(Winner of the Excellence Prize, Animation category, Japan Media Arts Festival, 2009)
TOKYO MAGNITUDE 8.0
*11 episodes, 2009 *Age Rating: 13+
We all know about the catastrophic 8.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan only a few days ago. Today's anime review is dedicated to all the victims of this terrible tragedy. We pray for their well-being from the bottom of our hearts.
'Tokyo Magnitude 8.0” is a brilliant series that came out in 2009. Even then the Japanese were aware of the 70% chance of a magnitude 7.0 (or higher) earthquake taking place in, most probably Tokyo, within the coming 30 years. This anime explores the possibilities and consequences of a magnitude 8.0 earthquake, a speculation that has now become frightening reality.
“I hate this city. I hate my house and my parents. I hate it when my parents get angry at me too… I've had enough. Everything's such a bother. The world should just break.”- middle school freshman Mirai Onozawa, while typing these words into her cell-diary, had absolutely no way of knowing how quickly her wish was going to come true, and how tragically so. Mirai, her younger brother Yuuki and their parents - they're your typical urban nuclear family with their typical urban-life problems. While Mirai and Yuuki were on their own visiting a Robot convention in Odaiba, Tokyo got hit by the massive magnitude 8.0 earthquake. Tsunami and frequent aftershocks followed, with all-consuming fires breaking out here and there. All communications and transport facilities were cut off, leaving Mirai and little Yuuki stranded in the artificial island of Odaiba. Now, they must journey back home accompanied by Kusakabe Mari, a kind woman who promises to take care of them till they reach home. The journey will be a treacherous yet enlightening one; gaining new experiences and realisations about themselves and fellow humans, and how they react in the face of great crisis.
“This work of fiction surrounding the circumstances of a massive earthquake in Tokyo is based on tremendous amounts of research and verification. Striving for a sense of realism, many simulations were thought of to create this original story. However, circumstances may be different from the real thing.”- goes the disclaimer for each episode. And sure enough, their tremendous amounts of research really shows - from the minutely detailed opening sketches to the gorgeous background art, disaster-impact scenes and scientifically accurate depiction of related events - this series is a winner, no doubt about it. However, as is the case with stories involving calamities and tragic warfare, you only feel the actual gravity of the whole thing once you start believing it's real. Call it appropriate timing, but watching TM 8.0 at a time when an actual close- range earthquake is taking place in real-life Japan, makes the anime a bone-chilling experience for the viewer. You see the great buildings collapsing like dominos, the beautiful Odaiba bridge twisted and torn like a flimsy sheet of metal, the famous Tokyo Tower uprooted in its entirety - and you cannot help but shudder thinking about the level of destruction taking place before your eyes.
Thanks to the staff's meticulous research and hard work, the depiction of scientific and geological events are flawless, bearing uncanny similarities in many cases to the real thing (the death toll, the magnitude, the epicenter being in the northern region, the aftershocks, tsunami and fire. The only element left out is probably the nuclear crisis). But then again, as many critiques say, the real magic of the anime lies mostly with the 'human' element rather than the depiction of mass-destruction. We see the lament of people who have lost close ones, the panic-stricken people pushing and shoving past others like selfish little beings. They get into fights trying to get ahead of others. And yet these same people are seen growing stronger with each passing moment, dealing with their grief by helping others, encouraging those who have nearly lost all hope. Like the little plant that got nearly crushed by a storm and yet dreams of standing up once again, this anime conveys the message of everlasting hope. And when you watch it, even a little, you start feeling for its simple-looking characters and their simple yet intensely human emotions.
Any other time of the year, this anime may not have been that much of an interesting watch. But given the current circumstances, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is a personal recommendation from this reviewer. Maybe it can be a little peek-through-the-window to understanding what the Japanese are going through right now in their country… and a warning-demo for us lest, God forbid, something similar should happen here.
It's that time of the year again. The world is once again full of ingenious pranks and enjoyable moronity to go with it. We at RS have suffered our fair share of pranks played on us by those unforgiving souls we call our friends. So if you decide to just ditch the whole April Fool thing but still laugh at the whole world, television is your remedy. We have compiled a list of shows, a single episode of which can lighten up your day. Enough with drama and reality people, those things are overrated.
Arrested Development (2003-06): For a lot of sitcoms, you just get the feeling that the writers for the show hardly sat in a room together to discuss the story. The story of the show becomes a mash of whatever they were thinking about at that time and don't relate a few seasons later. Arrested Development on the other hand has a coherent feel to it. But saying that about Arrested Development is really demeaning. The dysfunctional (and mostly downright freakish) Bluth Family has inspired hundreds of tiny-jokes that only the initiated would understand and has become a cult-classic. And also, possibly the funniest TV show ever made.
