Anime: Tokyo Ravens: Season 1 Part 2 DVD/Blu-Ray
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: June 21st, 2015
Retail Price: $64.98
Tokyo Ravens is a series that tells the story of Tsuchimikado Harutora, the son of a branch family of the Tsuchimikado clan, and he happens to be in a family of “onmyouji” (specialists in magic and divination). His ancestor Yakou Tsuchimikado, was an crucial figure to the evolution of onmyoudo (a traditional magic). Yakou’s developments sparked great admiration or extreme animosity because he was known to have led many victorious battles and ultimately caused the great spiritual downfall. This downfall is triggered when a onmyouji’s aura loses a proper balance and can ultimately become destructive which requires an exorcism. Harutoa’s childhood friend Natsume, and a daughter of the main Tsuchimikado family, arrives in the beginning to remind him of a promise made years ago, that Harutora would become Natsume’s familiar (protector). In part one he takes on that role, and befriends a crew of other practitioners such as Suzuka, Tenma, and Suzu. After spending time to setup the progress in part one of the anime, the second feels as if it’s a quick jump into the ongoing plot. With Yakou’s devotees becoming more prominent, Harutora and company assembled to form a team that requires the trust and assistance of each other.
In the very beginning of part two, Harutora reflects on the possibility of Natsume being Hokuto the entire time, and spends the begging distant as he rethinks their previous interactions with his new knowledge. It starts off with a shot at him discussing things more in depth, but we see that his fear of altering their current relationship sets up a blockade for the two to develop…at least in the early stages of part two. Things seem dire for Natsume with everyone hoping she takes on the form of Yakou, and a not-so-well timed reveal of her real gender to the masses slowly but surely making her secret public knowledge. Natsume goes through so many different moments of peril, and is even fatally injured that requires Harutora to attempt tapping into extreme power with the hopes of saving the life of the girl he loves. Natsume is given some of the most emotional scenes of the second half, and some of the final moments between her and Harutora set the series in a darker place than it had been before. It’s not the typical happy ending you expect, and I like the direction the series was heading, but it is obviously also emotional to experience as a fan of the characters. Another stand-out scene includes Natsume and Kyoko when Natsume is apologizing for keeping her secret from her. Kyoko admits her feelings about Natsume and how the deception had affected her. This relationship was a reminder of the individual bonds of Tokyo Ravens that work so well.
With all of the specific factions of mystical branches and their differing motives, it can feel like a lot to juggle. It’s nice that they all have a center point to tie them together, being the Tsuchimakado clan and the potential of a reincarnation of Yakou. Sure people have had their gripes about the multiple concepts introduced, but if you can manage to attach yourself to specific storylines you can easily find yourself fascinated by the series and the amped up drama with every episode further into the series. Characters that have more importance in the second half include the misguided Takiko. She’s a member of those involved in the spiritual disaster, and is manipulated into thinking Yakou’s return is someone who will simply have an allegiance to them with a great power source. She at moments shows signs of darkness on her own and in turn seems to have possible compassion, but she becomes an important character with a foggy moral compass throughout her short run on the series and I found my self perturbed by the young girl.
One episode towards the end takes a different stylized turn by starting off as an episode for the characters to disregard the current dilemmas and dangers by enjoying each others company. The episode takes time to acknowledge interpersonal relationships amongst the group of friends. We get to see a joyous and childlike Suzuka, coy Tenma, and the ever-so-cool guy Touji. Harutora and Natsume get the opportunity to open up about their relationship and the secrecy of Hokuto, and things then take a quick turn. In moments, the scene becomes extremely dark and results in a devastating death that sends ripples through the characters. From this moment forward, every episode’s intensity increases with all bets off and the major questions regarding Natsume and Harutora’s fates. You have to credit the series for a proper climactic build-up that feels like as the episodes dwindle the risk becomes greater. The series final moments only manage to provide a slew of new questions which leaves me and other viewers wondering what could come next? Unfortunately, if we are every lucky enough to receive a second season it definitely won’t be for awhile, with the series based on ongoing light novels. The voice actors step up their game for the series serious second half, and the animation is done on a larger scale to portray the perilous conclusion of the series. The music used in Tokyo Ravens is one of my favorite anime scores, and the dire piano arrangement used on multiple occasions is purely superb. If you enjoyed Tokyo Ravens part one, you’ll surely enjoy the second half’s intensity, but prepare for some accompanied sadness as well.
Overall Grade – 8/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
-I was surprised at how invested I became in the dynamic between Harutora and Natsume.
-I did miss extra air time for the group such as Suzuka and Touji. The reveal of her father could definitely use some back-story.
-The episode with a major death felt like a gut-punch, what a way to bring devastation to Tokyo Ravens!
-I remain hopeful that if they ever have enough material to develop a second season, we will get to return to the world of Tokyo Ravens and its growing world of characters and mythology.