Japan Sinks

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Japan Sinks
Japan sinks novel.jpg
AuthorSakyo Komatsu
Original title日本沈没
TranslatorMichael Gallagher
GenreScience fiction thriller
Kodansha Int'l
Publication date
Published in English
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages224 pp
Japan Sinks: 2020
Original net animation
Directed byPyeon-Gang Ho
Masaaki Yuasa
Written byToshio Yoshitaka
Music byKensuke Ushio
StudioScience Saru
Licensed byNetflix
ReleasedJuly 9, 2020
Runtime25–32 minutes
Episodes10 (List of episodes)
Wikipe-tan face.svg Anime and manga portal

Japan Sinks (Japanese: 日本沈没, Hepburn: Nippon Chinbotsu) is a disaster novel by Japanese writer Sakyo Komatsu, published in 1973. Komatsu took nine years to complete the work. The publisher wanted it to be written in two different sections, both published at the same time. The novel received the 27th Mystery Writers of Japan Award and the Seiun Award for a Japanese novel-length work. In 1995, after the Osaka-Kobe earthquake, Komatsu published a second English abridged edition (ISBN 4-7700-2039-2). In 2006, a sequel to the novel was published and there is talk of a third.

The novel has led to works in other media as well as a sequel: a film based on the novel made in the same year directed by Shiro Moritani, a television show by TBS and Toho broadcast in 1974–75, a film remake in 2006 by Shinji Higuchi, and an original net anime series on Netflix by Science Saru in July 2020.

Geophysical background[edit]

Japan is on a destructive plate boundary, where the Philippine Plate subducts the Eurasian Plate. It is a triple junction and three subduction zones are involved. After the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, towns like Ishinomaki subsided.

Political background[edit]

This novel is now seen as an important look into the cultural context of 1970s Japan, particularly due to its level of popularity.[1]

Anime adaptation[edit]

An original net animation (ONA) anime series adaptation of the novel was announced on October 9, 2019. The series, titled Japan Sinks: 2020, was animated by Science Saru, with Pyeon-Gang Ho serving as the series' director and Masaaki Yuasa as director. Toshio Yoshitaka handled series composition, Naoya Wada designed the characters, and Kensuke Ushio composed the series' music. Yuko Sasaki, Reina Ueda and Tomo Muranaka are credited with starring roles. It was released worldwide by Netflix on July 9, 2020.[2]


Shortly after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a major earthquake hits Japan. Amidst the chaos, the Mutou siblings Ayumu (a middle school student and track and field athlete) and her younger brother Gou (an elementary schooler and video game enthusiast) attempt to escape the city with their family and friends. However, the sinking Japanese archipelago complicates their escape. Plunged into extreme conditions, the Mutou siblings believe in the future and acquire the strength to survive with utmost effort.

Voice cast[edit]

Character Japanese voice actor English dub actor
Mari Mutō (武藤 マリ) Yuko Sasaki Grace Lynn Kung
Ayumu Mutō (武藤 歩) Reina Ueda Faye Mata
Gō Mutō (武藤 剛) Tomo Muranaka Ryan Bartley
Kōichirō Mutō (武藤 航一郎) Masaki Terasoma Keith Silverstein
Osamu Asada (浅田 修) Daiki Hamano Jamieson Price
Haruo Koga (古賀 春生) Hiroyuki Yoshino Billy Kametz
Kaito / Kite Kensho Ono Aleks Le
Nanami Miura (三浦 七海) Nanako Mori Abby Trott
Kanae Murota (室田 叶恵) Tomoko Shiota Cathy Cavadini
Kunio Hikita (疋田 国夫) Umeji Sasaki Doug Stone
Saburō Ōtani (大谷 三郎) Taichi Takeda Kim Strauss
Daniel Gensho Tasaka George Cockle

Episode list[edit]

