More than anything, this episode marked the 180-degree turn milestone of Mirai’s character. Perhaps it’s self-serving for me to say so since We Remember Love’s posts on Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 have been Mirai-centric, if not entirely a corpus of apologetics for her characterization. Nonetheless, this is what the episode felt like, from the refrain of the theme of Yuuki in danger as a trigger for maturity, to the shift in the balance of emotional support within their contingent ‘family’.
What I mean is that the nearer they are to Sangenjaya, the more Mari is in need of emotional support. Mirai is the one to give it.
This is not to say that Mari is no longer the responsible resource in the trio. Far from it. From the decisiveness when Yuuki fell, to leaving a message for the Onosawa parents in the hospital should they look for Mirai and Yuuki there, Mari delivers. It’s only that the uncertainty regarding the safety and welfare of her daughter Hina and her mother relative to the limited news regarding the fire that affected the area takes its emotional toll on Mari more than ever.
These things are revealed in a manner so slowly, and carefully, that I think it will punish those who have shorter attention spans.
Nightmare of NunaMirai
This is not the only thing punishing for me. I don’t like dream sequences. I never have, and I’ve never seen a dream sequence that I truly enjoyed. Mirai had a series of dreams where in both cases, Yuuki died. The obvious dream-like quality was the giveaway that Yuuki wasn’t going to die. For me this wasted the suspense built by his sudden collapse in last episode’s cliffhanger. The dream sequence deaths, from a dramatic and suspense point of view, are wasteful and cheap.
Furthermore, I think the long wait in the second sequence (Yuuki was in the operating room), which was preceded by a montage of images of a hospital overburdened with the injured and the sick. The painful thing is that the sequences are actually very well done! However, here is the crux of the problem:
For all the efforts made by the show to depict a hospital overwhelmed with patients as a result of the earthquake, Mirai and Mari had no problem getting medical attention forYuuki.
Zero. It was as if the sea of patients and their disgruntled loved ones parted like the Red Sea to accomodate the needs of Yuuki. It isn’t like the patients depicted were in less need at all. A whole lot of them looked in various states of injury and debilitation. Considering that all that Yuuki needed was an IV, the whole thing just stood out in a troubling way.
When the narrative needed some time for the two siblings to have a moment to themselves — to act like the siblings I’ve wanted to see them as (it was very nice too!), then it was convenient to have Mari go through long queues. Thins like this, small as they are, bother me. To me, they are details that matter, especially for a show that has succeeded mostly through nuance and attention to detail.
So what I’m saying is that the show missed an opportunity to capitalize on the depiction of grit. There was plenty of distress, conflict, and life/death situations in the background. However, by placing the better part of it in the middle of Mirai’s dream sequences, and by all this registering zero effect on Mirai, Yuuki, and Mari; it becomes very little but noise in the background of the narrative. It fails to deliver on providing both immersiveness and believability in relation to the effort in putting them in the episode.
Not to say that immersiveness and believability isn’t abundant in Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. Episode three and five respectively, delivered these in spades. I can see the effort in putting the elements in this episode, but it doesn’t quite work and is therefore, a precious waste.
The second half of the episode feels like a slow montage into Mirai’s milestone in terms of growth. The montage effect is due to their passing through a public park, which allows for a view of undamaged greenery, a stream, and even fauna. The milestone itself occurs on a series of bridges, a rather obvious symbol of Mirai crossing over to a role closer to that of leadership in the party, or at the very least a clear contributor to their collective well-being.
We see her reassuring both Yuuki, and then Mari. While categorically I don’t subscribe to her use of hope to raise morale, but she’s 13 and spoke to her ‘charges’ in the words that meant most to them, and made the most difference. It’s satisfying for me, to see the strong Mari break down just a little; not that I enjoy the breakdown itself, but rather how she allowed Mirai to contribute to her. It honors them both.
In the post on the previous episode I took pains to show how Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 takes pains not to depict Mirai’s growth as sudden. In the previous episode, she didn’t do much good and even took a side-trip to stupidkidville. This episode is the payoff. She becomes the kid with the kind of groundedness Mirai displayed regarding Yuuki’s condition: She understands that he seems to have recovered, but shows prudence in that she believes he should get medically examined later on.
In the mean time, Sangenjaya and its fires seem very close, yet home itself still feels rather far away.
The case against hope [->]
Grit and danger in Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 [->]
Emotional immersiveness in Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 [->]