Don’t make a girl a promise if you know you can’t keep it.
It felt like a really frantic premiere, but looking back on it, this first episode of Tokyo Ravens was actually pretty good. There’s definitely a sense of intrigue with the circumstances of the onmyoji and the spirits they are apparently fighting that sets the show apart from the others in my mind.
I do believe that I’ve attempted to read Toyko Ravens before, but for the last year or so, I’ve been in a weird phase where the only new manga I can bring myself to read are the ones that are shorter series (or oneshots) that are so shoujo that it hurts. …Obviously this doesn’t fit under that category, so I consider myself going into this without knowing anything. Let’s see how it is.
Hold on to your bananas!
Maybe I’ll turn out to be completely wrong here, but it looks and feels like 8-Bit is surreptitiously slipping CG elements into the show. One quick and dirty way to check this is to step through the frames individually. If an object in question doesn’t move at the same pace as its surroundings, odds are it was done via CG. The thing is, 8-Bit does it so well here that at times I’m not even sure if what I’m looking at really is CG. I have to say that this, if anything, is a sign of the trend Highway noted about anime moving towards better integration of CG. While certain elements stood out enough for me to barely take notice (no, I’m not talking about the obvious spirit stuff or armored vehicles), I wasn’t entirely sure watching through the episode the first time around. And if a studio can pull this off without making things look too uncanny, maybe some day they can do it without having you realize at all.
Living a Peaceful Life is Hard
How to tease a dense idiot.
Moving on to the show itself, I find myself enjoying Tokyo Ravens despite the more than slightly annoying lead, Bakatora. Mister Stupid Tiger (I found it hilariously appropriate that Suzuka’s immediate assessment of him is he looks kind of dumb), as you can probably imagine from his nickname, appears to be the rather standard “I don’t want to do anything exciting because a monotonous life is the best” guy. And he’ll do anything to protect his mundane life, which ironically consists of his two friends trying to convince him to live life on the edge. But that’s enough about that dull doofus. Next on the hit list is the super genki Hokuto. This fiesty chick obviously has a thing for Bakatora, which is unfortunate because he’s the dense type. But at least she makes up for his shortcomings by pulling extremely entertaining pranks on him. That said, I’m pretty sure that she will be cast aside as Natsume is clearly being shipped as the main heroine. Although you might not expect that given her almost nonexistent screen time here. Anyway, the last of Bakatora’s only two friends is Touji. This guy plays the bro role, and he’s also the sharp one of the bunch. His motives are unclear at the moment, but I can’t say his leading Suzuka on was merely on a whim. Those characters with the narrow eyes are always plotting something, after all.
With the friendship trio out of the way, we are left with Suzuka, whose name I’ve already mentioned. Basically, she’s one of the twelve most powerful onmyoji in Japan, and the youngest of them to boot. It looks like she’s gotten on the wrong side of the law, because now she’s on the run from them. And seeing as she’s trying to perform some shady forbbidden magic that might or might not have brought shame to Bakatora’s family, I’d say it’s probably for the best if she doesn’t get her way. But in spite of this, I must say that I like her playful and confident attitude. Maybe it’s her apparent enjoyment in licking and sucking on things suggestively. Or maybe its the fact that she can make a choco-banana explode when she gets annoyed. But there’s something that screams “awesome” about her even though she’s probably not one of the good guys. Oh, I know what it is. It’s her stealing a kiss from Bakatora in front of Hokuto to spite the poor girl. This, after threatening to roast the guy’s johnny. What a way to leave an impression.
The Onmyoji World
Kill evil trees.
Onmyoji seemed to be the only topic that the characters talked about this entire episode, to the point where I wondered if these characters had lives. Then once the news broadcast came on, I guess in this world, it’s a big thing. I guess I should have seen this coming from the class that was teaching Onmyoji things, but I figured that it was a special because they were in a smaller town that seems to have a lot of important Onmyoji-related families around. So I guess with this Onmyoji-centric world, having Harutora not be able to sense spirits is a pretty big thing in a bad way, since that sets him at a lower level than most of the other characters it seems. I can’t say much for Harutora’s personality, but it seems like he’s fairly complacent about his life at the moment. …Even though from the title and OP credits, it’s pretty much confirmed that he’ll be heading to Tokyo in the near future for one reason or another.
Call me crazy, but I definitely got a harem vibe from this episode. Hokuto is one thing, but Suzuka and Natsume look like possibilities too. I don’t know how distant of cousins Harutora and Natsume are, but that probably doesn’t matter much, considering that marrying your cousin is totally legal in Japan. Actually, I read the manga chapter for this episode (and a tiny bit after that since this episode went into chapter 2 a bit) to see if I actually had read it before (I haven’t), and holy crap, did they ever sexualize Suzuka. Maybe she really is that kind of character later on, but she came off to me as more of a spoilt ojou-sama than anything else. Actually, Natsume was a bit different too, where she was also more of a haughty ojou-sama (does the director have something against that character type?) and less of your typical HanaKana character. Though that was more reading off of Harutora’s mental image of Natsume than anything her character did. I’d say the scene had about the same amount of blushing. Suzuka definitely had more of a notable change than Natsume (there was no lollipop and her scene with the chocolate banana was more like a kid scarfing down junk food), but maybe this really is how their characters are, and the beginning of the manga was just terrible at portraying it. Though Hokuto doesn’t seem to have changed much at all between the two versions of media. Actually, I find the anime versions more interesting so far, and the changes don’t seem to hurt the series, but I thought I’d just point out the difference.
As you can probably tell, I’m rather pleased with Tokyo Ravens. After a series of disappointing premieres, it’s refreshing for a show to deliver a satisfying first episode. I swear, it’s not just because HanaKana is in this show! Honest! Jokes aside, Suzuka pretty much stole the show this episode with her tongue. One has to wonder why she isn’t the main character instead of our spiky-haired village idiot. But as usual there’s room for Bakatora to grow, so I’ll cut him some slack for now. And good job again to 8-Bit on that CG. It almost blends right in with the rest of the show, armored vehicles notwithstanding.
Well, this was… er, more interesting than Strike the Blood at the moment, but neither of these seem to be the greatest action anime ever. Like Strike the Blood, the society that these characters live in and how the Onmyoji stuff affects daily life definitely needs a better explanation. However, I’m not as impatient for these answers right now, since this seemed like an episode showing Harutora’s normal life before things get complicated and action-y, like what happened at the end of episode. I’m sure there will be a huge contrast between whatever is going to happen, and what happened this episode. Hiding things and revealing them slowly here makes sense, since Harutora seems like he’s going to go through the transformation of average guy (or at least, average in the world of Onmyoji) into… something. Anyways, this seemed interesting enough, so I’ll stick around for however many episodes this is. I have to say, this is probably the best OP of the fall season for me as far as a combination of visuals and music goes.