Japan Sinks Review: A Realistically Sci-fi Japan Dramas About Apocalyptic and Sinking World with All the Human Perks

Yayuk Anggara Kasih
5 min readFeb 9, 2022


Photos by IMDb

Science-fictions or sci-fi is a fiction genre built around science and massive technology. It’s an alternate world about the what-if scenarios: what if the earth is flat, or what if we live in a parallel world, or what if the outer space is a fifth-dimensional world and the creatures living there could climb on the wall of time? It’s all about what if.
But the modern sci-fi movies and series or dramas are about a realistically apocalyptic world.
I previously had made a review about the Hulu series, The Head, which tells about the crime done by several scientists working in the South Pole searching and developing the bacteria that eat carbon dioxide. I think that The Head is one of the sci-fi series that is more realistic than everyone thought because global warming is happening, and the climate crisis is the cause of most disasters that happens in the world right now. Now, Japan Sinks has been added to the list.

Here is some brief information about Japan Sinks from Asian Wiki:
Official Title: Japan Sinks: People of Hope (Nihon Chinbotsu: Kibo no Hito)
Year: 2021
Episodes: 9
Network: TBS
Release Date: October 10 — December 12, 2021
Director: Shun’ichi Hirano, Nobuhiro Doi, Yohei Miyazaki
Writer: Sakyo Komatsu (novel), Hiroshi Hashimoto
Language: Japanese
Country: Japan
Cast: Shun Oguri, Kenichi Matsuyama, Anne Watanabe, Eiji Wentz, Anne Nakamura, Jun Kunimura, Minami Higa, Yoshiko Miyazaki, Tetta Sugimoto, Renji Ishibashi, Toru Nakamura, Teruyuki Kagawa.
Plot: in 2023, Japanese Prime Minister Eichi Higashiyama (Toru Nakamura) pushes for COMS at the World Environment Conference. COMS is a method to liquify pollutants and store them inside the seafloor. PM Higashiyama gathers young and talented bureaucrats and launches the Japan Future Promotion Conference, which has a benefit to the future of Japan. Some of the members of Future Council are Keishi Amami (Shun Oguri) from the Ministry of the Environment and Koichi Tokiwa (Kenichi Matsuyama) from the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry. They both are friends. PM Higashiyama asks Toru Sera (Jun Kunimura) to make a good assessment of COMS program. But one day, another geologist, Yusuke Tadokoro (Kagawa Teruyuki), writes an article published in a weekly magazine. His article warns that the Kanto region will sink into the sea. Due to his article, groups begin to hold protests. Attempting to ease the situation, Keishi Amami meets with Yusuke Tadokoro and asks whether the threat of sinking Kanto is real. Yusuke Tadokoro insists that soon, the Izu Peninsula will sink, and then it will portend the Kanto region sinking. On the other hand, Keishi Amami meets with a weekly magazine reporter, Minori Shiina (Anne Watanabe), who is trying to cover a possible corruption between the company where Tadokoro works with the Ministry of Environment. Politic meddling too much in the attempts to save the future of Japan.

As I repeat it one more time, this is a sci-fi drama with a realistic background about the apocalyptic world. And I mean by realistic is because set zombies aside, the threat of the world is the sinking of an island after island without we have much time to save people lives on it. And this threat is not only for Japan itself. The sinking of the island is faced by every country. Even some Pacific islands will sink in the coming years. And because I live in Indonesia where flood and rob (flood by the tidal wave) happens frequently, I feel like Japan Sinks is like a live-action threat for the future of my country.

The plot is the most engaging part of this drama, but if I want to talk about it, there will be a spoiler, so if you do not want to read any spoiler, stop it here.

The sinking of the Kanto region is one thing, but it turns out the research held by Tadokoro has found that the whole of Japan will sink in only one year. The Vice Prime Minister, Ishibashi Renjii, doubts about the sinking of Japan at first and when the Prime Minister wants to begin to tell the people and start the measurement process. Yet, the Vice PM thinks it’s best to tell some businessmen of Tokyo, so they could begin to evacuate their company. The other problem comes when The Future Council must think about where the people of Japan will have to go because all the parts of the country will sink, and they must be disaster refugees in other countries. In the modern world, population advantages have become more problems rather than advantages themselves, so logically, no countries will take Japanese even though they are sinking.

Finally, The Future Council decided to use some international and gigantic Japanese companies as the trade agreement to take Japanese people. This comes with a high price because no one of the businessmen wants to leave Japan.

I appreciate the screenwriter’s detail in explaining the geopolitical problems here. Yes, after detailing ecological problems about how Kanto and Japan will sink and how the future disaster will happen, Hiroshi Hashimoto put excellent details about how Japan Future Council is lobbying other countries to take the Japanese people. It starts with Australia, which firmly says no to any refugees entering their country. This is the real deal; Australia has rejected refugees from Afghanistan or Palestine.

The second problem is the modern Cold War between China and USA. In the story, Japan approaches both China and the USA about the agreement without telling each other (typical, eh?). China agrees first, and then the USA agrees, but of course, the USA agrees and tells the world about the disaster which is happened in Japan. The news is heard in China, and when China decides to cancel the agreement because China knew the value of the companies that will go to their country is smaller than the ones that go to the USA. So, what will they do to make the agreements happen? You should watch it to know it!

Hiroshi Hashimoto himself is a great screenwriter, several works he’s done that I know are Otona Koukou (2017) that was played by the late Haruma Miura. And the anticipated movie, Soshite, Baton wa Watasareta (And the Baton Was Passed) (2021) with casts of Satomi Ishihara, Kei Tanaka, Mei Nagano, and Kenshi Okada. This drama has also succeeded because of the marvelous acting by the cast. I mean, could you even imagine putting Shun Oguri and Kenichi Matsuyama in one frame?

The director, Shun’ichi Hirano, is also not a newbie. His several magnificent works are Love Begins When the Money Ends (Okane no Kireme ga Koi no Hajimari, 2020) by Haruma Miura, and S: Saigo no Keikan. Meanwhile, Nobuhiro Doi is the key of this successful drama, with his stunning works are Love Begins When the Money Ends, Dr. Storks I and II (Kounodori, 2015 and 2017) played by Ayano Go, Public Affairs Office in the Sky (Soratobu Kouhoushitsu, 2013) by Ayano Go and Yui Aragaki, The Voice of Sin (Tsumi no Koe, 2020) by Gen Hoshino and Shun Oguri, Hanamizuki (2010) by Toma Ikuta and Yui Aragaki.

The last director, Yohei Miyazaki, is a newbie. According to Drama Wiki, his works are Hanzawa Naoki: Episode Zero (2020), Saiai no Hito (the spin-off of Japan Sinks, 2021), and Kono Hatsukoi wa Fiction Desu (2021).

This drama also depicts some loneliness the characters felt, and their sadness knowing the threat of how their legacy would sink if they won’t save it.



Yayuk Anggara Kasih

a very vintage writer. mostly write in English/Bahasa Indonesia