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Tokyo Revengers: Christmas Showdown
Episode 4

by Nicholas Dupree,

How would you rate episode 4 of
Tokyo Revengers: Christmas Showdown ?
Community score: 4.0

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© Ken Wakui, Kodansha/Animation 'Tokyo Revengers' Production Committee

Dear readers, I am not the praying type (unlike Taiju, as we learn this week) but I'd like to offer up a solemn thanks to whatever deity out there is responsible for Chifuyu. He's not my favorite character in Tokyo Revengers, but by god is he the most useful right now. Not only has bringing him into the fold given Takemichi somebody to talk to besides his own bruised brain, but the boy's single-handedly eliminated the show's most frustrating element. I can easily imagine a version of this episode that covered half as much ground, because it stopped to have Takemichi reiterate everything he learned ad infinitum. Instead, we get one scene of Chifuyu talking him out of an obvious bad decision and immediately moving things forward. Truly, he is a blessed companion for all of us.

Seriously, compared to the last few episodes, this one positively zips by. We get a firmer idea of the Shiba household's history, learn the shape of Hakkai's friendship with Mitsuya, establish a deadline for the eventual climax of this arc, and get a surprising new ally for our heroes; all that in just 22-odd minutes! It's refreshing to end an episode excited to see where it goes from here, rather than frustrated that we've only taken shambling half-steps towards progress. Please, keep this up, Revengers.

More than just being speedy, though, the material here is the strongest it's been all season, as we delve into Hakkai past. We already knew Taiju was a real piece of work, but seeing how he abused his siblings for years – not just physically, but by manipulating and lying to them whenever they resisted – hammers home just how much of a bastard he really is. Hakkai, meanwhile, feels remarkably believable as a kid trying his best to survive that still-ongoing abuse, breaking out in a cold sweat whenever he confronts his brother, while trying to shield Yuzuha from it all. In a show that's chock full of teenage psychopaths who treat violence as naturally as breathing, it's a strikingly non-romanticized portrayal of brutality.

I also like what we see of Mitsuya and Hakkai's relationship. Mitsuya's a nice dude, casually taking care of Hakkai the same way he cares for his own siblings. He not only befriends him, but shows Hakkai a version of family not built around fear and control, as well as teaching him to use his strength to protect the people who matter to him. It's all simple, familiar stuff for a shonen story, but is no less effective in getting me invested in their relationship and twisting the knife when we see Hakkai turn that lesson into justification for killing Taiju. No matter who he wound up being in the future, in the here and now (or is it there and then since we're in the past?) he's a scared kid who's desperate for an escape and doesn't know any means besides violence.

Meanwhile, Takemichi's team get some help from Kisaki of all people, and I could not be more excited to see where this goes. Hakkai and Black Dragon are the most immediate issues to address, but Kisaki's role in the larger story is easily the more tantalizing mystery here. We've known him solely as a villain – the manipulative mastermind who wormed his way into Toman and tried to get Mikey in his debt – but there's clearly more to him, or at least more to his motivation than just power. In the meantime, he's both a valuable and disconcerting ally for our heroes. Sure, he gets them key information about Taiju, but if this asshole is helping Takemichi, is he really on the right track or just falling for another scheme? It's great stuff, and has me genuinely impatient for the next episode.

Rating:

Tokyo Revengers: Christmas Showdown is currently streaming on Hulu.


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