「東京ESP少女」 (Tokyo Esupu Shoujo)
“Tokyo ESP Girls”

I have no idea what just happened. Little of that made sense.

Unexplained Powers

This entire episode was plagued by an old Tokyo ESP problem: unexplained powers. I don’t know how Roshi knew that shirtless samurai was the one holding up the building, and I don’t know how he shrugged off the bullets. Roshi mentioned Qigong, but I don’t think martial arts works like that guys! Same with Kobushi-chan’s green punch – was that a power evolution, or a qi attack? While pretty much everything the Professor did seemed like bullshit. About the only thing they gave flimsy justification to was how Pelico could nullify the Professor’s powers, but since there was no foreshadowing on this, it still amounts to an ass pull. And I’m not even getting into how Imouto-chan apparently has hammerspace that works on people. That’s horrifying.

In stories like Tokyo ESP, you need to explain how the magic works or it feels like plot points are being pulled out of the writer’s ass. I hear that was done better in the manga—at least for the main characters—but there’s been none of that here. This episode just had the worst of it.

The Villains Had a Shitty Plan

I still don’t really understand what the villains were after. If they just wanted to spread the fish, and they needed the Tokyo Sky Tree to do it, it seems like they could have teleported up there any day of the week and released them. Bada bing, bada boom, new esper society. But if the Professor was trying to lure in these strange esper(?) gods(?), then … okay? They told us nothing about them, not what they’re after or why the Professor wanted to draw them there and fight them, so I’m just left feeling frustrated. Explain yourself dammit! None of this makes any damn sense! About the best I can say is that the angel(?) esper(?) god(?) was forwshadowed, but that’s it.

The Good Outnumber The Evil

There’s a long list of things that don’t make sense about this anime, but the one that struck me at the end of this episode was the crimes the rising number of espers were committing. They’re so unimaginative! All fire and explosions, no forethought.

There are two facets to this that bug me. 1) It’s stupid. In a medieval society I can see people thinking force would work, even up to 70-80 years ago, when bank robberies were still a done thing. Even in a modern society, I can see people with fancy new powers thinking it would work early on, but after Rinka and her crew go around stomping every single one of them? Those characters are no better than NPC slimes in an RPG. When it comes to showing how criminals would really act if suddenly given amazing powers, other stories have done it better. Strong Female Protagonist does it better. X-Men does it better. Tokyo ESP does it poorly.

Two, the good outnumber the evil. Always. I refuse to believe that so many espers would be wreaking havoc so indiscriminately, because that doesn’t happen in real life and if you don’t think a gun or a car can do lots of damage, you’re wrong. It reminded me of a quote from comedian Patton Oswalt who, like most great comedians, is a wickedly insightful man. You can read the full article here, but the important part is reproduced below.

But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out … This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in a while, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evildoers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”

A charismatic terrorist like the Professor makes sense. The gangster made sense. A thief like Kobushi-chan makes sense. But people blowing things up out of frustration is a rare occurrence, and magical powers wouldn’t change that. Most people just want to live their lives in peace, so unless they’re hiding a ton of espers who are doing just that off-screen, that struck me as bullshit. And even if they are, there would be more superheroes than just Rinka and her gang. I’ve met enough soldiers and police officers to know that.

Looking Ahead – Final Impressions

Not much to say on this episode that I haven’t said a hundred times before, other than to say something I didn’t get to last week since Cherrie was covering for me (thanks Cherr!): Pelico is ridiculous. Just utterly ridiculous. Final impressions below.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – This anime ended as it began – badly. A flawed adaptation of a good manga to the bitter end #東京ESP 12 END

Random thoughts:

  • C’mon Minami, just teleport Rinka way up in the air and drop her! You’re going to jail for a long time if they ever catch you anyway, might as well rub out the competition.
  • Wolverine/Magneto papa is the best! His clothes ripped off because he’s just THAT DAMN GAR.
  • I like how Pompadour ended up coming along because he had a useful power. I feel like they should have added a main character with that power instead of conveniently introducing some nobody when needed.
  • Just shoot the Professor already Kyoutarou gods just shoot him DO I HAVE TO COME IN THERE AND DO IT MYSELF!?
  • Professor: “I sensed a miracle in you.” What.
  • I can’t tell if they were trying to make the Professor out into a pseudo-good guy there at the end, fighting the esper(?) gods(?), but it didn’t work. He’s still a damn murderer, and him “training” Kyoutarou (and warping his daughter in the process) is just fucked up.
  • All they do is hold hands? No kiss after all of that, or even a hug? What is this shit! (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻
  • Take off the mask Kyoutarou, you look ridiculous. Sigh.

