Notes on Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 and the Lack of Villainy in People and Characters in the Show

tokyo magnitude 8 OP mari yuuki mirai


I think that the claims and disclaimers to realism at the beginning of each episode created mixed results. What is telling for me is the reality that different people have different ideas on what is real and realistic. What concerns me in this post is the idea that the show is unrealistic due to its lack of portrayal of the malice and evil in people that are exposed during a disaster. I take exception to the assertion that by default, people are and will be shown to be malicious and evil. It is indeed the case during 2005’s Hurricane Katrina which resulted in pillage and looting in New Orleans, USA. But given the hegemony of US news media over the rest of the world the coverage of this event eclipses any disaster coverage before or since (save for 9/11). Before I continue, I need to be clear about the things that I AM NOT saying in this post:

  • My/the Japanese disasters are not worse than yours.
  • My/the Japanese people are less evil than yours.
  • I/we are better than you.

Please filter anything that suggests that I’m making these claims out. I am not interested in the above claims and I do not make these claims at all.

tokyo magnitude 8 05 mirai mari yuuki furuichi offers some water

The depiction of the Japanese people (of Tokyo) is almost unfailingly good. Sure there were people who cut lines and are rude, or fail to help ladies with babies; but pillage and robbery only existed as a threat in the imagination of Mirai and Yuuki while they were in Mari’s office and were unsure about the footsteps going up the stairs. Otherwise everyone was helpful and kind. Clearly this is a stark contrast to a non-Japanese audience who expect the kind of breakdown of social order as depicted in the post-Katrina coverage of New Orleans.  However, over the course of the publication of blog posts on Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 here in WRL, I am lucky to have gotten some quality and relevant discussion regarding this. Redmaigo on the absence of pillage in the show, says (excerpt):

It has more to do with the pre-disaster social class and societal behaviors that dictates how people react during a disaster. There is an old saying, “it is not the crisis that builds something within us— it simply reveals what we are made of already.”

I am sympathetic to this view, but I tend to subscribe in a contingent rather than a dispositional view of human behavior. This means I am less inclined to believe in inherent human dispositions as opposed to critical situations and environments providing behavioral pressures. More on this later. Panic and wild disorder seem to be logical responses in natural disasters, given the inherent drive to survive in a situation where there is little to expect from others. However, Amanda Ripley, writing for TIME Magazine on surviving human disasters posits:

Contrary to popular expectations, this is what happens in many disasters. Crowds generally become quiet and docile. Panic is rare.

If panic is widespread, it is very easy to write (off) humans as villains. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 would then have a character(s) vs. characters kind of conflict as opposed to an internal one related to loss. It would be a very different show. While I won’t say it would become a superior or inferior show than the one we have, I would say that it wouldn’t be any more realistic. What is the advantage (in terms of narrative) of not having human villainy provide the conflict in the story? I recall an exchange I had with a reader who was in China during the Sichuan earthquake in 2008: Scrambled Eggs notes (excerpt):

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.

So yes, it’s also realistic the way the people of Tokyo behaved in the face of disaster. It’s also what made such an intimate story possible. But why talk about this now? Am I really that interested to change people’s minds (those who dropped this show, or disliked this show)? Maybe. But I suppose I’m rather raw about the whole business given that as of this writing I’m dealing with the aftermath of our own disaster.

philippine star front page 9-27-2009

Saturday, 9/26/2009: In a span of 6 hours, 334 millimeters of rainfall hit Metro Manila and large parts of Luzon island in the Philippines caused by Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana). Epic flood is caused by record rainfall. I and my family are okay, which should be obvious since I’ve had the opportunity to reflect and write this post. We got away with just having the ground floor of our house rendered uninhabitable for a while. However, many are still in need and in trouble.

Here’s a video of my home town: Sampaloc, Manila getting hammered by the rain:

More videos [->]

Here I note that there is no wild hysteria, no panic, and no systemic behavioral breakdown due to the disaster. Instead, a lot of helping hands and passed messages of concern and support.

A thin slice of twitter as of September 28, 5:45 AM (+8; Manila, Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong)

RT: @jimparedes: To enter Marikina, say you’re bringing food or helping out in relief effort or they will turn you away. (As of tonite). about 7 hours ago from Echofon

RT: @nevitsky: RT @ageofbrillig: NBN: Text 0919-5841252 to report overpricing merchants & other exploitative business practices. #fb about 8 hours ago from Echofon

RT @redcross143 For more information, you can contact us at 527-0000 or dial 143 #ondoy #manilaflood about 8 hours ago from Echofon

RT: @ateneodemanilau: #Ondoy: Please help. David Sumulong hasn’t received any word about his family in Ortigas. They… about 8 hours ago from Echofon

RT: @ateneodemanilau: #Ondoy: Danella [Publico] is at #183 Capetown st. Greenpark Village, Pasig. She’s w/ Rochele… about 8 hours ago from Echofon

RT: @nevitsky: Let’s all pray that Pepeng, the next typhoon will change course and dedmahin na lang ang Pinas. Please. #fb about 8 hours ago from Echofon What a horrible way to go.

