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Japan Sinks

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Japan Sinks
First English edition (Harper & Row)
AuthorSakyo Komatsu
Original title日本沈没
TranslatorMichael Gallagher
GenreScience fiction thriller
Publication date
Publication placeJapan
Published in English
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages224 pp

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. It was published in two volumes, both released at the same time. The novel received the 27th Mystery Writers of Japan Award and the Seiun Award for a Japanese novel-length work. The English translation was first published in 1975. In 1995, after the Osaka-Kobe earthquake, a second English edition (ISBN 4-7700-2039-2) was published. The English translation is abridged [citation needed]. In 2006, a sequel to the novel, co-authored with Kōshū Tani, was published.

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 Shirō Moritani, a manga adaptation written by Takao Saito and published in Weekly Shōnen Champion in 1973–74, a television drama by TBS and Toho broadcast in 1974–75, a film remake in 2006 by Shinji Higuchi, a parody created in 2011 that features reverse disaster, an original net anime series released on Netflix by Science Saru in July 2020, and a reboot drama, Japan Sinks: People of Hope, broadcast in October 2021 on TBS.

Geophysical background


Japan is on a destructive plate boundary, where the Philippine Sea 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


This novel is now seen as an important look into the cultural context of 1970s Japan, particularly due to its level of popularity.[2]

Anime adaptation

Japan Sinks: 2020
Promotional poster
日本沈没 2020
(Nihon chinbotsu ni-zero-ni-zero)
GenreScience fiction, drama[1]
Original net animation
Directed byMasaaki Yuasa (chief)
Ho Pyeon-gang (series)
Written byToshio Yoshitaka
Music byKensuke Ushio
StudioScience SARU
Licensed byNetflix
ReleasedJuly 9, 2020
Runtime25–32 minutes
Episodes10 (List of episodes)

An original net animation (ONA) series adaptation of the novel was announced on October 9, 2019. The series, titled Japan Sinks: 2020, was animated by Science Saru, with Ho Pyeon-gang and Masaaki Yuasa served as directors. 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.[3] A film compilation version of the series was subsequently released in Japanese theaters on November 13, 2020.[4]



Shortly after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a major earthquake hits Japan. Amidst the chaos, the Mutou siblings Ayumu (a 14-year-old track and field athlete) and her younger brother Gou (a 7-year-old 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

Character Japanese voice actor English dub actor
Ayumu Mutō (武藤 歩) Reina Ueda Faye Mata
Gō Mutō (武藤 剛) Tomo Muranaka Ryan Bartley
Kaito / Kite Kensho Ono Aleks Le
Haruo Koga (古賀 春生) Hiroyuki Yoshino Billy Kametz
Mari Mutō (武藤 マリ) Yuko Sasaki Grace Lynn Kung
Kōichirō Mutō (武藤 航一郎) Masaki Terasoma Keith Silverstein
Osamu Asada (浅田 修) Daiki Hamano Jamieson Price
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

No. Title Original release date
1"The Beginning of the End"
Transliteration: "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)
2"Farewell, Tokyo"
Transliteration: "Saraba, Tōkyō" (Japanese: さらば、東京)
July 9, 2020 (2020-07-09)
3"A New Hope"
Transliteration: "Aratana Kibō" (Japanese: 新たな希望)
July 9, 2020 (2020-07-09)
4"An Open Door"
Transliteration: "Aita Doa" (Japanese: 開いたドア)
July 9, 2020 (2020-07-09)
Transliteration: "Iryūjon" (Japanese: イリュージョン)
July 9, 2020 (2020-07-09)
6"An Oracle"
Transliteration: "Orakuru" (Japanese: オラクル)
July 9, 2020 (2020-07-09)
7"The Dawn"
Transliteration: "Yoake" (Japanese: 夜明け)
July 9, 2020 (2020-07-09)
8"Mom's Secret"
Transliteration: "Mama no Himitsu" (Japanese: ママの秘密)
July 9, 2020 (2020-07-09)
9"Japan Sinks"
Transliteration: "Japanshinku" (Japanese: ジャパンシンク)
July 9, 2020 (2020-07-09)
Transliteration: "Fukkatsu" (Japanese: 復活)
July 9, 2020 (2020-07-09)



On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the series holds a 72% approval rating based on 18 reviews, with an average rating of 6.54/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Japan Sinks: 2020's swell of tension and frenetic pace leave little room to breathe, but bursts of hope and interesting insights into humanity may help brave viewers weather its apocalyptic story."[5] The series attracted criticism within Japan for its condemnation of Japanese nationalism,[6] but also received positive attention in the West for its multiculturalism and inclusiveness,[7] and was named as one of the best anime series of 2020.[8][9]

The first episode of Japan Sinks: 2020 was awarded the 2021 Annecy Jury Prize for a Television Series,[10] and the series as a whole received two nominations at the 2021 Crunchyroll Anime Awards.[11] The compilation film version of the series was awarded a Jury Selection Prize at the 2021 Japan Media Arts Festival.[12]



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. ^ James Devlahovich (18 September 2020). "Japan Sinks: 2020 Series Review: When There's Nowhere To Run". The Outerhaven. Archived from the original on 17 October 2021. Retrieved 17 October 2021.
  2. ^ Susan Napier: "Panic Sites: The Japanese Imagination of Disaster from Godzilla to Akira", in Journal of Japanese Studies, vol. 19, no. 2 (1993).
  3. ^ "Masaaki Yuasa's Japan Sinks: 2020 Anime Reveals Trailer, More Cast, July 9 Premiere", Anime News Network, archived from the original on 2020-06-19, retrieved 28 May 2020
  4. ^ Hodgkins, Crystalyn (August 20, 2020). "Masaaki Yuasa's Japan Sinks: 2020 Anime Gets Compilation Film in Japan on November 13". Anime News Network. Archived from the original on January 19, 2021. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  5. ^ "Japan Sinks: 2020 (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Archived from the original on August 19, 2020. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  6. ^ Ashcraft, Brian (July 13, 2020). "Japan Sinks Is Grim But Relevant". Kotaku. Archived from the original on November 18, 2020. Retrieved June 19, 2021.
  7. ^ Schley, Matt (July 3, 2020). "Japan Sinks: 2020: When disaster strikes, keep your family close". The Japan Times. Archived from the original on February 16, 2022. Retrieved June 19, 2021.
  8. ^ Moore, Caitlin; Loveridge, Lynzee (December 31, 2020). "The Best Anime of 2020 – Caitlin, Lynzee, & The Best Songs". Anime News Network. Archived from the original on January 26, 2021. Retrieved June 19, 2021.
  9. ^ Kurland, Daniel (July 9, 2020). "Japan Sinks: 2020 Review". Den of Geek. Archived from the original on January 17, 2021. Retrieved June 19, 2021.
  10. ^ "2021 Winning Selection, Television | Japan Sinks: 2020: "The Beginning of the End"". Annecy International Animated Film Festival (in French). Archived from the original on September 28, 2021. Retrieved June 19, 2021.
  11. ^ Loveridge, Lynzee (January 15, 2021). "Crunchyroll Announces Nominees for 5th Annual Anime Awards". Anime News Network. Archived from the original on January 16, 2021. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  12. ^ "Animation Division | 2021 [24th]". Japan Media Arts Festival. Archived from the original on March 12, 2021. Retrieved June 19, 2021.