2020 has been a disaster of a year so it’s only fitting that an anime comes out, set in that year, where massive earthquakes cause Japan to begin sinking.
It also makes sense then that the anime is a bit of a mess, again, just like 2020.
Directed by Pyeon-Gang Ho and Masaaki Yuasa, Japan Sinks follows the Muto family who are caught up in the disaster of their country sinking beneath their feet.
The family consists of aspiring runner Auyumu (Reina Ueda), her brother, the gamer Go (Tomu Muranaka), and their parents, dedicate father Koichiro (Masaki Terasoma), and Filipino working mother Mari (Yuko Sasaki).
Over the course of the anime, they struggle to survive, encountering many other survivors who join them on their journey, but not everyone makes it out alive.
The first three episodes of Japan Sinks are very well done, for the most part, depicting the horror that such a disaster would have expertly, except for a few weird scenes like characters taking family photos in the midst of this.
These episodes also establish that no character is safe, which makes for a lot of tense moments, considering that I came to like a lot of these characters.
Surprisingly, my favourite characters came from outside the Muto family, primarily Haruo Koga (Hiroyuki Yoshino), Auyumu’s former friend turned introvert, and Kite (Kensho Ono), a famous YouTuber.
Both these characters have great arcs that made me really care for them as the show went on.
I wish my care for certain characters had extended to a love for the show but, unfortunately, it couldn’t for a variety of reasons.
The primary reason though is that episodes four to six are a complete waste of time, introducing mostly terrible characters, and some awful animation.
It took me ten days to watch the entire show and, of that time, it took me five days to get through episodes four to six.
That should tell you how much of a drag those episodes were.
On the plus side though, episode six did provide the most unintentionally hilarious death scene I have ever had the pleasure of seeing.
Other problems persist throughout Japan Sinks, like the animation issues, amount of unexplained events and coincidences, and characters acting like no real person would, for example, seemingly moving on immediately after a loved one dies.
These problems are seen throughout the show and really drag its high moments down, although there are a fair amount of these high moments.
After episode six, the story picks up again and the episodes are actually enjoyable, delivering a reflective finale that brought a smile to my face.
Then there are the themes, which are very well handled.
For example, the show tackles racism in Japan with the mixed family of the Mutos experiencing a lot of it from purely Japanese people.
Also, I like a lot of the subtlety for certain characters, like Kite, who we learn something about in the final episode that I honestly didn’t catch until another review pointed it out to me.
There is a lot of good things about Japan Sinks.
It’s just a shame that the majority of those good things are dragged down by some truly awful episodes, animation issues and inconsistencies.
Japan Sinks is a mixed bag that delivers plenty of good moments but also a lot of bad moments.
So, I guess you could say that the show is 2020 in a nutshell.