RT: @TeamPilipinas: #pba Barako Bull manager among casualties of ‘Ondoy’ RIP about 8 hours ago from Echofon

RT: @miriamq: CARMINA VILLAROEL needs HELP! stuck in her home in Parkwood Village Pasig, flooded still & her son Mavi is sick!! @gmanewstv about 9 hours ago from Echofon

RT: @biancagrey: PAG-ASA reports next typhoon (Peping) is 3 days away. Please prepare but let’s continue to help those who are in need now. about 9 hours ago from Echofon


RT. @chie2287 about 9 hours ago from Echofon RT: @miriamq: New interactive map of most urgent cases needing rescue. Feel free to share. about 9 hours ago from Echofon

RT: @miriamq: Kapuso helpline for pledges/donations @ 9811950 to 9811959.GMA Kapuso foundation is now accepting your donations.Pls help. about 9 hours ago from Echofon

RT: @piamagalona: To text Globe FREE just text: FREE <0917xxxxxxx> <message> send to 2625. Recipient will pay for d msg. pls pas about 9 hours ago from Echofon

RT: @miriamq: MAKATI DROP OFF: 5729 Calasanz St., Olympia Makati City or call for pick up at 501-7405 or 729-0530 c/o Omel Santos about 9 hours ago from Echofon

RT: @NixNolledo: Donate to victims of Ondoy via creditcard. Go to & write “xs4ondoy” after “I would like to donate to” about 9 hours ago from Echofon

RT: @mikeecj: Sta Lucia,Pasig water still 9 ft hi. Some residents hit are in difft areas of Sta Lucia, but we can’t get to them fr outside. about 10 hours ago from Echofon

You’ll notice that all of those are re-tweets, meaning messages are being passed along. This is the same country that ousted a corrupt regime in 2001 in part by assembling hundreds of thousands of people in protest via viral text messages. I can also assure you that we are third world, we are nowhere near Japan or the United States (or even China) in terms of quality of life, quality of infrastructure, and response capability of government.

The first example above is regarding Marikina City, one of the most hardest hit, right beside ours (Pasig) where there are still submerged parts as well. As of that message, there were so many trying to give assistance, combined with the conditions in the city preventing safe access, people who wanted to provide assistance had to be turned away for their own safety.

ghostlightning back yard flooded to hellSometimes the things we watch can hit very close to home. Here our backyard vegetable garden turns to swamp.

The helpful and caring Japanese people depicted in Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 have more than just mere basis in reality. We can be like that too and it’s happening right now; pulling for each other, bringing people together to be of assistance, here in the flooded streets of the third world.

Further Reading

Contingent (Situational) and Dispositional behaviors, experiments on anime characters [->]

Two images of my immediate surroundings last Saturday, 9/26/2009 [->] [->]

The day after, and the trail of destruction [->]

CCN report updated 1 hour ago as of this writing [->]

Verified relief centers for ‘Ondoy’ victims [->]

Soldier saves 20 lives before drowning himself [->]

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.

56 Responses to Notes on Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 and the Lack of Villainy in People and Characters in the Show

  1. Kiri says:

    Nice post, especially with the very relevant current event parallel. I haven’t been as involved in TM8 discussions as I could have been and honestly haven’t given much thought to the lack of malicious intent in characters there, but I never really felt as if everyone’s blatant kindness was unrealistic. And really, there could have been theft and looting in TM8’s scenario, but as that would have nothing to do with the central conflict presented, we didn’t necessarily have to be informed of it, etc.

    • Thanks, I feel good that I’m not alone to feel this way, despite the amount of thinking I put into this show as it went along. This is the first show I completed while blogging it along the way, and it feels good to touch base with an opinion of someone that I didn’t discuss things to a high degree throughout its run.

  2. bluemist says:

    I think the coverage of Katrina by their media is more of their typical “shock and awe” news reporting so we shouldn’t assume that the actual situation of New Orleans during that time is actually as sad as they want us to think it to be.

