Wow. Talk about an under viewed, underrated wonder.
I'd been wanting to watch this since I noticed it as a "similar to" recommendation in relation to Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 but it took a long time to find it streaming and subbed.
Although the animation started off pretty stiff, I instantly recognized the hand of Kawaguchi, Kaiji, the creator of my beloved Zipang as well as a number of other sophisticated seinen manga. It doesn't take long for the impact of the story and the characters to overtake the rough animation, animation that does, by the way, show definite improvement in the second half
of this two part TV Special.
Each episode is 77 minutes long. The first half focuses brilliantly on devastation, death, heroics, self-sacrifice, and survival as a series of earthquakes and volcanic activity literally tears Japan in half. Having experienced the eruption of Mt. St. Helens (yes, I'm that old) I found the way they illustrated the side blowing off Mt. Fuji interesting and the focus on the ash rather than streams of lava interesting and yes, quite realistic. I'd put it right up there with most any disaster film. The second part of the story is set 15 years later and centers around a less than comfortable Japanese refugee camp on Taiwan where new friendships and loyalties are formed, old connections are renewed and the struggle for survival continues but in a new but equally dangerous way.
The story and characters warrant a 10 but the art . . . . well, not the "art" but the animation, does drag it down. Just don't let it put you off. The story is worth it.
Apart from some good background music during the disaster scenes, I didn't particularly notice it so I'd say it does its job just fine.
There are no robots, no school festivals, no magic, no ecchi, etc. Taiyou no Mokushiroku: A Spirit of the Sun is solid Seinen. Kawaguchi deftly plucks bits and pieces from current headlines and weaves them into a gripping tale of geopolitics, economics, gangsters, street thugs, terrorists, racism, family ties, and loyalty that stung my eyes with tears more than once. As with Zipang, it is really pretty realistic if a touch "over the top" at times but in a good way. It stops in a good place but does leave you ready for the next installment but, seeing as how TnM was aired in 2006, I'm just going to read the continuation and conclusion in Taiyou no Mokishiroku Dainibu: Kenkokuhen . . . . if it ever gets translated . . . .