The idea of traveling back in time to fix previous errors has been cleverly portrayed in anime, as seen in works like “When They Cry.” “Tokyo Revengers,” based on Ken Wakui’s manga of the same name, also explores this concept while incorporating the popular theme of delinquent gangs.
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Takemichi Hanagaki, a 26-year-old unemployed person with no prospects, receives the devastating news that his former girlfriend from middle school, Hinata Tachibana, and her brother Naoto, were killed by the Toman gang in a violent incident. In a state of shock, Takemichi is unexpectedly pushed in front of a train but instead of dying, he is transported back 12 years to 2005. He is given the chance to relive his middle school years and warns Naoto about Hinata’s death, causing a time paradox where Naoto now lives and works as a detective.
Naoto realizes that Takemichi can travel back in time by holding hands and decides to use his knowledge from the future to save Hinata. However, in order to do so, he must also alter the past of the Tokyo Manji Gang, which leads him to form unexpected friendships with the gang’s leader, Mikey Sano, and his second-in-command, Draken. As he becomes more involved with the gang, he discovers that every change he makes in the past has consequences for the future and strains his relationship with Naoto. He also discovers that changing the past is not a simple task of changing one event, but rather a series of interconnected events. Additionally, he learns that someone was manipulating events behind the scenes at the time.
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The show opens with a comedic tone and features a lot of fighting, along with a common anime theme of a weak character trying to make a difference in a world of strong individuals through determination. However, protagonist Takemichi’s adult mindset adds another layer to the story and adds intrigue, especially since he knows what will happen in the future. This ability has its limitations, though, as Takemichi delves deeper into the history of the Toman gang and realizes there is more to it than he initially thought. Despite some successes, Takemichi still faces the same tragedies and even worse ones, adding to the dramatic elements of the series. This aspect gives the show depth and elevates it beyond a typical shonen about fighting gangs.
Additionally, in the initial timeline where Takemichi and Naoto are investigating the events of the past 12 years, a parallel timeline is also unfolding in the future. This adds another layer of tension to the story as the fates of the main characters seem to be grim. Surprisingly, Mikey and Draken, who were believed to be responsible for Hinata’s death, turn out to be decent individuals despite their power. This adds an interesting twist as Takemichi tries to uncover what caused them to change. In the second arc, the Valhalla gang is introduced and a violent group fight takes place, revealing more information but also introducing two significant characters, Kisaki and Baji, who complicate the situation even further.
In conclusion, the story centers on the themes of sorrow and remorse, with several characters, including Takemichi, experiencing these emotions. The show effectively explores the origins and impacts of these feelings on the characters, highlighting Koichi Hatsumi’s skillful direction throughout the season.
However, this does not mean that the series lacks action. In fact, there are many intense and brutal fights throughout, with the protagonist often ending up severely beaten which adds a dramatic element to the action. The deaths of certain characters, particularly Hinata’s repeated ones, are also memorable moments in the series. What sets “Tokyo Revengers” apart from other similar titles is its focus on meaningful and well-integrated fights within the narrative, although the recurring theme of increasingly powerful enemies is also present.
The character design, created by Keiko Ota and Kenichi Onuki, effectively reflects the personalities of the individuals. Even in the case of Mikey, who is unusually handsome and short for his monster form, there is a pleasant surprise in the design. Additionally, Ota and Onuki successfully portray the characters at different ages, while also maintaining their individuality in their drawings. The animation by Liden Films is of excellent quality, with realistic action scenes that also have a touch of brutality. The non-action scenes are also done realistically.
“Tokyo Revengers” is an excellent title, one that thrives on both story and context, and none that definitely stands out from the plethora of similar anime titles.