KiraRin's avatar

KiraRin

  • Bournemouth, UK
  • Joined Apr 2, 2008
  • 41 / F

Tokyo Underground

May 15, 2010

Story

Spending a couple of years on my “want to watch” list, Tokyo Underground had been relegated to a growing list of forgotten titles. With a sudden (and misguided) urge to watch something dubbed whilst exercising, I dusted off the title and prepared for the unknown. Unfortunately, the show can be summarised as a promising premise that becomes wasted as the episodes drag by.

Starting out like so many shounen series, Rumina is introduced as a somewhat clueless, yet spunky highschool kid. Suffering tortuous training under the watchful eye of his martial art obsessed grandfather, he is quickly enforced as the leading male of the show and becomes the butt of a few cheap jokes to lighten the mood somewhat. To every pack leader, there must be a leading lady, and so enter Ruri and Chelsea – two very different females. Spurned to protect the delicate maiden, Ruri, Rumina trips into action aided by the feisty bodyguard Chelsea and the two somehow defeat numerous goons sent to bring the girls back to the underground world from whence they escaped.

Even after an uninspiring turn of events, the show retains a certain interest as the cast descend into the underworld and viewers are treated to some interesting and believable theories about humans living sub-terra. With large gantries providing light for both people and crops, and an entire civilisation relying on each other for survival, the premise is soon dropped by the wayside to make way for some tedious bad-guy antics and mediocre shounen-style magic battles. Predictability remains the name of the game, and predictable twist follows each predictably over-egged fight.

Falling back onto the idea of stadium battles, previous enemies are incorporated into team “good guys” and given their five-minutes to shine. Their opponents gradually become stronger, and new skills are discovered by the seemingly weak heroes to come out on top as the ass-kicking victor. Maybe it was the youthful exuberance of a mainly jailbait cast made the script seem extremely trite, or perhaps even the incorporation of numerous different storylines that felt stagnant as the show pulled to a close; either way, the series was lacking a certain je ne sais quoi - maybe story, maybe development - after initially displaying such immense potential. I mean dragons about to take over the world... really? And an evil mastermind betraying his subordinates... haven’t I seen that somewhere before? Tokyo Underground's latter episodes feel like an uphill struggle as idea after idea crowds its way onto the screen. A limited amount of plotlines would make this series fun and enjoyable; unfortunately, it seems no one told the writers in time...


Animation

Not completely terrible considering its age, Tokyo Underground is quite attractive but seems to have a natural aversion to giving character features too much detail. Although the palette is bold, especially considering the dark, subterranean setting, there are a couple of quirky additions that turn into major annoyances; one is the generic face shapes recycled throughout the twenty-six episodes, and the other a style design during soliloquies. As inner monologues unfold, the camera zooms into the characters face and the background turns to crackling black and white static – an effect that becomes quickly tiresome. Movement is severely hampered in a show that verges on shounen, featuring numerous battles that seem as professional as a Newgrounds flash animation produced from a ZX Spectrum. And forget impressive sword fighting scenes, the artists certainly did as they instead used white flashes of light to get the general idea across.


Sound

After my recent experiments in watching anime dubbed, I decided to give Tokyo Underground a whirl with the American voice actors in the driving seat. Call me a glutton for punishment, but the flat tones and unbelievable overacting makes me question how *anybody* could enjoy anything but subtitles. Chelsea’s nasal and emotionless whining is thankfully reasonably infrequent, as is Shiel’s childish irritation. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast don’t bring much more to the table, and as a result the entire audio of the show suffers. Even the soundtracks itself is altogether dull and forgettable, with a closing track that would be extremely lucky to grace *anyone’s* play list.


Characters

If I had a pound for every time the hopelessly pathetic Ruri wails “RUMINA”, I would be a very rich woman; set as the defenceless and painfully naive heroine of the show, it seems both good and evil want a piece of the action, and it is down to the aforementioned Rumina to gallop to her rescue on his white pony. I don’t mind femme fatales, in fact they can be sublime when done well, but they do need to have a little substance to their personalities to make them truly shine. On the other hand, Ruri’s hero is the stereotypical shounen: a muscle-bound moron that feels the need to tackle any obstacle head on. As much as I wanted to like him, especially with his painful plight against his Grandfather, a fleeting romance just wasn't to be: especially not with someone so dull...

Out of the entire cast, the most interesting personalities is Ginosuke. Frequently forgotten by his co-stars, he is mainly used as comic relief to a frequently serious story. Despite his humorous outlook, this geeky kid undergoes a significant amount of character development and manages to hold his own as the finale looms.


Overall

Overall, Tokyo Underground is an average anime served up with an extra large side of mediocrity. Maybe this is where the writers of To Aru Majutsu no Index got their befuddled ideas from, as both act like a newly born foal stumbling their way precariously through life. Although not in the realms of terrible, I certainly won’t be recommending the show to people for the reasons listed above. If you do feel an inexplicable urge to watch the series, then for your own sanity, please, please stick to the subtitles.

5/10 story
4/10 animation
2/10 sound
3.5/10 characters
4/10 overall

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Orlus May 7, 2015

I agree with your review. The one thing that really annoyed the hell out of me was how freaking stupid the main character was. 

I mean come on. He fights a guy that has gas powers and doesn't use his wind to blow it away. That was a major Face Palm moment for me. this anime was though to watch. 

benrr101 Feb 11, 2014

Great review! You tackled every point quite well!

The only thing I'd say different is that the opening and credits were the best part of show -- especially the credits music. Sure it's mellow, but it has a really elegant beauty that goes hand in hand with the rising (or was it setting?) sun image in the background.

saviornt Aug 24, 2010

Good review.. I agree with all of your points as you listed. Here is another one that really, I guess, irks me a bit:

These people have elemental "powers," in which they can control the elements. One of which I will use as an example:

I have the power of water. Ok, I guess I'll summon a flood. Err... huh? Isn't the human body composed of something like, I dunno, 90% water? How about I summon all of that nice, juicy water out of your body... Wonder what would happen?

Of course, if this (or any) anime followed a logical perspective like the above, I guess it would be a very, very, very short anime =)

Sheex May 18, 2010

RUMINA!!!!!!!!!!!!RURI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!RUMINA!!!!!!!!!!!!RURI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!RUMINA!!!!!!!!!!!!RURI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ah this brings back memories! And I even watched it subbed - I can only imagine the horror you must have experienced. :(

Good review!