Check out my blog about storytelling and the novel I’m writing at stiltsoutloud.com. The last four posts: I’m back!, Vacation, & a taste of what’s to come, Life or death, and Just plain fun.


Final Impressions

Rarely does an anime adaptation shoot itself in the foot so thoroughly, so quickly. I’ve been saying this for the entire season, but the full-episode cold opening in episode one poisoned everything that came after it. Absolutely everything. Not even simple pleasures like whether Kobushi-chan would join the good guys or whether Rinka would actually die—turns that were easy to anticipate—could be enjoyed because we already knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what would happen. Not even the stunning event of the capital floating in the sky was properly shocking because they blew all the good stuff in the first episode!

And to a certain degree, it worked. For the anime’s viewership, not the story. The first episode was interesting enough to get a lot of people watching, but the poison set in shortly thereafter. The only thing that was truly left to wonder about was why Kyoutarou didn’t appear in the first episode, but the frustration that came from watching such a badly bungled adaptation tried my patience, until I was left wishing I had just dropped it and spoiled myself on that detail, or better yet, read the manga instead.

The irony is that the anime didn’t need the cold opening—because the chronological first episode worth of content (episode two) was strong enough to stand on its own—but it did need an extra episode worth of time to properly flesh out the characters and the world. The kind of magic seen in Tokyo ESP doesn’t work unless it’s explained enough for the audience to anticipate the character’s actions to a degree, but everything was cut down to the bone, and much felt like it was pulled out of the writer’s ass as a result. The characters suffered too, with no one escaping the hacksaw’s cruel effect on their development.

Which is a shame, because the story’s bones are good. I pride myself on being able to sense a good story even if the adaptation is shite, which is why I was willing to blog Touno Mamare’s Log Horizon even though Touno Mamare’s Maoyuu almost singlehandedly burned me out with its ham-fisted adaptation. Though this adaptation forces me to question the plot, for Rinka alone I want to read the adaptation, because she’s an excellent character, even as twisted as she was by XEBEC. In that sense, you could say this was a successful adaptation; I do want to read the manga now.

But in all other ways, this was a flop. There’s some enjoyment to be had if you can turn off your brain or laugh at its follies, but everything I see and everything I’ve heard tells me the manga is better. So I’ll add that to my prodigious manga backlog, and take this another in a long line of lessons that have taught me to approach XEBEC adaptations with care. Though they also did Nyaruko-san, so I don’t know what to think. Other than I also now apparently need to watch Ga-Rei: Zero too. Son of a bitch—my free time!


    1. manga isn’t any different.
      Biggest reason why I never watched Tokyo ESP anime is because the manga isn’t good.
      The writing was just bad, and it’s just too similar to Ga-Rei (the mangaka’s other work), which isn’t even any good to start with. (The anime original Ga-Rei Zero is different beast though)

    2. It handles it more coherently; the manga thrives on its execution, something the anime completely missed. See, at least with something like tokyo ghoul, regardless of the fact that it was rushed, the staff held onto the things that made tokyo ghoul a competent story, which is why i found the anime a joy to watch and felt that in certain places it actually improved on the manga’s tone and themes. Tokyo ESP’s anime did not do that at all. Hell, it would have been fine (sort of) if it was rushed (which it was) but at least keep in line with what makes the Tokyo ESP a positive experience (the first half of the manga anyway)

  1. “I like how Pompadour ended up coming along because he had a useful power. I feel like they should have added a main character with that power instead of conveniently introducing some nobody when needed.”

