Are you tired of shonen anime’s usual tropes and clichés, like senseless fights and action at the expense of character development? Then you might want to try Tokyo Revengers!
Tokyo Revengers is an anime series that premiered in April 2021, adapted by Liden Films from the manga of the same name (written and illustrated by Ken Wakui). It’s only been a few months, but it’s already exploding in popularity—and for good reason.
What Is Tokyo Revengers?
The story of Tokyo Revengers revolves around a guy who supposedly dies after being hit by a train, but actually teleports 12 years into the past and relives a few years of his life before returning to the present.
After returning to his current self, he later finds out that he was saved by someone he met while he was time traveling in the past. Together, they work together to prevent unnecessary deaths—including those of his friends and ex-girlfriend—by changing the past.
The series may sound like an ordinary high-school-life series with thugs and goons, but there are lots of interesting twists and elements in Tokyo Revengers that make it worth watching.
1. Tokyo Revengers Isn’t Your Typical Time Travel Anime Series
Though the plot involves being teleported to the past, the anime doesn’t quite fall under the isekai genre.
The protagonist Hanagaki Takemichi only travels 12 years back in his timeline, unlike Senku Ishigami of Dr. Stone who loses almost 3,700 years of his life, which is more in line with isekai. This is a modern real-world story that uses “short-distance” time travel.
More importantly, Tokyo Revengers lacks one thing that’s common in fantasy and sci-fi anime series: superpowers and abilities. Other than the time traveling aspect, everything else is “normal” to real-life.
That time travel plot device is mainly used to explore the idea of changing the past, creating time paradoxes, and working to prevent certain deaths—rather than using time travel or time manipulation as a “spell” to win conflicts in the present.
2. There’s a Lesson Behind Every Fight
Tokyo Revengers isn’t a slice-of-life anime series that’s content to just explore thought experiments without consequence. There’s real progress to the plot, and there’s real character growth.
Takemichi and the other characters learn lessons from the past, which inspire and motivate them. Unlike other anime series that feature many unnecessary or meaningless conflicts, Tokyo Revengers is keen to make every fight meaningful for the characters.
The best example is when Takemichi stands his ground against school bullies, which results in him being beaten. His actions impress his friends, which inspires them with courage and resolve.
We can relate to the story because we’re all underdogs in our own ways, whether to gangs and bullies or otherwise.
3. It Blends Action and Story Well
The series features violence, but in a way that’s essential to the story. It’s not the type of shonen anime to include violence and conflict for cheap thrills or twists, and the fights aren’t gratuitously brutal.
It walks the fine line between too much action and not enough action, and there’s always plot and/or character development to go with it. On top of that, the drama is mature and complex—more so than many anime series that cop out with basic character depth.
4. It’s Full of Interesting Characters
Tokyo Revengers is full of interesting characters who add valuable contributions to the plot and make the story more captivating.
From the childish yet fierce gang commander Manjiro Sano to his loyal subordinates, every name in the series has its own part in making the series fascinating and worth binge-watching.
The main character, Hanagaki Takemichi, a 26-year-old good-for-nothing adult, falls off the train tracks and was brought back in his life 12 years ago as his lousy punk self. There he met his friends again and is caught in trouble for the second time in his lifetime.
How would he live again in the life he ran away to? Does he have what it takes to change the future, or is he ready to take the risk for his friends in the future? A lot of questions may arise, but the series made sure that the story won’t be left hanging.
5. It’s Not Your Typical Shonen Anime
While most of the highest-rated shonen anime series involve superhuman powers and extraordinary abilities, Tokyo Revengers makes a name for itself without any of that.
Sure, the plot features gang wars, revenge plots, character rivalries, budding friendships, tested loyalties, and the time travel twist, but you’ll never see someone spew fire or go invisible.
It’s a breath of fresh air in a world of anime that’s dominated by chakra, quirks, and devil fruits.