Anime Review 228 Tokyo Ravens

If there was one good thing to ever come out from this pandemic is that I had the opportunity to dive into my anime backlog. Show that I put in my watchlist, but never seemed to watch due to personal life prior to the pandemic.

This year I’ve watched a lot of non-seasonal anime and I ended up liking many of them. Strike Witches, Senran Kagura, Tenchi Muyo War on Geminar, Sakura Quest and many others. Tokyo Ravens is one of the many backlog shows and I end up liking it a lot. In fact, I would say that Tokyo Ravens is one of my favourites non-seasonal show’s that I watched in 2021.

Storywise Tokyo Ravens may one of the most light novel things I’ve seen in terms of structure and how it presents itself in the opening episodes, however, it’s much more competent then than the majority of its light novel adaptational peers.

From the very first episode, Tokyo Ravens creates an intriguing world of modern Onmyoji. It presents an interesting magic system that you will get accustomed to as the show progresses.

It avoids most of the heavy exposition crap that has plagued most light novel adaptations. Tokyo Ravens instead wants you to get accustomed to the characters in a layback manner since it’s a character-driven show. The Onmyouji element never gets forgotten, in fact, it slowly develops along with the characters. We learn the mysteries of certain characters of the Onmyouji background as well as secret/forbidden Onmyouji arts.

Tokyo Ravens is one of the rare light novel anime to blend a slice of life and action heavily very well. The only other show that I watched that did that just as well is Shakugan no Shana. Since the characters enrolled in an Onmyouji Prep School it’s natural to let our Onmyouji students relax and have a train to become Onmyoji.

I was generally surprised that there was little to no meandering around during the slice of life stuff of Tokyo Ravens. Sure the characters are more often than not goofing off, but we get to learn about the characters and their motives.

The excellently crafted slice of life side of Tokyo Ravens only strengthens the serious action-packed side of Tokyo Ravens. Due to how much I ended up caring for the characters, the fights as well the eventual plot twists in the second become much more memorable.

Tokyo Ravens storywise is funny, well written, engaging and well-paced.

The only issue I had with Tokyo Ravens was that it ended on a rather cold note. To its credit, the journey toward the done thematically well, and I loved the plot twists that happened, however, I still wished it got a season 2 as this show deserves one. Maybe someday when 8bit have finished adapting That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime they will go back to this.

The characters are the true stars of Tokyo Ravens.

Harutora is a refreshing and well-executed protagonist. As someone who’s grown sick and tired of seeing these overpowered and shallow LN leads, Harutora is a breath of fresh air. He’s grounded, inexperienced and most of all is reliable. All he wants to do outside of attending school to become a shaman is to experience youth just like any guy. Hanging around with friends. I also liked how he’s very detached from the main story events. Avoiding the overpowered amateurish writing that has plagued various works both old and new. All he is a dude that despite all his training, still has much to learn about the world and his strength and knowledge reflect that.

As a result, Harutora ends up being one of the most human main leads I’ve ever encountered in anime.

Natsume, just like Harutora, is a refreshing female lead. Despite her coming from a strict background as well as being the supposed reincarnation of Yakou, all she wants to do is be a normal girl that can fit in with society. I also liked her character dynamic/romance with Harutora. They complement each other well and seeing their bond grow as the show progressed was satisfying. Oh, how can I forget that she’s a badass that can hold her own in combat as well as ride a dragon?

As much as I love the character writing of Harutora and Natsume, Best bro Touji and best girl Suzuka stole the show for me.

Touji is properly one of the best-executed bro type characters I’ve seen in anime. From his strong bond with Harutora, his intriguing backstory to his character development, Touji was a joy to watch from beginning to end. Best of all his bond does not feel artificial or hamfisted. They deeply care for each other to a point where they will sacrifice themselves to protect each other.

Suzuka is a hilarious firecracker filled with energy.

Outside of her amazing personality, she’s one of the most fun and compelling characters in Tokyo Ravens. Introduced as the main antagonist in the first, I adored her change of heart through the show.

I adored Suzuka’s redemption arc. Just before the second half, she attends the same school as Harutora due to her punishment for her forbidden actions and her powers were sealed temporarily. Despite her manipulative cute hijinks towards Harutora, she feels guilty for turning Harutora’s life upside down for her selfish gain. Throughout her reintroduction arc, we learn her tragic past and on top of her trying to redeem herself towards Harutora and Natsume.

The best part about Suzuka redemption arc was that the main character wasn’t fully the one that made her change her ways, in fact, it was his best friend Toji that considered her to change her ways and ultimately part of Harutora group of friends. It was that point where Tokyo Ravens was a special show that I fully respected. I have never seen a light novel adaptation when out of its way to outright destroy most if not all the cliches and tropes that you see in works like this.

Finally, from the main characters, we have Tenma and Komojo and while I wasn’t a fan of them, in the beginning, they quickly grew on me the more they show up especially the latter who serves as a big sister figure for Suzuka and her growth.

The rest of the characters were interesting, compelling and fun to watch. I especially loved when the adult shamans figures show up in the show displaying their overwhelming strengths to the viewer on top of them having interesting motives both good and evil. Strong Harry Potter vibes going on here.

Tokyo Raven’s visuals were done by 8bit the same studio that did my personal favourite franchise That Time I got Reincarnated as a Slime, Aquarion Evol (along with Satelight) and Infinite Stratos

The production values were all-around great, but there were a couple of hiccups that held it back quite a little.

Character designs are well designed and distinctive from each other ensuring that characters don’t look the same. The background scenery is bright, detailed and pleasant to look at.

The animation is consistent throughout, filled with good fight choreography and smooth character movement.

The addition of CGI models for some of the battles are a mixed bag. Sometimes it blends in well with the 2D environments, while at others it feels rushed, janky and out of place. The worst CGI moments may not be as problematic as most modern anime, but it’s still rather jarring when the CGI is at its worst.

The soundtrack is excellent. A compelling collection of upbeat, supernatural, bass, tracks that complement the tone of the show.

Tokyo Ravens has two opening and ending themes and they are all excellent well-composed songs in their own ways.

My favourites are Opening 1 and Ending 2. I loved the Persona 3/4 cryptic aura vibes that Opening 1 and Ending 2 give out. Not to mention they are catchy and perfectly capture the tone of the show.

I only saw clips of the original Japanese audio, and from what I heard I thought it was solid.

The English dub and it’s fantastic. Well acted, superb audio quality and well-written dub script. I even go as far as to say that Tokyo Ravens is the most underrated Funimation dub alongside Senran Kagura, Code Geass Akito, The Exiled, Shangri-La, Strike Witches, Shakugan no Shana and Tenchi Muyo War on Geminar.

Best performances go to Ian Sinclair as Touji, Jad Saxton as Suzuka, Clifford Chapin as Harutora and John Michael Tatum as Jin.

Fun fact, a lot of the actors in the dub would go on to voice various important characters from My Hero Academia.

I’m truly glad that I discovered Tokyo Ravens. What could have been a throwaway Onmyouji anime ended my favourite Onmyouji themed anime ever alongside Shakugan No Shana. Tokyo Ravens does almost everything right from its story, worldbuilding, story, themes, characters, production values, voice acting and music. It’s not perfect, it’s certainly one of the best non-seasonal experiences that I had in 2021.

If you’re looking for a worthwhile Onmyouji that has story world-building and characterization then I proudly recommend Tokyo Raven’s.

Must Watch Recommendation.

4 thoughts on “Anime Review 228 Tokyo Ravens

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  1. This is one of my favorite anime given the modernistic take on Japanese magic and the background of how it formed by collecting all the older magics and making them viable for the World War.

    The battle with the professor on the school roof was one of the most beautiful magic battles I’d seen as well.

    Like

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