by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 17 of
Tokyo Revengers ?
Takemichi is not a smart man. That's been apparent since episode one, and has been reiterated every time he's been forced to socialize with actual teenagers, but it's become inescapable now that Revengers' plot has shifted into mystery-solving mode. While our hero has made great strides in regards to determination and reliability, picking up clues is just not his forte and seemingly never will be. That's understandable, and in some ways helpful when the audience needs things explained to us that Takemichi should by all rights already know, but boy does it make this episode in particular frustrating to watch.
Put simply, the number of times our hero's only dialogue is to ask other people to explain things to him is kind of staggering, as he ping pongs between different characters to slowly piece together information that the audience almost certainly figured out weeks ago. Yep, Kisaki was the mastermind behind Moebius, and he's also pulling a whole Olympics of mind games both leading Valhalla from the shadows and manipulating Toman from the inside. To be fair, these are conclusions that Takemichi and other characters probably wouldn't arrive at without a bird's eye view of the narrative. The problem is in the execution, as “No Way” follows our protagonist walking from Place to Place having other people figure things out for him while he reacts in shock. I don't expect Takemichi to be Sherlock, but even the wonkiest Watson could offer more to an investigation than he does to Chifuyu. It's repetitive and makes our already timid protagonist look incredibly reactionary as he's all but led by the nose to an obvious deduction.
Chifuyu is pretty fun, though. We technically met him two weeks ago when Baji was rearranging his face at the Valhalla hideout, and his formal introduction features him bragging about how cool it was for Baji to do that. You gotta give this show credit; it knows how to give its psychopath cast a strong first impression. He's also the first teenager in this show with enough emotional clarity to realize something shady is going on, and that his friend suddenly turning traitor probably isn't as simple as it seems. Really, Chifuyu does all the leg work this episode, following up on Osanai and recognizing just how deep Kisaki has reached his tendrils into the entire conflict. It's also pretty neat that he's seemingly managed to intuit Baji's real goals without being told – that kind of camaraderie is just always going to endear me to a character, and it's another one of Revengers' strengths. It's just rather weird to see him essentially take over half this episode while our hero looks on with his mouth agape at every new revelation.
The other saving grace of this episode is Mikey, who continues to just be a cool and interesting dude. The fact he's already forgiven Baji for his role in this whole mess is impressive, and shows both a propensity for compassion and emotional intelligence you wouldn't expect from a teenager whose defining trait is “good at assault.” Plus his reaction to Takemichi's ambition to lead Toman is some classic shonen cheese that I'm always going to enjoy. The reveal that – at least in the current timeline – he straight-up beats Kazutora to death also has me more hopeful for that whole plotline. Kazutora may be presently uninteresting, but the potential character fallout of Mikey confronting him presents a lot of potential for interesting writing.
If there's any luck, that's where the show goes from here now that Takemichi has been brought up to speed on everything. Revengers is at its most compelling when it's up to its neck in character drama, and I'm hoping we return to that rather than assembling more puzzle pieces.
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