

      The next episode shows us a male power, but it is another example of impotence (survival and goodness, from a senior citizen).

      There isn’t a strong, adult, male in full health in this show to feature strongly in the lives of the protagonists in their story to get home.

      Maybe when they start cracking under the pressure, especially Mari… this is when a man will appear; either as the cause of the stress, or the relief from it. That’s what I’m thinking right now.

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