With the notable difference, of course, that most of the people watching Tokyo ESP (basically all of them) actually know what X-Men is, while less than 1% of the people who watched Inception in theaters had ever hear of Satoshi Kon. It’s been said that there’s no such thing as an original idea anymore and every piece of fiction is a rehash of something(s) that came before, but rarely will you see it proved out so explicitly as you do with this series.
Still – derivative or not there’s no reason a recycled show can’t be entertaining, and Tokyo ESP is modestly entertaining for the most part. Animated by Xebec with a retro look and fairly low-budget animation, the show has a fair amount of panache, though with it’s constantly posing characters and J-rock soundtrack it’s a bit too self-consciously cool for my taste. X-Men reimagined through a Cool Japan lens might just strike the right note with a broad audience, though only time will tell on that score.
Not a whole lot new to talk about as far as plot if you have any experience with that sort of thing. A group of Espers has hijacked the Diet Building and is flying it over Tokyo with what seems to be most of Japan’s politicians held hostage (Itadakimasu, I say), fed up with inferior normals and their foolish ways. The white knight who always comes to the rescue of humanity in such situations is a real white knight, the one they call the “White Girl” Urushiba Rinka (Kido Ibuki). And this entire attack seems to be an attempt to draw her out so the Magneto faction can take her out once and for all.
I won’t rule out that the plot could contain some surprises down the line, but the setup is very standard – humanity is bigoted and hateful towards the Espers, and the Espers have broken down into the two obvious factions as a result. Even when White Girl and her team are saving their asses the normals can’t help but despise them, etc.. The premiere is pretty decent because the execution is solid – I liked the spot-on depictions of Tokyo under siege and the fight scenes, though there was enough of a body count to where death was pretty much rendered meaningless by the end of the episode. There’s some style here, but the emotional appeal is very broad stuff – everything is as subtle as a kick in the teeth. I don’t see enough that’s really distinctive in Tokyo ESP to give it legs, but I’ll watch at least one more episode before I make up my mind.