T O K Y O. . .M A J I N. . .G A K U E N
Genre: Shōnen, Supernatural
Director: Shinji Ishihira
Studio: AIC Spirits
Original run span: January 19, 2007 – April 20, 2007
Number of episodes: 14
. . .Of all the anime I’ve been rotting my brain with (yes, I have been on an anime kick. If you laugh, I will send my legion of chibi Alucards on you), this has got to be one of the best ones I’ve had the joy of watching. To be quite frank with you, readers, the “it” factor that will pull me into actually watching something is the overall image I get from it. In other words, I am attracted by the first glace, by the graphics. Yes, yes. Pull out your ugly flags and tell me I should not judge a book by its cover – but, this isn’t a book. This is something for my viewing pleasure and indeed, the italic is to stress the word “viewing” and not to make it look pretty. A novel is about words; telling a story through little symbols to which we have attached meanings. We, as readers, create our own images from the carefully written sentences. The world created around books is personal, from our minds. It differs from one individual to another.
. . .A cinematographic production is a visual world created for us by an individual. It is his/her way of seeing something, thus makes it concrete for us, the viewers. It’s completely different from books and it wants to be judged for its visual appeal. As an avid watcher of cinematographic creations, I want to have the pleasure of watching something, yes, with substance, but also and mostly, with visual quality. If I only wanted substance, I’d check in to the nearest bookstore. Saying that the visual appeal doesn’t concern you when it comes to creations that are fundamentally formed on images is a blatant insult for them. I have, however, gone way off subject with this.
. . .To follow my train of thoughts, I had been perusing many sites in search of anime to download for I am lacking in dramas and new ones won’t come around for a little while. Or my sources have let me down, whichever, the result is that I have nothing to view. Glancing around, it was easy to see that I hadn’t paid attention to anime productions for what seems like years and found myself with this massive source of entertainment that I hadn’t really explored. It was insanely easy to find sharing sites and like the good machine I am, I started my scavenger hunt. At first, it was the image that caught my attention. The title, being too long, was lost somewhere in the recoils of my mind and like the curious Alice, I downloaded the first episode to give myself a little preview. As I mentioned, I was on a scavenger hunt – Normally, I just divide what looks (yes looks, not seems. By the series’ picture, I will judge if I want to bother watching) interesting or not, then save everything in a nice bookmark folder and go back to it afterwards. I indulged in my curiosity and watched the first episode and I found myself downloading the next and the next and the next – and finally, I was at episode fourteen and it was the end of season one. Oops.
. . .You are immediately pulled into action as the series begins with a young girl. She’s running, running away. From what? You don’t know yet, but you know she’s afraid. You can see it, you can hear it and it almost puts you on edge. If like me, you readjust yourself on the sometimes not so comfortable swivel chair, knowing full well that this will be extremely entertaining and you even get a little rush of exhilaration. She turns into what looks like a dark tunnel, perhaps it’s underneath a bridge and –
. . .By the time this little skit is done, you shift your eyes down to check the time – only two minutes and thirty seconds into the series. Well wasn’t that positively thrilling? If it wasn’t, you need to stop smoking that weed, honey.
. . .The overall story is simple enough. A new guy transfers to in a Tokyo high school. Name? Sleeping Beauty. Or Tatsuma Hiyuu, whichever you prefer. I have a slight penchant for Sleeping Beauty. He enjoys strawberry flavored milk, which is really very manly. He quickly forms a duo with the class’ pea brain/delinquent: Kyouichi Horaiji, hair that defies gravity and always waving around a bamboo stick. If you’re a geek, you can call it bokken instead. They’re odd together, completely different you could say, but fit perfectly. The same can be said about the rest of the “posse”. Aoi Misato (Princess) is demure student from a rich family, also president of the student council and the one who might get on your nerves the most at first. She’s the sensitive one, you see, they often make you roll your eyes. Sticking around her is Komaki Sakurai (often called Shemale), president of the Archer club and overall good student. She likes to refer to herself as “boku” which is a way usually reserved for guys to say “I”. Following in the list of good students is Yuuya Daigo…by “good”, I mean that he is a student that follows the rules. He’s the president of the wrestling club and has the intellect to match it. Of course, I’m purely speaking of stereotypes here. He’s a very manly student and although he’s a muscle brain, he doesn’t seem to be in trouble with his grades, but he can turn into mush around said president of the archer club. To conclude the list of characters, there’s Hisui Kisaragi. He likes…pots. All six individuals don’t share much in common and often have arguments because of strong difference in their character, but a bond will force them together and they will learn to accept each other despite themselves. It’s really corny, I know, but they are reunited together to fight evil.
. . .What makes it different from all the other stories of kids fighting evil? What makes this series particularly better than others I’ve watched this week? The characters. They’re completely different by nature and practically hate each other, but you get to see them grow closer as the episodes go by. Their interactions can be as hilarious as they can be touching. The bickering is a constant between some characters, but they sometimes share moments that I would call “out of character”. Moments that make you understand that although they are like black and white, they get along in their own way and they are friends. There are times where you can’t define what their relationship is, but they care for each other and sometimes, it’s all you need. Sometimes, it’s all that really matters.
. . .The art is beautiful done and, yes, I am a sucker for details. It’s easy to fall into a mold for characters, but each one has carefully distinguished details that make them unique. This series’ forte is character development and the team gets top grades for it. Although the style could be considered standard in the world of Japanese animation, there are a few elements tossed in it that make it somewhat personalized. The creators were not afraid of the “ugly” and they didn’t hold back when it came to their prettiest character. With an eye practically popping out of its socket, it wasn’t exactly a turn on factor, but it certainly made it more interesting. There are many battle scenes since this falls after all in the “action” genre, but it never feels gratuitous and doesn’t fall in the gore of blood and violence. The fights have a purpose and they never drag onto endless episodes like Bleach. Each character has his or her specific fighting style and each movement is beautiful detailed in flow, but also with their individuality. Perhaps it comes from being based on a game, but it feels as though the tactics of the fights have been meticulously outlined. Then again, I might just be a crazy RPG player who is just used to have certain characters be near the enemy and fight it physically and other characters stay affair – fighting with magic. Nonetheless, unlike many of the anime out there with recurrent battles in episodes, I found myself enjoying them instead of skipping them. They didn’t feel like filler and they did not stretch out to four-five-six episodes.
. . .All in all, this was a thoroughly enjoyable anime with an interesting twist to a washed and reused plot. And the end…? I’ll see you again after season two.
Plot: 8.5/10 (because it is simple)