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The dog always dies. Go to the library and pick out a book with an award sticker and a dog on the cover. Trust me, that dog is going down.

The above is a quote taken from a book called No More Dead Dogs. I haven't actually read the book but ran across it because the quote is featured on a tvtropes page named Death by Newbery Medal. Since socarefully is probably the only person actually still reading this on the LJ side of things and also just happens to be foreign, I'll provide the wiki link for the Newbery Medal and spare her the pain of having to google it. Basically, it's an award given to fiction written for teens/young adults. It's probably the most prestigious award of its type and any library in this country (not to mention school curriculum) will be packed with award winners.

The quote at the top of the entry and the tvtropes link describes the fact that in order to win one of these awards, you usually have to write something about the pain of growing up, and it almost inevitably involves some sort of tragedy. This means that while the main character is safe, because they obviously have to live on and grow from the shocking experience, any other overly lovable character automatically gets the bullseye painted on their forehead. God help you if you're furry and friendly to boot because you end up having the life expectancy of a girl engaging in a threesome while smoking pot in a horror movie.



The reason I bring up the Newbery Medal in this entry is because it, and its tv trope entry, automatically came to mind when I watched a recent anime called Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. Tokyo 8.0 is a 12 episode anime which tells the story of a sister and brother braving the aftermath of an earthquake in which they are separated from their parents and far from home. They end up having to travel across a devastated landscape, luckily helped out by an adult they happen to meet soon after the disaster, and all three try to make it back to their respective homes and family. The main character of the story is Mirai, a 13-year old girl who manages to merge emo with your more traditional whiny teenage rebellion. If you can overcome your desire to slap her in the face before halfway through the story you're a better person than I am. On the flip side, her brother Yuuki is a happy and cheerful boy who loves both his sister and his parents and only wishes they could spend more time together. If you're getting that ominous feeling in the back of your mind given what I've said about the Newbery Medal, you're pretty much right on track.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is really a very well done anime and I liked it despite myself. My problems with it only come upon reflection after the whole thing was over since you can't help but feel as if it were jerking your chain. Mirai's character is so obstinately obnoxious through most of the series that it's really hard not to dislike her, especially when it's held up so consistently against Yuuki's happy-go-lucky optimism. You only realize after the tragic reveal that everything was scripted that way only to give you the maximum emotional rollercoaster. Hell, at this point I'm sure that with just what I've described so far you could write your own ending to the story and it wouldn't be far different. Would it surprise you to know that the loss of Yuuki gives Mirai a new attitude and lease on life? That she now appreciates her parents and gets along with them? It only adds to the afterschool special quality of the show that the character's names themselves are chock full of symbolism. Yuuki in Japanese means courage and Mirai means the future. Just with that you could write a synopsis of how, with courage, one can struggle through adversity, the earthquake, and find a better future.

For all that I felt it was jerking my chain, it's hard not to recommend Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 as an anime to see. It's not a very long series and manages to capture all sides of human nature, both good and bad, that can be expected during a crisis situation. There's probably a lot of truth to the idea that you find both the best and worst of mankind in those situations where people are pushed to their limit. It should be no surprise that while the anime shows you the darker side, its own view is of the more optimistic. I've probably ruined the 'twist' for you through this review but I think you're better off for knowing it's there. If nothing else you won't feel as manipulated as I was.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
socarefully
Jul. 6th, 2010 05:10 pm (UTC)
Hahahaha.

I haven't heard of the Newbery medal before (you know how in a world of my own I can be with things)....Although I notice Neil Gaiman won it for the Graveyard Book ~ I love almost everything by him.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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