    In the comments section, last episode or so, someone explained this character. But yeah in this adaptation they messed him up.

    I enjoyed the show overall actually. Definitely not Epic or nowhere near as well done as Tiger & Bunny too me but it was okay. And yeah, a lot of things made no sense as you pointed out

    Still confused by that Panda character. I thought he was a stuffed teddy bear being remote controlled by an Esper for the longest. I guess he’s a real Panda?

    Rick Anime
  2. Well, that was a trainwreck. All episodes had coherency/explanations issues, but that last episode took the cake. I think I haven’t seen anything worse in any serie iun the past 3 years.

    There are so many things that made absolutely no sense.. I was “wtf” pretty much on Every. Scene. For. The. Entire. Episode.

    Wolverine Papa uses his power to lift the parliament “island” ? Heh, I thought his power only worked on metals ? Wasn’t that a big building on top of a rock ?

    Rinka did regain her fish power, yey !… only to not use it ever. Would have been kind of convenient when she got ice-cubed, wouldn’t it ?

    I think I’ll just stop there, that was just ridiculous. Every single scene had something wrong in it.

    1. Wolverine Papa uses his power to lift the parliament “island” ? Heh, I thought his power only worked on metals ? Wasn’t that a big building on top of a rock ?

      That was a misunderstanding based on people equating his power to Magneto’s. His power is actually… let’s call it “attractive telekinesis.” He can pull things towards him, and only towards him. It doesn’t actually seem to matter what the things are made of.

      Rinka did regain her fish power, yey !… only to not use it ever. Would have been kind of convenient when she got ice-cubed, wouldn’t it ?

      Actually it was completely useless in that situation, because the ice wasn’t physical. The ice was an illusion that only existed in their minds: there was nothing really there for her to pass through. She was frozen and unable to move or breathe because the professor convinced her mind that she was frozen and unable to move or breathe, not because she was actually trapped in ice (because she wasn’t).

      …I could probably spend hours explaining all this stuff that you folks are having issues with. You all should just go read the source.

  3. Please do go read the manga. I’d like to see your reactions. There’s always a danger of overhype when trying to say how much better an original is compared to a failed adapation, and I’m not trying to say that the manga is a nobel-prize-winning piece of literature. It makes its own use of suspension of disbelief. But I find it to be a good, enjoyable story, with characters that I have become pretty attached to as I’ve followed them through it.

    I just hope the anime didn’t spoil enough of it so that the key events in the manga don’t work for you. That would truly be a shame.

  4. And ESP finally ends. Without a doubt this was the worst adaptation of the bunch for this season, brought down among other things by its incredibly fast pace, cold opening, and utter failure to try and eke out some form of viewer connection. How ESP was presented reminds me of the comments some made about Tokyo Ghoul at the start and how it was supposedly meant as nothing more than a lure to get people to purchase the source material. In this sense (as you mentioned Stilts) ESP could be seen as a “success” in garnering interest in the source material, but it’s still a ridiculous way to go about it if that was the intention.

    What really irks me about ESP though is how interesting the story could have been if it simply had better explained things, given time for critical character development, and better managed its suspense and buildup. There were a lot of good ideas here, ideas that unfortunately either went nowhere or were quickly glossed over and not well explained. The Professor for example would have made for an interesting villain, but like most of ESP’s characters suffered the hacking and slashing which defined the extent of character development.

    If there is one positive out of this whole mess, however, it is that ESP has shown how not to produce an adaptation. Hopefully that lesson will be taken to heart for next season.

    1. If I weren’t blogging this show, I might have finished it solely to learn how not to do it. Bad examples are often more useful than good examples to a story teller, because it’s easier to find your own story when you know some of the rocks not to hit.

      Wouldn’t have enjoyed it though.

  5. Thank you very much, Stilts! You saved me a great amount of time of having to catch up on the 6-7 episodes I was behind on this, now I can safely drop it with no regrets.
    Definitely gonna check out the manga once it gathered a bit more chapters, though. Because I still think Tokyo ESP can deliver, just not in anime form.

