I have previously written a post about the movies Nihon Chinbotsu (日本沈没) known as ‘Japan Sinks‘ in English. As I wrote in that post, I had studied the two versions of that title for my article about disaster movies, but as I wrote the post I discovered that there was a new version of the title – this time an anime series. Having found that it was available on Netflix, I have watched it over the past few days and this post is a few observations from that.
The first thing I should say is that I am not a particular fan of anime or manga. I have enjoyed a few of the anime that I have watched, but the only manga I really ever got into was Kurosagi Shitai Takuhaibin. When flying to/from Japan, I will usually watch the Japanese movies and TV programmes available – but will only go for an anime once I have eliminated the other options. So, I wasn’t particularly interested in watching Japan Sinks 2020 as an anime. I was interested in watching it having read the book (many, many years ago) and having watched the movie versions of it.
My overall impression was that it was OK. It started off well enough, and I enjoyed the first three episodes, but the rest of it was a bit more of a battle. I had made the mistake of listening to the English version – which was probably the wrong move to start with. This was not helped by also having the English subtitles on (I always turn on subtitles if they are available) – but discovering that they didn’t match up with the spoken words. I considered both switching them off or changing to the Japanese version, but having started in English, decided to persevere. I may have enjoyed the series more if I’d gone with the Japanese version from the start.
Anime weren’t included in my study of disaster movies and this series provided further justification for that decision. Having said that, I could not help but tick off the conventions that I developed for the article as they came up in the series. Although I didn’t methodically note them down, looking at the list now, I can easily see that at least 14 of the 17 appear in the series. Of these, ‘contemporary significance’ is worth a particular mention as (a) 2020 has been a difficult year due to COVID-19 and so the issues relating to disasters are particularly pertinent, and (b) over the days when I watching the series there seemed to be a spike in earthquakes hitting Japan. 2021 can’t come quick enough!
One aspect that someone may want to look at further is the way in which the four versions (novel, two movies and anime series) have changed. None of the stories are exactly the same (though I admit it’s a long time since I read the novel, so it may be that there is a strong correlation between it and the original movie) and one feature of the anime version is how it had brought in many aspects of contemporary life to try to make it relevant to a new audience. I have done this to an extent with Climber’s High and Shizumanu Taiyo in a chapter that I have recently completed, but I have no plans (at the moment!) to do this with Japan Sinks.
For more information about Japan Sinks 2020 – see the entry on IMDb.