First Look: Tokyo 24th Ward

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Anime original by CloverWorks
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

Due to a disaster that happened a year ago, a close group of three friends have drifted apart. Things change on the anniversary of the event, when they each receive a phone call from someone who is meant to be dead. Upon answering the call they see a premonition of a future disaster, and their mental and physical abilities have been temporarily boosted to give them the tools with which to change it.

Euri’s verdict: Future Unknown

Considering this anime season has been pretty dire so far, I wasn’t particularly holding my breath for Tokyo 24th Ward, even with the first episode being double-length. I’m quickly realising it’s becoming a good opportunity to instead catch up on some of the 2021 shows I didn’t get around to starting.

That said, this is going to be the first new pickup of the season for me, at least in the short term. Having a double-length first episode was definitely the correct decision, as it allowed for a slower build up and some much needed exploration of the world they’re setting up. I genuinely don’t know how they’d have thrown together a normal-length episode and shown enough to keep me interested.

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This fictional 24th ward of Japan is on an artificial island in Tokyo Bay, and following allied occupation became a one of the most “dangerous red-light districts” in Asia. Twenty years later it’s been handed back to Japan, where they are now slowly integrating it into Tokyo proper. Because of this a group known as the Special Administrative Region Guard (or SARG) have been brought in to police those living in the 24th ward and keep things in order during this transition period.

Of course, it’s not as simple as that. The SARG is an organisation funded by the Suido Zaibatsu, a powerful political family on the 24th ward, and their presence on the island has angered many of the locals. They’re also using a technology known as Hazard Cast, which predicts when and where crimes will occur. This is causing SARG to overstep and target people in poorer communities.

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We have three protagonists – school friends who were thick as thieves in their school days, but have drifted apart following a fire at their elementary school which killed numerous kids. Kouki is the heir to the Suido Zaibatsu, and is moving into a career at SARG. Ran is an artist and founder of DoRed, a group into street art and opposing SARG and Hazard Cast. Shuuta, the last member of the trio, is considerably more aimless in life. He was a self-professed hero going by the moniker Mr. 24, an athletic but otherwise regular guy who spent his time helping out people on the 24th ward, before giving it up when he couldn’t save his childhood friend in the school fire.

That’s certainly a lot to take in for a first episode… and that’s just the scene-setting. The delivery in this first episode is messy and uneven at times, but it does paint an interesting world nonetheless.

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The focal point of the episode comes from a phone call the trio receive following the first anniversary memorial of the disaster, which appears to be from Asumi – the childhood friend who died in the fire. Upon answering the call they see a vision of a disaster and possible futures, and they’re granted seemingly temporary boosts to their physical and mental abilities. I should note here that this isn’t a world that has actual superheroes – but following this phone call, Shuuta can be seen free-running up buildings, leaping across large gaps and even outrunning a train.

The entire sequence is ridiculous, and as goofy as Shuuta free-running his way across the 24th ward… I actually kind of dug it? The three of them teaming up to change the future they’d seen was a nice glimpse at what they can do together, and no doubt a tease at what the rest of the series holds for us.

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So is Tokyo 24th Ward good? Honestly, I think it’s too early to tell. The character building and the action sequence at the end of the episode are on point, but there’s a lot going on and parts of the episode felt messy for lack of a better word. That said, the mystery of the phone call, as well as the inevitable clashing of heads between ‘fuck the police’ Ran and ‘I literally want to arrest people for thought crimes’ Kouki, has me incredibly intrigued for the show going forward.

Artemis’ verdict: Insufferable

I’m not gonna lie, I pretty much hated this, to the point where I didn’t get even halfway through the first episode (and technically that’s only a quarter of the way through, considering it was actually a double-episode release). Whenever I wasn’t feeling annoyed by the main characters, who I thought were completely insufferable, I was bored silly by just about everything else, from the lackluster art direction (which was presented as though it was being cool and quirky) to the overly exposition-friendly pacing. Granted, everyone should take this review with a generous grain of salt given that I watched for a grand total of 15 minutes, but I just couldn’t bring myself to keep going – sorry, but Shuuta has to be one of the most obnoxious anime leads I’ve seen in a very long time.

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