    I greatly respect your tenacity and dedication to blog the show even though it was clearly rubbing you in all the wrong ways.

    1. This particular story-arc of Tokyo ESP only goes up through chapter 26 of the manga, so you can read it all now, if you want. After that point there’s a timeskip of roughly a-year-and-a-half. This manga has long chapters (generally over 40 pages each), so a lot of stuff can happen in each one.

      1. Thanks for the info but I prefer the marathon way since I read pretty fast and catching up on an ongoing manga and then waiting for weeks for a chapter is something I actively try to avoid.

      2. …Yes. 😛

        It follows a new protagonist named Jomaku Ren (who, in my opinion, isn’t as strong a character as Rinka, although that isn’t really Ren’s fault: she had a very different life than Rinka did). Rinka and Kyoutaro have been missing for a while, but after several chapters they’ve finally showed up again just recently. Ayumu, Murasaki, Yoda, and Peggi are mostly the ones holding down the fort as characters from the first part.

    2. @ Patsuan

      Ahaha, no problem, and thank you. I sometimes claim that the only thing good about me is that I’m stubborn. That’s not true, of course; it’s just what’s best about me. You can do a lot when you won’t give up, believe you me.

      It’s not always easy and it can get painful, though. To wit: Tokyo ESP.

  6. I think someone important in the production team, either director or writer showed they couldn’t handle their job.

    This was like like getting an awesome plastic model, and some pieces were really cool and slick, but the pieces repeatedly didn’t fit together right. And some pieces were missing or just from the wrong model.

    But I really did like Rinka. I thought she was a charismatic character. I wish I could teleport her to a better anime.

    The Pointman
  7. Sigh, what a trainwreck. Extremely rushed with weakly-animated action scenes with a poor choice of BGM & the usual sound that lacks impact. People just joining in on the action almost out of nowhere, Kobushi exposing some king of ultra-super-move of hers that she got through training complete off-screen…

    I think I’ve even been more generous with it than most people but Tokyo ESP is without doubt, the anime I was most disappointed with this summer. I liked the premise, I really liked Rinka and I might’ve liked Kyoutarou more too if the anime didn’t decide to keep him out of any important events for like half of it’s run but the execution was horrendous, especially towards the end. The first few episodes are rather misleading in that they show promise but it’s really downhill from there.
    Still, they made me interested enough in order to check out the manga and I can finally do that with a clear conscience now that the anime’s over.

  8. Perhaps stating the obvious, but this was neither a good adaptation nor a good show. Not every single issue with the anime can be blamed on the adaptation (e.g some issues also exist in the source material), but a lot can. Two specific points on that.

    In Medias Res Fail Opener: IMO, the spoilerific, cameo centric first episode was nothing short of a bad idea. The anime’s ending point was a good one based on the source material, but that meant it had to cover 26 chapters (30-40 pages typically and a few chapters over 50) in only 12 episodes. Time is at a premium here. A good adaptation for that amount of material requires making the most of every minute. Instead, IMO they wasted essentially an entire episode on an intro “hook”. I honestly wonder whether anyone who would have dropped the show immediately had EP 02 been the first episode lasted the entire season. Spoilerific EP 01 was just that. It spoiled too much of the upcoming story, and worse, wasted time the adaptation could not afford to lose.

    – Lack of Focus: The adaptation has a very “jack off all trades, master of none” feel to it IMO. It’s all over the place trying (and often failing) to accomplish too much in too little time. There was some attempt at establishing Rinka’s and Kyoutarou’s relationship, but not enough IMO. Source material cuts were both noticeable and detrimental in that regard. There were just… odd anime only changes such as the first Kyoutarou kidnapping. What was the purpose of that change? To give Minami’s character some extra depth? If so, I don’t think it worked. There were other anime-only moments as well, but that was the major one. The action was decent at times, particularly in EP 01, but when you already have a fairly large cast of villains with many having little character depth (even in the source material), I don’t see how adding more random espers is in any way beneficial to the presentation.