No. Title Original release date
1"The Beginning of the End"
Transcription: "Owari no hajimari" (Japanese: オワリノハジマリ (終わりの始まり))
July 9, 2020 (2020-07-09)
Shortly after the conclusion of the 2020 Olympics, the Mutou family go about their lives in and around Tokyo. Ayumu, a middle school student, is attending track practice when an earthquake shakes the ground, leading the coach to cancel the rest of the practice. While the team changes in the locker room, a massive earthquake strikes Tokyo, destroying the building containing the locker room and killing as well as wounding most of the team. Ayumu, mostly unharmed, abandons her teammates and flees the ruins with only a small gash on her left leg. Her father, Koichiro, is working on a jumbotron in Olympic Stadium when the quake strikes, but the harness he is wearing saves his life. Ayumu's younger brother Go is at home alone playing video games when the earthquake strikes; he is struck by debris on his head and is knocked unconscious. Mari, the siblings' mother, has her flight from the Philippines to Tokyo affected by the earthquake; the damaged plane crash-lands in a canal. The family eventually reunites at a hilltop shrine near their now demolished home. Nanami, a neighbor of the Mutou family, finds Go and brings him to the hill, where Koichiro stitches his wounds. The family takes a photo to celebrate the reunion, but the celebration is interrupted by a burning helicopter passing overhead; the butchered bodies of its passengers fall from the sky, while the helicopter spirals downward and crashes in a firestorm.
2"Farewell, Tokyo"
Transcription: "Saraba, Tōkyō" (Japanese: さらば、東京)
July 9, 2020 (2020-07-09)
The survivors on the hilltop receive news that water levels around them are suddenly rising, that the Okinawa Islands have sunk, and the Ibaraki region is being flooded. The next day, the survivors decide to leave their refuge, and the Mutous, alongside Nanami and former runner Haruo, decide to separate from the rest of the group after one of Go's foreign gamer friends communicates that the west side of the country still has electricity. They enter a forest, where they find plentiful water and Koichiro hunts a boar, but Ayumu, sickened by the sight of the boar being cut, refuses to eat it. The next day, while digging for Japanese yams, Koichiro strikes a buried explosive device with his shovel and is killed instantly when it explodes.
3"A New Hope"
Transcription: "Aratana Kibō" (Japanese: 新たな希望)
July 9, 2020 (2020-07-09)
With the death of her father weighing on her conscience, Ayumu struggles to keep pace with the group and sparks an argument with her mother. A passing survivor gives the group a ride in his vehicle, only to attempt to rape Nanami when they attempt to stop and refuel. Nanami and Mari fight and defeat the man and take his vehicle; Nanami also takes the man's glasses and gives them to Haruo (replacing his old cracked up ones), an act which stirs feeling of jealousy in Ayumu. After having to abandon the vehicle at an impasse, the group travels up a mountainside, coming into view of Mount Fuji. When Ayumu asks Nanami to accompany her into a nearby gully to urinate and talk about Haruo, Nanami inhales toxic gas seeping into the gully from under the ground and dies instantly. Before Ayumu can try to rescue her, KITE, a popular Estonian YouTuber flying in a paraglide, warns her of the invisible danger. When he offers to take someone with him to safety and offers Go an Estonian chocolate bar, Ayumu, now racked with even more regret, lashes out at KITE. Mari asks KITE to take Go with him, but KITE decides to follow them instead and leads them out of the mountains. They stop at an empty supermarket to scavenge for supplies, where Ayumu briefly opens up to Haruo about hoping to see him run again, but an unseen assailant inside the store abruptly begins shooting arrows at the family. An arrow strikes Go in the chest as the episode concludes.
4"An Open Door"
Transcription: "Aita Doa" (Japanese: 開いたドア)
July 9, 2020 (2020-07-09)
The arrow that hits Go is stopped by the portable game system he had stored in his travel pack, saving his life. The attacker and store owner, Kunio, comes out to help Go and to apologize; the elderly man allows the group to stay the night in his store and fixes Go's game system as a storm rages outside. KITE informs the group that a nearby nuclear plant has failed and its fallout is contaminating the rain; the next day, he informs the group that the ground around them is unstable and that they need to leave. As the group is preparing to leave, another earthquake strikes, and Kunio offers them the use of his truck. They escape the collapsing mountainside and head toward Shan City, only to discover as they drive that the topography has changed dramatically and their maps have become unusable. Along the route, Mari picks up an eccentric English hitchhiker, Daniel; when Kunio, who holds resentment towards foreigners, objects to Daniel's joining them, Mari reveals that she is Filipino. The group arrives at Shan City, where they are welcomed warmly and allowed to bathe and eat at the cafeteria, leading Haruo to disclose to the group that he watched his mother be crushed to death in their home during the earthquake. Kunio is revealed to be a morphine addict suffering from withdrawal. Ayumu notices that the cut on her shin has become infected.
