I place this show is the same broad category as Kyoukai no Kanata in terms of overall quality (perhaps a little better), but the two make an interesting contrast in terms of the reasons why. Whereas KnK is pretty indistinct across the board, with Tokyo Ravens it’s more of a case of highs and lows cancelling each other out. There are some very good things about this series and some that I find quite tiresome.
In point of fact, it’s almost always more interesting to watch a show do some things really well and others poorly than one that never makes much of an impression positively or negatively, and so it is here – I’m certainly more engaged with Tokyo Ravens at this point. In many ways this is a very old-school anime plot – the onmyoudo lacking second sight pledging himself to the appointed heir of the family tradition – and it’s followed a classic anime structure in terms of setting up that plot and introducing us to the characters.
There are definitely conflicting elements of the series for me. I think it’s quite handsome at times in terms of the overall look, but the CGI sequences – while far from the worst this season – are still clunky and are far too numerous. The plot itself is easy to grasp and inherently interesting, but all three female leads we’ve met so far are pretty much walking 2013 anime tropes, and each has engaged in irritatingly cliched fashion in the first two episodes. Of course one of those female leads – Hokuto – has turned out not to be a human at all, but apparently a shikigami. So she has an excuse for acting like a paper cut-out.
I can’s possibly make a call on Tokyo Ravens yet, because this is a two-cour series and the intro episodes have obviously just been the prologue. We haven’t even gotten to the “Tokyo” part yet, and along with the change of venue we have a dramatic change in circumstance as Harutora (Spring Tiger?) moves into his role as Natsume’s (Beautiful Summer?) familiar. I find myself hoping the subplot with the tiresome goth-loli Suzuka resurrecting her dead onii-san is indeed just that, a subplot, rather than the spine of the story. There’s some real potential here, especially as a love a good onmyouji tale, but I think it’ll be best-served if the series moves past this storyline sooner rather than later.
NouKome – 02
I don’t have a whole lot new to offer on NouKome but I did watch the second episode, so I thought I may as well check in. It was about as amusing as the first, which is to say intermittently with a couple of pretty decent laughs. I liked the “conversations with God” bit (especially the operator message when Kanade tried to call back) and the weirdness is so total that is has a certain unhinged appeal to it. There are hints that the series is going to get a little more serious, and it remains to be seen whether it can pull that off. I’m also probably going to stick around long enough to see who the other two members of the Reject Five are. I had some small hope that this might be a sort of R-15 – a silly ecchi premise with low-rent animation and a mostly no-name cast that hides hidden depths – but the first two eps aren’t nearly as good and I suspect that’s setting the bar considerably too high.