Inbetweeners (2008-2010): Inbetweeners is a breath of fresh air in the comedy world. You don't have to be an intellectual to understand the humour, and the nice mix of characters makes your time worthwhile. Embarrassing and utterly hilarious, this is the best comedy of the new generation.
30ROCK (2006-present): Comedy maestro Tina Fey showed the whole world that comedy does not need to be dumbed down to reach people. Her oddball comedy 30ROCK is most definitely the funniest and culturally literate show at our time. This comedy is a gem in the TV world and Jack Donaghy kicks butt.
The Office: Watch the UK version or the US one, you'll love it. Steve Carell and Ricky Gervais both are fantastic comedians and seeing them play a moronic jerk is a dream come true. The Office is complete with some fleeting flirtations and office romances as well as some ego clashes and some utterly inappropriate office behaviour. It's a shame that the US version didn't quit when it reached its peak, though.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: In The Daily Show we've all come to know and love, no act of political duplicity or illogical speech goes unmocked. Jon Stewart's best work is reflected in analysing the media news cycle's tendency toward exaggeration, fear-mongering, and saying one thing at the top of the hour, then the exact opposite thing at the next. Even for those who don't follow politics closely, this is an awesome show.
Coupling (2000-2004): They say Coupling is a show that is a cross between Friends and Sex and the City; neither of those shows are, however, as intelligent as Coupling is (Friends fans please don't kill us). This show is shamelessly funny and one of the best British shows ever, but probably not everyone's cup of tea.
Saturday Night Live: SNL is not just a show, it's a culture. This show doesn't go easy on anyone. From world leaders to screen wreckers, SNL has mocked them all. And it's still going strong after 35 years. A must watch for comedy lovers.
There you go, if you want a risk-free April Fools' day that's still high on fun. Give them a watch. You will not regret it!
Speaking for the Youth
By Musarrat Rahman
We know her as Taylor McKessie from Disney's immensely popular High School Musical franchise, but now it's time we get introduced to Monique Coleman, the first ever Youth Champion of UN's Year of the Youth. She's on a mission around the world to experience firsthand every hardship the youth of the world are facing so that she can get involved and do something about it!
The UN General Assembly, through its resolution 64/134 of 1 February 2010, has proclaimed 2010 (commencing on 12 August 2010 through 11 August 2011) as the International Year of the Youth. The theme of the year is: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding.
Who better to spearhead this campaign than teen idol actress and activist Monique Coleman! Monique has vowed to be the voice of the youth, raise awareness about all the serious challenges youths all over the world face while highlighting the contributions they make to their societies and communities.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon believes that the youth of today deserve full access to education, adequate healthcare, employment opportunities, financial services and full participation in public life. He believes that the youth of the world should be given a chance to take an active part in the decision-making of local, national and global levels. The youth of today have all this passion, creativity and innovative ideas that need to be heard and implemented and through Monique, the UN hopes to do that.
Monique Coleman has always been involved in activism. Since she was a child growing up in South Carolina she has been involved in her community. As soon as she was old enough to be the voice for people not as privileged as her, she's been helping them out. After the huge success of High School Musical, she decided it was time for her to focus on her philanthropy and being named the Youth Champion for UN gave her the perfect opportunity to do that. She started her on web series called GimmeMo where she tackles dominant youth issues such as teen homelessness, poverty, obesity, becoming environmentally conscious, body image, sex, drugs and much, much more. The goal of the show was to create a safe platform for teens to open up and talk about real issues so as to raise awareness. She also conducts celebrity interviews, shining a spotlight on Hollywood's commitment to giving back.
Her tour around the world has taken her to Australia, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, China, Japan, Bangladesh and now India, where she's constantly meeting young people who are so full of spirit and creativity. She believes that all change comes from raising awareness and that is her goal on her trip.
She's seen the positive and the negative of every nation and been truly dazzled by our colourful culture and the welcoming people. She understands that perhaps it is not entirely possible for the youth of our nation to have as much of a say as we'd like but she urges us to keep fighting for our beliefs. She urges us to push boundaries, ourselves, to constantly educate ourselves, to be global citizens and to think outside the box. She believes that anything can be achieved through discipline and hard work.
So what's Monique's advice for us? “Be brave. Be braver than you've ever been in your whole life. Keep your eyes open and believe in yourself. You are in a prime position to change the world around you.”
Check out gimmiemo.com or follow her on Twitter/Facebook to stay updated with Monique!
Photo credit: Shafayet Chowdhury