Tokyo Ravens Review

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Tokyo Ravens is an anime aired way back in 2013, though I never really knew about it and first found out about the anime through Animax. I heard some people singing praises of it so I decided to check it out. While I find that it’s definitely better than a lot of it’s LN anime peers, it’s not exactly amazing either.

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The Tsuchimikado refers to an infamous onmyouji clan, but perhaps the most infamous tale of all dated way back during World War 2-and involved one of their key member, Tsuchimikado Yakou and his failed ritual, which caused a phenomenon known as the “Great Spiritual Disaster” and has since thrown Tokyo into a state of spiritual disarray. Fast forward to the present, Harutora is a family member of the prestigious Tsuchimikado, but he himself has shown no interests in becoming an onmyouji, after all he can’t even sense spiritual power. An incident occurred however, which forced him to stop running away from his responsibilities as a Tsuchimikado, and became a familiar to his childhood friend and true heir of the clan, Natsume, to aid her in battles.

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As what you would expect from LN action/supernatural titles, Tokyo Ravens has a habit of really making things overly-ambitious. Battles between factions, spiritual disasters, and plots lasting over 50 years. It’s to the point that sometimes, it can even get a little confusing to follow. It’s however still much better than it’s LN anime peers for a few reasons. For one, the transitions between comedy slice of life and plot-centric moments aren’t as jarring. Even better, some of the former are also important in delving a little bit more in the characters, which is otherwise impossible during the more haphazard overarching plot-progressing episodes; so they aren’t exactly without purpose either.

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In fact, I would even go the extra mile and say this-Tokyo Ravens handled the serious and dramatic moments exceptionally well. Tokyo Ravens may be a little confusing at times — LN terms-expository a flaw in it just like much of it’s peers (although Tokyo Ravens is better in this regard, admittedly), it has a knack for being genuinely emotional when it needs to. In fact, the first few episodes already begun in an emotional hailstorm, and a lot of people praised the near-end episodes for very similar reason. It just knows how to turn up the emotions when it needs to.

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It’s hard to feel anything if the characters aren’t any good though, but boy are the characters good in Tokyo Ravens. All the main characters truly carried the show, with some mysterious adult characters as the icing on the cake. The main characters especially look like basic LN archetypes at first glance but not as simply one-dimensional if you would scrutinize; though admittedly, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that they are deep though, just that they are deeper than I thought they would be. Harutora for example, is possessed of the nice guy-archetype but is uncertain of himself due to his lack of magical ability. Suzuka has a villainous-archetype but struggles with her guilty conscience. I’m satisfied with the extra layer of characterization the story went into, as it really helps me delve into the characters myself. Even better, the dynamics and chemistry between the main cast are great-even the romantic progressions between Harutora and the heroines are believable; standard and cliche, yes, but believable. Despite the archetypal cast, the narrative engages their relationships with each other in a genuine, sincere manner-and this aspect is truly the main highlight of Tokyo Ravens.

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If I were to be frank, the animations aren’t really the best in this show. The biggest offender though is definitely it’s usage of CGI for their familiars, which made them look stiff-y, robotic and just generally out of place if anything. Other than that though, visuals overall are decent. The magic battles are always a sight to see, bolstered by it’s incredible cinematography (despite the shitty animations and jarring CGI). And besides, while animations are a love-or-hate thing in Tokyo Ravens, there’s no denying it has great designs. Character designs are good and distinguishable, the familiars’ designs are also pretty detailed and it has excellent backgrounds that reflect it’s urban fantasy setting well.

While there aren’t a lot of really noteworthy songs in Tokyo Ravens, most of them are able to etch themselves into the scenes naturally and supplement the stories-the dramatic and emotional scenes are especially accentuated nicely this way. Combined that with excellent openings and endings, and with a great cast of seiyuu to boot, the audio side of things certainly satisfied me too.

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Aforementioned in the introduction, I find Tokyo Ravens superior than a lot of it’s LN peers of similar genres, though I still don’t think it’s truly amazing or anything. It has a few issues I expected out of the genre, but it also has some things that made the show stand out from the rest, in particular-it’s genuine and sincere characterizations. To that end, Tokyo Ravens won’t be a masterpiece anytime soon, but it’s definitely on the higher tier of LN action/supernatural anime for me.

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Rating
Story: B-
Character: B+
Art: B
Animation: C-
Sound: B

Final Score
7/10

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This entry was posted by Kai.

5 thoughts on “Tokyo Ravens Review

  1. I ended up seeing this series as a sort of Harry Potter type story, but using Japanese folklore for its magic. And with what I felt was an interesting subversion to the whole “chosen one” trope. The protagonist was a pretty clever balancing act across the “underdog” and “hero” spectrum of capability, I thought.
    The series does have its issues (some aspects of the plot definitely dragged on, and Dat CG), but its greatest strength was definitely its memorable cast of characters, and that’s something that generally tends to smooth things over for me. There wasn’t anyone I disliked, and I appreciated each story arc letting more than just the protagonist contribute to saving the day. Even the adult side characters played a considerable role! This is something I find myself caring about more as I get older–most of the time in YA fiction (including anime), all the adults are completely useless.
    Also, maybe it was just me, but I thought the show did a great job with its comedy. I might have found myself enjoying the goofier parts of the anime than the more serious parts actually, ha ha.
    All of that said, why did the anime have to end on such a cliffhanger! I mean, it did resolve its main story arc, but yeesh. I’m going to have to read some of the light novels one day I guess, if I’m going to find out where the story goes from there.

    • I… don’t know though. His “hero” seems like an asspull to me sometimes. I can get behind his “underdog” characterization though.

      Yeah, I guess the characters really saved the anime. It’s awesome because the anime managed to divert just enough focus for each characters, so not just the protagonists but each character gets to be in the spotlight. And indeed, the fact that the mysterious adult characters are actually moving things forward in the background is great. I enjoy the romcom parts too, but I like them more because they serve a purpose rather than just being funny (there was a romcom episode where they actually develop the love triangle a little more).

      Well this is the conclusion of it’s very first major arc. Not sure if the second one is concluded or not, but if not, I would say it’s a perfect time to end it

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