Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: Tokyo Revengers

Original Run: April 11, 2021 - September 19, 2021
Number of Episodes: 24
Genre: Action, Drama, Supernatural
Based on the Series Created By: Ken Wakui

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Tokyo Revengers. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Takemichi Hanagaki (voiced by Yuuki Shin) peaked in middle school. Since then, it has all been downhill. Now working a dead-end job he hates and living alone, Takemichi doesn’t have anything going for him.

Then one day, the news reports the tragic death of a girl by the ruthless Tokyo Manji Gang, a.k.a., Toman. To Takemichi’s shock, the girl was none other than his one and only girlfriend back when he was a kid.

Reminiscing on how his life got to where it is, Takemichi is waiting on the subway platform. Just as the train is about to arrive, someone comes up behind Takemichi and pushes him onto the track. Right before his imminent death, Takemichi’s consciousness travels back twelve years, returning to his middle school self.

Once again, Takemichi is a wannabe gangster and at the crossroad where everything went wrong for him. This time, though, he vows to change his future no matter what.  

Series Positives

When living in Japan, one naturally hears which anime is the hot topic of the day. Back in 2019 (and especially after the 2020 movie), there was Demon Slayer. Near the end of 2020, there was Jujutsu Kaisen.

Point of Clarification: As of this review’s October 2021 release, both mentioned series are still immensely popular; their presence in Japanese society is immense.

Every year has at least one show that captures the public’s attention. And over the spring and summer seasons, the 2021 version of this trend arrived: Tokyo Revengers. Now, for total transparency, July 2021 also saw the release of a live-action Tokyo Revengers film. Having not yet seen the movie, I’m not sure which has propped up this franchise more. Nevertheless, I can say this:

Let’s suppose the movie is the more popular of the two. In that case, it must be pretty freaking awesome since the anime was brilliant.

We can sum Tokyo Revengers up in a single word: Thrilling. From beginning to end – and this was a 24-episode anime – this show was never dull, weak, or slow. It was always on fire, and there is little doubt in my mind we are witnessing the birth of a most memorable series.

So, where to begin?

Well, given the time-hopping, future-saving nature of its story, Tokyo Revengers only had a chance of success if its characters were worth caring about. After all, many people in the present timeline ended up dead. When we first learned who most everyone was, they were just a name; they had no real meaning. This show needed to give them that.

And boy did it.

With Tokyo Revengers’ characters, I am experiencing a battle between my two halves, the anime reviewer and the anime fan. I’m a firm believer that a person can accept something as objectively better while still preferring something else.

For instance, I enjoy a good slasher film; let me have my Halloween‘s, Nightmare on Elm Street‘s, and Friday the 13th’s. Although I openly acknowledge something like Citizen Kane is a far better film than what I listed, take a guess of what I’m turning to when looking for entertainment.

In the case of Tokyo Revengers, Mikey and Draken (voiced respectively by Yuu Hayashi and Tatsuhisa Suzuki) were among my favorite characters as a fan. Not only did they light up this show whenever they were on screen, but they also had rich backstories and were exceedingly likable.

Be that as it may, if I had to pick a single character that best represented this show, the answer could not be more obvious. I have to go with Takemichi Hanagaki.

Unlike the members of Toman, Takemichi was not a badass. On the contrary, he was physically weak and often got his head kicked in. When you think of what he needed to do, on the surface, you could not have devised a more longshot protagonist.

However, there was one advantage Takemichi had; he knew the consequences. He understood what was at stake. As a result, if he wanted to change the future, he had to keep fighting, even when – no – especially when the odds were against him.

Therefore, what Takemichi lacked in raw power, he made up for with a never-give-up attitude. This transformed him into one of the most enduring characters of not just this series, not just this season, but of 2021. It was no mystery why so many hardened gang members flocked to and respected him.

Takemichi was a natural at inspiring those around him. That was true for his comrades, as well as us, the audience.

Along with the characters – believe me, everyone in this show added something to it – Tokyo Revengers’ story was fascinating.

This series had one of the strongest time-travel narratives I have seen in a long time. There were consequences from changing the past, but so far, there has yet to be a story-breaking time-paradox (although I can think of a few places where one might crop up). Fortunately, as long as Takemichi can keep a line connecting the past and present open, there shouldn’t be too many problems.

Regardless of that, even with the time-travel element, you could never really know what direction events would go in.

I hope it won’t be too big of a surprise if I tell you Takemichi managed to alter the future. For instance, Takemichi did prevent deaths that occurred when he was in middle school. Though spoiler-ish, the great thing is, even me telling you that won’t take away from the suspense. Sure, I’m not saying how Takemichi did anything, but it’s more than that.

Tokyo Revengers remained tense because the flow of time could and did turn in unexpected, arguably worse, directions.

To take things even further, this series was surprisingly heartbreaking. Keep this in the back of your mind; when the story was in the past, everyone was a teenager. These were kids.

I wish Tokyo Revengers would have gone into more detail than it did, but this show did explain how some of the characters got to where they were. There was abuse, abandonment, impoverished living, and environmental pressures. This wasn’t a game of cops-and-robbers. No, these characters were living perilous lives.

When someone issued a death threat, there was a high chance it wasn’t a threat at all. Instead, many of these declarations were promises, promises that, if given the chance, would come to pass.

Sure, Tokyo Revengers had its fair share of silliness, but when it got real, it got real.

When this review went live, I knew of no news regarding a Tokyo Revengers season two. And this series ended on one hell of a cliffhanger, so the door for a continuation is most definitely open.

Should it worry us – i.e., those who have seen and enjoyed this show – that there has been no official announcement? Well, to speak for myself, I am not losing any sleep over this. All things being as they are, Tokyo Revengers 2 is as guaranteed as an anime can get. It will blow my mind if we have to wait more than two years for a sequel.

Anticipation notwithstanding, this series was great. With too-many-to-count outstanding moments, Tokyo Revengers left an impression.

Series Negatives

Although I liked Takemichi, he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. The thing was, though, it wasn’t a question about intelligence. Instead, it was more Takemichi failing to put two and two together.

Tokyo Revengers put a lot of stock into mysteries that simply didn’t exist. I lost count of how many times Takemichi found himself stumped over who was behind the drama of the past.

Who was the grand mastermind pulling all the strings and manipulating the board behind the scenes? It could have been anyone, couldn’t it? Was it some mole inside Toman? Maybe. Was it some newly introduced character who began stirring up trouble? Perhaps.

OR, could it be the one guy Takemichi knew was and would be a problem since the start of the show?

Tokyo Revengers may have been gripping, but it wasn’t what I would call explosive. This story, though excellent, didn’t have many twists or turns, despite its many efforts to the contrary. The answer to a question was, more often than not, always what you thought it might be.

This is among the top reasons why this series needs a sequel. It wasn’t until the last episode did this show finally drop a real bombshell. But up to that point, every “revelation” was weak. Consequently, I wouldn’t go into this show expecting anything fresh or new. No, go in expecting entertainment from a narrative that will hold your attention without ever veering too far off the expected path.

However, Tokyo Revengers wasn’t an if-it-is-not-broken-do-not-fix-it kind of show. What it was was a we-built-a-better-mousetrap series, and I couldn’t have asked for more.

Tokyo Revengers

Final Thoughts

Sometimes the bandwagon is the bandwagon for a reason.

This show was fantastic. It had the right amount of action, character development, narrative excitement, and overall badass-ness to make this one of the most memorable watches of 2021.

Season two cannot get here any sooner for this series ended on top of the world.

Tokyo Revengers has earned a recommendation.

But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Tokyo Revengers? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m Odyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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