[MANGA] Tokyo Revengers

The most important thing is not to win a fight, but to not let yourself be defeated – Tokyo Revengers

The 2020 Kodansha Manga Award winner has circulated over 50 million copies of manga and I’m not surprised why. A story not just about the power of friendship and love, but albeit very loosely time travel, the hero of the series Takemichi Hanagaki is a 26 year-old worker at a small bookstore who suddenly finds himself back in his middle school days after a train accident.

Credits: Tokyo Revengers CH 135

Originally motivated to travel back in time to save his middle-school girlfriend Hina from dying in a freak accident, Takemichi begins his time-leaping adventures to and fro the present timeline to the past to save his childhood sweetheart. Along the way, Takemichi entered the Tokyo Manji Gang or short, Toman and he finds himself acquainted with its gang leader Manjirō Sano “Mikey”, vice-president Ken Ryūgūji “Draken”, and Chifuyu Matsuno who is the first person he confessed his time-travelling secret to. The journey to save Hina is not at all rosy and very soon, the protagnist finds himself trapped and beings desperately time-leaping to save literally everyone from dying in the future. Unfortunately with each undoing in the past, the new altered present timeline changes and something tragic always unfold 12 years later.

Credits: Tokyo Revengers CH 127

Tokyo Revenger can be enjoyed by fans for its plot twists are actually very brilliant and admittedly, I was one of those few who got hooked on it for hours. But the show does have some serious plot armour and problems. For those completely foreign to Japanese anime and manga, the main characters in shounen (“teenage”) manga are usually middle-school or high-school students who, most of the time are naturally endowed with superpowers or accidentally gifted these abilities from someone. Likewise in Tokyo Revengers, the characters here are just middle-schoolers in modern Japan. There is no power system here, no bankai, no Cursed Techniques, no Breathing Forms ; it is a perfectly (not) normal story set in Tokyo. Somehow these kids could cruise around Tokyo in their motorbikes, have multiple tattoos and piercings, and violently punching and knocking each other’s teeth off as if the authorities didn’t matter, with just bare hands.

Look at the picture below and you will know what I mean.

Kazutora Hanemiya, a founding member of the Toman
Credits: https://recenthighlights.com/tokyo-revengers-episode-16-release-date-and-time-announced/

How is Mikey able to pull off all these gang fights and gang meetings in the park without getting caught? Just how mentally disturbed was Kisaki to envision becoming a vicious and ruthless triad head at just 14 years-old? Where are the adults in this show?! OK technically Takemichi is an adult and it is pretty strange considering how he still loves a teenage Hina in the past.

The manga has not concluded and I have just entered the Final arc of the series. As I write this , I need to acknowledge that the story is remarkably good. Ken Wakui, the mangaka explained little about the technicalities of the show and apart from one key condition, the audience does not know much about how time travel works in this world and that’s perfectly ok for me. As mentioned earlier, the plot twists did caught me by surprise, although I admit skipping tons of fight scenes (there is a reason why people watch anime). Sometimes the show made no sense simply because it is plain impossible to picture pubescent boys having the might to tackle other gang members. Sometimes it gets boring because the entire chapter is just plain dialogue or pure cheesy angst or pure brawling scenes. But for the record, I was not bored by Takemichi’s countless tries to save Hina and co.

A very distraught and hysterical Kisaki revealing his plans to Takemichi
Credits: Tokyo Revengers CH 181

As of April 2022, the manga has entered the Kanto Manji arc and the anime has covered the manga chapters up till the Valhalla Arc. Things started to get interesting with the Tenjiku Arc and echoing the voice of many, I felt that the story should have ended there where Takemichi finally accomplished his goals. Still, the manga is worth a read so long if you can forget for a moment the kids’ characters’ age.

Rating: 1.5 out of 3.

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