Tokyo Revengers Episode 1: Reborn

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What’s it about? Hanagaki Takemichi is in his late twenties working in a job where his boss doesn’t respect him, is dealing with little kids bullying him, and has to keep apologising to his landlady about how loud his TV is. To top it all off, now he’s also dealing with the news that his middle school girlfriend died in the middle of the Tokyo Manji gang war.

After hearing this news Takemichi is mysteriously pushed onto train tracks and while facing death, he suddenly finds himself travelling back in time to 12 years ago when his ex-girlfriend was still alive. Now he must save her.

Thoughts on this episode? Firstly, I have to say this to get it out of the way. This anime is going to be compared to ERASED. It’s just going to happen. Both are premised upon an unsuccessful late twenties man leaping back through time to save a girl from their past. And although I understand this comparison that will be made, I do like that Tokyo Revengers appears a lot more shonen-like (after all, it did win the 44th Kondansha Manga Award of the shonen category in 2020). I think this is a great distinction to make for viewers of this series as Tokyo Revengers comes across as a lot more goal-orientated and action-fuelled than ERASED. While ERASED is focused upon the mystery of who killed the girl, how, and how to stop it – Tokyo Revengers from the get-go establishes that the goal is to save Takemichi’s ex-girlfriend Hinata by interfering with the Tokyo Manji gang.

The anime begins with an exposition focused upon Takemichi and his current lifestyle. Ultimately, he comes across as rather unlikeable during this time. We gather that he lacks motivation, is an annoyingly frequent apologiser, doesn’t have many friends and/or family (considering his last thoughts before dying were about his ex-girlfriend he hadn’t thought about in years), and can barely remember Hinata’s face before jumping back through time despite this series revolving around his want to save her.

Things get particularly interesting though when Takemichi is mysteriously pushed onto train tracks and as he’s facing death, leaps back through time. The question arises here… who pushed him? And why? There’s no answer provided and no hints even really dropped yet so viewers will have to wait to find out.

Which is great! Series that involve a larger mystery should always have smaller mysteries being solved to piece together the puzzle. And this episode definitely delivers on this. Although the series isn’t in a mystery related genre and the protagonist’s is to save Hinata, we still need to find out why she died and how to stop it. Adding in little extra mysteries like who pushed Takemichi, therefore keeps viewers’ interest and helps them piece together the information they’ve given while watching to come to their own conclusions.

I think this is a solid first episode as well in terms of delivering in action and plot progression. Although the characters so far don’t seem too complex or well-developed, we see Takemichi and his friends already go through a rather traumatic beating delivered by another school’s third years when they challenge them to a fight. This event results in Takemichi and his friends becoming ‘slaves’ to these lower ranked guys in the gang that Hinata dies because of. Already the plot pieces are falling into place to allow Takemichi to save her for viewers.

It was also very interesting, and honestly a little surprising, to see confirmation too that Takemichi’s time-travelling is effective. Where in other series there is usually the question floating around of ‘is this actually working? Is anything actually changing?’ thanks to the protagonists’ actions in the timeline, Takemichi already has saved Hinata’s younger brother Noato. When Takemichi travelled back through time to 12 years ago for the first time, he saves Noato from some muggers and tells him that he and Hinata will die 12 years from now. When Takemichi awakens in a hospital room to discover he survived being pushed onto the train tracks Noato informs him that thanks to Takemichi’s words 12 years ago, he survived. However, he couldn’t save his sister.

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