Anime Review: Tokyo Ravens

January 6, 2014
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OK, I was honestly quite excited by the possibilities of Tokyo Ravens. I’d read the first couple of chapters of the manga, and they’d been fun. Danger, excitement, love, mystery, a rebellion, magic and spirits… yeah, it seemed like it could work.

The hero, Harutora, has grown up in the countryside, the cousin of a living legend. His grandfather had been the best onmyouji (or, in my head, spirit wrangler) in the world, but had died in disgrace after an event had nearly destroyed Tokyo. A sect of fanatics believe his cousin to be the reincarnation of that man, and so some venerate her, some hate her, and some just dislike her natural talent. Harutora can’t see spirits, and is too busy falling in love with a country girl to care.

tokyo ravens

Obviously, his world gets thrown upside down by the cousin coming to take him to the city to be her servant and to learn magic. At the same time, she has to be disguised as a boy, is in love with him, unable to control all these powerful spirits she owns, and is somehow unwittingly at the head of a rebellion.

So, you see what I mean by potential, right? The fight scenes in the first two episodes were exotic and fun, main character was well portrayed, not as an idiot, but seeming like one to all these powerful magicians…

And then the show just deteriorated into a high school comedy. All action is thrown out of the window, to be replaced by a long series of jokes about how everyone seems to make Harutora’s life worse. The worst of these is his little cute fox spirit guardian, who, in a series of increasingly implausible scenarios, is made to look like Harutora’s sex slave. Ten episodes in, the hero hasn’t grown at all, but is just a figure of fun to be laughed at.

The world he lived in had such potential. I mean, magic schools have won over audiences before. There’s clearly something mysterious about the headmistress, and there are plots vaguely hinted at… and then we go to a story about his fox spirit curled up in his bed with him, then sneaking around school following him… it’s infuriating. Then a new girl joins the school to torment him a whole bunch more… and nothing happens, episode after episode.

So, despite the nice artwork, the surprisingly decent opening theme (anime opening themes are almost always awful), and the impressive back story, don’t waste your time on Tokyo Ravens. Unless you like high school love stories about a man and his furry servant, in which case, knock yourself out.

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