It became difficult to be ‘really present’ emotionally for the truly powerful scene when Mirai and her mother are reunited… The scene itself depicted a strong conflict within Mirai: between the joy, sorrow, and relief of reuniting with her mother; her mother’s cascade of emotions as well; and the finality of the disappearance of Yuuki.
It really is a powerful scene. I’m also glad how the show stuck to its guns having perhaps overplayed this Yuuki phantasm device in the previous episode. This here is the proper sendoff I believe. However, the show’s manipulations have taken toll on me. I can admit this much. I couldn’t help but have a measure of distrust over what I was seeing. Why distrust? It’s not so much that I don’t believe what I see, but more like an growing unwillingness to believe that what I see is something of creative merit.
Has episode 10 diminished my ability to connect with this show? Is my enjoyment of the experience of Mirai’s character growing compromised by a reasonable preoccupation over the presentation and resolution of a plot point? I must say that at some level, episode 10 (the previous episode) is a failure.
Why? because I answered yes to these questions. I’ve been distracted to a significant degree. I haven’t been allowed to mourn Yuuki at the time I felt so strongly about his potential death. Instead, I spent so much time withholding emotion. I retreated to my thoughts where thinking about the show replaced being moved by the show.
Instead of reflecting on events, I became preoccupied by the narrative conceits and issue of their judicious use. I got sucked in by the considerations of public opinion on the show, which took me away from ‘being’ with the show itself. I got a bit too concerned about whether the show is ‘good,’ weighing arguments and justifications, rather than experiencing the show itself.
These are my choices, and I take responsibility for them. However, they are also consequences of the show’s conceits over the last three episodes. I do think something is lost after all, and that’s a shame. The power of this show is on an emotional level, and anything that takes me away from this diminishes the show.
But I move past this. I grit my teeth through the thick sentimentality that I struggle to find authenticity in, and I think I succeed. I think I found my way back into the emotional wealth of the show, sometime after Yuuki completely disappears.
I know that I truly find myself back, when Mari shows up. When she and Mirai find themselves together again. It comes together… Mari’s loss of her husband comes into play. Her sharing opens up a future for Mirai, a possibility of freedom from the emptiness without Yuuki.
And when Mari herself started crying I let go of all the hangups I had about the creative choices made in the narrative. The gifts to their mother, the ‘really dead montage,’ the overbearing sentimental score, I gave it all up. I am crying.
It’s the first time I’ve done so in a currently airing season, and I consider it a precious gift.
Here’s something to think about:
In the ED montage epilogue, we see the expected images of Tokyo and the characters moving on with their lives: Mirai’s classmates, the mother with the baby stroller that Mari assisted back in episode three, the old couple with the amazing resilience from episode five, Mari’s officemate, the robot otaku on his phone (possibly talking to Mirai <3), Mira’s mom finally getting her round birthday cake a year later, Hana-chan finally getting hers too…
We never see Mari and Mirai together. I think this is a meaningful omission. The epilogue tells a story, and in our narrative, Mirai and Mari don’t form a close relationship over the year of Tokyo’s reconstruction.
This is not to say that they’re not close — nothing could ever take away what they went through together. It just suggests that they aren’t going to be significant parts of each other’s ongoing lives. It’s a rather sad thing for me to consider, but strangely fitting to a certain kind of reasoning that sympathizes to how real relationships play out.
In the end, the story of Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is a small one, a very intimate one. It was less about Tokyo really, and more about two broken families becoming whole again. The Kusakabe’s brokenness is but a physical seperation and realized a physical reuniting; while the Onosawa’s is a layered one: fractured in spirit, then broken for real, before healing itself.