Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, Episode 05: Models and Symbols of Love
Deeply moving and sensitively crafted, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 is a wonderful series. Showing both the good and bad that dwells in our hearts, the series provide an effective framework for discussing love, hate, sin, and the nature of humanity. Of all the episodes, maybe the fifth presents these ideas and others most strongly, as Mari and the kids find shelter and are attended to by an older gentleman.
Growing Through Pain
A charge often levied at God is this: If He exists and is a good God, why do the innocent have to suffer? The answer Christians give is that we live in a fallen world; God helps us through pain, but we must endure. And in fact, it’s through pain that we grow closer to Him. Understanding the nature of pain and growing through it can be a process, as reflected in several characters in this episode:
- One woman, shown crying, just can’t take the pain anymore. Obviously, it’s absolutely normal and healthy to express grief, but for the purposes of this illustration, she represents one with little or no understanding of the idea of growing closer to God through pain.
- Mirai is in the process of growing. She begins the series as an extremely bratty adolescent, but slowly grows as she begins to understand the world is not all about herself. In this episode, she asks others what she can do and opens herself to Mari, even curling up next to her as they sleep. She also tries to encourage her brother when he sees the dead and injured. She represents a young believer – one growing in her faith.
- Finally, Mr. Furuichi, the older gentleman in the episode, takes charge in caring for others; later, we discover that he does this even though he is in pain. He represents a mature Christian and one who loves others despite his own pain.
Notice that as one grows, he becomes less about self and more about others. Growing closer to God works hand in hand with loving others.
The symbols in this episode are rich, fluctuating between showing brokenness and wholeness. For instance, the kids are looking forward to seeing stained glass, but when they do, its broken, demonstrating the physical and emotional pain of the people of Tokyo. Later, the fountain becomes an important symbol – it’s what the stained glass should have been, whole and glimmering, representing healing and fullness that will eventually come.
The moon, too, plays a role in this episode, with a crescent moon symbolizing the stage that the people are currently in.
As inferred earlier, this episode is all about growing through pain by loving others. The symbols tell us that though they are broken now, through love and giving they will become whole again.
And that leads to my final point.
Love Through Serving
Mr. Furuichi is a wonderful character. We like him before we even know the back story we hear near the end of the episode because he’s an elderly man helping the victims, while younger people all around him are unable to take the lead. Later, he becomes all the more endearing when we find that he is in immense emotional pain, having lost his visiting grandchildren to the earthquake.
And yet, he continues to serve others.
His sacrifice changes others. Mirai cries at his story and determines that she, too, must help others. Besides Mari, it is probably Mr. Furuichi that affects Mirai the most as she matures in the series.
The power of serving others is amazing. It emphasizes grace. The order of the relationships changes, as the one who serves now puts herself below the served. This is what Jesus did throughout His ministry and especially as He offered His life for a people who didn’t appreciate the sacrifice. This is a power that changes lives.
In the end, this sacrificial, serving kind of love is what we should aim to have and demonstrate. It can move both mountains and, perhaps more remarkably, people. And in the midst of tragedy, whether on a grand scale or a personal one, love is the beginning, middle, and end of that which is needed most – healing.