Transcription: "Iryūjon" (Japanese: イリュージョン)
July 9, 2020 (2020-07-09)
The Mutoh family tries to adapt to life in Shan City, with Go and Ayumu trying out the local school and Mari and Haruo working in the city's marijuana plantation. Ayumu is later sent to care for a wounded mute man at the community hospital. They soon find that the settlement is built around Kanae Murota, whom the community calls "Mother"; the leader of the community, she is a medium who speaks with the dead using objects formerly used by the deceased. Kunio takes an interest in Mother's son, Daichi; he seems to believe that Daichi is his missing grandchild and begins plotting to rescue him. While attempting to disprove Mother's power, KITE inadvertently proves her ability when she delivers Ayumu a message from Nanami through Haruo's glasses. The injured mute man tries to communicate to Ayumu in Morse Code that a small earthquake is about to strike, but she attributes the earthquake and the man's behavior to coincidence. Ayumu, Go, Haruo and KITE attend a rave where KITE plays Haruo's record, and Go spends time playing video-games at the local arcade. When a partygoer tries to assault Ayumu, she attacks and defeats him in front of a marijuana-intoxicated KITE, who finds the altercation funny. The next morning, after learning that Daniel is a survivor of the Yugoslav Wars, Mari tearfully opens up to Ayumu about Koichiro's death while cutting her hair. Meanwhile, Kunio enacts his plan to kidnap Daichi, only to pass out due to the effects of morphine withdrawal and crash into the front gate.
6"An Oracle"
Transcription: "Orakuru" (Japanese: オラクル)
July 9, 2020 (2020-07-09)
Still suffering from morphine withdrawal, Kunio is imprisoned in an underground cell after his failed kidnapping attempt. Mother decides to spare his life while the celebration of Daichi's birthday is underway. Ayumu, realizing that her patient is trying to communicate with her through Morse Code, provides him with an translation app and learns that he is Onodera, a submarine pilot who had predicted the imminent apocalyptic earthquake and subsequent sinking of Japan. Go discovers Kunio has been imprisoned and passes the information to KITE, who decides to rescue him. That night, Ayumu and Mari try to warn the people during festival that an earthquake is coming, but no one believes them, while KITE ignites a fire as a distraction and finds Kunio. As predicted, another earthquake strikes, and the big statue around which the settlement is built begins to collapse. KITE tries to escape with Kunio, but Kunio resists, having made up his mind to try to save Daichi. Meanwhile, Mother confronts some of her employees trying to steal money from her; in the shootout that follows, she is injured. Osamu helps her find Daichi in his room at the top of the statue; speaking for the first time, he thanks his mother before a large chunk of debris falls from the ceiling and hits him in the head, killing him instantly. Kunio joins them, now well aware that Daichi is not his grandchild and reveals that his real grandchild went missing during a landslide. He asks Kanae if she can communicate with his granddaughter; the emotionally devastated Kanae initially refuses but relents in the end, delivering Kunio her last words. Kanae decides to die in the collapse of the statue, along with Osamu and some of the employees, while the Mutous, Haruo, KITE and Onodera escape. Daniel decides to stay behind in Shan City, and Kunio uses his remaining strength to cover their escape just before the statue collapses.
7"The Dawn"
Transcription: "Yoake" (Japanese: 夜明け)
July 9, 2020 (2020-07-09)
The survivors learn that a government ship is evacuating the people in a nearby port and that the passengers chosen to board it are chosen through a lottery based on their ID numbers. Onodera warns the survivors that Mount Fuji is soon to erupt, which will spark another large earthquake. No one in the group knows what their ID numbers are, but Ayumu quickly learns that, due to her athletic abilities, she and other athletes have been granted special authorization to board the ship. While doing so will require her to leave her family behind, something she is reluctant to do, Mari encourages her to go; while bidding farewell to her family, she notices something in the pack hanging from Mari's waist and realizes that her mother is using a ventricular assist device to support her heart. She sprints off the ship to confront her mother; as the ship leaves, Mount Fuji erupts and an earthquake strikes, prompting the survivors to flee the port. They soon reach another port where an evacuation is taking place, but the megafloat is operated by nationalist Japanese fanatics, who refuse passage to the mixed-race Mutous. Another man offers them a place in his ship and they accept. Moments later, the megafloat runs aground and explodes, spraying shrapnel into the small ship and causing it to sink. In the process of abandoning the ship, Go and Ayumu enter a lifeboat along with the boat's owner, who is injured. Hours later, they navigate toward what they think is land, only to discover it is the roof of a building poking above the water. Japan has begun to sink.
