[Review] Tokyo Revengers

Tokyo Revengers

Adapted from a very popular manga of the same name, Tokyo Revengers is the latest live action adaptation to hit our theatres, and is the highest-grossing live-action film of this year. While this is film will resonate with fans of the original manga and anime adaptation, it appeals to even those who haven’t heard of the series (so you don’t have to have read the manga or watched the anime before watching this).

In essence, the story revolves around violent school gangs and time travel. But this is no magical genre. After protagonist Takemichi Hanagaki (Takumi Kitamura), a 26-year-old loser, finds out that the only girlfriend he’s ever had was killed because of a gang war, he accidentally travels back in time when he’s pushed onto the train tracks. He travels a decade back in time – back to his middle school self, when he’s reliving his life with his tight knit gang of friends and his girlfriend, Hinata (Mio Imada).

Takemichi also discovers that every little action in his teenage timeline can have huge consequences in his adult one. By changing the past bit by bit, Takemichi realises that he can change the course of the future, and prevent the Tokyo Manji Gang from killing Hinata.

With a plot like that, it’s easy to imagine that the easiest way to erase the Tokyo Manji Gang is to eliminate its leader, Manjiro “Mikey” Sano (Ryo Yoshizawa). But as the film progresses, we realise that the path to the future isn’t as clear cut. Instead of being a simple film about revenge, it’s actually focused on character growth.

The film is peppered very generously with violence, but each fight comes with a lesson and character growth. As an apologist all his adult life, Takemichi slowly learns how to stand up for himself and for the people he cares for, inspiring and motivating others along.

While the film has a time travelling portion, it’s more as a device to show actions and consequences, and not as some magical element to focus on. It also tells us that while “Mikey” and his right-hand man “Draken” (Yuki Yamada) are gang leaders, we should not judge a book by its cover. Most importantly, Takemichi’s character shows us that no matter how downtrodden we are, everyone has their worth and the ability to touch other people’s lives.

All the actors all fit their roles really well, and no one seemed out of place – right down to the childish yet fierce “Mikey”. And for anyone who’s familiar with yankees (gangsters), the styling, rivalries, tested loyalties, and even the motorcycles they ride were well represented. In between speeches about courage and loyalty, the film also managed to inject small elements of humour.

Every part of the film was edited tightly, with no unnecessary or overly long scenes, making it one of the better live action adaptations from manga titles we’ve seen in a while.