Tokyo ESP

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KountSarpadeon's avatar
Jan 13, 2016

Tokyo ESP is a potential wasted in the very worst way.  It's opening episode sets the bar high and then the rest of the episodes proceed to let you down, time and again, on every front.  It sets itself a nice, not too high bar with a very deceptive first episode, and proceeds to lower that bar until it's burrowing to the center of the Earth.

It is a wasted potential, plain and simple.  Things could've been wonderful.  But as it stands, they're not.

Story: It's all-out war - people with psychic powers, whom have taken over Tokyo and have intentions to take over country, have declared themselves homo superior.  Rinka, who, like ever other esper, got her powers from a glowing fish that only she could see (or rather, only espers could see) is there, with a few friends, to put a stop to their reign of terror.

So far, so good.  The show starts in medias res, and then takes you back to where Rinka first gets her powers, and proceeds to show you to lead-up to the showdown.  There are some backstories given, especially one that explains the villains' motivations (which are understandable, of course, but... we'll get to this below.)

Execution: Sloppy.  Starting in medias res and then immediately jumping back to tell the story of how we got here is fine, but starting with an action-packed, battle-for-the-planet episode and immediately shifting to comedy and staying there just brings disappointment.  It takes a good long while (read: the entire series) for Tokyo ESP to ever feature any kind of decent action.  The high-octane, anime-blood-splatter-fest with slightly political undertones that grips you in the first episode is replaced by tame lives-of-espers bits.

Another minus in this front is that at the last possible second, it throws something massively important for the story, so much so that our designated villain remarks we are finally at the point of everything, at the what it's all about.  What that is, I don't know, because we never learn.  We get a seven-day time-skip instead.  Imagine if in

If it was an attempt to wax philosophical about how sometimes there is no point, I'd love it, but it's not.  They just run out of space (and ink, too, didn't you.) 

A further jarring aspect of the anime is that as it goes on, the secondary characters tend to get more bizarre than is called for (goddamn Roshi), deus ex machina are pulled out of consenting butts by the dozen (the telepathic stork, for instance), and at one very crucial point, the power of a main character is played very loosely; a case of Powers as the Plot Demands.  Luckily, the last one is actually a plus and is logical enough that it sits well.  But the rest, just... bleh.

Having a midget in a panda suit for a martial arts trainer, who used to train cops, such as Rinka's father is a pointless visual gag - there is no reason why he can't be just a guy.

Heroes and Villains: Just no.  For one, the heroes are clear-cut, "champions of justice" types, and the one hero that isn't, is recruited because she has the hots for Rinka's dad.  Rinka may be commended for her determination alone, but she's a two-dimensional designated heroine.  Which is actually what every other hero is.

The villains are cardboard "yarr, I'm evil" types.  A sin that the series commits is that the Professor's tragic origins are completely negated by his monstrous actions, to the point where you get apathetic towards him - he's the main villain, yet it's difficult to care if he lives or dies.

Minami is atrocious beyond belief.  Thing is, this character could have been wonderful, and there are ideas thrown around (at the last second), but instead, she's so annoying with her mere presence that it's impossible to think of her as anything but a brainless minion.  The exceptions to that are few, and brief, and the same thing that marks her as a could have been is what ultimately makes the character unbearable.

Animation: Is it me, or is this anime, despite the glossy coloring, very poorly animated? The first episode is so far above the rest of it that one wonders if that's where all the budget went to.  Some secondary characters (Nabeshima for instance) are downright ugly to look at.  The lines are too sharp, most of the character designs are good but too basic, bystanders are poorly-drawn, anyone outside the inner circle is an eyesore... it gets worse and worse as the series goes on.

Sound: Applause to the seiyuu who have managed to keep their tone serious while a lot of lollygagging is going on.  Nice enough soundtrack, some good rock tunes.  Nothing else to say.

The Part that I Said We'd Get to in the Story: The motivations of the Professor are completely irrelevant.  The guy who executed an overarching, long-term plan; who is responsible for every event being put into motion is worthless as a character at all because of this.  The near-full episode wasted explaining how he got to be who he is, is a filler episode with nothing of consequence or importance or of note in it.  It's a waste of space.

Why?

Because we never get to see what he was aiming for.

Since the series sees fit to cut out before we can learn what he intended to do, and why, this means we were just wasting time showing background decoration to a villain whose efficiency is admirable but whose mere existence is negated by the fact that we never find out what he was after.  He gives a few mission statements, of course, but these mission statements are utterly and completely worthless, as they do not relate to what his real plan was.

