Japan Sinks

Reviewed by: sukting

July 10, 2010

Rating: two-point-five

How long
2 hours

This movie is on a blockbuster 1973 novel by Sakyo Komatsu. Horrible events happen after it is announced that the whole Japan is sinking. Earthquakes, tidal waves and volcanic eruptions cause millions dead and others homeless. Who will save it? Many thanks to Wx for lending the movie dvd to me.


It starts with an earthquake in Shizuoka. Tetsuo Onodera (Tsuyoshi Kusanagi) is a submersible pilot and finds a lost girl, Misaki (Mayuko Fukuda)on his way home. Electric lines go haywire and an explosion is started. Reiko Abe from the rescue team (Kou Shibasaki) flies a rescue helicopter to save them.

Geologists worry about Japan’s future. One says that the country will sink within 40 years. Another geoscientist, Yusuke Tadokoro (Etsushi Toyokawa) disagrees. He looks at rocks in different provinces. Tadokoro realizes Japan will sink in 339 days instead. Tadokoro reports to the Cabinet, wanting immediate action. None of the ministers believe him. He is even thrown out of the meeting room even after giving his explanation. They refuse to do anything even though the eruption of Mt Fuji is taking place.

The next day, Prime Minister Yamamoto goes to China to try moving Japanese refugees there. He gets Saori Takamori ( Mao Daichi) to be in charge of the disaster management. Tadokoro's predictions come true : there is a volcano eruption in Hokkaido and Mount Aso also bursts. The eruption destroys Yamamoto's plane when he returns to Japan while the residents escape frantically.

Takamori also panics when she finds out about his death. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions happen in Nagasaki, Kagoshima and Osaka. Japan refugees begin to cause chaos. The economy collapses as everyone runs for cover. The government declares a state of emergency but acting Prime Minister Kyosuke Nozaki (Jun Kunimura) insists that Japan will take five years to sink. He dismisses that as a rumour.

Nozaki does not help Takamori so she runs to Tadokoro's laboratory. He suggests using explosives injected into the crust to separate the land from the megalith pulling it down. She is his ex-wife and calls for help from all ships around the world. None is willing to risk his life.

Misaki's mother dies but she is determined to live on for her. Tokyo's population moves elsewhere. Onodera tells Reiko that he loves her and tries to get her to go to England with him. She rejects him, citing Japan as her country and she will never leave it. Evacuations continue throughout the country as the situation turns worse.

Onodera visits his mother in Fukushima but she will not leave her ancestors’graves too. She can never settle in another country. The Tokyo refugees are nearly killed by a landslide. Some fall to the valley underneath. Misaki is rescued by Reiko's family and they see how a overcrowded bridge collapses. They are horrified and awaits their fate in fear as they hug each other.

Tadokoro hires Yuki Tatsuya (Mitsuhiro Oikawa), Onodera's colleague to help to plant the detonation module. Unfortunately, Tatsuya is killed in the process. Onodera, replaces him by using an old submersible. It is not explained why he can’t get a new one. He spends a night with Reiko before the operation. Although he discovers the detonation module, a sudden landslide damages his submersible. It runs low on power. Onodera uses all the remaining supply to install the detonator.

Mount Fuji begins to erupt. Onodera is successful but dies. The warheads explode, creating a chain of explosions along the seafloor, saving Japan. Takamori gets on a carrier which is the government's temporary headquarters. Although she wants Nozaki to speak to the refugees, her colleagues choose her to do it instead as she is leading the operation. She tells the people to return as it is safe now.

All hold a moment of silence in honor of Tatsuya and Onodera. In Fukushima, Onodera 's mother is delighted when birds return. This is a sign of his success. Reiko saves her family as they look at the bright sunrise, showing a new Japan. The crisis is over so they will move on.


It must be fate that I skipped this movie in the cinema. I got a free movie pass but I reached the cinema late due to work. As this movie had started screening for 15 minutes, I opted for ‘Death Note’. After watching this dvd, I was so thankful that I did not make the wrong choice.

I have watched the old television series before and was enchanted then. I pinned very high hopes for this movie. The Japanese did have a wide imagination. But alas! Even though I grow up watching lots of nonsensical ultraman dramas, I think this movie is done too over the top. The effects were far too cheesy. It is not exactly a successful movie to sink in dramatic fashion.

The movie dwells too much on the love story and then stress on being patriotic to the country. It is more like a lecture than a disaster movie. I can’t believe they run so slowly in an eruption – do they value their own lives instead of telling each other how deep their love is?!

I love the earthquake, volcanic and tsunami scenes but they are shown in only limited seconds slots. I crave for more – not just the crying and wailing from the victims! The director only reuses Hollywood’s formula to get only a man to save the country. This is not being heroic. That is unoriginal indeed when it reminds me of ‘Independence Day’.

The television version is so much more convincing to show how determined the Japanese are to save themselves as one. The fear is adequately shown and I keep see people running for their lives. I still remembered the last scene having the leads making others leave before they do so. The cliff hanger has the two still running on their heels with the land falling into pieces behind them. The earthquakes are well shot – how can a modern movie lose out so badly?! I simply tear my head over this.

After watching so many Hollywood movies, this movie hardly creates a ripple in a lake. It is very easily forgotten. Thus, only watch if you enjoy to see how a country is doomed under natural disaster conditions.

Sukting’s ratings :

On acting : **1/2 (Scale of 5)

On story : **1/2 (Scale of 5)

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