Japan Sinks: 2020
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Japan Sinks: 2020 is a dark, mature anime series directed by Masaaki Yuasa about the destruction of Japan after a series of catastrophic natural disasters, and a close-knit family trying to survive the aftermath. Violence includes people shown falling from the sky, getting hurt, and mortally wounded (blood is visible). There's some racist behavior, too. The subject matter is too strong for younger viewers, and might be a bit much for those who have survived natural disasters in their own lives.
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What's the Story?
Adapted from Sakyo Komatsu's bestselling 1973 novel Japan Sinks, the anime series JAPAN SINKS: 2020 follows an ordinary family and the people they meet as they navigate the apocalyptic end of their country. When a series of catastrophic earthquakes strike Japan, high school student Ayumu Mutou (voiced in English by Faye Mata) manages to locate her father, Haruo (Billy Kametz), and eventually reunite with her mother, Mari (Grace Lynn Kung), and Go (Ryan Bartley). Together they attempt to lead a handful of survivors to safety. But with the help of a few working cellphones and occasional internet signals, they learn from outside sources that Japan is quickly sinking. As they navigate their way toward rescuers, they suffer unimaginable losses, but the Mutous also come closer together.
Is It Any Good?
This harrowing series, directed by Masaaki Yuasa, challenges viewers with a dark storyline in which people are struggling to survive in a world that will soon no longer exist. Catastrophes are plenty, and as the story moves forward, the instinctual desire to survive often brings out the worst in people. But the Mutou family somehow manages to stay relatively upbeat, and their bond grows closer as they look for ways to keep going. Their loving relationship bring a sense of warmth to an otherwise bleak and gloomy story world, which is further enhanced by the flat but detailed animation style.
Watching the Mutous, and the people they come across, suffering through the experience isn't easy at first. But about halfway through the series, the death of characters almost becomes routine, making it easier for viewers to simply accept their fates and move on. Meanwhile, unlike the original novel, Japan Sinks: 2020 offers few takeaways from the whole experience beyond watching people attempt to survive an apocalyptic nightmare.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the meaning behind Japan Sinks: 2020. Is it just about the demise of Japan? Or is it attempting to present a broader message? What is it?
The Mutous manage to support each other (and others) and manage to keep going because of it. How do they manage to keep their spirits up? How are things like photographs and yams used to tell their story?
- Premiere date: July 11, 2020
- Cast: Faye Mata, Billy Kametz, Ryan Bartley
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- Character Strengths: Compassion, Courage, Perseverance
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Last updated: February 18, 2023
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