Takemichi Hanagaki’s already bad life hits rock bottom when he finds out his middle school girlfriend (Hinata Tachibana) has been murdered by the Tokyo Manji Gang. Reeling from the news Takemichi begins thinking of the past and where it all went wrong. But he doesn’t have long to reminiscence when someone pushes him in front of an oncoming train. But instead of meeting his maker, Takemichi is transported 12 years into the past back to his middle school days and when he was still dating his ex. Initially Takemichi can’t quite believe what’s happened, but once he does, he realises he has the chance of a lifetime to save the girl he loved.
Out of all the shows in the Spring 2021 lineup, Tokyo Revengers is the one I’ve been most keen for. It has all the makings of a great story – delinquents, time travel, romance, great style…so while I do try not to go into series with expectations, I have to admit I was a little hopeful that this one would blow me away. And is always the case with expectations Tokyo Revengers didn’t quite meet them.
I think the crux of the issues is that as interested as I was in the story, and actually excited to see how things played out, I just couldn’t like Takemichi. I found him veering into the dangerous cliche of ‘my life is bad and I have no personality outside of being salty about it’ territory. But at the same time, I can appreciate some really great moments with Takemichi re-evaluating his middle school self. I think my favourite moment was when the episode spent its opening hyping up about how he had peaked in middle school, and within moments of seeing his middle school self Takemichi could only feel a little embarrassed of his fashion sense. But besides these small moments I found him bland. So I suppose Takemichi felt like a mixed bag, at times quite funny but for now lacking the charisma of a lead character.
Besides Takemichi, we’re also introduced to the other characters that form a significant part of his middle school life. Key amongst them, Hinata Tachibana. Despite only having a short scene with Takemichi, I’m really interested in her character. She seems like quite a warm and strong character, and I do wonder how she got tangled up with the gang, leading to her and her brother’s death. Takemichi’s group also had a bit of screen time but despite their colourful outfits and hair, didn’t make much of an impact.
Ultimately, my interest in the episode only clicked into gear in its final moments. There’s an emotional speech by Takemichi to Hinata’s younger brother, and then he’s returned to the future. We learn that Takemichi can actually influence how events play out and change fate. Even despite my reservations for Takemichi up until this point, I suddenly felt a lot more invested in seeing how the story will unfold.
One of my big ‘must haves’ with a series is characters that I’m invested in, and with Tokyo Revengers I have yet to really connect to Takemichi as a hero. I did have a look online and saw a number of manga readers acknowledge the story has a slow start before characters kick into gear and emotions run high. So while I’m not hooked yet, I am willing to give it a few more episodes to see how it goes.