Do you know what the heart of magic is?
What They Say:
Being born into a prestigious mage-family without the ability to use magic can be pretty frustrating. Harutora Tsuchimikado knows this better than anyone. However, thanks to his lack of magic powers, he is able to enjoy a [relatively] normal life with his friends. That is, until he gets himself caught up in a battle with prodigal Onmyo mage, Suzuka Dairenji. Having his world turned upside-down, Harutora has no choice but to become a familiar in order to gain magic powers and help save his friends. The only catch is that he becomes a familiar to his childhood friend and heir to the Tsuchimikado clan, Natsume. Now, Harutora must survive Natsume’s harsh training and enroll at Tokyo’s Onmyo Prep School where he will learn to [hopefully] harness his new powers.
Contains episodes 1-12.
The Regular Edition of Tokyo Ravens comes with both the original Japanese dub as well as the English dubbed version, both of which are presented with Dolby-TrueHD sound. The sound will not be overpowering though, as it very rarely changes audio levels and keeps balanced throughout basically the entire show. The music can be quite loud at the title screen compared to the actual animation, but more of that will be discussed in the “Menu” section. The music is clear and audible, just as the dialogue in both Japanese and English versions. I experienced no drop-outs or distortion in all 12 episodes.
Both the actual show, as well as the special features, are presented in native 1080p HD with an aspect ration of 16×9. The color pallet isn’t particularly extravagant, but is still bright and vivid throughout all 12 episodes. Animations are fluid and very rarely, if ever, drop frames during fight scenes or other high-intensity moments. Character designs don’t necessarily ooze detail, but are still memorable and clean looking. No discoloration was present in my viewing of the series. As a Blu-ray release, the artwork and overall visuals presented in this 2-disc split (nine episodes on disc-1, three episodes on disc-2) stay consistent throughout and meet the expectations that that most viewers will have.
The regular edition comes with an original slipcover that fits perfectly over the standard-sized Blu-ray box the series comes in. One thing to note is that the art on the front of the slipcover differentiates from that of the actual box, which adds a bit of flare for collectors. It is also important to note that the characters on the slipcover are different from the box itself, showcasing Tenma, Suzuka, Touji, and Kyouko. Once the cover is removed, we see Harutora and Natsume in front of a black-background with art that directly replicates how the characters look in the anime. The DVD-Discs are black with silver font, while the Blu-Ray discs are a more vibrant red with silver font. There are two separate two-disc holders inside the box that tuck in each disc snugly. The back of the box (Which is the same on both the slipcover and actual package) displays an easy-to-read summary of the series as well as a few screenshots from the show and a description of the extras.
The menu on the Blu-ray discs loops ominous piano-based background music as a simplistic animation plays behind a small black text-box that contains your average menu-like options. The text of the options is white and becomes a brighter white once highlighted. One thing I want to address concerning this is that it is often hard to see which option you are highlighting, considering the color does not change all-that much. This becomes significantly less apparent when up close, but if you are watching from a distance, you may have to strain your eyes a bit. Other than that, the menu is responsive and does not have any major issues. The load times for each screen are quite quick as well.
There are quite a few extras that come packed away in the regular edition release of Tokyo Ravens, the bulk of them being on the second disc. Some of these extras include commentary by the English voice cast, textless opening and ending songs, trailers for other series, as well as two shorts labeled “Kon explains it all!” in which Kon does just that. For fans of the English voice-actors, however, it is important to note that the Kon who does the explaining will be voiced by the original Aki Toyosaki as opposed to Monica Rial.
(Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
Tokyo Ravens is an adaptation of Kouhei Azano’s 2010 story of the same name that was originally serialized in Dragon Magazine. It features artwork from Sumihei, who is known mostly for is work on the Chaos;Head manga. Initially, expectations of the show were on the lower side as viewers saw it as something more generic and uninteresting. But following its release, reviews were on the more positive side for a change as viewers applauded how well the series was adapted. Tokyo Ravens came to the screen from studio 8bit with the help of Geneon productions, Bushiroad, and a later acquisition by Funimation who gave the series a worthy American release.
Tokyo Ravens starts out slightly quicker than most other series out there. Most of the main characters are introduced right off the bat and things get put into motion rather quickly from that point on. We find out that our main character, Harutora Tsuchimikado, is part of the legendary Tsuchimikado mage-clan, but doesn’t have any powers. However, his childhood friend Natsume, who is part of the same clan, has enough powers to make up for both of them. Being just an average guy in the early stages of the show, Harutora doesn’t really show any interest in becoming a mage, despite how much a particular friend of his begs him to. But this completely changes when he and his friends are attacked by Suzuka Dairenji, a prodigal mage girl (Who is also coincidentally super cute). This attack causes Harutora’s life to spiral out of control for a moment and he is essentially forced into a corner and asks Natsume to grant him her powers. Then she licks his face and BOOM, magical powers. If only it were that easy in real life.
After the hectic first few episodes, things start to wind down a bit as Harutora enrolls in Tokyo’s Onmyo Prep School at the request of Natsume. His best friend, Touji, even comes along as well. Who knew he even had powers? From this point on, Tokyo Ravens becomes more about Harutora training his magic to better fit in with the other students at Onmyo Prep. Those students don’t take kindly to his arrival, however, since he is essentially a novice mage that everyone expects to fail. That doesn’t last long though, seeing as he is already better than a good chunk of the students thanks to the sheer amount of power that Natsume was able to grant him. The thing about Natsume at this school though, is that she is pretending to be a boy in order to honor the Tsuchimikado tradition of a male being the next heir to the family.
After the first few arcs end and we say our goodbyes to the initial exposition, the real plot arises when we find out that many radical mages out there view Natsume as the reincarnation of Yakou Tsuchimikado, a legendary military official mage who once went by the name, “The King of the North Star”. Even though his life was shrouded in controversy after he ultimately caused something known as “The great spirit disaster”, he still had many followers who swore to carry on his name. Those followers are now after Natsume, and it is up to Harutora and company to protect her and fend them off.
There is a lot packed inside Tokyo Ravens, and most of it is a bunch of fun. There is a solid cast of likable characters who are easy to get attached to, but none of those characters are particularly unique in any way. In fact, a lot of them seem like carbon copies of characters from other shows that gained popularity long before this one. But that does not mean it still can’t be good. Mind you, this is only a review of the first 12 episodes, not anything that happens after that. I honestly enjoy this show a lot more than I expected to. It’s right up my alley. The comedy and action are equally balanced and there is a solid foundation that the story is built upon. There is actually a background history laid out for viewers and it doesn’t just toss you into some world where people know magic and fight each other for inexplicable reasons. That is something that sets it apart from other shows similar to it. There aren’t really any strong themes or lessons to be learned, but it’s a good time. And when it comes down to it, that’s why anime exists.
Tokyo Ravens is a show that I would recommend to fans of the shounen-superpower genre. It is not a show that I would say is directly tailored to newcomers of said genre (Or newcomers to anime in general), seeing as the plot-line can be come a little convoluted and hard to follow at times. It blends the good aspects from many different shows of the same kind and would make for a good follow-up watch for viewers of Funimation’s A Certain Magical Index/A Certain Scientific Railgun series. Overall, Tokyo Ravens is worth a shot and features a solid English cast for fans of dubbed anime, as well as the original Japanese version for those that don’t.
Japanese True-HD Audio 2.0, English True-HD Audio 2.0, English subtitles, clean opening/endings, English episode commentary, Kon Explains It All!
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: A-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: April 4th, 2015
Running Time: 300 Minutes. 38 Minutes Extras.
Video Encoding: 1080p Native HD
Aspect Ratio: 16×9