Tokyo ESP – Anime Review
Synopsis: Rinka is a normal high schooler with big dreams and a small income. Her life takes a turn for the extraordinary when she witnesses a school of fish flying through the air. After one of the fish passes through her, she wakes up in her apartment with no memory of the strange phenomenon save for a mysterious ability to pass through solid objects. (Official Funimation Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Tokyo ESP’s first episode starts with promise for those who seek out and enjoy shows featuring ensemble cast, boasting unique supernatural powers. The last minute introduction of Rinka in the premiere is likely to get the audience worked up and excited for episode 2, hoping to see her continue to be a bad ass and kick evil’s butt. Unfortunately, the show then instead does a time rewind and spends the rest of its episodes telling us the origin story of Rinka. That alone wouldn’t have been a terrible thing but the problem is that the first episode is so dynamic and action packed that to then be forced to sit through watching a ‘nobody’/ newbie struggle to come anywhere close to being the bad ass they just were makes for a frustrating experience. The dramatic change in tone and personality is one that could potentially be mood and show ruining.
Tom: A flash forward is a classic start, but usually it doesn’t take too long to reach that initial introduction again. With Tokyo ESP Rinka’s origin is such a shift away from the dynamic, action packed opening that it’s incredibly jarring if not plain disappointing. Working past that initial disappointment and intense action whiplash, the origin story actual holds its own, at least for the first several episodes. One thing bound to be divisive however is how utterly bizarre many of these super powers can be. More concerning is how the show begins to lose itself later on, unable to properly blend its comedy, drama and supernatural/super human elements together. Tokyo ESP just can’t seem to find the right balance and blend, making for an uneven mesh of action and comedy. That said, at the very least Rinka, and her band of good guy heroes, remain likable throughout, making it easy to root for our heroes even if the world and story around them remains unappealing.
Linny: Tokyo ESP could still have won points even with its back story approach had it not struggled to establish a proper tone throughout. From the jarring switch to its inability to balance its various elements, Tokyo ESP becomes more and more of a challenge to stay invested in. Adding to its problems is the fact that the show needed a lot more editing. It has way too many random side stories and elements that end up feeling monotonous and unnecessary, making the episodes feel like they’re dragging on instead of forming a tightly knit, cohesive tale.
Tom: There’s a lot at play in Tokyo ESP, so many characters, elements, plot lines that it really muddies its short 12 episode run. It calls in the question of remaining super faithful as an adaptation of the manga series. It’s a case where perhaps a trimmed down adaptation, focusing on aspects of the original manga, rather than every plot line, would’ve been the better way to go. It doesn’t help that so many of these additional elements aren’t up to the quality of the series main through line. We’re talking one note villainous lackeys, subplots for supporting characters that never manage to feel compelling, and more. All of this causes Tokyo ESP to crumble beneath its own bloated weight. And it all gets worse as the story heads into an additional narrative of mutants vs humans, a very x-men type plot line, as ESPers are rounded up and caged. But this development doesn’t feel entirely necessary to where the story was headed. It’s the same with the bad guys receiving a plethora of allies, many of which who just aren’t memorable. These aren’t bad ideas, but they create a compounding affect as each, poorly executed, forms a cacophony of jumbled plot lines and unnecessary character centric moments. As if that wasn’t enough, the villains of the piece are never truly interesting, often written so hamfisted as to take the drama out of the proceedings.
Linny: Villains can really make or break a show and the villains in Tokyo ESP are as cliche as they come. It’s hard to be impressed or engaged when you’re busy rolling your eyes at how cheesy they are. And the show’s annoying decision to jam in as much content as possible results in so many plot holes. Also, almost every character, regardless of their importance or likability, gets a side story which makes it that much harder to follow the main plot and stay invested.
Tom: Eventually Tokyo ESP introduces its final nail in the coffin: A talking pelican. Perhaps this element would’ve worked if Tokyo ESP had managed to find that balance between dramatic action and comedy, but as it is it’s just another compounding element to turn you away. Unsurprisingly, in Tokyo ESP’s slavish need to adapt so much of the manga, things conclude without a true resolution, instead opting to introduce yet another set of villains in the series final moments that solve the situation for Rinka and the gang. It makes their struggle feel pointless. Tokyo ESP isn’t awful, there’s still some fun to be had, but there’s a lot of elements you either have to look past or appreciate in their own bizarre way in order to have a great time with Tokyo ESP.
Linny: That psychic talking pelican definitely is Tokyo ESP’s final and complete undoing. For a show that tries to have serious moral and emotional impact to suddenly feature a talking pelican that appears out of the blue and engages in psychic battles with humans is just so absurd. It turns the whole show into a mockery of itself, and this is coming from someone who was struggling to take the show seriously to begin with. And with an ending that resolves absolutely nothing and instead just introduces a bunch of random new super powered villains, its begs asking what was the point of this show.