    Same as with our situation right now. This disaster won’t go by without some petty crimes here and there. However, many of these shock-and-awe news are vaguely reported in favor of “community spirit.” Because we are so used to disaster, we already know our ways through disaster whenever and however it strikes. I am also not saying I/we are better than you, but close family ties and bayanihan (community) are one of our most important “inherent” virtues that pull us through everything in life.

    • By shock and awe you mean sensationalism?

      I suppose nothing sells news like bad news, so some of these things are played up for shock and outrage value.

      It does make me feel good to see Bayanihan in action, though it also kind of sucks that it takes the almost regular disasters to provoke us into action.

  3. moritheil says:

    Is it possible that the people simply are not as shocked by disaster? Let us accept for a moment the unflattering assertion that Americans are insular and idealistic to the point where they subconsciously assume they are unassailable and will never have to undergo hardship. Indeed, modern American pop culture is suspicious of hardship. Could it be that the anarchic American reaction to disaster is simply a refusal to accept that disasters could happen to them?

    • Emperor J says:

      I was thinking along similar lines. Katrina could be summed up as American exceptionalism at its very worst, or it could be seen as societal complacency of the worst kind. The thought that flooding and people dying on the streets happens in small countries no one’s heard of, it could never happen here permeates to the very top of a bureaucracy that has thinks it has other things to worry about.

      From the media coverage angle, I have always found it funny that in the era of the 24-hour news cycle that everything has to be condensed down into the smallest bits possible and rerun for maximum emotional effect. So instead of time for proper context and reflection, we get loops of a couple of short clips showing people trying to steal TVs, and that somehow reflects on everyone there.

      • I have no idea how to respond to moritheil’s comment and I’ll just hop on yours. As I’ve mentioned to bluemist above, the sensationalism in the reporting may indeed have exaggerated things which led to general impressions of how Americans behave during disaster situations, which in turn becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

        After all, I don’t think I would’ve written this post this way if I didn’t notice an expectation for the Japanese in Tokyo to start looting and commit acts of violence in the name of ‘realism.’

  4. animewriter says:

    I think how a region or area reacts to a disaster or shock to the social system is dependant on #1, the amount of social order that area is used to, and #2, the overall class/money situation of the area.

    Regarding #1, I live and work in a area that would be considered middle class to lower upper class, crime is not tolerated in and around these areas. Most of the areas where I come from have strong local governments/police/fire/school systems and almost all of the neighborhoods have associations where most people living there know each other on a social level, so when the blackout of 2003 hit the area it turned out to be one big neighbor party.

    Regarding #2, What I mean by the class/money situation of a area is that when you get to a middle class/ or above area the people don’t have to worry about living day to day or that any one disaster would ruin the future. Sure, losing our houses or having someone die would really suck, but everyone I socialize with has insurance on their homes/possessions/family members, and they have some money in the bank.

    When you see coverage showing bad things happening during Katrina just look at the area where it’s occurring and you’ll see that those areas had weak government/neighborhood institutions, distressed family structures, and those areas where little prepared financially for that type of shock.

    Having lived in Korea for two years, and having visited Japan several times, I really appreciate how the citizens of those countries value social/family order and I think the reaction to a disaster of the level of TM 8.0 would be pretty much just like in the anime.

    • I had you in mind when I wrote this too, since you shared something similar to this comment in previous discussions.

      Don’t you think our situation, given that our country is very poor and a lot of people would never fit in your qualification of the middle class, that our relatively altruistic behavior as a whole disproves your #2 theory?

      I’m tempted to agree with your #2, only that what I see happening around me doesn’t add up.

      • Zeroblade says:

        I think what causes the unprecedented behavior in the Philippines’s case is that the typical Filipino is often inclined to react to these situations with empathy – we are a very emotional people, I’d say. They often don’t place much value on material goods thanks to bombardment of Catholic values (thus, nullifying theory #2) and are almost hardwired to held others, like it’s second nature for them. It’s sort of a unifying spirit that humans have that shows up in cases like these (and sadly, not much elsewhere).

        • It’s a stretch man, I’ve been around longer than you and have seen Filipinos do shitty things to each other.

          However, I do notice a tendency to pull together in times of distress. I don’t want to ascribe these behaviors towards an inherent disposition to be helpful, but yes, we see it a lot, but only in the context of extreme need.

