Tokyo Revengers: First Impressions

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Art by @ttosom58 on Twitter

Do you sometimes pause at a moment in your life and ask yourself: what am I even doing?

Well, you’re not the only one.

More and more young adults jump out into the big wide world after being in the safe confines of school and realise – the world is very different than they expected it to be.

Attending university, pursuing any other education, going to work, holding out from day to day in this world whilst finding out what you really want to do. The pressure of being the youth that will change the world, swallowing down one defeat after the other, we are sometimes at our wits end.

These are exactly the questions that plague Takemichi Hanagaki’s soul, the main protagonist of Tokyo Revengers. 

What am I doing with my life?

Welcome to another first impressions post, this time on the anime that is rising in popularity: Tokyo Revengers.

For the ones that haven’t watched the anime and want to jump into it completely blind, I would suggest watching the first couple episodes of the first season as this blogpost will deal with the plot events of the first three episodes. 

Therefore, spoiler warning! Please continue at your own risk!

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s find out more about the anime shall we?

Tokyo Revengers is a manga series created by Ken Wakui which started airing in 2017, making it a fairly new series that has had about four years to develop so far. It is currently still being published under the ‘shounen magazine’ which is a very popular magazine comparable to Shueisha’s ‘Shounen Jump’ 

With moderate popularity in 2018, the sales of the manga have sky-rocketed until mid 2020 with more than 4 million sales in total, leading to an anime adaptation announcement in 2020 and a realisation of that in april 2021.

Studio Liden has brought us the anime adaptation, being known for other anime like Berserk and the ongoing Cells at Work: Black.

Koichi Hatsumo, famous for titles like Deadman Wonderland is directing Takemichi’s journey, with the screenplay by Yasuyuki Muto who has also written for Afro Samurai. These names alone promise a nice experience and create hopes for intense fighting and engaging story-telling. Considering that the main genre of the anime is shounen, especially fighting-shounen, we also find science fiction elements in the anime. 

The first season will entail 24 episodes, and the manga is still ongoing which will, pending the popularity and sales of the anime, probably mean a second season announcement for the fans of the show.

Moving on with the composition of the voice actors of Tokyo Revengers, we have some very interesting actors lending their voices for these characters. The protagonist Takemichi is voiced by Yuki Shin, who we can recognize as Todoroki Natsuo in Boku no Hero Academia.  The cute yet dominant voice of Hinata Tachibana is created by Azumi Waki who has also voiced Shelly in My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!, and her brother Naoto Tachibana has the wonderful voice of Ryota Osaka who we can recognize as Akaashi Keiji from Haikyu!! and Bennett from Genshin Impact.

If you’re interested in a breakfast anime review on My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!, click here to read!

Now that we’ve established some facts to slowly delve into this anime, let’s start with the plot and see what Tokyo Revengers promises us to deliver!

Plot:

Takemichi Hanagaki’s life is dull and repetitive.

With struggling to keep a job and a small apartment that has thin walls that are too thin for him to enjoy any privacy, he lives everyday without any gusto. Takemichi pauses to evaluate his life and realises how dull everything is now.

No passion to go after, just pure and unfiltered adulthood that has no special goal for him. 

And one of the worst things, he is still a raging virgin!

While reminiscing about his past, he realizes that the only high in his life was his time in middle school when he had his first and only girlfriend who he loved dearly, yet fell out of touch with.

It all changed as he watches the TV news one day and looks into the eyes of said girlfriend, Hinata Tachibana as her death is declared due to a horrible altercation with a notorious gang that she got involved into.

Takemichi blinks at the TV screen and finds himself shell-shocked, as he thinks of the girl that he loved so dearly. Stepping outside to the trainstation he still has his head in the clouds as he waits for his ride, but before he can realise anything he is shoved onto the train tracks right in front of the incoming train that is raging towards him.

He blinks, and as he opens his eyes he is neither dead nor in his current reality, but jumped through time 12 years back into the past into his middleschool time.

