The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) in Tokyo’s Odaiba waterfront district has unveiled a new anime program that is both fun and educational for families.

The 30-minute film “Encounter with Earth” brings the concept of the carbon cycle closer to the public by way of an animated production shown across a spherical theater and with an easy-to-follow story. The carbon cycle, a series of processes that carbon atoms go through when being recycled as they rotate throughout the biosphere and all living organisms, is key to understanding the concept of climate change.

The story features a young girl named Naoko, modeled on real-life female astronaut Naoko Yamazaki. Strange things start to happen to her as aliens come to Earth to investigate the “Z-atom,” which was created in outer space. As the aliens’ surveillance camera gets broken and leaks images of the mysterious Z-atom traveling throughout the biosphere, Naoko begins to realize the link between her and other living beings. It’s toward the end of the program that viewers learn that the Z-atom is in fact the carbon atom.

“Encounter with Earth” is shown at the Dome Theater Gaia on the 6th floor of the Miraikan museum in Minato-ku, Tokyo, starting at 1 p.m. on weekdays and at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Admission to Miraikan (closed on Tuesdays) is ¥600 for adults and ¥200 for those aged 18 and under. For details, visit www.miraikan.jst.go.jp/en.

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