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Reviewer: Aaron Murphy 07/26/2008

Five years have passed since Ranmaru’s parents were killed, along with almost all the residents of his apartment complex. Finally graduating from the police academy, he’s now moving himself into a position to investigate those events and get revenge on who, or what, caused such a tragedy. He quickly discovers “what” is much more accurate after he gets attacked by possessed humans who can’t be killed with bullets. Following the trail to a secret arm of the police force named Tokko, he finds out there is much more going on, and that he’s a much bigger piece to the puzzle than he ever imagined. Will he be able to figure out what the hell is going on, discover his parents’ killer, and put a stop to all the monsters coming into our world?       

My first exposure to Tokko was not a pleasant one. After finishing the first episode I decided it was in my best interest to stop watching. There were just too many things working against it. The dub was average to below average, depending on the character, with a number of off and monotone performances. The animation was shiny, but not particularly good, especially during the action scenes where they decided to go “old-school.” By that I mean they would have a character charge an enemy, show the “sword flash,” and finish with the character 10 feet away with the enemy dying/destroyed in the background. This is a great way to keep your animation budget in check, but certainly not the best way to delight your viewers. The story seemed like it wasn’t going to be that bad, just rather trite. And the writing… filled with incestuous innuendo about Ranmaru and his sister Saya that only succeeded in making things feel awkward. So I threw in the towel, so to speak, and shelved the series. A year later it was recommended in one of Animetric’s contests which afforded me the opportunity to finish the series, and having done so I will admit I was slightly off in my initial estimation, thankfully.

Tokko centers itself as a revenge story, mixed with a bit of romance, comedy, and a backdrop of the supernatural. For the past five years Ranmaru been plagued by dreams of a mysterious red headed girl (Sakura) and thoughts of why he and his sister were spared from their apartment complex massacre. He soon finds that the girl in his dreams is not just a figment of his imagination, and that there are other survivors who all share a common thread. The series chronicles his search for answers as he moves from being a police detective into the role of monster fighter and the worlds only hope to keep the fiends from completely breaking into our world.         

It’s neither the most complicated nor original of stories, but the real surprise comes from the pure focus given to it. What I thought was going to be another monster of the week series with a brief, overarching story underpinning was not quite right. Every episode of Tokko follows right where the last one left off. This makes Tokko more like a 5 hour movie than a 13 episode series. Even though there are still some useless bits here and there, for the most part it stays focused on the core plotline, fleshing out all the elements it can. It’s really the tactic you’d wish most series would follow. However, nothing they did could save the atrocious ending from being just that. It’s pointless, the final confrontation (aka the last fight) isn’t shown, and it leaves everything completely open-ended. It’s like they were banking on getting a second season, which has yet to (and most likely will never) happen.   

Not wanting to be left behind, the technical aspects also get better as the series progresses, with more fluid action scenes and slightly better dub work. They never do achieve anything noteworthy though, and neither does the art. I don’t know who decided to make Ranmaru’s hair have a couple of orange locks in it, but it just looks bizarre. Sakura is fairly attractive and succeeds at being the sexy love interest, even if the dub’s voice actor kind of kills her character on an emotional level. That is one of the reasons why you should probably go with the Japanese track, which handles the emotions better, rather than sticking with the English dub like I did.     

Tokko really threw me a curveball by putting so much effort into having a single, cohesive storyline. It certainly made the title better than it otherwise would have been, but too many problems still persist by the end. And while the story isn’t that deep or unique, the attention given to it really brings an otherwise dull series to life. Although it ends up a bit more like Frankenstein than it does Lazarus.

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Review Title:
325 Minutes
General Rating:
3.5 out of 5 stars
Suitable For:
Young Adults
Action, Comedy, Horror,
Mystery, Police, Supernatural
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