Confused as to why he looks like a delinquent and why his middle school friends are standing in front of him, he concluded that this must be some sort of reincarnation or maybe a last sliver of his life before he dies.

Contrary to his belief, he has actually just time traveled into his golden days and is now stuck in his past.

His friends from his school and him were part of a small group that was about to beat up some other students to establish dominance, yet in the end they are brutally beaten down by the Toyko Manji gang and become their pawns.

With a bruised and beaten body, Takemichi somehow makes it to his girlfriend’s apartment.At the sight of her carefree nature, he realises that she dies in the future and vows to make sure that doesn’t happen.

After adjusting to his situation, he encounters Hinata’s brother Naoto who he leaves with an important plea.

Protect your sister, she will die on July 4th 2017.

He shakes Naoto’s hand, hoping he will remember and with that fateful handshake he turns back into the future, but this time he is greeted by that exact younger brother Naoto, as he already altered the future but still couldn’t manage to save Hinata.

With this revelation, Naoto and Takemichi work together to save their beloved Hinata by sending Takemichi back again to infiltrate the infamous Tokyo Manji gang that was related to all of this.

Expectations vs. Reality:

In sharing how I’ve experienced the first couple of episodes I hope to give you slightly better insight into what this anime accomplishes storywise, while also looking at the impressions it has given and what you can expect.

With the rapid popularity that Tokyo Revengers accumulated, it wasn’t long until it was a recommendation that roamed around the internet. With the premise of ‘an anime about gangs and stuff’ I was only drawn into it as most people promised an action filled series with a compelling story.

After seeing some scenes of some brawls and fights, the engagement was there and the art style looked very energetic as well. It was fun to have scenes ranging from a quiet contemplating Takemichi to sudden fights and colourful changes in lighting and design. Emotions can shift very easily, the scenery switches quickly and the first episodes especially give a lot of information but with a nice pace.

Another thing that was delightful to see was that in a lot of anime, the delinquents with the styled hair and tendency for vandalising and rebelling are often side characters or supporting the protagonist, sometimes even just staging as the minor antagonist, but in Tokyo Revengers they are the main focal point while science fiction is in play as well. It’s a surprising yet new mix that brings out the uniqueness of this anime.

Takemichi’s affiliation with his friends and the Tokyo Manji gang show us a refreshing insight into the life of a dedicated delinquent with a unique premise that has enjoyable build up of drama and suspense. It’s a new perspective especially out of Takemichi’s eyes, who is dead set on saving his girlfriend.

Speaking of Takemichi, our pick of a protagonist is quite fun to watch as he exemplifies a character that goes through a huge change in his life. Not only is his first life as a working young man in a sub-par apartment very relatable, but it’s also the sudden relsove to want to change something important in his life that shows his strength and perseverance that is very enjoyable.

With the premise of a fighting-shounen about delinquents, the sudden dive into science fiction with Takemichi’s ‘time leap’ ability was very surprising and for a short moment may even have given the impression that they don’t match, but the two genres actually complement each other very well.

The gang affiliation bring a sort of ambience that is invigorating to watch, with the scenery of urban Tokyo and beautiful artwork, paired up with the mystery element of time travel we have a balanced anime that takes time and effort to show us the brawn of the delinquent lifestyle and the brain of the investigation behind Hinata’s death.

All in all, so far the anime brings up multiple interesting elements that make it addicting to watch despite the unusual setting. If one doesn’t get deterred by a new premise, Toyko Revengers assures action filled fights, engaging science fiction and mystery topped up with some cute romance moments that balance everything out.

From the first episodes on, the expectations for the rest of the season are pretty high, and from the little information on the story that we have so far I can definitely recommend to give this anime a try.

With how the anime is playing out, and the manga still ongoing, we’re in for a fascinating experience, and I hope to see your opinion on the anime so far in the comments!

Oi, you! Are you on our turf?

Until the next gang fight! I mean tea time…

-Nissa

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