The Heart and Pillar of Toman – The Impact of Baji’s Death

baji-keisuke-tokyo-revengers

Art by @9baMelo

We all work on borrowed time. Everything we do is dictated by time and how much of it we have left. When our loved ones leave us, it is said their time has run out, same thing if you’ve just missed the train by a couple of seconds, or get annoyed because you just needed a couple more minutes to fill out the last question of your exam.

Time is what gives our life meaning, because we need the added pressure of “my time might run out” so we can do something with what we have left.

There is nothing we can do against the running of time, except of course if we had magical time-travelling abilities that gave us the possibility of going back into the past.

What might be impossible for us, is quite normal at this point for Hanagaki Takemichi, the main protagonist of the anime Tokyo Revengers.

Now if you haven’t watched the anime yet or maybe have just dipped into the first few episodes, I would suggest reading the Tokyo Revengers Impression post before tumbling in here. Let me warn you now, there will be major spoilers for the entirety of the anime in this post! Read at your own discretion!

Now that we’ve got that done, let’s jump right into the depth of it all.

From all of the characters that Takemichi meets in the alternative timelines, Baji Keisuke might be one of the most interesting characters when we look at his impact on the plot. His story stretches throughout the anime and gives us many different perspectives of his character until the truth finally meets the viewer in the end.

By looking at these different aspects together, let’s find out who Baji Keisuke really is and what his existence as a character truly means.

Creation of Toman

The Tokyo Manji gang seems like a very huge deal at the beginning of Takemichi’s time-travel adventure. He knows that this gang is responsible for his girlfriend’s death in his current timeline, and that the people in that gang are people to be reckoned with.

As his middle school self, he notices more and more that a lot of loyalty exists between the members of the Tokyo Manji gang, and the more he tries to get close to the upper ranks of Toman, the more he finds out about the inner workings of it. Firstly, he is recognized by the commander Mikey who sees something in Takemichi that he likes, which urges Mikey to ‘befriend’ him.

Takemichi slowly but surely becomes close friends with parts of Toman, to the point where he even gets instructed by the commander for certain missions and fights side by side with the members. It is not until later where the conflicts between Toman and Valhalla come to a boiling point, that we find out more about the founders of the gang.

Toman might look like a smaller gang next to its rivals and elderly, yet it used to be a much smaller group of tightly knit friends that wanted to make a gang that would change the world. It all formed thanks to Baji’s idea to found a gang to fight the ‘Black Dragons’. With Baji being the one with the idea and the wish to create a gang in which every member would lay down their life, Toman is created.

Mikey, Draken, Mitsuya, Kazutora, Pah-chin and Baji together find the perfect roles for each other to form the base foundation of Toman, which have now bloomed into their own divisions with many people under their wing.

It all started with a childhood promise and matured into the group that holds immense power in the end of the anime. While everyone contributed to the gang such as Mitsuya making the jackets or Pah carrying the banner, it was Baji’s idea that kicked off Tokyo Manji as we know it. With that, Baji became a crucial sentimental part of Toman that was important to the story later on.

Speaking of these events, we all only know of this wholesome childhood pact very late in the anime. Baji was not always the thoughtful founding member from our perspective. Before we learned of Toman’s history, Baji had a different role in the plot.

The Treacherous

Right after Takemichi’s first encounters with bigger gang fights and having to protect Draken from being stabbed and killed, more trouble rolls in as the gang ‘Valhalla’ makes an appearance. 

A ruthless and cutthroat group of young men with no known leader except for Hanma Shuji who seems to at least work on top of it all. Before we can find out more about the new rival and what sort of crisis shall arrive next, Baji swoops in and makes a big statement:

He will no longer be part of Toman, but join Valhalla instead.

From our perspective as well as Takemichi’s, we don’t know much about Baji. His childhood and motives haven’t yet been revealed, so no wonder we look at him with suspicious eyes at first. Quickly, he is seen as a traitor by most except for the division captains and the commander himself. Mikey states before his entire entourage that he will not be able to fight his friend even if it comes to a brawl between them and Valhalla.

Takemichi’s mission from Mikey is now to go and retrieve his friend, and he does so by meeting Kazutora and being led into Valhalla’s hide-out. 

We find out many things from that point on. First of all, Baji seems to be fully integrated into Valhalla, as Takemichi watches in horror as relentlessly beats up his dear friend Chifuyu until nothing is left of his face but blood. Immediately, it is that exact relentlessness that Baji exhibits that is so shocking to the viewer. 

But we also find out that him and Kazutora are founding members of Toman, and that they both have the goal to finally destroy their gang and Mikey right with it.

Why is it that Kazutora truly believes that Baji is suddenly on his side and ready to turn his back on Mikey and his precious friends? Well, it is all due to the story that sends chills down the viewers back, with roots growing all the way back to their childhood.

A Certain Kind of Bike

Birthday’s can be tough especially if you don’t know what you want to gift to a special person. In this case, Baji goes out with Kazutora to get a present for Mikey’s upcoming birthday. All seems well, until Kazutora suggests that they get their commander his dream bike.

The CB250T.

As he was still cruising around with his so-called ‘street hawk’, Kazutora explains that they should just steal the bike from a shop where it stood in perfect condition. Reluctantly, Baji agrees to go into the shop one night and steal it. In his mind he was doing it for Mikey, just like Kazutora. Both having good intentions but ultimately hitting a wall as they are found out in the midst of stealing it as the owner comes in with a wrench in his hand.