    TBH, I wonder whether the anime staff fully understood the strengths and weakness of the original material. Like another recent botched adaptation (arguably worse), this adaptation seemed to accentuate the source material’s weaknesses while at the same time minimizing its strengths – the exact opposite of what they should be trying to accomplish. While JMO, I think if they stuck to the source material more closely and focused primarily (NOT exclusively) on Rinka’s and Kyoutarou’s relationship, the adaptation would have turned out much better, especially if they added one more episode (e.g. 13 total episodes = 2 manga chapters per episode). The anime also lacked some of the manga’s humor and lighter moments which help to properly balance the overall tone. IMO, this story doesn’t work with an all business, ultra-serious presentation. I think the anime needed to lighten up a bit at times.

    As I noted above, some issues stem from the source material (e.g. the reason “shirtless samurai” can deflect/is immune to bullets is actually because of “Qigong” (manga TL has it as “qi-fu”), the Prof’s actions/motives can be hard to rationalize at times, etc.). Even so, IMO the manga is noticeably better than this (JMO/YMMV). So for that reason I consider this a bad adaptation. If there is a silver lining, it’s that viewer commentary seems to indicate that most anime-only viewers are interested in the source material rather than put off the franchise as a whole after watching the anime adaptation.

  9. Pound for pound the worst show RC has blogged since… Guilty Crown I’d probably say (which is saying something given that Mahouka only just finished airing). I can’t believe this wasn’t dropped before it got to this stage.

    1. We don’t like to drop shows, and I particularly hate doing so—I’ve only done it once, and that show was Mahouka. If Tokyo ESP was this bad and 2-cour, I probably would have had to drop it as well.

      1. @ Drasca

        Well thank you. The funny thing was that it was actually really easy to write about Mahouka, so I could have churned out posts in half the time I do other series I enjoy … but it took so long to force myself to start that it ended up taking way longer. When the dread built like that, I knew it was time to step away.

    2. I would have to say a more recent one would be…that other show Stilts covered. *forgot the name, not that I care* The one about the tarot card fighters. Ironically, like that, Tokyo ESP started off promising (in my opinion) but after a few episodes in, there was no hope of redemption as the series continued to dig itself deeper in that large hole it created. I guess…for me I stopped enjoying this series after the yakuza arc.

  10. Ugh. Haven’t watched the finale yet… but might as well.
    This show was so disappointing =( It’s so hard to find good things to say about it so kudos to you Stilts =P I thought the first (maybe) 3-4 episodes were alright, but then it just went downhill and I had a hard time keeping up with it =S

    1. S-sort of good things to say about it, lol. I didn’t break out my second flamethrower, and that’s about the nicest thing I can say :X

      And thanks for the cover again last week, Cherr! YOU ROCK

  11. So, going down the list… Made the unique character designs more generic because anime, cut all the important bits out of Rinka’s and Kyotaro’s relationship, somehow still had Kobushi disappear for months on a training expedition despite her still being in Master’s house like 2 episodes ago, filled space with arbitrary junk villains for no reason and thereby squeezing out actual canon material, plugged Ga-rei ZERO in the first episode because apparently Tokyo ESP can’t stand up on its own, actually cut the climax of the fight with the Professor entirely and made that scene confusing as heck… god, I can’t even get through it all.

    Good work getting through such a mangled mess, Stilts.

    Purple Bomber
    1. Nope. See the quote—if that were the case, we would have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

      Humans are born neither inherently good or evil. They’re just born. Most people just want to take care of their shit and have a good time once in a while, that’s all.

      1. If humans were not born inherently evil then we were born inherently good. However this cannot be true do to the fact that although there is a lot of good in this world there is a lot people. Humans have to learn how to be good and ultimately we choose the path we take whether its good or bad. Its always up to you if you’ll give in the the evil and let it overtake you or make mistakes but always realize in the end what the right choice is. This is world and society we live in is evil. Tricking our minds that we have to look, accomplish or be a certain standard.

  12. I was actually thinking of watching through Tokyo ESP since I finished some of the rest, it did seem like it had alot of interesting things going for it though. What a pity. Do you think it’s still worth watching say if I watched from ep 2 onwards?

