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Tokyo Ravens: Season 1, Part 1

FUNimation // Unrated // April 7, 2015
List Price: $69.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Neil Lumbard | posted May 16, 2015 | E-mail the Author


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Tokyo Ravens - Season 1 Part 1 - Blu-ray Review


Tokyo Ravens is a fantasy anime series from
animation
studio 8-Bit. The series originated as a series of Japanese light
novels which
were written by Kōhei Azano and featured illustrations composed by
Sumihei. The
series revolves around the fantasy world of onmyouji, who are beings
capable of
connecting spirit power and who can battle negative spirits who cause
problems
within their world. It is up to the onmyouji to help keep the peaceful
balance.


The central character of the series is
Tsuchimikado Harutora,
who at the start of the series isn't aware of even having spiritual
energy to
work with. The path to being a onmyouji is a long one with a lot of
training. The
road ahead of Harutora will be a challenge. Thus a journey begins for
Harutora
when he and his friend Tōji run into a strong sprit-energy fighter
named Hokuto
at the festival they are attending.


The action of the series ramps up quickly and the
spiritual energy grows
within the befuddled Harutora. It isn't long before Harutora learns his
friend
is a shikigami (a familiar), which is someone with strong spirit-energy
with a
direct connection to someone else. In this case, the friend was the
familiar to
Harutora. The onmyouji adventures begin.


As the story continues, Harutora moves to Tokyo
and enrolls
in a magical spirit-energy school specifically for onmyouji. At the
school,
students learn about and train in the craft of using their spirit
power. Harutora
and company encounter new adventures as their classmates are met at the
onmyouji
magic school, spirit battles ensue, and educational journeys through
onmyouji
training ensues.


The series is written by Hideyuki Kurata. The
story for this
series is frequently convoluted and nonsensical. The dialogue is iffy
at best
when it regards exploring the magical elements of the series. The
plot-line itself
is fairly standard fare. This premise has been done a bunch of times
and the
elemental shift of moving the story to Tokyo and with a magic-school
premise is
not interesting. The characters are largely one-dimensional. This is a
standard
fantasty-action-comedy anime which relies too heavily on genre
expectations.


The direction is by Takaomi Kansaki, Kazuhiro
Kanemitsu, and
Michio Kaiba. The direction is action-heavy. The animation quality
works with
the direction for a fluid stylized series which should impress some
action-anime fans looking for complex action sequences. In that regard,
this
production is handled effectively. If you are just hoping for some
solid action
set-pieces combined with quality animation, the show might impress.
Unfortunately,
the characters on Tokyo Ravens are not well presented through
the
writing or directing and the dramatic tone disappoints.


The animation quality by Studio 8-Bit is effective
for the
most part. This is a slickly produced series. The animation is fluid
and seems
ambitious for the action scenes. The level of detail is reasonably
strong.
Background artwork is somewhat minimalistic for this series and doesn't
stand
out much but the attention to the spirit elements impresses.


Tokyo Ravens is a bit of a mixed bag. The
action is
generally solid but the story and characters fail to be of much
interest. The
storytelling mainly tends to offer viewers convoluted fantasy concepts.
While
some anime fans might appreciate Tokyo Ravens as an action
series those
hoping to find compelling characters and storytelling will be largely
disappointed
by this production as it lacks solid originality and contains a
smorgasbord of convoluted
fantasy concepts.


The Blu-ray:


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Video:style="">


Tokyo Ravens style="">arrives on Blu-ray
with an impressive 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded image. The presentation
quality is
superb with strong color reproduction, clarity, and detail. The image
is
preserved with high-bitrate encoding. Funimation has done a superb job
with
this series and viewers will find this to be an exceptional HD
presentation.


Audio:


The audio is presented in lossless
Dolby TrueHD 2.0 English and Japanese w/
English subtitles. Either option should please fans. The clarity of the
audio
is good and the dialogue clarity is excellent. Though the series
doesn't
feature surround-sound, the show has a good stereo sound mix that
offers strong
immersion. Whether viewed in Japanese or English, the lossless audio
boost is
considerable.


Extras:


This set includes the following: Audio
Commentaries on Episode
5 and 12, Episode 7 Video Commentary,  Kon
Explains it All!
#1 and #2 (10 min. total), in which one of the
supporting
characters relays background information about the series which is not
presented in the main story , textless opening and closing
songs/credits, and trailers
promoting other anime releases from Funimation.


The set is also housed in a collector's art-box
with space
for Season 1 - Part 2 to be added on release.


Final Thoughts:


Tokyo Ravens - Season 1, Part 1 contains
the first
half of the season. The series offers a fantasy world filled with a lot
of
action and some magical-school comedy. The series is unfortunately
disappointing
and it lacks interesting characters. The action element might be
worthwhile for
some anime fans. The animation quality is generally strong.


Funimation has done a solid job with the
presentation
quality of Tokyo Ravens and fans will consider the Blu-ray set
worthwhile.
Everyone else should give the series a rent first. 


Rent It.



Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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