REVIEW: ‘Tokyo Revengers,’ Part 2 Is Filled with Interpersonal Politics in Bloody Halloween Arc

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Tokyo Revengers Part 2 certainly finished off the summer season with a bang, literally (too soon?), adapting the manga’s Bloody Halloween Arc. Ken Wakui’s time-traveling delinquent manga series is adapted by LINDEN FILMS (Blade of the Immortal – 2019). The manga is available digitally in English from Kodansha USA. The anime premiered in the Spring 2021 season, and ran for a double cour (two consecutive anime seasons, totaling 24 episodes). You can read my review of the first cour, here. There is also a live-action film adaptation.

Takemichi Hanagaki was living a dull life at 26 years old, reminiscing about the good old day in middle school, when he is pushed onto the train tracks in an attempt on his life. Instead of dying, however, he wakes up in his middle school body, having travelled back in time. Jumping back and forth between then, and the present he partners with Naoto, a detective and younger brother of Hinata Tachibana, his ex-girlfriend from middle school. The only girl Takemichi ever cared for, he finds out she was killed thanks to an internal feud in the Tokyo Manji Gang, or Toman. Determined to save her life, he re-lives his middle school years and befriends Mikey and Draken, heads of Toman.

It was a solid premise with great execution in the first half, and the kicker was the ending to episode twelve. While constantly having to fix a new issue may feel repetitive, Tokyo Revengers Part 2 does a fair job of keeping things interesting. It moves the goalpost, but in a way that reveals a little more about the characters and overall conflict each time. This time around, in the present Takemichi and Naoto learn that Draken is on death row. His previous actions didn’t stop Kisaki from taking over the Toman of the future. This time around, he sets his sights on intervening in the Bloody Halloween: a fight between Valhalla which led to the deaths of two of Mikey’s childhood friends, Baji and Kazutora.

What Tokyo Revengers excels at is the choice to continuously have Takemichi travel back and forth in time. Instead of entirely re-living middle school events, he returns to the present to see how things have changed. Spending time in the present with the audience allows us to see the main cast as adults. It adds tension, and comedy as every time Takemichi has to piece together how the timeline has changed. Additionally, and arguably most important: viewers are reminded that the major characters we spend time with are kids (if you can suspend disbelief since all the voice actors play the boys with very deep voices). They are diving headfirst into the fantasy of being a gang, without quite realizing just how deep it can spiral. These are young boys growing up way too fast. It is nicely juxtaposed against the adult versions of themselves in the present, who now have a full grasp of corruption, death and gang politics.

It is this backdrop that the central conflict for the Bloody Halloween Arc is framed around. Viewers learn more about the tragic turn of events that broke apart Mikey, Baji and Kazutora. The founding of Toman started as a group of young boys playing into the fantasy of gangs they saw on TV. So much of Tokyo Revengers is these boys navigating the balance between close bonds and unhealthy idolization of each other. Unfortunately, the real world consequences come raining down, and they are not the glamor of gang life. It is the painful reality of murder, juvenile detention and the psychological trauma that comes from experiencing it. Takemichi serves a unique role as a guide, because he is an adult and can secretly watch over these kids. Smart editing choices solidify the impact of all these moments. If I sound vague here, it is intentional. Truly unless you are are concerned about material being triggering, it is best to not have anything that happens in this arc spoiled.

Regrettably, there is a con to all of these pros: Hinata. Last review, I expressed concern that she was mostly used as a device to further Takemichi’s growth, and lacked character depth and development herself beyond viewers  watching her be killed. That has not changed. If anything, after the traumatic Episode 12, the show forgets her almost entirely except for cuts to her death scene. Her lack of involvement in the entire second cour with the exception of one episode is disappointing to say the least.

The final disclaimer I will add: since the inner workings of Toman are front and center this half, it means Toman’s gear is everywhere. The show has done a fair job of editing out the gang’s logo in a way that isn’t super noticeable unless viewers know what to look for. Most of the time a camera glare made to look like the ray from the sun obscures things. This censor choice may be frowned on by some, but it is understandable. Toman is short for the Tokyo Manji Gang. Because of that, their logo is the Manji symbol, which can be easily confused with the Nazi Swastika unless someone is aware of the origins and subtle differences. The choice to edit it out likely comes from wanting to avoid said confusion and risk of associating the story with it. For those curious and don’t know: the Manji symbol is an ancient religious icon used predominantly in Eastern religions. It often represents prosperity and good luck. The Nazi Swastika actually took the Manji symbol and flipped it clockwise, as well as displayed it tilted. The Manji symbol can also be found in other manga series, such as Blade of the Immortal, where lead character Manji wears it on the back of his coat. In the English editions of the manga, Dark Horse comics chose to include a preface at the beginning of the books to clarify the meaning of the symbol, and that it was not a Swastika.

Tokyo Revengers was a hit, and certainly an emotional roller coaster. The Bloody Halloween Arc dove into more interpersonal relationship issues, as well as proved it was fully aware that its main cast consists of young children. As tension-packed as it was, and full of punches to the face, Tokyo Revengers Part 2 also served as a story about the loss of innocence. Well-edited and acted, there was a good reason its Spring premiere was highly anticipated. The major negative is that Hinata is really only a tool for Takemichi’s development and has zero agency as a character in her own right.

Tokyo Revengers Part 2 is available to stream on Crunchyroll.


Tokyo Revengers Part 2
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    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

Tokyo Revengers was a hit, and certainly an emotional roller coaster. The Bloody Halloween Arc dove into more interpersonal relationship issues, as well as proved it was fully aware that its main cast consists on young children. As tension-packed as it was, and full of punches to the face, it also served as a story about the loss of innocence. Well-edited and acted, there was a good reason its Spring premiere was highly anticipated. The major negative is that Hinata is really only a tool for Takemichi’s development, and has zero agency as a character in her own right.