by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 23 of
Tokyo Revengers ?
Gotta say, of all the ways I imagined Tokyo Revengers would cap off the somber, tragic epilogue of Bloody Halloween, goofy romcom BS was not one of them. Not that I'm complaining too much – this is the most engaged I've felt with the show in over a month, but whiplash is too mild of a word for the experience of watching this episode. The centrifugal force of the hard left turn this episode takes is probably enough to break bones if you're not careful.
It's not a clean break either. The opening minutes of this episode recounts the conclusion to Kazutora's character, with Draken and Takemichi soberly wishing for him to take care of himself as he goes about atoning for destroying his best friend. Then we hit the other side of the OP and within minutes Takemichi is tripping his way – literally dick first – into losing his virginity in a mixup at the brothel Draken lives at. And boy is that a gag that gets weirder and more nonsensical the more I think about it. Skipping over the lady who nearly bangs a 14-year-old on somebody else's dime because she doesn't check IDs, remember when this whole story was about Takemichi trying to save his girlfriend from being brutally murdered? For that matter, it seems like the show just forgot Takemichi is actually 26, considering he can't even figure out why somebody patronizing a sex worker would clip their finger nails. All told it's a weird setup to a punchline that amounts to Takemichi internally yelling at his own penis, and I couldn't tell ya why it's here.
Things thankfully pick up after that. We get a legitimately emotional scene with Draken thanking Takemichi for stopping Mikey during the fight, for one. For another we finally see Hina and Emma again, which is a welcome breath of fresh air after all the hard-boiled angst of this past arc. It's a strange decision to build the rest of the episode around them following Emma and Mikey on a supposed date, but that's the kind of goofy stuff that works when we have characters who aren't currently embroiled in a gang war to work with. You can see the eventual punchline from a mile away, but the part of me always jonesing for a good high school romcom was still pleased. Plus we get little moments to soften our bad boy heroes, like Mikey getting embarrassed over taking his sister out for her birthday, and Draken plopping an adorable teddy bear right on Emma's head. After weeks of seeing these guys crack skulls and spit blood, seeing their non-combat sides is super refreshing. I also enjoy the hints we get about Mikey's home life, what with him and Emma being half-siblings with different mothers, but apparently still living in the same home. There's a story there, and even if we never see more on the topic, it makes our cast feel a little more human and grounded.
Speaking of, I really do wish we'd seen more of the Toman group in their daily teenage lives before now. Details like Mitsuya being the president of his school's Home-Ec club are great, and do a lot to flesh out these characters' personalities outside of how cool they are in a fight. Him personally making Takemichi's Toman jacket is a little undercut by how little he did to earn the honor, but sometimes just putting a character in a cool jacket is enough for me. I understand why the series would prioritize the big, important gang war stuff, but seeing more scenes like this to let us really get to know Toman's large ranks would have done a lot to make me care more about the previous conflict.
On the whole I'm mixed, but fairly positive about this episode, on its own at least. There's some jokes that don't land and I'm still not sure it was a wise move to have the penultimate episode of the season spend so much time on comedy, but I did enjoy watching it overall. With our finale next week we'll doubtlessly dig back into the drama and mystery of Toman's past and future, but for a palate-cleansing pit-stop this week does the trick.
Tokyo Revengers is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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