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Tokyo ESP: Complete Series – Review

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There’s No Japanese Word For “Copyright Infringement”

The human brain is something unlike anything else in this world. Compared to that of a super computer but far more powerful, the cluster of flesh and cells we call the “Brain” has the ornate ability to control ever facet of the human body, large or small. From the feeling at your fingertips, to the beating of your heart, the brain is in charge of it all.

It is single-handedly the most important feature of the body, and it has allowed us the opportunity to grow and evolve as the centuries have passed. It is also, still to this day, the subject of much investigation thanks solely to that of it’s mystery. For as much as we do know about the brain, there’s also much that we have yet to discover, and considering that it is the organ that has authority over the entire body, it both scares and excites those in charge of it’s exploration.

For those of us out there, like myself, who enjoy indulging in the more whimsical side of reality; the brain controls much more than just our physical being. Many people the world over, from all different ages and all different walks of life, believe that the brain is also the epicentre of Psychic activity. Telekinesis, Astral Projection, Clairvoyance; it is thanks to the incredible potential of the brain that these supernatural tools can be utilised by us humans. That is…if you choose to believe that.

While it would be incredible to be able to harness pure thought within the palm of your hand, it would also cause quite the lot of trouble for the known world. Celebrity psychics like Uri Geller, who’s known for bending spoons with his mind alone, are enough to cause at least a slight panic in those who understand the real-world repercussions of Telekinesis, so imagine the destruction that could be caused by one with the capacity to bend skyscrapers in much the same way.

Rinka is a high school student in Tokyo trying to make ends meet while supporting herself and her father. Her ordinary life takes a turn for the extraordinary when she witnesses a penguin and a school of fish flying through the air. After catching up to one of the fish, she passes out and wakes up to find herself suddenly granted supernatural powers. With her newfound ability to walk through solid objects, Rinka is about to learn just how transparent the world can be.

From the creator of Ga-Rei-Zero comes an adventure that shows how out-of-the-ordinary abilities of high school students can send a powerful message to evildoers the world over. – Madman Entertainment

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As a fan of the Psychic phenomenon, I’d do anything in my ability to get my hands on an Anime, Manga, or Video Game that deals with it as well as themes like it. Hence the reason I originally began watching Tokyo ESP during it’s simulcast run back in 2014. Unfortunately, even then, it did nothing for me. Perhaps it had something to do with the humour not translating through subtitles, perhaps it had something to do with my lack of attention, perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I was forced to watch episodes week by week which, on occasion, makes an Anime a little harder to digest. Regardless, I decided to put my hand up for this review simply because, in the past, it has taken a second viewing for me to be able to truly appreciate an Anime for what it is, and I thought this may be the case for Tokyo ESP. Sadly…I was incorrect.

Tokyo ESP plays host to a fairly fundamental but interesting storyline that, as you’ve read above, pits Psychic against Psychic as one side battles for supremacy while the other battles for peace. If you’re to accurately compare Tokyo ESP to any other series, it would be that of the Marvel comic book series X-Men: Not only do both series’ feature a character cast of super-powered men and women, but the drive that keeps both antagonists going are very much one and the same, though their situations are worlds apart. As I mentioned; Tokyo ESP does feature an interesting story, basic as it is, and if it had been fleshed out more then perhaps I would have actually enjoyed it. Tokyo ESP’s biggest issue was that it felt as though it didn’t want to take any unnecessary steps, and in doing so never actually delivered to it’s audience anything of great importance. In short; Tokyo ESP simply felt as though it was only half of what it could have been.

