Tokyo Ravens, the Eastern supernatural anime series, returns with an even cooler opening credits into the second half of its first season. In the first half, a lot of the more meatier plot details were buried in a regular school day antics as usual format. This is thankfully not the case past Episode 13, which begins like a countdown to revealing the secrets of the Raven Coat in the finale at Episode 24. The plot gains surety as momentum builds, and Season 1 Part 2 is everything you could want from an anime. It is an exciting, much more tightly action-packed pace that builds on the potential seen in a world set with magical disasters.
A review copy was provided by FUNimation Entertainment.
One of the essential elements the anime just wasn’t really supplying in Part 1 is a continuous action. Tokyo Ravens sets the scene with a magical Tokyo, destiny, childhood promises, mystery, …and then proceeds to drown it with the same old redundant tropes we see with every other anime (think how Kyoukai no Kanata would have been if the focus was on more world-building, not fan service). After that proceeds to drag on through several rounds of painfully obvious romantic missed connections, Part 2 hits off with the real deal.
Reluctant protagonist Harutora can no longer hide behind his talent-less student act once their school is directly attacked. After witnessing all that his friends and teachers are capable of, he can either accept that he will always rely on others for protection, or do something about the lack of control and knowledge he has over his spiritual powers.
What’s more, as his feelings for Natsume grow complicated, he begins to see her for who she truly is: not some genius masquerading as a boy and nagging him for the sake of grades, but a girl that is in many ways helpless. A frighteningly greater part of the masses believe she is the reincarnation of their savior. Those devotees will stop at nothing to cause her to supposedly regain consciousness and lead them. Yet, apart from diligence and hard work, Natsume doesn’t seem to possess any standout abilities – other than summoning her family dragon.
Magic, real magic in proportions they only theoretically studied about, is exchanged in blows with the enemy. Instead of the mechs and battle familiars, there is a lot more elemental magic that is given a bit more explanation through incantations. Weapons and small spell talismans also enter the mix. In this, the mix of modern and supernatural works well.
Strange and unexpected factions rise to test their mettle. Each character, including and sometimes especially supporting ones, get their own development as they experience self-doubt and lose their direction. Everything Harutora’s band of friends thought they knew falls down around them, and for once viewers are just as confused as they are as to the true motivations of each side.
Some highlights are when Toji embraces his oni powers, Tenma goes through his own sense of uselessness, and the truth behind Mr. Ohtomo’s missing leg and Onmyo Prep’s origins come out. That is not to say that the harem elements are abandoned altogether, but Suzuka provides a much needed breather by being refreshingly honest and still having lines like “hella creepy.” Even Kon gets to do a bit more than make Harutora look bad.
If I were to pick a moral Tokyo Ravens operates by, it would be to think for yourself and don’t trust adults. There is maybe one trustworthy adult in the entire series, and all of them hold pretty devastating secrets. A good dash of betrayal and senseless violence keeps things interesting and moving forward. Although the series still makes it all about Harutora and Natsume, the world is established to show that they are part of a much larger plan that can only be attributed to destiny.
The turning point is undoubtedly focused on Harutora. It takes a while to change his thinking, but once he finally reaches the point where he is as frustrated with himself as the audience no doubt has already reached by now, he decides to level up.
Natsume of course, plays no small part in sending him over the edge by showing just what lengths she is willing to go for him, which makes him start reevaluating his protector status in the Tsuchimikado family. Putting the fact that they’re cousins aside, this actually does become a much better love story than Twilight.
Tokyo Ravens displays some of its best in this DVD – best animation so far, best soundtrack, and best rounding out of characters that is like the extra credit needed to average out this anime into a solid rating. To top it all off, the conclusion acts both as a satisfying culmination of the series thus far, and a cliffhanger that opens up a lot of possibilities. All in all, Tokyo Ravens Part 2 is a great watch that plays all the cards it originally withheld onto the table.
-A fire is lit and the plot starts rolling out.
-Much needed backstory and worldbuilding starts being dished out.
-Characters grow and start dealing with the mysteries.
-Romance takes a much more sincere turn.
-Animation and soundtrack keeps up with the new action.
-Getting the developments feel sudden when everything prior feels flat.
-The season ends on a high – and perhaps the best part.