‘Tokyo Revengers’ Live-Action Movie Review: Writing The Wrongs For Love

Tokyo Revengers‘ is a science fiction movie released in the United States on July 9, 2021. It mashes the premise of time travel with a dash of urban gang warfare without being extremely dark or gritty.

This movie is adapted from the manga and anime series of the same name written and illustrated by Ken Wakui. The directing reigns were taken by Tsutomu Hanabusa, working with a screenplay from Izumi Takahashi.

‘Tokyo Revengers’ stars Takumi Kitamura, Yuki Yamada, Yosuke Sugino, Mio Imada and Keita Arai among many others.

Compared to the anime series, the feature is way more brutal when it comes to the fight scenes, and in many ways, the movie is more of an action fest while the anime series was packed with plenty of humor.

The narrative follows the story of a young man named Takemichi Hanagaki, who is some loser, down on his luck. He works a mediocre job, lives in a crappy apartment, and has no personal life whatsoever.

One day, he receives information that his middle school ex-girlfriend Hinata Tachibana and her younger brother Naoto were brutally murdered by a criminal organization known as The Tokyo Minji Gang.

While he is buried deep into his own thoughts, he is pushed onto the path of an oncoming train. Fortunately, this is not his day with the Grimm Reaper, and he miraculously survives to see another day but then finds himself thrust 12 years before the present day.

'Tokyo Revengers' Live-Action Movie Review

While in his past, Takemichi relieves his middle school years and reveals to Naoto that his sister Hinata would die. He is immediately transported back to the present day, creating a time paradox where Naoto survives and is now a police detective.

Using the knowledge acquired from his future which is his present life, Takemichi vows to save Hinata; however, in order to do so, he must change the past of the deadly squad Tokyo Manji Gang.

When Takemichi and Naoto hold hands, the latter learns that the former can travel back and forth in time.

To get his footing into the heart of the dangerous ring, he befriends the leader of Tokyo Manji Gang Mikey Sano and his second in command Draken.

As he learns more from these criminals, he realizes that every change he tries to make has consequences to the future, and his involvement as his involvement with the gang puts a strain on his relationship with Naoto.

Hanabusa is among those well-established Japanese directors who are highly skilled with these kinds of adaptations. His prowess is written all over this feature in terms of context and cinematography.

The idea of going back in time to change the present isn’t a new concept in the movie world, but the way it is presented in this title is very appealing. Hanabusa manages to make it appear logical without hideous exaggerations and gimmicks despite working with a sci-fi setup.

Through the well-done plot, the themes of friendship, love, regret, second chances, and how small choices affect many lives are excellently presented, albeit through a subtle secondary approach.

As the narrative progresses, audiences realize that the main focus is on the action, which is brutal. One can’t help to notice that the fight scenes are somewhat imbalanced, with the difference in terms of dominance and skills among those engaged in the action being pretty visible.

This element is intensified by the fact that the movie’s protagonist is a clear weakling with no fighting skills who gets beaten every time.

The coordination and direction of the choreography coupled with fantastic cinematography courtesy of Tomo Ezaki during these action scenes are an absolute spectacle. 

The director’s ability to coordinate fantastic on-screen fight scenes with numerous actors impressively comes to the fore.

Though the gags and silliness that are a constant in movies of this genre are still present, the director chose to keep them on the down-low as they are sparsely scattered across the film.

The romance aspect of the film is relatively underdeveloped though what’s available functions as a relief for audiences from all the violence. Also, one gets the chance to admire the beauty of the lovely Mio Imada, who embodies Hinata.

When it comes to the performances, Takumi Kitamura is excellent as Takemichi, managing to bring out the mannerisms of a loser who’s a cool guy but is desperate and resolved while retaining a relative sense of measure, which is quite rare in these kinds of roles.

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Ryo Yoshizawa as Mickey and Yuki Yamada as Draken are astounding in their roles and exhibit an almost always intensely cool aura that is both admirable and terrifying.

Watching Kazutora Hanemiya and his hate towards the ringleader Mikey unfold, though and where the animosity all emanated is an exhilarating experience.

‘Tokyo Revengers’ is an emotional roller coaster that not only boasts a great narrative, great direction, and beautiful visuals, but the character development is point on.

Nakamichi can transverse through time via a simple handshake whose mechanizations and how it all works aren’t explained. Still, he can only do so after changing monumental instances in his life to see how they affect his future.

It would be ridiculous to see the protagonist literally flying back and forth through time. Still, it would be amazing to see more of this whooshing through time aspect in the movie and maybe explain how this presumed loser stumbled upon such extraordinary power.

The movie tried its best to stay faithful to the source material, from the content to the fight scenes choreography, and how the behavioral and physical appearances of the characters are presented is quite impressive, especially for avid fans of the comic.

Many fantastic movies adapted from iconic Manga series have graced the silver screen, both big and small, to the satisfaction of thousands of fans, and ‘Tokyo Revengers’ is one such feature. Its stellar soundtrack, impressive story, and fantastic outlook make it a thrilling ride overall.

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‘Tokyo Revengers’ is a great movie worth giving a shot for fans of anime and Manga adaptations as well as newbies seeking an enticing adventure filled with plenty of adrenaline-pumping action.

Score: 8/10

  • Hrvoje Milakovic is co-owner of Fiction Horizon and a big cinephile. Apart from that, he likes to read comics, play games and collect action figures. He has been featured on LifeWire, Yahoo and IMDb, to name a few.