Sunday, June 8, 2014

Tokyo Ravens

Tokyo Ravens is an anime series that was adapted from a manga which was adapted from a light novel series.  The series is about magic users, in particular two cousins, Harutora and Natsume, from a powerful onmyouji clan, the Tsuchimikado.  Natsume is the next heir in line to be clan head and is a powerful magic user with the ability to call and use a magic dragon.  She’s socially awkward and doesn’t make friends easily and through a weird clan tradition, is required to present herself as a male (you find out why later).  Haratoru starts out the series basically magic-less.  He's been raised by a side branch of the family, but he's out-going and has lots of friends.   Harutora and Natsume have known each other since they were very young.

At the start of the series, Natsume comes home for a visit from her magic (onmyouji) school, and she and Harutora and his friends foil a plot to use forbidden magic.  One of Harutora’s friends dies in the process and so he asks Natsume to make him her shikigami (magic servant), and allow him to serve and protect her.  Natsume has been hoping for this ever since Harutora told her when they were children that he would protect her.  Since Natsume needs the protection and since becoming her servant will allow Harutora access to magic, Natsume makes him her shikigami.  Natsume, Harutora and friends return to the onmyouji school in Tokyo.

The politics in this series are basically like this:  The onmyouji school where the kids are training is a power unto itself and does it’s best to protect the various kids.  Trying to grab Natsume (and the reason she needs a protector) are the members of the Twin Horn Syndicate, a group who is waiting for the re-incarnation of Tsuchimikado Yakou (an extraordinarily powerful onmyouji from the past).  The Tsuchimikado heir is said to be that reincarnation, so they want Natsume.  The Onmyouji Agency, a large force intended to police magic use and fight evil magic users (including 12 magically powerful “divine generals”), is ostensibly helping to protect Natsume, but really want her for the same reasons the Twin Horn Syndicate does.  Powerful onmyouji’s from the Souma and Kurahashi families who are working with or within the Onmyouji Agency also want to get hold of Yakou’s reincarnation.  So Natsume and Harutora-tachi are up against nearly everyone who’s not within their circle of friends, as well as a few who are.
The story here is fairly predictable.  Harutoru levels up time and again when he needs to, and in the end it turns out that Harutora is the re-incarnated heir to the clan rather than Natsume.  His clan sealed his powers and hid him from the people trying to take control of his re-incarnated self, putting Natsume out there as a decoy and requiring her to pretend to be a male to make the deception hold.  Late in the series, in the process of Harutora discovering all this and in the battles ensuing between the various groups, Natsume is killed.  Harutora, who loves her and is remembering his past life as Yakou, then uses forbidden magic that was perfected by Yakou to bring her back to life.  He and his own magical servants then take off.    

So although the main characters essentially all survive the series, at the end they are spread out and recovering, with Harutora on the run due to use of forbidden magic and all the various people after him for his power. 

I’m not sure why I watched this one all the way through other than it was interesting enough to keep me watching.  The animation style is good and the music is decent.  Parts of it are pretty derivative though, so you won’t find anything unique here, plot-wise.  It’s watchable though, and some of the characters are quite interesting.  Plus there’s no major character death, so I give it marks for that.  All in all, pretty decent.   

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