In short, you can cut the villain out completely and not lose much, because his shoes can be filled by a more coherent character, easy.

Overall: I watched it, but I had nothing else to do and no other series I wanted to engage.  Would I recommend it? Give it a try.  I was bored through most of it.  Someone might like it.  Just not what I expected.

5/10 story
3/10 animation
8/10 sound
3/10 characters
3.5/10 overall
kidkonseptual's avatar
Oct 9, 2014

This was originally a recap on the finale (containing spoilers) as well as the following final impressions. You can read the post on my website found here.

Tokyo ESP title screen.
Tokyo ESP title screen.

Tokyo ESP is a bland superhero anime. Based on an on-going manga (at the time this was written) It seems to have drawn major inspiration from American-style comic books. Indeed, there’s even several references to international films as well. The series has its moments, but with little character depth, no real rhyme or reason to the super powers people receive and a serious — and I mean serious — lack of fun, ESP is mediocre at its best.

If I was forced to summarize the series, I’d say the following; this is a story of people who develop mutant like superpowers, who then fall into two camps, the justice filled heroes and the morally corrupt villains. That’s it. That’s the entire show. So let’s break down the various elements and you can make your own judgment.

Mean girls. All look equally terrible.
Mean girls. All look equally terrible.

The show looks terrible. It was animated by Xebec Studios, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was outsourced somewhere. There’s almost zero variety between the character designs and the color palette is completely un-comic book like. It really looks like a 1980′s Saturday morning cartoon. While the animation isn’t as terrible as the designs — why bother? How can you possibly make lemonade without the lemons?

All the audio is uninspiring as well — although not as atrocious as the overall look. The background music is sort of campy and sort of catchy in a superhero, actiony sort of way. The voice acting is erratically good at best. The dialogue is so campy and straightforward overall, the seiyus really had their work cut out for them from the beginning.

That leaves us with the plot and the characters. The characters are 100% predictable in their nature. There’s too many and not enough time for each to grow as characters, or to portray any real depth. I’m ok with that generally, as long as they’re fun or interesting. Unfortunately, they’re not. As I write this, I’m trying to recall some fun moments during the series, and I’m coming up dry.

Theres a fucking dinosaur on this show.
There’s a fucking velociraptor on this show.

I suppose that leads to the plot, which did supply some humorous moments, but not because they were scripted that way. More like, things were so stupid and/or so random, I couldn’t help but laugh. The references to the Ghostbusters or Bruce Lee are so out of place, and people riding on a magical penguin was just so damn silly. There’s many such moments over the 12 episodes.

The storyline itself isn’t something worth talking about to be honest. There are superheroes and super-villains, victory and defeat, Justice and Doom, etc. I do have to point out a few more things to make this review complete. First up is — appropriately enough — the first episode.

First episode spoils everything, but has this shot.
First episode spoils everything, but has this shot.

So, the first episode of Tokyo ESP was unnecessary and hurt the series overall. It’s pretty much a giant flash-forward to events that take place at the end of episode 11 (or there about). Which means it contains spoilers for an assortment of things. While the events in episode one aren’t repeated exactly, I would still wait before watching it.

Watching the first episode after episode eleven would be my advice, should you choose to accept this mission. Also, be aware that there are two bait and switch examples early on, or perhaps just the bating. Not that kind of bating. Well, one example concerns that kind of bating maybe.

So, there are scenes early on that are incredibly violent and bloody. This led me to believe that the show would pull no punches when it came to the action sequences throughout. Wrong. It never gets more bloody than in the bullshit first episode. Secondly, in episode two (the real first episode), we see Rinka, the main character, nude.

White girl makes first appearance.
White girl shows up — bating material.

It fits in the context, so it’s fine (so fine), but this led me to believe there would be lighter moments, maybe some fan service, or I thought perhaps that Tokyo ESP wouldn’t be taking itself so seriously. Wrong. What fan service-like moments are in the show, feel so out of place that you can mark them down in the WTF column.

The series has some moments of promise, but overall could have been a lot better. If the story was inspired by classic Marvel and DC stories, why not just copy them even more. The bad origin stories, lack of variety in powers and numerous other problems, force ESP to actually power down. With it’s sub-par everything I’d give Tokyo ESP a generous 2 out of Kitsunes.

scale-2

While watching this, I probably haven’t rolled my eyes as much since I was 14. I never did think of dropping this series, although I have to be honest here — if i wasn’t recapping this all season, I wouldn’t have watched it.

Would I recommend this series? Jeez, that’s a tough one. If you’re into campy superhero stuff that doesn’t need to make sense, look good or be entertaining, then yes, go ahead and waste your time. Otherwise there’s lots of slightly better mediocre anime to watch. Thanks for reading my Tokyo ESP reviews all!

Wonder powers activate!
One last time -- Wonder powers activate!

5/10 story
4/10 animation
6/10 sound
3/10 characters
4/10 overall
ffcfran's avatar
May 29, 2016

Rinka sees a penguin flying in the sky towards the Tokyo Sky Tree. She chases after it only to find fish swimming in the air. (yes it sounds crazya nd yes it happens) One of the fish goes through Rinka and causes her to pass out. She wakes up to find that she has developed the ability to slip through solid objects. theres also someone that can read the emotions in an object, someone that can read minds, someone that can see into the future and so on. all these espers (the magically inclined) are not all on the same side. some want to just hide their powers and live on as normal people, some want to become heroes, and some want to use their powers to take over the world (theres always one isnt there). Rinka starts out falling under the first category but ends up being pushed into the second. her and others like her band together to stop the attacks from the a-holes who want world domination. the anime ends before the worst has come but the battles are still epic. the begining has a bit of a slow start but stick with it and you wont regret it.

9/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
10/10 characters
8/10 overall
Evan17's avatar
Jul 26, 2014

After watching the 1st episode, I can say that the visuals are pretty good and that the action seems like it will be promising; the powers that some of the characters contain are both pretty cool and interesting. The audio is nice and peaceful, switching nice and smoothly into some amazing action soundtracks where viable. Overall I would recommend this anime to people who enjoy action-packed anime that are not only breathtaking but looks pleasing to the eyes! Kind of reminds me of Guilty Crown actually~ HOWEVER, so far only the first episode has been what I described above, so far the story has still yet to build up and the action has settled down a lot.

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
Dionkeykong's avatar
Aug 27, 2017

As i'm writing these lines i still can't understand what Tokyo ESP is all about.Is it an anime that wants to be taken seriously?Is it a parody?Does it want to be many things at once?

Honestly after watching the whole damn thing i can't for the life of me understand its' purpose.Oh certainly the story,or the thought at least of the story is very.....Well i would say unheard of,but that's simply not the case.The X-Men similarities are too many you see.It's like a cover band this anime.It does almost everything as you would  expect but it's nothing like the original.I mean look at all those tribute metal bands out there.They certainly do a good job covering  a band's songs but as for their own songs..Nada.Zilch.There's nothing to show for their own creativity.And that seems to be the case for Tokyo ESP.

As a standalone anime it's nothing sort of absolute rubbish,as a parody it makes more sense.I like to think of it as a parody cause i can't think of a way that the writers stood back and said:"Oh yeah that's our lifetime achievement".It must have been made to make fun of the western equivelants.

But anyway let's talk about what this anime is all about,yes?It's a touching story,really,of a girl that one day awakens to some super powers..And she does that by some fish that only the select chosen few can only see,that float in the air like they inhaled helium.There's also a flying penguin that has a purpose to serve..Not sure what that is but hey,penguins are cute right?Well......Sort of no..Did you know that penguins are necrophiliacs?Now you do...And like that all super powered bastards gather together and want to rule the world and all the super powered good guys try to stop them..Sounds good?Well again as a parody it's good.As an anime that wants to be taken seriously no.Cause the way the story is delivered to the viewer is atrocious.

Characterwise imagine X-Men without the flashiness,the flamboyance.

Animation is....How can i put this...Well it's shit.For a 2014 anime the animation is a mess.Maybe they couldn't be bothered.Maybe they has something else scheduled.No matter what the reason is the end result is appaling.

Soundtracks and all,was good.Nothing that stands out,nothing to catch your attention.

All in all,we're back to the beginning.As an anime that wants to be taken seriously?It doesn't work.Not one bit.As a parody it does work but even like that it isn't what you'd call special.And special is what we're looking for.Can you imagine yourself remembering anything to do with this anime?Well i just finished it and i can't remember what it was all about.

3/10 story
3/10 animation
3/10 sound
3/10 characters
3/10 overall
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