Review: If one wants to create a fun, action-packed anime and never really care about complexity or deep, thought provoking story, using the plot about a bunch of high school kids with superhuman powers fighting the demons invading Tokyo is actually a smart choice. This kind of plot is very generic yet easily accessible, flexible and endlessly provides opportunities for cool action scenes and lots of touching drama. Believe it or not, with such simple storyline, Tokyo Majin still messes things up so badly that I have a head-splitting headache every time I watch more than two episodes consecutively.
The first half of the series is rather episodic. New monster is introduced every one or two episodes. The later part deals with more continuous stories concentrating on protecting Tokyo from some conspiring demons and there are also larger group of recurring characters. The anime suffers from poorly introduced characters. Hiyu shows up at school, get in the fight with Kouichi, meets the others who happens to have magical powers as well and then they start roaming Tokyo at night hunting demons. The characters are unique only in the way they dress and the weapon they possess. They are shallow and predictable. They somehow lack context, backgrounds and convincing motivations. I don’t know who they are. I can see how they look like but I don’t know what kind of people they are, where they come from, why are they here. The series’ creators do not bother to explore these sides of the characters but rather focus on the action and the monsters. So how can they expect the viewers to care about these characters? This results in fragmented storytelling and failing to create intimacy with the viewers.
Numerous supporting characters show up along the way just to help fighting the monsters. While some pops up just to explain, albeit very briefly and obscurely, what is going on and who the villains are. It’s almost like watching a street fight. It catches your attention because it is noisy but soon you get tired because you know none of them. They are just faces and voices with no meaning. The villains are also badly portrayed. They are just a bunch of evil looking people who show up, introduce themselves as a member of certain faction and then lunch attacks on the good guys. After that, there are fighting and fighting and before their defeats, there will be some flashback showing how they suffers in their youths and that they are not really evil and so on. So what do they really want? It doesn’t matter as long as they keep the action sequence going on. Are the creators trying to cover up the weak plots by blinding me with lights, sounds and flashy images? Who do the creators think I am, a nine year old?
Not only the characters that are poorly presented, the storytelling is also a failure. The main plot is scarcely touched during the most part of the show. All that is told is that some ancient enemy has resurrected and he wants to destroy every living thing on earth. Every now and then new subplot will simply emerges and will soon be dropped. Someone will suddenly turn into a monster or someone will suddenly reveal that he has some tragic past or someone will surprisingly possess extraordinary power and is destined to do this and that. Every time new subplot is introduced, the show will shift its focus towards it and leave everything else behind. So Tokyo Majin ends up as a giant collection of unrelated and underdeveloped subplot while its main plot is buried so deep underneath.
The look is the only merit of the series. The animation is nearly flawless with smooth, fluid movements of the characters which are most distinguished during action scenes. The soundtrack is quite generic but works well enough during the show. I’ll have to give special credit to this anime for its two brilliant opening songs. But without decent script and characterization, the sound and animation are meaningless. Conclusion: Tokyo Majin is a painful disappointment. After four or five episodes, the urge to drop the series kept getting stronger and stronger and when I finally finished it, I learned that my feeling was right. I can’t believe I actually got through all 26 episodes of Tokyo Majin. I never knew I was so tough or so foolish.
Title: Tokyo Majin (act 1 & 2)
Genre: action, fantasy, horror, supernatural
Released date: January 19, 2007 – April 20, 2007 (act 1), July 27, 2007 – October 12, 2007 (act 2)
Director: Shinji Ishihira
Animated by: AIC Spirits