  13. Yeah, this show sucked. I don’t feel any need to mince words. It was one of the worst shows I was following this season, and a putrid example of how not to do an adaptation. They tried to lure me in with an action-packed teaser of a first episode, complete with Ga-Rei Zero characters (which I loved) and I fell for it hook, line and sinker. I suppose I should’ve known better by now, but what can you do?

    And it kind of hurts too, because I really do genuinely like the good guys. Rinka’s an appealing, relatable heroine with a cool power. Characters like Kyoutarou can sometimes annoy me, but here I liked his straightforward call to heroïsm. And of course you’ve got awesome characters like Rinka’s Wolverine dad (I kind of like (grand)parent-child team-ups in these types of shows – Jojo had the same thing this arc) or a little girl that can go around channeling Bruce freaking Lee. It’s just, ugh, I can’t ignore how I couldn’t care less about the central conflict and its idiotic villains, the fact that the story has more holes than Sonny from the Godfather and the massive amount of arsepulls. And let’s not forget the terrible, terrible animation that caused every action scene to just lack any impact whatsoever. As the show progressed, all I was doing was ranting at the screen. That can’t have been the intention.

    Well, thank you for covering this anyway, Stilts. ‘Tis at least interesting to see you rip this thing apart and give us a venue for voicing our frustrations. But hey, look at the bright side, we got Log Horizon starting next week!

    1. They tried to lure me in with an action-packed teaser of a first episode, complete with Ga-Rei Zero characters (which I loved) and I fell for it hook, line and sinker. I suppose I should’ve known better by now, but what can you do?

      I know you feel, I was so excited to see Yomi & Kagura again thinking that even if they’re just cameo appearances, I could expect a show of the same caliber…

  14. Years ago I would read others bemoaning how an anime had ruined, wrecked, etc. the source material
    and thought to myself “just sour grapes”. Once I became a manga/LN reader I started to understand
    peoples rage at certain adaptions. It’s funny too since an anime can actually improve on a manga..
    4-komas come to mind. As far as personal experience this was the worst adaption I’ve ever tried
    to watch. The manga, while no literary masterpiece is a fun read and I hope people will be encouraged
    to give it a look. As was mentioned by Stilts and others, a textbook example of how NOT to do an
    adaptation. Thank you Stilts for seeing this through. At least its been fun reading your reviews and
    the comments from others along the way.

  15. The manga hasnt been translated for a long ass time so I dont even remmeber much from when this arc ended and a new arc started. I think a few chapters picked up since then and I’ll have to check it out. But unfortunately i dont remember squat that happened since it was a long time ago that I’ve read this.

  16. Allow me to give an Advice how an Anime could catch the Spectators.

    Zettai Karen Children Manga

    Do it right. It started with them as Childs, they learned to control their Powers
    they grown up to midshoolers, now they are about to cross the boarder of Adulthood

    Script Anime writer. You should perhaps give this Manga a look, and get the Gist
    Perhaps someone in the future, would do a plausible Anime in the Future.

    As i can say, i love the Manga, and reading it. The Peace is fine. Sadly the Anime focused to many on the slapsticks. They should had taken the background of this Kids become grown ups, with the negative and positive sides with their powers. They can be a blessing for Humanity and themselves or they could become nightmare and crush themselves.

    Choose thoroughly

    (@Manga-ka, yes i am a fan since it came out. I love how they grown up with the responsibility, and of course their “mentor”)

  17. I really didn’t like the first article because it focused on minor details and they’re basically saying we watchers don’t know how to infer if we don’t understand something. Some of those details really don’t even matter if they were clarified since it wouldn’t have changed the course of the anime. They really missed something big. This anime moved me. I only wish there were more people like this in our world. Instead we humans are destroying our world everyday and don’t give a damn care. In a sense, yes there is good people in the world, however put in those people’s lives in the anime, your choices would have been different. You would not want to get involved and most likely most people would look out for themselves and their family and friends. Not the whole population. Anime’s like this move people like me, and although we arnt espers, if we had willpower like them, hell this society would be very different. Unrecognizable.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *