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Tokyo Ravens: Part One
Written by Kohei Azano, the creator of K, a series I felt had a lot of wasted potential, and Black Blood Brothers, a series that in my opinion flew a bit under the radar, comes Tokyo Ravens, a middle of the road series about present day mages.
Tokyo Ravens revolves around Harutora Tsuchimikado (voiced by Clifford Chapin), a lazy slacker who was born into a branch of the famed Tsuchimikado family, a family who with a talent for the powerful Omnyo magic. Harutora, despite being born with a silver spoon his mouth so to speak, never really shined in the magic department and always felt like he was destined to lead a regular boring existence alongside his best friends Toji (voiced by Ian Sinclair), another lazy slacker who spends his days with Harutora sitting around, and Hokuto (played by Tia Ballard), Harutora's childhood friend who is in love with him and constantly encourages him to embrace his heritage.
That all changes one day when someone from Harutora's past, Natsume (voiced by Caitlin Glass), shows up out of the blue trying to persuade him to fulfill the promise he made to her as children; Harutora will become her familiar and fulfill his destiny of becoming a powerful mage. Like Harutora, she is also a member of the Tsuchimikado clan, but unlike Harutora, Natsume actually is the prodigal daughter of the head of the family.
While out together with Natsume, Toji and Hokuto, Harutora runs into a powerful mage named Suzaka (voiced by Jad Saxton), who is on the run from the Magical Investigation Bureau for researching and experimenting with forbidden magic to try and revive her brother, a task she believes Natsume can help with. With the group getting in the middle of the fray, tragedy strikes as Hokuto is killed. Wanting to honor Hokuto, along with Toji and Natsume (who must hide her identity as a boy to honor family tradition!), Harutora enrolls into Omnyo Prep Academy, where he will learn to hone his skills and become a powerful Omnyouji (magic user) he was meant to be.
+ An excellent dub cast although the standout is easily the relative newcomer, Clifford Chapin. He first impressed me when I was fortunate enough to review Good Luck Girl and he continues to do tremendous work here as Harutora.
+ The animation is top notch.
+ Solid development for the supporting cast halfway through the set, especially Toji, in a nice 3 episode arc that is easily the strongest material of this first collection.
+ Briskly paced. The format of the series is with similar story structuring of A Certain Magical Index, where we get a 3-4 episode arc, then a filler/break episode and then back to another story arc. It works well with this series.
- Generic and formulaic.
- Once they get to the academy, the quality of the show takes a beating as they ditch the magical/sci-fi element for a while and go for slice of life. It's a 3-4 episode arc that shows the characters adjusting to life at Omnyo prep and it kind of drags with not a whole lot happening.
Video and Audio:
Presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, the video quality of Tokyo Ravens is excellent. The image is vibrant and clean, and the details are sharp. While I would have liked a little less CG in the animation, it's still a very striking production overall.
The audio is delivered in typical FUNimation fashion with 2 different options. The first is a lossless TrueHD 2.0 English stereo track and the second is the original TrueHD 2.0 Japanese mix. Your enjoyment of either will be based on what language you prefer. I myself sampled both tracks, watching the majority in the excellent English dub.
- Episode 5 commentary with Clifford Chapin, Ian Sinclair, and Monica Rial.
- Episode 7 video commentary with Clifford Chapin, Ian Sinclair, Monica Rial and Colleen Clinkenbeard.
- Episode 12 commentary with Caitlin Glass, Jad Saxton, Leah Clark.
- Kon explains it all! #1 and #2.
- Textless opening and closing themes.
- FUNimation trailers.
- The limited edition also comes housed in a slick looking chipboard art box.
Tokyo Ravens is off to a solid start with these first 12 episodes of the series, I wouldn't say it's a bad show but I wouldn't say its particularly good either. To be honest, by the end of the first 6 episodes I was ready to write this show off completely as your typical run of the mill shonen series. However, a little over halfway through the set, Tokyo Ravens injected some heart and depth to several of the supporting characters, and in doing so, I really felt like it elevated the series. By the end of the set, I was curious to see what would happen next. Recommended.