When I first started watching TM 8.0 I was struck not by the inventive storyline, or any sort of stunning new levels of animation quality but by how true the main characters felt. In TM 8.0 you won’t find any fourteen year old kids piloting multi-billion dollar mecha, or any eleven old espers, or adults that are dumber than the children that surround them.

       Basically, TM 8.0 is told and experienced from the perspective of Mirai is your typical 13-14 year old girl, she’s at the point in her life were she’s trying to come to grips with her identity, she’s not a little girl any longer in physical terms but neither is she a young woman  in emotional terms. Mirai feels frustrated because she knows she not a child any longer but she thinks that she’s still looked at as being a child, so in affect she thinks the world sucks and nobody understands her, she’s a typical normal young teen aged girl. In TM 8.0 Mirai represents the self, but a self that is disconnected with those around her and her responsibilities to family and society.

normal teenaged feelings

       Along for the call to adventure is Mirai’s younger brother Yuuki, and he’s your typical energetic and lively young boy, Yuuki rushes forward with enthusiasm to the objects of his interest. In TM 8.0 Yuuki represents innocence, but not just is own, he also represents Mirai’s innocence. The third member along for the call to adventure is Mari, she’s in her late twenties to early thirties, and Mari serves as mother and guardian to both Yuuki and Mirai. In TM 8.0 Mari represents what us adult might aspire to be in that situation by protecting and guarding the weak.

Mari, Mirai and Yuuki

        When Tokyo was devastated by the 8.0 earthquake Mirai, Yuuki, and Mari became travelling companions on a journey of survival where they experienced devastation, loss, and suffering but they also learned a lot about themselves. The greatest personal growth was experienced by Mirai, before the earthquake she was pretty self-centered and oblivious to her roles, to her friends, to her brother, to her parents, and to the greater society. But, as the group travel through the devastated landscape Mirai began to notice the sufferings of others, courage in the face of loss, and normal citizens doing their best to help others and she found herself lacking. What makes the turn of events even more heart rending is that at the moment Mirai vows to be a better sister, a better daughter, and help when she can her world is turned upside down by the loss of her brother, when Yuuki died so died Mirai’s innocence.

do you want me to carry that bag

       With Yuuki death his backpack and the bridge take on tremendous symbolic importance, Mari offers to carry it but Mirai declines saying that it’s her brother’s, so she’ll carry it. So, the pack takes on the meaning that Mirai now has to live her life by paying off the obligation she owns to her dead brothers spirit for the love she received from him and sometimes didn’t repay in kind. In Asian and Japanese culture family roles and obligations are of extreme importance, in affect, Mirai must live her life as good person  honoring the memory of her brother. Also, under the principles of Confucianism names have importance; Mirai’s name can mean the future, and Yuuki’s name can mean strength, or courage but it can also mean tender hope or gentle hope. So, when Mirai crosses that bridge she must begin a new phase of her life and move forward towards the future with tender/gentle hope as a better daughter, a better friend, and a person connected to the world around her.

       Now this is major speculation on my part, I also think that the backpack might also include Yuuki’s remains, with the high rate of deaths normal Japanese/Buddhist funeral procedures were probably suspended and Yuuki was probably cremated right away so Mirai was telling the truth when she told Yuuki that she would get them home.

the bridge to the future
Sleep pretty darling do not cry
And I will sing a lullabye

Golden slumbers fill your eyes
Smiles awake you when you rise
Sleep pretty darling do not cry
And I will sing a lullabye

Once there was a way to get back homeward
Once there was a way to get back home
Sleep pretty darling do not cry
And I will sing a lullabye 

Boy, you’re going to carry that weight,
Carry that weight a long time
Boy, you’re going to carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time

I never give you my pillow
I only send you my invitations
And in the middle of the celebrations

I break down

Boy, you’re going to carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time
Boy, you’re going to carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time 

Oh yeah, all right
Are you going to be in my dreams
Tonight?

And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make

References for this article.

Cultural Experience in Japanese Death Legends-Michiko Iwasaka & Barre Toelken

Masks of the Gods V4-Joseph Campbell

Hero with Thousand Faces-Joseph Campbell