A cataclysmic earthquake strikes Japan, something unlike what the residents have ever experienced before, leaving in its wake tumbled buildings, airline crashes, and untold deaths. In the midst of this, the Mutoh family must find one another and stay together, as the consequences of this event are only just beginning to unfold in this series, based Sakyo Komatsu’s 1973 disaster novel.
The summary above is short—there’s not much to explain about the first episode without ruining it, and I feel that even those couple of sentences may be too full of spoilers. So without revealing too much, I hope you’ll check this series out and experience it. The brilliant Masaaki Yuasa, whose Keep Your Hands off Eizouken! may be the best anime so far this year, has again shown his ability to deliver something totally different with each project. Comparisons will be made to Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, and while emotionally and topically the two compare, Japan Sinks: 2020 is on a whole other level in the story it’s telling and the way it’s executed. A better comparison would be to Saving Private Ryan or United 93, as this series is guttural and experiential. Yuasa’s animation remains wondrously different, but the direction is what stands out in episode one—its mesmerizing in its violence (the show is rated M) and in how the shaking feels real and vengeful, the latter especially as the effects of the earthquake are revealed (including in a most unexpected ending)—as well as the calming music, making the episode all the more fearsome and our ties to the Mutoh family that much more heartfelt.
The challenge with Netflix, of course, has been that it releases the entire series at once, meaning that viewers would have to wait for the season to conclude first. However, Netflix has been premiering anime more as of late, including with this ONA, so you can watch the entire show right now if you’d like—and you should, because this very well could be the best anime of 2020, and a perfectly frightening one for the unsettling world we have found ourselves in.
The entire Japan Sinks: 2020 series can be streamed now on Netflix.