  5. Interesting post. As someone who dropped TM 8.0 I do have to say that it’s unrealistic to expect a complete battle of survival in most post-disaster situations. But TM 8.0 (at least up to the point that I stopped watching) didn’t have any, which by itself was fine. As Kiri said, it likely happened to some degree but wasn’t necessarily relevant to the main characters. My main problem with the realism in the show was with how on top of things the Japanese government and self defense forces were. Especially compared to their track record with the Kobe earthquake back in the 1990’s where the local Yakuza ended up providing a lot of first response aid because the government was so unprepared, meanwhile said government initially refused foreign help. Things may have been learned in Japan since then (I would hope), but as someone who studies international relations and large organizations such as governments all day, I just don’t think TM 8.0 was realistic in how quickly the response happened or how smoothly it went. The JSDF was deployed like they were waiting for the quake to start beforehand, it was just a little too perfect for me. I’m not being cynical about the abilities of governments and large organizations (if I were I wouldn’t be studying and preparing to work in public policy), I’m just being realistic. If you look at military or peacekeeping deployments as a model for the JSDF doing disaster relief, some equipment or supplies always go missing, some unit is always somewhere where it shouldn’t be, communications systems will break down or have the wrong frequencies, etc.

    A minor side point, but speaking of deployments at least the US forces in Japan, if not neighboring countries too, would have been involved in disaster relief for something of TM 8.0’s scale. I would have liked to see that in the show.

    Granted there are other reasons I ended up dropping the show, but the realism point was the main one.

    Back in real life, I’m once again wishing you and your city the best of luck in cleaning everything up and taking care of those affected.

    • I don’t mind this view at all, and thanks for sharing this. It’s a rather unique perspective that allows me to think about different things.

      If something like Katrina were to hit the USA over the next few months, how different do you think in terms of effectiveness would the response be compared to what happened in NO?

      If you say that there would be a significant difference, I’m likely to believe you. One thing to think about then is that there is a 5 year difference thereabouts: 2005-2010. I wouldn’t accuse you of talking fantasy here if you made that claim, not that I’m an expert or anything.

      Now, Kobe happened over a decade ago. I don’t want to accuse the Japanese of making an outright fantasy by showing things this way. Even if it appears much too smooth to someone learned about these things like you, it’s negligible to a total non-expert like me. I wouldn’t take it against the Japanese to want to depict their response ability in a positive light, complete with robots.

      Thank you for your message of concern, much appreciated.

  6. xaueious says:

    I felt the setting of TM8 to be a bit unrealistic, but it was an eye opener to think about what really happens in real disasters.

    The American response I think has to do with the handling of morals being taught (or not taught) in the country. Selfishness, or what they prefer to call freedom or independence, is one of my impressions of North American society after visiting Hong Kong. I myself am Canadian and attest to this. It is the true picture of a society losing it’s grips on morality and losing it’s family values. Asians, in my mind, have a more traditional model of family and what being involved in society means.

    Perhaps it is one of the results of the clashing of different cultures and races, of different classes. This is one of the natural outcomes of social diversity.

    • La Sale Famine de Valfunde says:

      Morals? Really? Sorry, but I can’t help but giggle every time someone mentions the “degradation” of morals in America or in this case North American society, especially when spoken clearly with a very narrow scope of insight. You went to Hong Kong? Alright, cool, but you don’t live there do you, or have you taken courses about the culture of Asian countries? This post isn’t intended to insult you or anything, but really? A Canadian talking about the “American response” and “handling of morals”? (Best not be trolling me “>.>)

      With that being said….I haven’t watched Tokyo Magnitude and been holding it off since I have this aching feeling it’s gonna let me down big time. Hey Ghost, would you say the best way to approach TM8 is through looking it as a “realistic” disaster character driven drama, or some kind of slice of life show that I see other people are tackling it as.

    • Yeah, my first instinct was to hold back, but I really can’t let that comment go.

      Freedom, personal choice, or individualism, whatever you want to call it, is like every power, used for good and ill according to the person who has it. Plenty of people came together during and after recent disasters in America, and as a poster above mentioned the places where you saw looting in New Orleans after Katrina were generally poor areas with weak social and police infrastructures. As is so often the case in media, the terrible or violent acts seize everyone’s attention while most of the helping and rescues don’t get air time. I think it’s natural for humans to do this, since we are social animals actions that damage or work against society draw more attention because they deviate more from the norm or cooperation or at least lack of violence.

      That people ‘lack morals’ or aren’t being taught them (with the political implication that they should be mandated to be taught) is something conservatives get on every time something doesn’t go right or something just doesn’t conform to their ideals. They’re really subjective things, determined by each society and culture. There are differences between cultures, with more emphasis on groups as opposed to individuals in Asian societies. But it’s not like “Asian” values are somehow inherently better or prevent various wrongs to people within society. Individualism can lead to selfishness, as you pointed out. Group centered society can lead to ills too though, such as suppression of those who don’t conform (sometimes to the point of driving one to suicide as in some cases in Japanese schools), avoiding personal responsibilities by blaming group pressure, and lack of respect for individual rights. I’m not saying one system is better than the other, just that they produce different goods and ills.