8"Mom's Secret"
Transcription: "Mama no Himitsu" (Japanese: ママの秘密)
July 9, 2020 (2020-07-09)
Soon after the boat's owner shoots a distress flare, his injuries begin taking their toll on him. Ayumu wakes up to witnesses his decaying body being eaten by seagulls before a shark drags his corpse from the lifeboat. Adrift at sea, Ayumu and Go start hallucinating that their father Koichiro has joined them in the lifeboat; he admonishes them to catch birds that land on the lifeboat. Ayumu soon succeeds in catching a bird and forces it to regurgitate all the fish in its stomach, but the bird's beak accidentally punctures a hole in the floor of the lifeboat, which causes panic before Ayumu and Go can fix it. Ayumu and Go are eventually found by Mari and Haruo, who escaped the sinking using a solid metal lifeboat. They decide to sail to a set of coordinates Onodera shared with KITE which are near Hiroshima, far to the south of them. They find another motor boat, only to discover that its ropes are tangled in underwater debris. Mari decides to untangle the boat, revealing to the rest of the group that her ventricular assist device is running out of batteries. After saying her goodbyes to her children, she dives down and untangles the boat's ropes, only for her heart to stop while swimming back to the surface. Ayumu's and Haruo's efforts at resuscitating her are unsuccessful.
9"Japan Sinks"
Transcription: "Japanshinku" (Japanese: ジャパンシンク)
July 9, 2020 (2020-07-09)
After the now-orphaned Mutou siblings and their friends thank Mari for her sacrifice, the surviving group departs in the motor boat toward Onodera's coordinates. Soon they are approached by an amphibious military transport driven by KITE, who still has Onodera with him. They stop at an island along the way and, to relieve the group's tensions, KITE challenges the group to a rap battle: Go complains about the mediocrity of Japanese life and society, Haruo brings up the positive things about the things Go condemns, and Ayumu opens up about the need to have borders. Arriving at the coordinates Onodera identified, they find a cave, within which is Onodera's hidden lab. Inside the lab, KITE begins copying Onodera's research data off the drive, but an earthquake strikes and the cave began to sink and flood, at which point KITE breaks open the computer and removes the drive itself from the computer. KITE and Onodera narrowly escape the cave using an oxygen tank, but a leak in the tank nearly drowns Onodera. Once safe on shore, another tremor causes KITE to drop the drive off the ledge on which they stand, and it comes to rest in a small pool battered by strong waves. Being a former sprinter, Haruo volunteers to retrieve the drive while knowing the margin for returning himself to safety is thin. He is able to throw the drive back to Ayumu before the waves hit him and wash him out to sea. Now, only Ayumu, Go, Onodera and KITE are left.
Transcription: "Fukkatsu" (Japanese: 復活)
July 9, 2020 (2020-07-09)
KITE discovers the position of one of his satellite balloons nearby, and the group sails to it, where he fixes and inflates it. KITE then leaves his phone with Ayumu and Go before riding the balloon into the stormy clouds above by himself. He is able to use the balloon to reconnect to the internet, which transmits his phone's distress signal to a nearby search-and-rescue helicopter, which quickly rescues Ayumu, Go, and Onodera. The helicopter takes them to Russia, where they are admitted to a hospital; there, Ayumu learns that her infected leg will have to be amputated. That night, she receives a prerecorded birthday message from KITE which he took during the opening days of their ordeal, in which Mari, Haruo, Go, and KITE genially wish her a happy birthday. Moved to tears, she decides to go ahead with the surgery and have her infected leg removed. Two years after their recovery, Ayumu and Go are able to retrieve all the photos and videos from their parents' cloud storage and begin to write a biographical book based on their experiences. Six years later, the sunken islands of the Japanese archipelago begin to resurface, as Onodera predicted, and civilization has been fully rebuilt; Onodera himself is working with KITE to preserve public memories of pre-disaster Japan. At the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic and Paralympic Games, Go represents Japan as an eGames player, and Ayumu, now using a prosthetic leg, does the same as a long jumper.


A parody short story by Yasutaka Tsutsui, titled Nihon Igai Zenbu Chinbotsu (The Whole World Sinks Except Japan) was also released in 1973, and adapted into a film of the same name in 2006.


  1. ^ Napier, Susan. "Panic Sites: The Japanese Imagination of Disaster from Godzilla to Akira", Journal of Japanese Studies,Vol. 19, No. 2 (1993).
  2. ^ "Masaaki Yuasa's Japan Sinks: 2020 Anime Reveals Trailer, More Cast, July 9 Premiere", Anime News Network, retrieved 28 May 2020

External links[edit]