May
24
2021
0

Tokyo Revengers ‒ Episodes 6-7

First off, my apologies for the missed review last week. I stumbled into a fist fight with a nasty head cold, and found out my immune system is about as good at fighting as Takemichi. Thankfully I’m back and ready to dig into the time-hopping world of delinquents and ruined lives. And while “Regret” and “Revive” don’t quite make the best bedfellows, they do at least offer an interesting contrast in Revengers‘ writing strengths.

We open with a flashback to Draken and Mikey’s first meeting, and while illuminating for their relationship it also raises a lot of questions about Draken’s upbringing in particular. I’m not even talking about growing up in brothel where the employees will casually joke(?) about giving a 5th grader “a tug” while clocking in – though Draken’s narration that he grew up surrounded by “pink towels and the scent of lube” makes for a hell of a line taken out of context. No, I’m more concerned with the tattoo artist who acquiesced to a 10-year-old asking for a forehead tattoo. Like that would be a literal crime in the US, where tattoos are treated as pretty commonplace, let alone in Japan where visible tats are way more controversial. Of course Draken thinks it’s sick as hell, but that’s because he’s a child. I don’t care how tough this kid is, you tell him “no” until he’s old enough to know whether or not he wants that particular design across his cranium permanently.

Questionable license to practice aside, this does give us an interesting look into who Draken is compared to Mikey. They’re both plenty dedicated to fighting and damn good at it, but the Mikey we see in this flashback has an almost preternatural instinct for violence, taking on guys twice his size and age with visible glee as he literally leaps into the fray. With what we see later on in the current (past?) storyline, it becomes clear why Draken’s relatively grounded approach to delinquency is necessary for keeping his leader reined in. Both have a very strong sense of right and wrong and are prepared to defend those lines with everything they have, but only Draken’s is tempered enough to keep him from getting tunnel vision. That push and pull is key to why they’ve stayed together so long, but also what’s liable to tear them apart as the conflict with Moebius comes to a head.

Which brings us to Osanai, who is…a lot. We first meet his future self, an even more broken and shattered mess of an adult than Takemichi started the series as, and while that builds tension towards the overarching mystery, it’s when we meet Teen Osanai that the extent of his fall really becomes apparent. The Osanai of 2005 wears a red jumpsuit with “Man of Culture” stitched on the chest, calls people “dickcheese”, and brings his entire crew to watch him beat up middle schoolers. The moment he arrives it becomes a huge question as to how the hell he wound up the frightened man we saw before. We then swiftly get that answer when Mikey turns the inside of his skull into an air hockey table, then really get the answer when Peh straight up stabs him. That moment is probably the strongest in these episodes, and it’s a trick Revengers pulls off well, taking all of the relatively cool violence of these fist fights and immediately sucking the air out of it. All of a sudden this isn’t stupid teenagers pounding each other’s faces in – it’s desperate, impulsive fools committing attempted murder and immediately panicking.

That’s when everything goes to hell. With audience perspective it’s pretty obvious that this was all some sort of set up. It’s not only dubious if Moebius were actually the ones responsible for starting this feud, and between them conveniently finding out about Toman’s meeting and Peh just happening to have a knife on him for just such an occasion, it’s easy to surmise somebody is pulling strings in all this. Takemichi hasn’t quite put it all together, but that’s understandable since his brains have been pummeled into a viscous jelly across this season, to the point he passes out while the rest of Toman are running from the cops. He wakes up a few days later in the hospital, and that’s then this stretch of narrative takes a decidedly awkward swing into comedy.

It’s not just the rote misunderstanding involving Emma and Hina – though that joke’s not getting any less tired the more the show brings it out – but that the entire back half of episode 7 takes a bizarre turn into comedy that could be taken as necessary comic relief if it weren’t actively undermining the current conflict. Takemichi spends the rest of the episode loudly reacting to mild gags and repeating punchlines, all while the supposedly dramatic dissolution of Draken and Mikey’s friendship is playing out before him. It’s a strange writing decision I really don’t grok to, and I’m hoping whatever resolution comes next week will be able to better balance drama and humor than this was.

That’s unfortunately the note this span of episodes ends on – an awkward, tonally stilted confrontation that should feel a lot more important than it currently does. Draken and Mikey are interesting and likable characters, and the show has done more than enough to sell their relationship while making it the centerpiece of this stretch of narrative, so it’s doubly confounding why we end on jokes about Takemichi going super saiyan because his bike got destroyed in their fight. I just hope whatever happens next week is able to right the ship.

Rating:




Tokyo Revengers is currently streaming on
Crunchyroll.


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