      So let’s not get up on a moral high horse when all societies walk in some sort of mud or another.

      (Full disclosure since La Sale brought up experience: while I’m not the most traveled person, I’m an American who has lived one year in Japan, spent one month on study abroad in China, and studied mostly Asian international relations during undergrad.)

    • I’m not sure what you’re saying exactly. I don’t live in the US and I hesitate to comment on societal mores. I do get first hand accounts from a wide network of relatives from both coasts and from Canada as well.

      It is true that in Asia it does seem that there is a high degree of valuing of the family. It is interesting that the Onosawa’s are depicted in a way that is closer to an American family isn’t it?

      What are your thoughts on this?

      • xaueious says:

        I was thinking ‘morals’ as a sense of conscience and not so much via specific rules people are meant to follow, and how that conscience ties in to a love and respect for other people.

        I feel that people in North America respect their parents less than in Asian communities, and aren’t as afraid to disobey. My cousins who grew up in Hong Kong respect their parents to the point that they listen to everything they say. That’s unthinkable for me, because I believe that I want to use my own brain. And that’s accepted here in North American society to some extent. If I pulled the same stunt in Asia, I would be considered rebellious. That’s one aspect of freedom I had in mind. But people lose their respect of elders and stop looking to them for wisdom and advice. I think this pattern leads to the creation of disrespectful culture which is a result of the freedom that people are allowed to have. With the common occurrance of broken families, this makes it an even bigger problem.

        I’m not even American. I don’t get the conservative hogwash you guys get. I’m just providing an opinion from my own perspective. I’m not even that serious :).

  7. Ryan A says:

    Typhooons. We haven’t had any this year luckily. Glad to see cooperation though.

    Imo, Katrina was an exception on many levels (natural, logical, social), so it’s really not a good representation of a “typical” natural disaster (like how is a natural disaster typical lul).

    I don’t find cooperation unrealistic in a disaster anyhow, as I’ve been through some large hurricanes myself, and usually there is a sense of peace and cooperation. Disaster is sort of something that forces one to “let go” … although not everyone does.

    Of course, this doesn’t mean that individuals/groups who act by their own greed are going to just change all of the sudden in the event of a disaster. Some may, but not all. When that’s the case, the disaster has less to do with it.

    • Like you I’m tempted to look at the events surrounding Katrina as an exception rather than a representative or definitive depiction of humans, or even just Americans.

      If anything I find a more logical case for cooperation even under a framework of survival of the fittest. The smaller units band together to form a big unit, and the conflict arrives when there are two or more big units vying for the same resources.

      But until that time, I think people will cooperate, team up so to speak until decision paths branch out further down the survival trail.

  8. biankita says:

    The thing I find lacking about TM8.0 (and I only watched til episode 5 before dropping) is the lack of seeing the different sides of the human nature in the survivors. Yes, the majority will always put their best foot forward in times of crisis, but the lack of opportunistic individuals with their bouts of hysteria and all their (intentional and unintentional) evil intentions. I found the show quite idealistic – kinda like a government propaganda show – especially how anyone can be prepared for something “of this scale”. I look at it this way: we Filipinos are used to and usually wave off typhoons as just one of those things that happen this time of the year. What happened was an epic, “first time in so-and-so years” thing. I’m saying this out of the stereotype that the Japanese are used to earthquakes – an 8.0 is really incredible. The mere thought that the Japanese can mobilize for a magnitutde 8.0 earthquake make them seem too pessimistic or that they’re too good at planning.

    I still think that it’s because nearly all of the show is told on Mirai’s point-of-view which could be quite limited as a child – “The nice man from the government gave me food.” “The nice lady said that if I get on the boat, I’ll be able to go home.” “That weird guy took two survivor packs so he’s bad.” The lack of character insight – how Mirai just stared in awe when all of her country’s landmarks go down with no reflections whatsoever – seem understandable. However, as most of us are adults, the absence of those reflections make us think of it as shallow.

    I’m still not sure if I’m going to continue watching it.

  9. animekritik says:

    I think different areas of the U.S. would have had different reactions to a Katrina-type incident. It’s no surprise that the Japanese would react in another, different way. At the same time, it’s folly to talk of different nationalities as responding differently per se, as any given people will react differently depending on the surrounding circumstances, historical situation etc.. Notice what happened during and after the Great Kanto Eathquake in ’23..


