Tokyo ESP
Episode 11

by Theron Martin,

All of the set-up, all of the backstory, is now complete. It is now time for Tokyo ESP to fill in the few remaining odd details to bring the story full circle. And that is precisely what episode 11 does: link the storyline that the series has been following for the past nine episodes back to the in media res beginning and push forward from there.

Essentially episode 11 is a replay of episode 1, to the point that about 20% of the episode content is composed of scenes directly recycled from episode 1. While doubtless this was at least partly a cost-cutting gimmick, the replay of those scenes with the context created by the last few episodes puts a significantly different spin on some of them, and in other cases we actually now know who the characters depicted are. Much of the rest of the episode features what was going on elsewhere while the events of episode 1 were playing out and/or as a lead-in or follow-up to what happened in episode 1. For instance, episode 1 showed Murasaki and Ayumu learning about Peggy's status; here we get to see them actually rescue Peggy. Episode 1 showed Rinka reappearing in dramatic fashion; here we see how and why she got free of incarceration and how she and Minami eventually converge in the confrontation that episode 1 strongly hinted would be part of the series' climax. We also get to see Kyotaro's best effort to get back to the scene and how the pelican featured in the series' advertising artwork comes into the picture. (It isn't necessarily in the way that you might expect, either.)

Perhaps most importantly in a logical sense, how the heroes might possibly hope to endure against the powerful foes arrayed against them also finally gets revealed. The solution is the only reasonable one that the series could use, and harkens back to what was suggested by episode 1: that the past deeds of White Girl, and her ability to snap out of her funk and adhere once again to Edmund Burke's philosophy that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” (okay, the writing does not explicitly use this quote, but this is what Rinka's mindset essentially boils down to), will serve as a rallying point – and, somewhat surprisingly, not just for espers, either. Rinka might have taken a beating in the past, but now it's time for those licks to get paid back in full, and this time she has back-up even if she doesn't have her powers (which she never really used much in fights anyway).

In a narrative sense this is all well and good, but the stiff execution which has plagued the series on and off for the past few episodes recurs, and that turns what should be a thrilling and viscerally satisfying episode into a “ho-hum” affair. A combination of rough scene transitions, lack of suitable dramatic build-up, and weak character follow-through (for all of The Professor's intimations about having ulterior motives last episode, he seems like Generic Megalomaniacal Bad Guy X again) saps much of the intensity and verve from the course of events. This is all the more frustrating because the production staff showed with episode 1 that they are definitely capable of doing better. Hopefully the finale, which should wrap up the source material's first major arc, will produce something less underwhelming.

Rating: C+

Tokyo ESP is currently streaming on Funimation.


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