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Tokyo Revengers
Episode 15

by Nicholas Dupree,

How would you rate episode 15 of
Tokyo Revengers ?
Community score: 4.2

I haven't mentioned it much before now, but Tokyo Revengers has a bit of a pacing problem. I know, I'm blowing everyone's mind. An adaptation of a popular, ongoing shonen manga having pacing issues? Perish the thought! But as this season has gone along, what was once a deliberate pace has started to feel more like padding, and “No Pain, No Gain” especially shows it this week.

It's not just that it starts with a two-minute recap of everything important from last episode, or the fact that this episode has Takemichi's friends literally sit him down to explain the hierarchy of his own gang. Though those are rather egregious. It's also in the way so much dead air sits between a lot of lines, or how Takemichi reiterates flashbacks to scenes we've already flashed back to at least twice in the past weeks, or how the camera will linger on one action for just a bit longer than necessary. None of these are glaring issues on their own, but they add up to an episode that only feels like 10 minutes story actually happened.

The saving grace is that the bits of story we do get are at least interesting. Things kick off with that mysterious sixth man from Toman's founding, Kazutora, just walking into Takemichi's class and taking our hero on a field trip to Valhalla's hideout. Convenient? Certainly. But as soon as Kazutora casually mentions he broke his own henchman's legs without explanation or complaint, it's clear this isn't some easy shortcut for Takemichi to start bringing Baji back to the fold. This is a hostage situation, and only Kazutora's lackadaisical attitude towards the whole affair is keeping (most of) Takemichi's bones intact. That's especially true once they reach Valhalla's smokey, abandoned arcade headquarters and we see Baji beating his former subordinate's face into salsa, before settling in for an impromptu flashback promising to show us the foundation of Toman and all the strife that's led to this latest gang war.

Sadly that story will have to wait for the next episode. See what I mean about this entry feeling slight? Sure, there are some other tidbits of information – and I'm betting now that Valhalla's hidden leader is absolutely Kisaki – but overall this episode amounts to a lengthy prologue to the presumably more interesting story coming next week. There are some neat details – I love Valhalla's...would you call it a logo? Whatever it is, it looks sick and turning the “Valhalla Team” into a halo of their headless angel. The awkward distance between Future Takemichi and Past Akkun is funny in an incredibly sad way. The brief start to the Toman flashback gives us a great reminder that despite being massively violent gang members, Mikey and his friends were originally just stupid, edgy tweens. Kazutora is also a potentially interesting new psychopath, though it's yet to be seen how he differs from the other 15 in the cast.

That's just not enough to fill out a whole episode, though, and I'm very much hoping this episode is a single casualty to deliver the rest of this tragic backstory in one go. Because if this is the pace to expect from the rest of this arc, we're in for a rougher time than even our protagonist.

Rating: Tokyo Revengers is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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