‘Tokyo Revengers’: the otaku phenomenon storms the theaters

A still from ‘Tokyo Revengers’.

The film version of the manga, a worldwide phenomenon, is released on the big screen to the delight of its potential audience, addicted to this teenage adventure with youth gangs and time travel

One of the adolescent phenomena of the moment arrives in theaters. The fever awakened by ‘Tokyo Revengers’, first a manga written and illustrated by Ken Wakui, then an anime series and now a live-action film, is worthy of study. It remains to be seen if all his followers will really go through the box office to see the jump to the big screen, as with ’50 shades of Grey’ -the launch does not have an excessive distribution for these payments-, but the passion for oriental popular culture between the youth, and the little ones, it is something evident.

Far from stagnating, the devotion to Japanese comics has increased exponentially among the new generations -sales have risen by 60%-, together with the cult of animation and audiovisual productions that come from the East -there is the madness unleashed by the series Korean ‘The Squid Game’-. The launch of the original graphic work of the film at hand caused endless queues in bookstores, before the doors of some establishments opened, the day before it went on the market. An image that seemed unique property of the video game business today, as it used to be when the new records of a few extreme cult musical artists saw the light.

The live action version of ‘Tokyo Revengers’ has a cast of young Asian actors with pull as an added claim and the direction of the prolific Tsutomu Hanabusa, whose work is limited to professionally illustrating a story that fuses the typical school environment of Japanese films with teenage gangs fighting with bare fists, as in the ‘Crows’ saga – wisely started by Takashi Miike-, with time travel and time loops, an ingenious resource that also dazzles Japanese filmmakers (‘More beyond the two infinite minutes’, which is recommended for viewing, is a recent example).

A still from ‘Tokyo Revengers’.

In addition, there are scenes of bullying, of course, and a textbook romance that engages the small audience, with some glimpses of yakuza cinema passed through the appropriate sieve. Saving creative distances, to cite a close reference to cuchufleta, it is like ‘Elite’ in soft format, without drugs or sex but hosts like bread, swerves in the script and unexpected surprises, which obviously leads to greater interest dramatic. Endearing characters and a waste of figuration at the service of an adventure with fantastic overtones.

A childish-looking 20-year-old discovers, while watching the news on television while eating convenience foods in his tiny dilapidated apartment, how his high school sweetheart has lost her life at the hands of a clan of villains known as the Tokyo Manji Gang, whose aesthetic is in line with gender tics. The young protagonist leads an infamous life, immersed in routine, but an unexpected accident, or not?, pushes him to take a leap into the past, a decade ago, returning to the time of his school life. Such a supernatural opportunity can allow you to change his existence and save his beloved. Simplicity as a virtue.

A certain giddy humor permeates the tone of ‘Tokyo Revengers’, dirty jokes included. It is nice for its apparent innocence in a violent and disturbing frame. Actually, despite so much thrashing, there is gushing romanticism. Probably the presence of love as the engine of the world is one of the responses to the story’s ability to hook the young audience, pulling childish (which perhaps should still spend their time on other matters). Perhaps the rooms are filled with pubescents who have not even started acne, boys and girls who avoid their school or family problems, letting themselves be carried away by a well-orchestrated mix of references that they probably understand as original due to their blessed age.

The film opens fire with a scene rich in blood and aggressiveness. Walking on the wild side in fiction is something inherent to the human being, since he has the use of reason, and there is nothing better than believing himself to be an adult being a kid doing grown-up things. For example, tasting this bicoca without the permission of your ancestors being a clever minor, probably ahead of his time and his classmates assuming his recalcitrant otaku identity.

The search for artificial paradises, cultural stimuli or one’s own identity in adolescence, fleeing from a reality that increasingly interests the new generations less and less, fuels trends that are growing unstoppably among today’s youth. The otaku phenomenon, the passion for oriental popular culture in all its facets, seems to have no end. It has no ceiling, quite the contrary, because, far from losing strength, this movement is currently experiencing another undoubted pull in the West, in part thanks to the rise of online entertainment platforms. The wide range of this material in the menus on demand, whether webcomics, series or movies, expands the target of fatal fans. The digital age has been the definitive accolade for the spread of the rich Asian imagery.