[DVD] Anime Review: Tokyo ESP
Tokyo was in a state of ultimate destruction. As every minute passes by, civilians were getting tortured and murdered by acts of terrorism. In such times, they can only think of the one and only source of hope. Best known for her prompt thinking and heroic acts in crucial times, she is known none other than …’The White Girl’.
Little do they know that the White Girl is actually Rinka Urushiba in real life, a fairly average high school girl living a normal life. That was until she one day sees a penguin flying through the skies of Tokyo accompanied by a swarm of glowing fishes. Coming into contact with the fish, Rinka discovers that she has now developed powers in which enables her to move through inanimate objects. Whether it is passing through buildings or dangerous objects, this was the start of something new for Rinka Urushiba.
Not long after this magical encounter, she soon meets a fellow student named Kyotaro Azuma who has the ability to teleport at will. With crime on the rise, both Kyotaro and Rinka use their ESP powers to become Tokyo’s heroes of justice. But beyond this happy facade, an underground organisation secretly schemes to create utopia by giving ESP powers to random users. In the desperate fight against terrorists, humans and good espers must work together in order to save mankind from destruction. Will things go according to plan?
Based on Hajime Segawa’s manga series, TOKYO ESP offers a fantastic sci-fi narrative that displays a combination of flawless art direction, animation and thrilling storytelling. A notable refreshing change in recent anime releases, this Xebec production (Shaman King, DN Angel, Pandora Hearts) shows no hesitation in delivering drama and action with sophistication.
Kicking the story off with a major climatic scene with no warning whatsoever, this storytelling technique immediately pulls the audience straight into its universe. However, Tokyo ESP soon throws a spanner in the works as the narrative then rewinds back to the very beginning in which recounts the story of how Rinka obtained her powers. Tokyo ESP‘s circular narrative may not be impressive at first but the way how it triggers a loop of chaos that eventually reaches the pinnacle point makes the story rather spectacular.
In the midst of all the drama and action, Tokyo ESP somehow manages to find the time to develop its plot and characters. What produces a good story like Tokyo ESP is its memorable cast of characters who have gone from ordinary civilians to superheroes. Not only do we have the noble Kyotaro, but we are also introduced to other characters such as Minami (Kyotaro’s sinister sister) and Murasaki (the geeky daughter of a yakuza gang). Ignoring the inclusion of odd characters such as Pandaemon, Peggi and Parrot, all characters are extremely likeable with their individual personalities and powers. With all of them combined, the story feels very complete and amusing to watch.
But of course, we must not forget our badass heroine, Rinka Urushiba. From the mangaka behind Ga-Rei, fans will be ecstatic to see a female protagonist in the spotlight, especially for a dramatic story like Tokyo ESP. Rinka might be an average high school girl but her strong-headed personality and sense of justice will amaze viewers. ESP powers or not, Rinka is fierce in heart and soul who will never give up for the sake of her freedom — even if it costs her own life.
Although we do see male character support from Kyotaro, his character admires Rinka from afar. Despite the potential romance between Rinka and Kyotaro, we are grateful that the story didn’t succumb to this cliche direction as it would have degraded the show’s integrity. Too busy saving the world, the audience is constantly amused by Rinka’s actions and the amount of respect for Rinka by those around her. As a result, this constant euphoric sensation is highly gratifying for fans, and we cannot help but love this series more than we already have.
To our surprise, Tokyo ESP certainly lives up to its naming title in the greatest way possible. Showcasing a range of Tokyo districts including Shibuya and Akihabara, we are surprised by the quantity of recognisable landmarks in Tokyo ESP. From the infamous Shibuya crossing to Tokyo Tower, Tokyo ESP showcases Japan’s beauty and popular destinations without trying too hard. These aren’t just casual references — Tokyo ESP actually incorporates these realistic settings as part of the story. With terrorism affecting Tokyo and its people from left to right, these particular scenes were incredibly disheartening to watch. We must applaud Tokyo ESP‘s bold attitude for confronting the audience with such powerful imagery — imagery that feels timely relevant which will no doubt affect viewers on an intimate level. Just when Rinka and her friends thought the chaos was going to end, viewers are somehow introduced to more new villains — even at the last minute of the story which may or may not frustrate fans.
Overall: TOKYO ESP is a modern sci-fi action series that will take you on an exhilarating ride. The series may have concluded in a puzzling (unresolved) fashion, but in retrospect, Tokyo ESP offers many positive highlights that not many anime series can achieve. With an open-ended conclusion to such a unique series, we can only hope for a sequel in years to come.
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