‘Tokyo Revengers’ Takes Its Time to Develop Characters and Themes

TV Review



“Tokyo Revengers” may have one of the most well thought out plots of any anime.

Tyler Pierre, Staff Writer

“In the past and in the present, I have to change, or nothing else will.” So says, Takemichi Hanagaki, the protagonist of “Tokyo Revengers,” one of the latest hit anime series to premiere on Crunchyroll.

No one can change their past mistakes, but let’s say if you could, what would you change? The actions of your past that now forever affect your future? Or would you just want to relive your life and get to see lost loved ones? Within this aspect lies the world of “Tokyo Revengers,” a modern Japan overrun by gang violence.
“Tokyo Revengers” from the studio that animated “Berserk,”  is a 24-episode seasonal anime created and written by Ken Wakui that tells the tale of Takemichi Hanagaki, a young man who lives an impoverished life and must suck up to others to survive. Takemichi quickly finds out his middle school ex-girlfriend, the only girlfriend he ever had, and her brother were both killed in a crash involving 2 gangs, prominently the Tokyo Manji (TOMAN). Takemichi dismisses the murders as having nothing to do with him, but of course, he is heavily involved in the plot.
When Takemichi quickly gets pushed onto the train tracks and is hit by a train while going home from work, he is instantly teleported back 12 years in time. After seeing this first episode of “Tokyo Revengers,” I really thought it would be a very cliche show due to the fact that so many animes actually do start with the main character getting hit by a vehicle and reawakening in a new world, but I was wrong, as the time travel adds a whole new element to this plot.
The whole time-traveling idea was a very complex yet clean idea to use. It reminded me of another outstanding show, “Re:Zero” due to its own time-traveling concept. In “Tokyo Revengers,” the greatest issue is that Takemichi doesn’t know how he affects the present because he can only do so much until it’s time for him to see what he actually altered.

Takemichi recalls why his life is so horrible, and why he ran away from this gang lifestyle. He and his friends end up picking a fight with upperclassmen and quickly get beaten up. Memories rush in on how he became their “dog” and was forced into doing all this until he ran away from it all.
He later realizes how he can use time travel to the fullest to prevent killings and violence in the future.

When it comes to fights, Takemichi isn’t the typical anime character that gets stronger over time. Instead, he gains a more mature mindset. But, more than anything, the theme of determination is what is truly important within “Tokyo Revengers.¨ It doesn’t matter how much he gets knocked down or beaten. Takemichi stays determined and keeps going to meet his goal, subsequently inspiring others. Seeing Takemichi struggle so hard to get a happy future just allows me to enjoy his character because a lot of mainstream anime always have a main character who gets stronger by just something dramatic happening to their loved ones, yet the character often maintains the same personality or mindset.

On the other hand, the show-stealer, Mikey, the leader of TOMAN, knows how to handle his enemies. I enjoyed his fight scenes because there’s a lot of fighting which takes inspiration from different fighting styles like Karate, Taekwondo, and MMA. He’s a short-tempered delinquent, while his vice-commander, Draken, is the one who keeps him in check and shows him how to be more civil and responsible with his actions. He’s like an adult in a teenager’s body.

The story knows how to build its characters and their potential. It shows everyone in the gang having their own backstory and personal problems, which means a lot, because people join gangs for different reasons in real life too, either because they have no home or just they’re having internal conflicts.

One of the characters, Kazutora, lived in an abusive household. He is forced to pick between his mom and dad in a case of domestic violence. This causes him to not be happy with his family and leave to join TOMAN as a new safe place, a new home.

Mikey himself had even lost his older brother a long time ago, which strikes his heart and is the reason why acts the way he does. Everyone in the gang has a story to tell, things that changed them to become the person they are.

The biggest message that I’ve from the series is that the flow of time is something that we will never be able to manipulate. No one is able to change their mistakes from the past, but we’re still able to grow from them, make sure we don’t make the same mistake again, and do better for the future, staying determined for a better future.

“Tokyo Revengers” can teach a lot of lessons, such as self-discipline, learning to use the time you spend with others more precisely, and even that violence will affect those who are just bystanders too. “Tokyo Revengers” really amazed me and went really above my expectations. If you’re going to watch “Tokyo Revengers,” make sure you’ll be prepared for the hyped fights and the heartbreaking scenes. I can’t wait for what Takemichi will do next, especially after the plot twist of the season.