by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 3 of
Tokyo Revengers ?
Last episode, Takemichi took his first step towards changing the course of his and his friends' lives, standing up to the apparent leader of this local piece of the Tokyo Manji gang. While it was a brave act to support a friend, I was curious if our hero actually had a plan going into this, some clever ploy or desperate move to come out on top against a guy 3 feet taller than him. Turns out: Nope! Takemichi is all heart, no brains, and the opening minutes of this episode feature him getting the few brain cells he has left beaten out of him. But that's actually what he wants – to face the hurt he ran away from all those years ago, and prove to himself he has what it takes to make the right decisions this time. It's a compelling amalgam of self-loathing, penance, and good old-fashioned shonen grit, and that mixture manages to catch the eye of the REAL leader of Tokyo Manji: Manjiro “Mikey” Sano.
The rest of this episode is essentially a formal introduction to the big (small) man on campus. He arrives with his right-hand man Draken who, despite looking 7 feet tall and having a head tattoo, the wiki assures me is also 15. The pair immediately put Masataka's face in the dirt, shutting down his would-be fight club in the process, and then the unsettlingly jovial Mikey decides Takemichi is his new best friend! The whole thing is actually pretty funny, seeing the guy who's terrorized our hero and his friends for the last 2 episodes get his face knocked in, all while the guy kicking his ass is just happy to have made a new buddy.
That sets the tone for the rest of Mikey's screentime. We learn that while he's the violent leader of a street gang who will mercilessly knock teeth out, he's not the blustering bully you'd typically see leading a band of street thugs. He's got a code of honor, a strong sense of what's right, and admires Takemichi's willingness to stand up for what he wants to protect – the classic archetype for a delinquent with a heart of gold. What's more, both character and show seem aware of that – and how anachronistic it is. While bruisers with powerful pompadours and an anti-authoritarian sense of justice used to be ubiquitous, times have changed and characters like Mikey and Draken are a rare breed. As somebody who really enjoys that particular mix of ideas, I can't help but feel a bit of kinship towards Mikey as he waxes about his late brother and his admiration for the quintessential ideal of delinquency. Much like Takemichi, I can tell he's a good guy, and that makes me all the more curious to see what could have happened to bring about the violence that took Hina's life in the future.
Speaking of Hina, she gets probably the best moment in this entire episode. I mentioned last time that I was worried she'd just be a comfort blanket for Takemichi, but turns out the girl's got moxie. It's already a bold move to drag your dopey boyfriend away from the guys you suspect have been beating him up daily, but it's another altogether to slap one of the guys across the face. But that's exactly the kind of gumption I like to see, and her fighting against her fear makes for a great complement to Takemichi's story. Granted this probably would have turned out way worse if Mikey and Draken didn't have a code of honor and the decency to clear up her misunderstanding, but it's nevertheless a great moment for her and a much more engaging way to flesh out her relationship with our protagonist. There's still the whole time-leap age gap thing to contend with, but if he does manage to stop her eventual death, I'd actually be pretty interested in seeing these two reconnect as adults.
In general this is just a solid episode for expanding the cast. We still don't know much about the greater mystery behind Hina's death or how Takemichi is supposed to actually stop it, but this looks to be a very long-running story, and establishing engaging characters takes priority. In that regard this is a slam dunk entry, giving us a stronger attachment to the main emotional hook, some intriguing new characters, and even gives some of the supporting cast moments to shine. Hell, Atsushi was even ready to knife a guy to help Takemichi, which is both stupid and oddly heartwarming. All-in-all, this left me confident that Revengers can absolutely deliver on its solid foundation.
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