Tokyo ESP

Title:Tokyo ESP
Keywords: , , , ,
Notables: Animation - Xebec
Original Concept - SEGAWA Hajime
R1 License - FUNimation
The science fantasy story Tokyo ESP begins with Rinka, an extremely poor high school girl who lives with just her father in modern Tokyo. One day, she is going home from school when she chases a "flying penguin" to the top of New Tokyo Tower—only to have "fish swimming in the air" suddenly appear before her. One of the fish goes through Rinka and gives her extraordinary powers beyond those of normal humans, particularly the ability to slip through solid objects.
(Summary Courtesy of

[TV series, 2014, 12 episodes, 25 min; animated by Xebec; licensed by Funimation; based on an ongoing ↗Shounen manga by Hajime Segawa with 10+ volumes since 2010]
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Rent 10 9 9 6 7 8 Ggultra2764 [series:2924#1552]
Tokyo ESP is focused on the struggles of high school student Rinka Urushiba and several others who are granted esper abilities from mysterious fish that enter their bodies. While making sense of their unique predicaments, Rinka and her comrades have to deal with an enemy organization trying to organize an esper resistance against humanity by using the mysterious fish to force people into becoming espers.

My thoughts on this series as a whole are a bit mixed. The series starts out like Berserk and Ga-Rei: Zero where you are tossed immediately into the main conflict of the series without any buildup before the second episode takes events before said conflict starts off to show how it got to that point. I've started to get irked when titles pull this type of plot structure off because it risks turning off first-time viewers of the series who have no clue what they are in for. But setting that gripe aside for now, the second episode and onward do a great job for the most part at establishing its characters and building up its plot to show the characters reacting in varying ways to gaining their esper powers. Established characters have their motivations explored for how they utilize their newly acquired esper powers and why they protect or oppose humanity utilizing them. The series also explores the origins of the mysterious fish that grant espers their power and how this knowledge is being abused by the enemy esper organization. In addition, the animation for the series is quite impressive with highly-detailed scenic shots and character designs, as well as fluid and smoothly animated action sequences that are a treat to see in fights that break out between espers and/or military and police forces.

Setting aside praises, the series does come with its fair share of issues. Being based on a shounen manga series, the idealist bent that many titles of the demographic have in presenting their characters has a bad habit of coming up quite often throughout the series. This is quite notable with our series lead, Rinka, who seems single-mindedly interested in upholding justice and being a hero, which makes her character seem two-dimensional and hard to connect with as a result. The series also gets in the bad habit of seeming to get a bit too preachy and heavy-handed with the whole "being a hero" belief in opposing the enemy esper organization at large. Not helping matters is also the inconclusive ending as another enemy appears to enter the conflict with little established about them and still being at large, a typical issue with many anime given the title's manga source material was still ongoing at the time Tokyo ESP began airing in Japan.

Overall, Tokyo ESP decent plot structure and buildup in focusing on how its major characters respond to gaining esper powers and what side they will take against an enemy esper organization, that gets somewhat marred by the typical idealist bent that many shounen titles fall into and its inconclusive ending. Still, it is a decent sci-fi action/ drama title that is worth tracking down if such titles catch your interest.

Note: Pay attention to the start of episode 1 and you'll catch a cameo appearance from Ga-Rei Zero's Kagura and Yomi. For those not in the know, both Tokyo ESP and Ga-Rei Zero are made by the same mangaka, Hajime Segawa.

Last updated Thursday, February 23 2017. Created Thursday, February 23 2017.
Unevaluated Stretch [series:2924#628]
(Parts of two episodes watched):

Well, here's a show which starts with plentiful violence and action, and wastes no time in introducing a major problem that needs to be solved, namely evil 'espers' who have seized the Diet (parliament) building in Tokyo and say they're going to take over the world. They make mincemeat of conventional soldiers and policemen, and surely only good espers will stand a chance against them.

...and, dammit, the show didn't pique my interest at all. Why was that? Maybe because I have already seen this same formula so many times before--two dimensional, but thoroughly evil villains (their murderous deeds are shoved down our throats just in case there's any doubt about who the bad guys are) who have paranormal abilities (I was apparently supposed to be thrilled by that) are out to do grievous wrong. But simplistic black-versus-white morality is a near kiss of death for me. I want even the bad guys to have motivations, and more than of the usual 'Oh how terrible the persecution of espers by normal people has been!' sort. What do I care if the villains take over the world, when this is a world in which there's not a single person that I give a damn about? I guess paranormal powers and action was supposed to be enough to carry this show forward, but I felt distinctly patronized and bored. I fast-forwarded through about two-thirds of the show, getting just a vague hint of what was happening, and was surprised when the credits arrived before anything that caught my eye turned up. The one thing about this show which did make me sit up and take notice was the cameo at the very beginning of what seem to be the characters Yomi and Kagura from the noteworthy series Ga-Rei: Zero, which suggests some sort of link between this story and that one. But so far the quality of TokyoESP seems to be in a completely different and subordinate league.

The link to Ga-Rei: Zero was so tantalizing that I gave this show a second chance and watched most of episode two even though that left a hole in the story. Whether the characters and the things they say are interesting ought to be fairly obvious even so, I figured. The strange abilities which espers possess seemed to remind me of something you would see in an X-Men movie. My conclusion was that while this show could be much worse than it is, it simply cannot intrigue me. Explaining why that is is difficult; Tokyo ESP does at least an average job when it comes to delivering action and jokes. Maybe I am too skeptical of things like extra sensory perception powers. More likely, I just don't have much confidence that the long-term plot will tell a particularly interesting story. There didn't seem to be any link to the attack on the Diet here; had that problem already been completely solved? Now the problem seems to be jewelry theft by an esper(?). Also, the main characters didn't really attract me. They're espers, but then what? Perhaps my standards have risen too high after watching too many mediocre shows that I'm not willing to gamble my precious time on shows which might shape up later on.

Last updated Wednesday, January 21 2015. Created Wednesday, July 16 2014.

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