      The post quake massacre was horrifying to read about. I don’t think it’s folly to discuss at all. If anything, I find it foolish to assume one kind of behavior in a historical milieu explains or represents all of us for all time.

      • animekritik says:

        What I mean is that it’s folly to take how “one” group behaves at “one” time and then extrapolate that to mean that the “one” group behaves like regardless of other circumstances. Circumstances matter, I mean. The Japanese response in thew Kanto earthquake wasn’t like that of the Kobe earthquake, say.

        • jpmeyer says:

          Similarly, the response to the 2003 New York City blackout was almost the polar opposite to the reaction to the 1977 blackout. Granted, this is not a disaster on the level of a powerful earthquake, but it was still a situation where societal order was ruptured.

  10. I don’t think there was really any room for the story to get caught up in things like villainy or post-disaster exploitation. This whole show was about what happened immediately following the disaster and people would likely still be too shocked to even consider something like profiting off of it.

    However remember there were still those people depicted as a being interested in self-preservation during the rush to get to the boats. What with pushing Mirai out of the way and all. I remember one of the earlier shots at the shows realism was that we didn’t see any looting or pillaging, but again I think something like that just had no place in a story like Tokyo Magnitude. This is a pretty PG show after all and I ask myself if it would have served to help any of what the story was about along? When I think about how the show is pretty much about the journey of Mirai, Mari and Yuuki in getting home I find even less place for something like that.

    • The conflict in the minds of the shows critics isn’t about the choice of subject to depict, or maybe it is. The show’s title baits viewers into certain expectations, the claims to realism compounds it.

      As it is, I have very few complaints about it, and certainly realism isn’t among them. However, I sympathize to those whose expectations have been built up. I wonder though how the Japanese look at this show, and I’m not only interested to hear the otaku opinion as I think of this show as rather transcendent of the anime medium.

  11. X10A_Freedom says:

    The Philippines is a very interesting place. Crime and corruption is rife in Manila but by seeing how happy and easy-going the locals are on their Jeepneys, the shop assistants etc, I’m not very surprised at ordinary Manila residents helping out each other. It really is a tale of two sides. I would be interested to hear if there was any anarchy in Manila after this flooding.

    Going back to Tokyo, the majority of people are fairly disciplined – although it has gone down in the last 15 years with an increase of spitting and pedestrians jumping red lights (the latter almost never happening back in 1992). TM8.0 portrays the minority in the ferryboat episode, with queue jumping, rudeness and indifference. “Chav culture” is close to non-existing in Tokyo, and the groups of “shady” looking youths which are all-too-common in London (and other western countries) are also rare. I actually cannot even picture anarchy and looting in Tokyo.

    • I’ve been all over Manila, through ‘dangerous’ neighborhoods and the like, as well as not so safe places (as parents will tell us): Recto, Quiapo, the Pier. I know that our city isn’t the safest of places nor does it house the kindest of peoples. However I recognize the truth in what you say, in how people are so easygoing; laughing and singing as they do their work or idle their time. People just… smile, a lot.

      I’ve never been to Japan and it seems like you’ve lived there. I’m glad to see some validating opinion regarding the behavior of the citizens.

      • X10A_Freedom says:

        I’ve lived in Tokyo as a child from 1987-1992, and went back for holiday every 2 years or so when my parents were back during 2002-2008. I remember enough Japanese to get around effortlessly. Another thing my parents (they’ve lived in Japan for 15 years of their lives) mentioned which I have yet to experience is the increased number of people simply shoving through crowded places in recent years, and the decreased frequency of people saying “sumimasen”.

        Never tried Quiapo (got warned about pickpockets) at night but I did get my camera there this summer! I’ve also been warned about the (former) Smokey Mountain and Commonwealth.

  12. 2DT says:

    You mean to tell me neo-fascist warlords don’t immediately take over the country after a disaster like in “The Postman”? Lies and slander.

    A Filipino expatriate I knew back home once proclaimed his belief that the Philippines didn’t deserve to become an independent country. “They’re still too tribal,” he said. I’m happy to have some solid evidence that he was full of shit.

    • With regards to deserving independence and immediate disintegration of society, I can’t agree with you more.

      As for tribalism, it’s true though. We’re talking about a place with over 70 languages (not counting dialects); dozens of sub-ethnicities spread over thousands of islands. All we have uniting us is the geographical arbitrariness of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi who honored the explorer Magellan (who we killed), who had named ‘our’ islands: Las Islas Filipinas, in the name of his patron, King Philip II.

