Tokyo ESP
Episode 10

by Theron Martin,

Looking for details on what happened to Ayamu, Murasaki, or Kobushi in the wake of episode 9's calamitous events? You will not find them in episode 10. Neither will you see much time spent on Rinka and Kyotaro (and no more than cameos of most others), although they do at least get some screen time; he's still stuck on the island, and she eventually gets rounded up by the anti-ESP task force and hauled off to their ESP Detainment Center. No, the lion's share of the attention actually falls on The Professor, because this is the point in the Hero's Journey where the villain's true and full motives must be laid bare and the backstory must be filled in, all before the series' final big dramatic push.

In one respect spending more than half the episode on doing this stalls the story out, especially given how much the writing has pushed the pace to this point. After what has just happened, and considering how deep the hole has been dug for the heroes to climb out of, viewers are anxious to see just how the heroes are going to manage to pull it off, and devoting so much time to the backstory delays that for another episode. However, up to this point there have also been a few too many missing pieces to the story. Where did the psychic fish come from? (Answer: The Ark of the Covenant. No, really; you would think people would have learned not to mess with that in the wake of Raiders of the Lost Ark.) What happened to The Professor, beyond just his wife being killed, that induced him into such a twisted mindset? (Short answer: A pretty darn big and deep betrayal.) And is he really just a racial supremacist, or is there a secondary motive behind what he's doing and the racial supremacy act is just a means to an end? The latter conclusion has not even been suggested by the series before, but in light of the revelations here, it now seems inescapable. It would also explain why he took actions that he had to know were going to push the government into drastic action concerning ESPers; he not only didn't actually give a damn about their welfare but was also deliberately trying to provoke elements within the Japanese government in order to draw them out.

If that really is what the story has been aiming for all along then it is an unexpected but welcome layer of complexity to add at this late stage, one which nudges the story from a mere straightforward Hero's Journey into a more involved scheme. Set against that is the more heavy-handed use of the Detainment Center, complete with its number branding system, sleep-inducing restraints for those with harder-to-control powers, and smug ass of a director. Despite the surprise turn in The Professor's motives, nothing is handled much subtlety or grace in the backstory, either, and how Minami knew where to find Kyotaro when he strayed off the island begs a lot of questions. Execution has definitely not been the series' strong point, and that continues to be the case.

Victory for our heroes seems uncertain, but at least the small seeds are planted here. That Rinka is recognized by some in the Detainment Center probably isn't an insignificant scene, nor is the fact that she and Kyotaro are still seeking to draw inspiration from each other. How they're going to succeed may not be clear yet, but the last pieces are in place and the story can move toward a conclusion.

Rating: B-

Tokyo ESP is currently streaming on Funimation.

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