A freelance anime blogger, cosplayer and amateur artist.
Japan Sinks: 2020 is based on the 1973 novel of a similar name, following a middle-class urban family’s struggle to survive an earthquake-ravaged country. It’s directed by filmmaker Masaaki Yusua, who was also in charge of popular anime hits such as Devilman Crybaby and Mind Games. He is known for his wild and free form style that also explores the relationship between humans and ‘emotional reality’. His works have often used vivid imagery to get his point through to the public.
His new work Japan Sinks: 2020 takes on a more destructive route with its focus on the natural disaster, earthquakes. Contrary to his previous works, that were violent and gory, it features things eerily close to reality such as separation of family, multiple deaths, and the need to quickly adapt in a catastrophe. The suffering of guilt from being a survivor while everyone else around you dies due to the disaster and also the quick need to accept the reality of what happened despite the misfortune that fell upon them.
(Note: Spoilers Ahead!)
The synopsis given by Netflix is the following, “After catastrophic earthquakes devastate Japan, one family's resolve is tested on a journey of survival through the sinking archipelago.” The primary focus of the anime being on the Mutous, an average working class family. The parents are optimistic while their daughter, Ayamu, is suffering from the guilt of being the only survivor of her track team. Their journey to the West started on a good run, but happiness and hope doesn’t last long before tragedy after tragedy hits.
Personally, I didn’t like the series as much as I thought. The point that Yusua was trying to make definitely got through though. The constant deaths of main characters and also supporting characters was heart-wrenching and I even cried at times. But, let's start with the pro’s before the cons.
The artwork was unique and the scenery was beautiful. I love the fact that, throughout the 10 episodes, there were good character developments and that we’re given information even on side characters. Japan Sinks: 2020 really makes you love the characters despite the things that befalls them. They were well thought out and carefully planned which allowed me to really enjoy each character.
As for the cons, maybe I had too big of an expectation of the anime when I came across the trailer? The first episode was great, don't get me wrong, but maybe the constant deaths of characters were way too much for me to handle. Some of them felt really unnecessary and they’re never given the time to mourn for the loss of their friends or family. It was legit just, “Oh. they died, let’s move on.” I understand that seeing death all around you can numb you but they just never really reacted the way I thought they would. I saw everything that I had expected when I heard the concept, “Japan sinking and then earthquakes destroying homes, etc.”
I saw the greed between human beings, selflessness, and bonding between people in the roughest of time, but I just didn’t see the mourning that was needed from the characters at all! It felt rushed and that it could have been better. It was a special and amazing concept and would have been a great hit with positive critiques if only it was executed better. Maybe if they had more episodes or if their budget was bigger then we could have seen a different result.
Overall, I still suggest this anime for you to watch since it does have an unique concept that has not been touched upon. Maybe you guys aren’t as sensitive to these details as I am but if you have seen it, please do comment your opinions on it below!