Calling all Yankee/Delinquent fans!
Tokyo Revengers is another one that I fell into because the anime caught my eye first. This manga is the 2020 Kodansha Manga award winner in the shounen category. According to Wikipedia, the award is given to serialize manga. I’m not sure it’s awarded to best, since the award seems to be ‘in-house’? It may just be a recognition of best-selling. Because this thing is hot property–not only is the manga still selling like hotcakes, but there is both an anime AND a live-action in progress.
So what’s all the fuss about?
I wish I could say, but I’m not entirely sure why people are so stoked for this.
Tokyo Revengers feels to me like a retread of another story that I thought I might have reviewed called Erased: The Town Where Only I am Missing / Boku dake ga Inai Machi (by Sanbe Kei) but, apparently, I did not. In that story, as in this, a sad sack adult has a mystical ability to travel back in time and uses that power to solve the crime of the murder of someone close to him.
In Erased, the hero, Fujinuma, has a superpower he calls ‘Revival’ where he can blip back in time when things go wrong. When his mother is murdered, his powers cast him eighteen years back and he has to solve the mystery of how to change the future. He bops in and out of time kind of randomly, but that leads to two timelines running concurrently.
In Tokyo Revengers, the hero, Tachimichi, discovers a girl he knew long ago was killed by gang violence. He also comes and goes from the past, but he’s more in control of it because, early on, he discovers that it is triggered by a handshake with the murdered girl’s younger brother.
Unpopular opinion time! Having read quite bit of Tokyo Revengers (which is on-going, both in scanlations and in Japan), I feel like I enjoyed Erased more?
I suspect that the reason Tokyo Revengers is more popular, however, is the hero. Tachimichi is a classic yankee and people dig that? All the situations are very yakuza and rough and tumble. Morever, Tachimichi is relatable. He’s a bit like Kaizaki from ReLife, who still carries all his adult fears and foibles in his newly renewed teenage body. He spends a lot of time in the past wondering why he was such a dip and why he EVER thought fighting was cool.
Which, I mean… I like it? I read almost all that’s available, so there’s no question that this story is compelling.
I think my problem is that the story asks to believe all of this hassle is worth saving a character we barely spend any time with, on screen, Tachimichi’s girlfriend, Tachibana Hinata. I mean, I’m not a sociopath. Every life is worth saving, ultimately. But, in a story, I have a harder time getting attached to someone who is given maybe one decently memorable scene? Like, I don’t even know how Tachimichi and Hinata met. I don’t know who asked who out. I haven’t FELT their relationship much at all.
Meanwhile, in Erased, Fujinuma’s mom is well-established before she’s murdered and, even if I wasn’t invested in her, Fujinuma is instantly pegged by the cops as her killer. Add to that, there are a bunch of other kids from Fujinuma’s class who also go missing as well, and it’s all interconnected. The stakes feel very high?
Hinata is clearly collateral damage in a gang war. Saving her kind of even an afterthought in the story, too. Spoilers if you are only watching the simulcast anime, but it turns out her saving her life doesn’t actually fix things… so, ultimately, it’s the gang that’s the center of the story.
And, I’m into Draken?
I say this, of course, having devoured most of the manga available, so it’s not like I didn’t keep turning pages. The story is very gripping. The action is intense. The time-travel is cool.
The only other thing that through me a bit is the art style–it feels very retro. I was surprised that the manga was first released in 2017. It has clunky kind of 90s feel to it, but that’s a thing mangaka do. I got used to it, at any rate.
Would I recommend it? Well, yes, of course I would. I would just also recommend the other two stories that I suggested above (Erased, ReLife) as well. If you do start this, there is a LOT, and, frankly, that may have colored my semi-‘meh’-ness about this? 200+ chapters is a big investment, and I’m not convinced that the final payout is going to be anything but more pain and tragedy.
But, you know, all the cool kids are into it. So, there’s that.