Zephyr’s Final Impressions:
In looking back to the beginning of last season, Tokyo Ravens was one of a multitude of shows I wanted to cover on a weekly basis. As it turns out, a variety of circumstances kept that from happening, but that didn’t keep me from continuing to follow the series in some shape and form. Two cours later, it’s suddenly the end of Ravens‘ run, and I must say I found this series quite enjoyable to watch.
That’s not to say it was a masterpiece in any sense of the word, but there was a lot here to say the least. Sadly, they seem to have omitted quite a bit from the source material, and the overall development of the story clearly suffered throughout some points as a result. I wouldn’t be surprised if a fair amount of people dropped the series sometime through the first cour because of this, but it’s here where I can gladly say: they sure missed out. Because gosh darn, the second the last half of the series started, it was nothing but spectacular. The action sequences ended up particularly well done (I repeated that Doman vs. Jin fight like thirty times), the “Harutora Trilogy” themes (all three of them) were served as a great support for the former, and the fact they actually killed off a key member of the cast in Natsume just added to the overall enjoyment.
Natsume’s actual dying was development I admittedly didn’t see coming, and despite all the shortcomings of the series’ first half, the whole story that came from this development was superbly executed (for the most part). Needless to say, it easily made up for the series’ roller coaster start—even if some plot lines were somewhat confusing—and there’s something to be said especially about the characters and how they ended up melding together into the factions that they did. When it was all said and done, each side to the conflict had a believable and solid reason for doing what they were doing, and it’s quite the tall task being able to develop this given the obvious constraints the series’ adaptation had to deal with. Ultimately, you could say each side was just doing what they had to do, and when a character’s desires are the same as what the character needs to do, there ain’t anything else better to see. I forgot which series ended up having a quote like this—
When what you want to do is also what you need to do…
—but it’s a quote that fits this series quite well, and it was just great to see things develop along this principle.
And ultimately, what else can I say? I wish they had more episodes to work with so they didn’t have to omit some of the things they did—I don’t know what specifically they did, but it’s obvious some things were omitted—but sometimes, you just can’t have your cake and eat it too. At least though, the flaws in Tokyo Ravens didn’t prevent it from being a good watch in my book, and I sure wish there’d be more of the series sometime down the line. If rumors are true however, the anime sadly hasn’t sold well at all, and this may be the last we see of this series. Of course, if the anime ends up boosting the light novel’s sales, we could see more of the anime regardless, but it seems like there isn’t much material left to adapt at the moment either way. Shucks. Just when we finally got to see the beautiful Hishamaru awaken to her full form too…
Stilts’ Final Impressions:
When I first read about Tokyo Ravens, I thought it might be good, but it wasn’t high on my watch list. I love fantasy, but I’m not particularly interested in Japanese-style magic. I wasn’t even planning to watch it at first! The first episode convinced me to give it a shot though, and I’m glad it did.
It was a slow build. For most of its run Tokyo Ravens was good, but not necessarily great. I was perplexed by some things – why the seemingly random crossdressing from Natsume? – but with likable characters and good action, I kept watching. Touji in particular is one of my favorites, a friend as good as any guy could hope for. Suzuka was also great when she started tormenting and blackmailing the main duo. Harutora and Natsume were no slackers either, nor was Natsume’s cute alter-ego, Hokuto. There was a lot here to enjoy.
And then it got awesome, starting with the battle between Ashiya Douman and Ootomo-sensei. I knew there was something special about Ootomo-sensei, but I never dreamed he would be that powerful. From there it just kept ramping up, the story building to an ever higher pitch until it reached a crescendo in the revelation of who was really the reincarnation of Tsuchimikado Yakou…and held. Even though I suspected this turn long ago – why else was Harutora the main protagonist? – Natsume’s crossdressing suddenly made sense, and the turn of events that led to Harutora’s awakening…wow. What a life Natsume led, and what a death.
Ootomo-sensei attacked the Onmyo Agency with Ashiya Douman’s help, and then he made him his familiar. Tenma turned from a nice guy with little effect on the plot to the linchpin that helped the good guys win, the tiny push at just the right moment that swung the pendulum in their direction. Touji and Suzuka fought throughout, Kyouko gave Harutora (and Ootomo-sensei) the push they needed, Kon kept Harutora from siding with the bad guys before turning back into Hishamaru just as Kakugyouki came back when everything was about to end.
Every single thing that the story did throughout its entire run came back all at once, and wove together into a masterful ending that was good as any I’ve seen. It’s rare to see a story so intricately crafted, and what’s more, one you wouldn’t have expected to be so well planned out – they really buried the lead on this one. Perhaps it made some people drop the show before it got so good. That’s a shame, because what started out as a show I didn’t even plan to watch became one of my favorites of the last half year.
And at the end of it all, a kiss…and a farewell. Sometimes happy endings are too clean, and it’s the bittersweet ones that you remember. Tragedy laced with happiness. Harutora and Natsume will be together, I think, but not yet. Not quite yet.
I wish them luck. As for the rest of us, I wish us more anime like Tokyo Ravens. It was a great story. To a work of fiction, there’s no higher praise than that.