Tokko was under £5. That was the only reason I bought the series really, as the reviews weren't particularly praising and I had never even heard of it before. If you can get it that cheap (at the very least under £10), then it's definately worth it.
The series follows Ranmaru Shindo, a cop with a dark, mysterious past. You see, 5 years ago, his parents were killed in the Machida massace - an unexplained slaughtering of dozens of people in a block of flats. These days, working for the Tokki police force, Ranmaru and his friend Ichiro are given embarrassing tasks such as cleaning the toilets by their hot headed, no nonsense boss, Kaoru Kunikida. But his life is about to change when he meets the leaders of Tokko, a shady group of cops who almost exclusively carry swords instead of guns, kill phantoms and devils that threaten Japan, and who Kunikida deeply distrusts. Suddenly, Shindo is torn between two worlds: one which seems safe and normal, another which could answer the question of his parents' death, but is filled with evil and suffering.
Tokko is a strange mix of slice of life, police prodecural and fantasy horror. And it (kind of) works. The episodes based in the office are often quite funny, relying on Ranmaru and Ichiro's big mouths to get themselves in trouble with Kunikida, who seems to appear from thin air at the most unfortunate of moments. They also trade banter, Ichiro often bringing up Ranmaru's tease of a sister, herself adding to some of the funnier moments. Not only did I enjoy the comedy of the show, but the realism of the earlier episodes was also interesting. Sure, phantoms and devils aren't very realistic, but viewing the situation from the side of the police was a nice touch I think. Bagging and tagging mashed up body parts is definately not in the job description, I'm sure. The proposed 'horror' side of things, never really makes an appearance, but it does get quite gory once the fighting begins.
The animation is... old school? I definately felt like I was watching an old show. It was colorful, which I liked, and there were some very nice pieces of art, but the frame rate is noticeably poor at times, making the unfortunate characters look ridiculous when it dips. The best sequence of the whole show is actually between two humans with guns (revealing who would ruin the twist), and whilst it may be short, it left me wondering why they didn't try recreate the same thing with the other scenes.
Music-wise, Tokko had an interesting opening theme - it had a brilliantly catchy chorus, but an awfully unflattering verse. The closing song was quite pretty, but it felt out of place with the tone of the show. There were some nice atmospheric and environment sounds, some I don't think even bigger shows would think to include. When the Tokko gang are in their modern wooden-floored hideout, the sound designers created a brilliantly realistic reverb to the environment.
The characters were a strong point for me. Each one is visually memorable, and all have their own personalities which also help to define them further. Ranmaru can be serious and stubborn, but shows a friendly side (his attempted interactions with Takeru are particularly funny), Ichiro is annoying but cares for Ranmaru, the Tokko gang enjoy snooping around being mysterious, and Kunikida enjoys hating their guts.
Oh and that ending. Never mind the abruptness of the final fight, I was furious at the police department's final decision. How does something like that even happen? Just after we've seen Kunikida prove his worth and his alliance, he is faced with the biggest pile of BS you could imagine. I won't spoil it but I almost jumped out my window in rage. Almost.
Tokko was damn good for the price, although I doubt I'll be recommending it to anyone soon. The ending may have damn near melted my brain, but it was fun while it lasted.
6/10 - Good
(take a point or two off for oldschool art, some bad dubbing and the ending, if you want)
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