      Maybe Catholicism is a major uniting factor, but there is Islam here as well.

      But these differences aren’t automatic deal-breakers when it comes to cooperation in times of mutual need. And in the case of this disaster, we’ve done a lot to pull for each other. At present there are aid centers who are turning volunteers away. It’s heartening news, no matter how cynical a perspective I tempt myself with adopting.

  13. gloval says:

    For TM8.0, a fictional work, discussions on realism could be rather amusing, so I go with the “literary” explanation that panic and looting is not needed in telling Mirai’s story. It would in fact alter the story if it is a significant element.

    As for Manila 424 millimiters, the general attitude of goodwill and cooperation is typically encouraged in the Philippines. Of course there’s the negativity and finger pointing, but these are generally frowned upon at times like these, much more looting and violence (they do happen though once in a while). I remember doing a kilometric three-part rambling about past and recent typhoon experiences in my old blog in the following months after Milenyo: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

    • gloval says:

      FFFFFFFFUUUUU That should be “Manila 424 Millimeters.”

      Also, manly tears on the hero soldier.

    • So it’s 424 mms now? Wow.

      You mentioned billboards in part 3. This has been a sore point for me since I am affiliated with a business that operates billboards. I’m pissed off at the scapegoat job that’s done to our industry. I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be any responsibility taken by companies like ours, but this moral posturing regarding outright banning (LOL ban) is something I spit at. Well, the industry’s number one enemy has ambitions for the presidency. No surprise there.

      In my youth it was Yoling, where I got caught stranded as a freshman in La Salle. I somehow got home via bus, a jeep, and finally on foot. I literally saw the city get torn apart by wind and rain. So many beautiful trees of my beloved Alabang got felled by that storm. Every time I visit my folks back in Alabang I can still identify the trees that were planted in the aftermath of Yoling. They’re teenagers now.

  14. Mark says:

    I think the primary difference between Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the current Manila floods is that New Orleans was hamstrung with the assumption that help would be coming and coming soon. At least in the Philippines everyone knows government assistance isn’t coming and never will.

    Imagine if the floods happened in the most Muslim of Muslim outposts in the south (though over there it would be explained as God’s own Land Reform). Imagine if TM8.0 starred a band of illegal Malaysian day laborers and Filipina nurse’s assistants.

  15. I’m an American, and I’ve seen indie films on Katrina that gave real details, and what the news tells you has a whole lot of bullshit thrown in. The stories from the real people as told in the films that don’t make it to theaters are stories of people coming together and of self-sacrifice in the name of others. Stories of togetherness in the face of utter disaster.

    It’s true: Americans don’t ever expect bad things to happen to them. We are literally taught to believe that bad things won’t happen. Your average school-goer even in high school doesn’t even worry about what’s going to happen when they graduate, because they are so sure of their ability to live, however they will have to learn the contrary harshly.

    But this isn’t something we should handle in an accusatory way. If anything, it makes the fact that so many came together in that disaster that much more extraordinary, because to them it was a total blindside, but they came through anyway.

    Katrina literally obliterated New Orleans, and our government did shit for a good while before coming to help. And then for about 3 years, people from all over the country went down to New Orleans to help rebuild, and people from over the country donated money to help the people. We even have people all over the country who opened their homes p to Katrina refugees.

    Whatever bullshit you read about a total loss of order during Katrina was sensationalized bullshit to the highest caliber. Americans may be unprepared and overly defenseless, but they also have an incredible sense of patriotism and desire to help the people in their country (can you make a point about them not caring about the rest of the world? sure you can. Does it mean they have no compassion? No, it means they were raised to aim it in a certain direction). Katrina was, if anything, a show of America’s good qualities in it’s people.

    • otou-san says:

      I think it would be unwise to swing from one extreme to another when talking about this, especially with only anecdotal evidence. Yeah, there were a lot of people helping each other, as is often the case in disasters. But shit was messed up. Nothing against the city, I had (past tense, pre-Katrina) friends there and I love it, but it could be a downright scary place.

      Mark nailed one of the big points: the situation got worse as the ineptitude of the government on the city, state, and federal level screwed them even harder than they were screwed initially. Can you even fathom that level of frustration?

      I think disparity is a huge part of what contributed to the issues as well. Firstly, some of the worst-off areas of NOLA and around were hit hardest by the levee breaking. In a city with some pretty bad disparity already, emphasized by the fact that we’re supposed to be the best-off country in the world, really ratcheted up the problems.

      An offshoot of that is that some of the worst things we heard about, like the situation in the Superdome, came from shoving these disparate elements (haves, have-nots, have-even-lesses) together in an anarchic environment when they previously never mixed. That was further exacerbated when people were dumped in other cities like Houston.

