Ya know, sometimes you watch the first couple episodes of episodes of an anime, and you really get your hopes up. You think it’s going to be great. It starts off so strong, and the sky is the limit. You get excited, looking forward to the shows run with such anticipation, you can barely contain yourself.
Then, it shits all over you. All over your anticipation, your hopes, your expectations, and everything you love and care for. Not a little shit, either. Big elephant shits. Elephant with diarrhea shits. Explosive diarrhea shits.
For me, that big elephant with explosive diarrhea shit was Tokyo ESP, a 12 episode, 2014 series from studio Xebec, the same studio that brought us Mnemosyne, Pandora Hearts, and Heroic Age. Then took a giant shit on me.
Fuck you, Xebec. Fuck you right in your face.
Okay, so why did I hate this show so much? Well, allow me to explain first that, normally, I’m the kind of person who tries really hard to find everything there is to love about a show. Even if the plot doesn’t make sense, if the characters are good, then I’ll probably love a show. If there’s a strong emotional follow through, I’ll probably love a show. If there’s anything worth latching onto and liking, I will.
Tokyo ESP has nothing. Not a single damn thing. It’s 12 episodes of mindless stupidity.
Worse, it played with me. It made me think it was going to be good by calling on another show I love from the bottom of my heart. It set me up to think it was going to be like that, then was all old perverts in panda costumes and telepathic pelicans.
The show I’m mentioning, the one Tokyo ESP shamelessly ripped off, is Ga-Rei Zero. If you read my episode recaps of it way back when, you’ll know, that’s one of my all time favorite animes. Tokyo ESP used my love of Ga-Rei Zero to make me think it was going to be as good as Ga-Rei Zero, then gave me a penguin as a main character.
A fucking penguin. Named Peggi. Cause Tokyo ESP is a giant pile of shit that hates us all. It showed me Kagura and Yomi, happy and together, living normal lives. It showed me Toru, sane, stable, and alive. Then, it ripped all of that out from under me, and gave me cheap Ghostbuster knock-offs.
Putting my feelings of emotional betrayal aside, is Tokyo ESP really that shitty?
Yes. Yes, it is.
The story follows high school student Rinka, who’s dad is a bad Wolverine knock-off, and a mildly re-skinned Koji Iwahata from Ga-Rei Zero, and a retired police officer in this. One day, she sees a flying penguin chasing some flying fish. Touching one, she develops the ability to phase through matter, like a bad Kitty Pride knock off. Naturally, this leads to her being naked.
It’s all downhill from there, really, as she meets a teleporter who can’t decide if he wants to be Tuxedo Mask, or maybe read his worn copy of The Crow a few more times. The two decide to become crime fighters, for some reason, but soon encounter other people with powers. Then some bad guys show up and plan to take over Tokyo.
Rinka can’t fight them, because she doesn’t know how to fight, so she gets trained by a guy wearing a panda costume for some reason, that constantly punches her in the boobs. She spends a bunch of time angsting over if she should use her powers or not, the decides to at the last minute and saves the day.
Her teleporter buddy meets a telepathic pelican who helps them fight the bad guys, and other stupid shit happens, like having the Ghostbusters show up and chase after Peggi for some reason. Then Rinka’s dad gets powers, and oh, he’s Magneto now.
No, really. He looks like Wolverine, but has Magneto’s power set. It’s just dumb.
Not just dumb, but pointless. As One Punch Man showed, a good writer can do a lot with the superhero genre. Tokyo ESP is based on a manga by Hajime Segawa, who wanted to have a protagonist that farted on people, until his editor shot that down. I think it’s fair to say Segawa is a crap writer, and the results of his work in the superhero field are equally crap.
Not to mention, Rinka develops abilities out of nowhere, as the plot needs, then forgets she has them after she uses them. The plot makes no sense at all, and jumps around trying to cover up its own holes, to the point the whole thing is just a mess of random encounters and pointless dialogue.
About the only redeeming quality Tokyo ESP has is that the villain, given the uninspired moniker of The Professor, has a really compelling backstory, that makes it easier to root for him, than it does the supposed heroes of this mediocre story of super-powered teens.
Oh, and there’s romance, too, cause it doesn’t have a strong enough plot, or characters, and has to paper over that with an attempt to hold our interest with a will they/won’t they subplot that has no bearing on anything else that happens.
Do you feel my hate for this show? I mean, can you really fully appreciate how much I hated all of this?
Here’s my biggest problem with it, though. It could have been good. I mean, it could have been amazing. Probably one of the best shows of 2014, really. It just chose not to be. It chose to be boob jokes, fan service, stupidity, pop culture jokes, and sub plots that wander in and out like a dementia patient on crack.
It’s just a bad show. That could have been a great show. If it hadn’t been originally written by a guy who thinks fart jokes are a solid basis for a manga.
The animation is pretty good. I’ll give it that. For the most part, the show is excellent on the animation front, and the quality rarely dips. Most of the character designs, however, are either taken whole cloth from Ga-Rei Zero, or just mediocre, making it hard to keep track of who is who, and who they are even suppose to be. Some even look like they just stepped out of a completely different anime, and aren’t sure what they are doing here.
The series was directed by Shigehito Takayanagi, who I have conflicting feelings about. He worked on Cardcaptor Sakura as a storyboard artist and episode director, so I like him. He was a director for some of the iterations of Galaxy Angel, so I kind of don’t like him. He directed The World God Only Knows, so I kind of love him. He did Tokyo ESP, so I wish him, and all his descendants, for a thousand generations, to know only pain.
As I said, conflicted feelings.
Truth is, Takayanagi, as a director, is only as good as the work. If the work is good, he does good. If the work is crap, he does crap. As a director, he’s pretty average, which isn’t bad. He’ still better than half the people working in the industry. Tokyo ESP will forever be a black mark on his record, though.
The writing was done by Hideyuki Kurata, and again, I have conflicting feelings. He wrote for Excel Saga, which was a beautiful mess on purpose. He wrote for Gun x Sword, which I loved. He wrote for Bamboo Blade, which was pretty good. He wrote for The World God Only Knows. He wrote for Maria The Virgin Witch. Dude can write.
He also wrote for this. Which was crap. A literal load of crap. That went on for six hours. Maybe he needed the paycheck. I dunno. Normally, I really enjoy shows Kurata worked on. This, though, was just awful at every turn, and I have hard time understanding how the guy who brought so much nuance to Maria The Virgin Witch, also wrote this.
It kinda makes me feel a bit sad.
The music was arranged by Evan Call, some guy from California, who apparently was the only musician they could get to score this stinking turd. Well, that isn’t true. he’s also composed for Big Order, Bodacious Space Pirates: The Movie, and Senki Zessho Symphogear. So, not just some random dude, but an actual musician. Who wrote some music. That doesn’t totally suck, but isn’t exactly elevating the material. Not that it could, so I guess Evan gets a pass.
Think about the life choices that lead you to composing the music for Tokyo ESP, though, Evan. And call your mother. She worries after seeing your name on this.
On the whole, Tokyo ESP is a flaming meteor of elephant shit that fell from space and ruined everything it touched. It tries to pull you in by referencing a much better anime, then shits all over itself in a frenzy of stupidity the likes of which I’ve rarely seen.
Sword Art Online is art compared to this shit. As long as this show exists, I don’t want to ever hear SAO be called the worst. This is possibly the worst. If not, it’s damn near to it.
Shame on everyone involved. Just, shame.