Tokyo Ravens Review
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.