      Mark’s second point is equally valid — I’m not enough of a weeaboo to imagine I know what Japan’s culture is like on any deep level, but I can say this with some confidence: Japan is more culturally homogenous than New Orleans, so the racial/cultural problems would be less of an issue.

      So to sum up this mess of a comment: The problems stemmed more from (lack of) government response, economic and racial disparity, and the link between those (i.e., black = poor to a large degree) than from the disaster situation itself, but the problems were real. And I think those factors would be less significant in a TM8.0 situation than a Katrina situation.

      • Look, I wasn’t trying to say things weren’t fucked up, I’m just trying to give a second side to it. What I saw was nothing but words about the chaos of it, and I just wanted to point out that it wasn’t all bad. Sorry if my comment came off as not being inclusive of other comments’ points. I still agree with what everyone else is saying.

  16. Pingback: otou-san on Contrasting Views of NOLA and Fictional Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 « The Ghosts of Discussions

  17. Lbrevis says:

    Hey! It’s been a long time since we talked but I heard about the flood and immediately thought of you. I’m really relieved to hear that you and your family are ok. Should’ve known you’d find a way to tie this to anime!

    I haven’t been watching anime lately (I’ve taken a break and for the meantime converted to the dark side – American cartoons. Batman the Animated Series is fantastic, you gotta see it) but I still lurk your blog. Maybe I’ll talk to you soon. 🙂

  18. hashi says:

    I think the Japanese authorities may well be better prepared for an earthquake — especially in Tokyo — than they were for the Kobe quake. So that aspect of TM8 didn’t seem all that unrealistic to me.

    And as I understand it, there was just about zero looting or violence in Kobe, so I don’t think that’s unrealistic, either. The Japanese myth is that the only looting was by an American, lol.

    As for the US, I have a relative who had to leave her home in a suburban part of New Orleans after Katrina, and when she came back weeks later, nothing had been stolen.

    I’m afraid that the infotainment industry cares a lot more about hitting us in the gut with emotion than about conveying a true picture of any situation. That’s how they get viewers and consequently advertising revenue. And I think that has made us expect more social chaos after a disaster than might actually occur.

    I live in an earthquake-prone part of Canada, and I know for a fact that we are not sufficiently prepared, since I took some training as part of the preparations. I also think there are some people here who would think nothing of stealing other people’s stuff if they could get away with it. But there are social networks in town that would bring lots of people together to help each other, too.

    I’m happy you and your family and neighbours are okay.

    • Thanks for the concern, and the tempered perspective on the whole thing. I wouldn’t go as far as vilify the infotainment industry, but they are responsible for the images and messages they create.

      Here nobody is ever prepared in terms of organized response. Rather, we are so used to this kind of government ineptitude that we either resign ourselves to our fates or tough it out relying on each other.

  19. sadakups says:

    How apt that the talk about Ondoy comes in this article. Seriously though, as much as my family were safe during the storm, I was 50 kilometers away from them. I wasn’t able to go home during the weekend. I thank my boss for letting shit like that happen to me, which does not compare to the thousands affected, as well as people who got stranded and wet in the middle of a stormy road.

    • Your family is outside the metro? Or is your place of work outside the metro? It must have sucked to be away from your loved ones man. Good to know you’re all safe. Don’t be too hard on your boss though, as you may not be sure about his reasons.

      • sadakups says:

        We live in Taytay, but we live in a higher place. I was on Cavite on client call, but that would not have happened if my boss did not ask me to go there at six in the morning last Saturday, only to find out that there’s no problem. Talk about the time I spent on travel, only to be stuck there with no extra clothing, and all I have is my car which can die anytime as I was treading floodwaters. Thank goodness that I decided to go back to Cavite, although finding a place to stay was the biggest problem.

        Well, I’m not that flustered anymore with her (yes, my boss is an old woman) as I ended up being alright in the end. Although I can’t deny that I’m still a bit paranoid whenever I’m treading on the roads right now with Pepeng coming.

  20. Pingback: Disagreeing With Reviews: Except, Not Really… » Behind The Nihon Review

  21. Pingback: The Possibility of Being SUPER (Robot) and Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn 03 (Also, an Offering of Sympathies to the Japanese People Affected by the Magnitude 8.9 Earthquake) | We Remember Love

  22. Pingback: The Possibility of Being SUPER (Robot) and Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn 03 (Also, an Offering of Sympathies to the Japanese People Affected by the Magnitude 8.9 Earthquake) | We Remember Love

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