As Baji squints, he realises the owner is none other than Shinichiro, Mikey’s brother, and all resolve falters as the shame of stealing the bike from the commander’s brother sets in.

Sadly as we all know, it gets worse because Baji can’t say anything before he sees Kazutora come up behind Shinichiro and hit him on the head with a heavy weapon. Shinichiro dies instantly, leaving the two in a state of panic as an ambulance comes rushing in.

Baji can’t believe what has happened while Kazutora instead now blames Mikey because he wanted to steal the bike for him. In this episode, we see Baji the most remorseful, as he looks at Mikey standing outside completely clueless and apologizes to him in tears, not knowing what he should say to his commander.

A very different side of Baji opens up to us now, similar to the one from the founding of Toman that is also revealed later chronologically speaking.

Baji has so far always followed his intuition and heart while staying loyal to his friends and vowing to protect them, which is very out of character now that he’s moved to Valhalla and a huge fight is about to erupt.

Bloody Halloween

Now that we know of Baji’s backstory and with Chifuyu explaining everything to Takemichi, the story takes a different turn.

Chifuyu believes that Baji is a double agent, merely playing a role to get closer to the top of Valhalla and looking closer at the new division captain Kisaki Tetta, who we know from the beginning is the root of many evils later in the future.

With this new information, Baji still stays on his path in Valhalla. He makes sure to tell Chifuyu that he is done with Toman and he will do what he pleases himself without any old loyalties. He even threatens his former friend and stops for only a moment when Takemichi asks him to survive.

One thing we see displayed as Baji’s attribute from the formation of the gang to the events of the ‘Bloody Halloween’ is his immense strength. Baji had the role of commanding one of the fighting units originally, and it is not a hollow promise. With fists of steel and a stamina that is off the charts compared to his peers, he is feared among the ones who dare to fight him.

Although he is still a grey character in the eyes of the viewer for his current actions, we know Baji’s kind heart from his past. It is left for the viewer to analyse how they feel about his actions, but it is clear as day that Baji is acting not for any of the two gangs on that bloody day, but only on his own. His goal is not yet known, except that he wants to get to Kisaki, especially after suddenly appearing and supposedly protecting Mikey.

Baji’s endurance is challenged once again, as he gets stabbed by Kazutora and still somehow manages to keep standing and fight on.

For reasons that are still unclear to us, Baji seems to have the same mission as Takemichi which is crushing Kisaki Tetta. He fights his way through some of Valhalla’s henchmen but is ultimately brought to his knees by cause of his injury. The events of the day find their peak as Mikey attacks Kazutora in a bloody rage and beats him close to death until Baji interferes.

With a loud announcement, he asks for Mikey to forgive Kazutora and tells the latter he shouldn’t worry since he won’t die because of him. With a grin he rams a knife in his abdomen and makes the statement that he will die by his own hands.

On his deathbed Baji makes clear that Kisaki is the enemy, and that he made a deal with Mikey to get a high position in Toman as a favor for getting Pah-chin out of jail for stabbing Osanai. The backstory of Baji’s kindhearted character now shines through as he breathes away his last moments in Chifuyu’s arms, leaving his precious gang in Takemichi’s protection.

A Last Look Back

In the heat of the moment and after Baji’s tragic death, Takemichi interferes between Mikey and Kazutora, but the only thing that ultimately gets Mikey to stop is a charm that falls out of Takemichi’s pocket.

Everything we have seen and heard about Baji and the creation of Toman now connects to each other like puzzle pieces with the last recap of their story. We’ve mentioned this in the first part of this post to form a full circle. Baji was the one who started the idea to create a gang, and he was the one who chose that fateful charm that would now play a pivotal role for Mikey and the future of Toman.

Mikey is reminded again of why this gang actually started to exist.

It was supposed to be a gang in which every member would lay down their life for the other.

Baji, as Chifuyu woefully stated, was fighting all alone with no one to protect him. Still, from the moment the Tokyo Manji gang was initiated over to the horrifying bike incident to his treachery and then his death, Baji had only the protection of his friends in his mind. No one knew what was going on until it was too late. 

Truly a shocking turn of events, and a death that shall not be forgotten as it cannot be mended or reversed. Baji took his own life for the sake of Toman and to make sure Kazutora would stay alive, because despite all that happened they were still part of the same gang in his mind. He still believed that he deserved forgiveness.

Baji’s death, as soul-crushing it might have been, was an action that was followed by a long development of his character. 

We saw him show his loyalty and true heart to his friends when they were young, and his ferocity and strength that continued until the end. Baji had an unrelenting will that was strong enough to temporarily abandon his closest friends for their sake and strive forwards to do everything it takes to protect them.

Sadly for everyone involved, it took his own life and nothing less to stop everyone so they could realise that they all had to stand together. Kazutora finally realised that it wasn’t anyone’s fault but his own, taking the fall for Baji’s death and Mikey granted his forgiveness to Kazutora, who believed there was nothing else left for him.

In the end, Baji gave everything he had and truly left us with a broken heart over his departure, but it is clear to see that his character arc and also his death were a fundamental and crucial part of Toman’s story.

With a last deep breath, I say until the next tea time~

 -Nissa

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