A couple of years ago, Marvel teamed up with studio Madhouse to create an X-Men anime developed in Japan, but it was an utterly forgettable creation. This fall season brings us Tokyo ESP from mangaka Hajime Segawa (Ga-Rei-Zero), Shigehito Takayanagi (Cardcaptor Sakura, Flame of Recca) and Studio Xebec (Pandora Hearts, Heroic Age). Tokyo is newly invested with citizens capable of doing superhuman traits such as phasing through solid objects, teleportation, and telepathy. Sounds a lot like X-Men, doesn’t it? Well, it is, and it isn’t. X-Men is a 60+ year old comic book series, and it’s likely inspired thousands of similar ideas, but Tokyo ESP brings a special charm and hook to its plot.
Rinka Urushiba lives a poor existence with her father Rindō but her life drastically changes when she meets a flying penguin and interacts with flying fish that give her powers to phase through objects. Naturally, like any teenager who discovers these amazing powers, she aims to be a superhero and save the world. She quickly learns that it’s much easier said than done, and even with the help of her Crow-masked comrade Kyōtarō Azuma, she has a lot to learn about being a hero. When the Professor shows up and demands that Espers be treated as the superior beings on the planet. You can connect the dots yourself, but Tokyo ESP devolves to a ‘good-versus-evil’ dichotomy rather quickly, and it’s rather enjoyable to watch in motion.
Much like Tokyo Ghoul, I read a few volumes of Tokyo ESP to prepare for the premiere of its first episode, and I honestly couldn’t put it down. Sure, it’s full of various tropes and jokes we’ve seen hundreds of times before like the perverted trainer, but Tokyo ESP’s Rinka has a pure heart and desire to help as much as she can, she often endangers herself. With only a 12-episode run planned, it’ll be interesting how far the series gets in comparison to the manga. The manga has started its second arc, but the current pacing with Tokyo ESP has me worried it won’t finish similar to the manga. Perhaps a second cour will premiere later, but I trust Xebec will help make Tokyo ESP a fun ride throughout.
That being said, much like Hajime Segawa’s previously adapted work Ga-Rei-Zero, the first episode is a completely misleading, but damned fun episode to watch. It actually is the penultimate series of events to manga’s finale and it looks as though we won’t be reaching it at this rate. If you do only watch one episode of this series though, make it this one! It’s full of just over-the-top action, direction, and an idea of what the world of Tokyo ESP could be if the Espers ran as rampant as the Professor wanted. It is utter chaos and calamity and one of the best opening episodes I’ve seen. I’m sincerely hoping we get the lead up and finale that the premiere episode encompasses, but at this rate, it might be very rushed.
Tokyo ESP follows Segawa’s template of allowing a female lead to be vulnerable and powerful at the same time, and he’s rather talented at presenting this. Most of the additional characters are fleshed out and treated to their backstories and share of the limelight, but Rinka is the star of the show and will be the most resonating character. Whether Tokyo ESP lives on in another cour, or if the second arc will get animated remains to be seen, but what’s here so far is an enjoyable journey that’s deserving of comic book and anime fans looking for an over-the-top, zany, and sometimes heart-punching ride.
Tokyo ESP is licensed by Funimation and available on their site for streaming every Friday. Be sure to stick with Geekenstein for more anime reviews as the Summer season nears its climax, but I’ll be here to lead you through it all in the best way I know how.