Barely any of the characters showed any signs of growth, nor was much of their backstory detailed even when it was a necessity to have done so. Most of the character cast had one or two moments of pivotal change, only to immediately return to their former selves once the situation had been resolved. Nothing in Tokyo ESP felt permanent, and it conditioned me as an audience member to distrust all that I was seeing simply because past experience had showed me that it will all add up to naught soon enough. By the end of the series, which within it’s final moments introduced us to another character never before seen throughout, I felt as though I was left with nothing but a gaping hole in my mind. I wanted to see so much more of what the series had to offer because there simply wasn’t enough to satisfy my imaginative thirst, but thanks to the unnecessarily crude jokes and character sub-plots that went nowhere, I ended up second-guessing my own need for closure, not even attempting to do any research, the likes I’ve which I felt would be a worthless use of my time, and could have just as easily been featured in the series.

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Tokyo ESP features quite a unique design style that uses previously-copyrighted characters as the basis for it’s own. Never before have I seen this many characters in one place that either look like other characters or are simply exact replicas. While Rinka’s father looks eerily similar to that of an older Wolverine, it is his best friend Steven Segal and the crack team of “Ghost Busters” that appear in the first episode whose placement within the series I felt to be mostly needless. The series’ visuals are somewhat dated, with most scenes having a overwhelming “average” feel. It was only during combat scenes wherein which the animation quality was kicked into overdrive, but even then it wasn’t enough to keep me visually interested for very long.

Much like the characters in the series, some of the music featured in Tokyo ESP reminded me of tracks I’ve heard before, and I feel as though the only reason any of them would remain memorable is simply because I had heard them somewhere else in the past. Regardless of that, I felt as though the soundtrack was quite fitting of this series, as it was perhaps the most positive aspect of the Anime. Skipping from genre to genre, the Tokyo ESP soundtrack featured enough of a variety so not to back itself into a wall when the time came for something different or to set a scene unlike one it had done previously.

The most striking thing about this series’ audio experience was that of it’s English dub which had me glued to the screen in an attempt to properly fathom the reason these characters were talking to each other the way there were. Regardless if it were the interaction between friend or foe, most of these characters spoke to one another as if they had been mortal enemies for as long as they can remember. All the woman, once again regardless of their allegiances, would call each other “Bitch” and “Skank” a handful of times per episode. The word “F**K” was used in a multitude, once again, on an episode by episode basis in ways that I felt to be incredibly unnecessary. I don’t find gratuitous cussing offensive in any way, but my issue with Tokyo ESP’s use of it is that it had no place in casual dialogue between characters who were seemingly allies. From the timid and meek, to the aggressive and insane, almost every character felt the need to curse heavily in Tokyo ESP and it only proved to make character personalities inconsistent.

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I wanted so badly to enjoy Tokyo ESP, especially because of me inclination towards series’ that deal with similar themes, but unfortunately there simply wasn’t enough there to keep me going. I can, as with most things, understand why people would be quite into this series. It is fun, to say the very least, but that is about all Tokyo ESP is. It is a series that jumps between being serious and being a joke of itself, with most episodes ending in a light-hearted fashion, bar those near the end of the series wherein which the proverbial s**t began hitting the fan. It’s characters are all very feisty and fiery, so if you’re one to enjoy those types then Tokyo ESP is a series that you’ll really enjoy.

I found nothing worthwhile in this series. No characters stood out to me as though they were well-written or well-performed, and no story element felt to me as though it was worth any of my time delving into. Watching the Anime adaptation of Tokyo ESP made me feel as though perhaps experiencing the Manga would be a more viable option for enjoying the story it plays host to. The Anime felt incomplete in so many different ways that it didn’t feel like a full experience. Unfortunately that being backed up by odd dialogue and a lacklustre quality of animation didn’t work well for the series as a whole, which is too bad because I really do feel as though this could have been a series I would soon come to love. I think I’ll jump online and order the first volume of the Manga, that seems as though it’s the right way to go.

Don’t take my word for it though, jump on to Madman Entertainment’s official online store and grab Tokyo ESP for yourself! Click Here

Grade: C-

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1 comment on “Tokyo ESP: Complete Series – Review

  1. I’ve tried on two separate occasions to watch this anime but I just can’t do it. I don’t connect with the characters and the plot just kind of passes me by. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this series.

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