Posted by psgels on 4 November 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews

For the past few months, I’ve watched a lot of shows that I originally dropped which turned out to be surprisingly engaging. It can also go the other way of course: some shows are better off just being dropped. Tokyo Majin Gakuen Kenpuchou Tou is such an example. It starts of with a really exciting episode with excellent fights, really neat animation and characters with potential. Unfortunately, that first episode is the only thing that stands out about that series.

What we have here is a typical series that blew away all its budget in its first episode, and then doesn’t have anything left to fill the rest of its airtime with. The overall animation is still pretty above average, but never does it meet the huge expectations it created with that first episode. The real problem is the plot, though. It follows the pattern of first half demon-of-the-week second half prevent Tokyo’s destruction. It’s a solid set-up, but for that to work you need to provide interesting demons-of-the-week to keep the viewer busy, and an interesting threat that can destroy Tokyo. And this series fails at both.

The thing is that the viewer is never given the chance to get accustomed to the characters, and never gets a reason to care about the main characters. Half of the characters lack a proper introduction, and never get the chance to establish their character, while members of the other half take turns into angsting about how cruel the bad guys of this series are and how they need to protect their loved ones. Obviously, this is mostly all talk and in 75% of the cases, they fail to protect, leading to only more angst. Especially that Aoi is guilty of this. She keeps on whining about saving others through the entire series, and eventually ends up as a brainwashed damsel in distress.

Because of that, the major climax ends just in one big disappointment. And yeah, I know that this series has a second season and all, but that’s no excuse to just go lazy and let the power of love solve everything. Overall, there are one or two subplots that do deliver some genuine scenes, but apart from that we just have a series that’s too caught up in its own angst and cruelty so that it never lives up to the interesting character-dynamics and action that the first episode promised. If you’re intrigued by the premise, just watch the first episode as a standalone story and then just drop the thing.

Storytelling: 7/10
Characters: 7/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 7/10

7 Responses

  1. Avatar kuromitsu says:

    I actually liked this show. It wasn’t Gungrave, but IMO it’s one of the better game-to-anime adaptations out there.

    True, it’s not particularly outstanding, but I felt it didn’t even try to be anything special. It had good fight scenes (it was nice to see a fight anime where the fights were actually animated and coreographed instead of the usual “flash-pan-flash” routine), a mostly competent cast (I actually liked Aoi, she’s the type of character whom everybody hates except for me), a story that was nothing to write home about but did its job nevertheless, and even some nice music (at least I liked the video game feel to it). The direction was also pretty good. My only problem with the climax was that the fights were disappointing. Everything else was pretty much what I expected.

    (The second season on the other hand…)

  2. Avatar mulligan says:

    Wow a surprisingly high score for this one. I was expecting your review to be a lot harsher :P

  3. Avatar Cody says:

    Agreed pretty much. I think the thing to watch out for in this series is that you never really know what the hell is going on. That’s the charm of it. Because of this, everything moves in a kind of rushed way so you never really get any development, you just get a series of rushed events that’s charming in its own way.

    I’m surprised by how high the score is you gave it. My sis recommended this to me and when if first watched it I was like WTF. This is pure garbage with a pretty fight or 2, but after a bit of watching I kind of enjoyed it because of just how wtf it was.

  4. Avatar PhuzyBuny says:

    I actually finished this series as well. Didn’t bother looking into the second season (“Dai ni maku” or something along those lines) because I was so disappointed with the first season. I guess sometimes things don’t live up to their potential; no surprise huh?

  5. Avatar mei says:

    “What we have here is a typical series that blew away all its budget in its first episode, and then doesn’t have anything left to fill the rest of its airtime with.”

    hmmm, this sounds suspiciously like the current Ga-rei zero. relatively exciting first 2 episodes, then it’s going downhill from there

  6. Avatar Stripey says:

    I felt a little disappointed with the ending and the overall buildup of the characters/plot too. That said, ep 1 remains one of the most awesome first episodes I’ve seen.

    Mei: I hope you’re not watching Ga-rei for the action since it’s really not very good. It’s the story that’s compelling and personally I think they’re doing a fantastic job of deepening our curiosity as how Yomi and Kagura turned out the way they were in ep 2. GR-Z one of the most well-paced and well-told tale I’ll seen in a while (up to ep 5 that is).

  7. Avatar Jellykidsieg says:

    Well, I liked this serious actually. To be honest you can’t really judge this anime into one those action packed types. It does have plenty of action scenes but yes if you watch season one there is a lot of talking… The anime focuses on the emotions of the characters instead of the typical character intros you see in a lot of animes. The story it self wasn’t really brilliant in form, but it was actually nice. The focus for the writer wasn’t more on the demons but the emotions and past for the main characters which develop the story.
    Its not a very fast paced anime like episode one but it is a slow developing anime with strong sense in characters. Could have it been better?! ..Yes ofcourse, but If your looking for the typical animes you watch a lot then this wouldn’t really be the right one for you. But if your willing to try to watch something new and try to understand it then this is one of those anime you should watch.
    The music, and the animation are really good. I’m not really suprised with the score and I could give it slightly higher but I can also say I agree with the score in a solid way.

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