Tokyo Revengers 2, or technically Tokyo Revengers 2 Part 1, or even more technically, Tokyo Revengers 2 Chi no Halloween Hen: Unmei (Bloody Halloween: Destiny) is a sequel to a 2021 movie whose title can be guessed from the first part of this sentence. Based on the manga by Ken Wakui, the 2023 film by director Tsutomu Hanabusa and writer Izumi Takahashi premiered in late April and came close to being a rare gem. Not only do you have a good live-action anime film, but a good live-action anime sequel as well. It unfortunately stumbles too many times to be called a complete success, though, despite having a lot to offer audiences.
What You Need to Know About Tokyo Revengers
The Tokyo Revengers manga, anime and first live-action movie all tell the story of Takemichi Hanagaki, a lonely loser in his mid-20s who finds out one day that his childhood girlfriend Hina, the only person who ever loved him, was killed by the Tokyo Manji Gang (also known as Toman). He then gets pushed in front of a train and is transported back in time to his school days and decides to stop Toman from transforming from a delinquent motorcycle gang into a powerful criminal organization, thus saving Hina. To achieve this, he has to be more courageous, punch a few people and get revenge, hence the franchise’s title.
What You Need to Know About the First Film
The first live-action adaptation of Tokyo Revengers was, in a word, flawless. Every character looked just like in the source material and like a real person. A lot of live-action anime have failed hard with the latter. The pacing was also perfect because a lot of unnecessary or weird stuff from the manga and anime was fixed, like Takemichi (Takumi Kitamura) no longer cheating on Hina (Mio Imada), the love of his life for whom he’s changing the course of history.
The movie, also adds a lot of new, awesome stuff into the mix, including beautifully brutal action that somehow feels more cartoonish than in the animated series. This allows the film to have glorious fight scenes that don’t glorify violence because they are too over the top for that. No one can see a high schooler do a no-handed cartwheel kick while simultaneously taking off his jacket and think, “yes, I should definitely do that the next time I get into a fight.”
That’s another thing that Tokyo Revengers improved upon: its main cast are high schoolers. In the manga and anime, they’re in middle school, which makes it a bit difficult to take them seriously.
Bloody Halloween: A Good Setup That Could Have Been so Much More
Tokyo Revengers 2 instantly sets the right tone with some great, hard-hitting action before quickly recapping the events of the first movie so that total newcomers to the series can get into it. Without spoiling anything, in the sequel, Takemichi finds out he didn’t change the past enough the first go around, so he travels through time again and gets into more fights to fix the present.
The movie isn’t a rehash of the 2021 film, though. It dedicates more of its runtime to character development and letting us know who these screaming delinquent punchers are as people. As a result, the whole thing becomes a touching drama in places, fueled by the cast’s phenomenal chemistry.
So where exactly does the movie stumble? Hanma (Hiroya Shimizu), from the rival Valhalla gang and a central figure in the story, isn’t crazy enough. The animated Hanma was an insane, grinning psychopath and a serious threat on the battlefield. You just don’t feel that with the live-action character, whose threatening demeanor has been softened for some inexplicable reason.
The same thing happens with Shotaro Mamiya’s Kisaki, the franchise’s primary villain who in the manga and anime was so terrifying, people chose to commit suicide rather than get on his bad side. That hasn’t been translated well, or at all, in the live-action version.
The Film’s Biggest Problem
Ultimately, though, Tokyo Revengers 2 simply doesn’t feel complete. It sets up all the pieces for the third live-action movie, Chi no Halloween Hen: Kessen (Bloody Halloween: Final Battle), which will premiere on June 30 this year, but it doesn’t conclude as much as it suddenly stops and says: “See you in the sequel.” It did not have to go this way.
It’s barely 90 minutes long with the prolonged cast interview at the end. This, as a bonus, also destroys your immersion in the Revengers-verse. The actual movie clocks closer to 80 minutes, which probably could’ve been cut down even further and then combined with Final Battle for a massive 2-3-hour escapist festival of violence.
Perhaps, when paired with Final Battle, Tokyo Revengers 2 will feel like a complete and satisfying live-action anime sequel. But as it stands right now, the decision to cut it in half seems like a cheap way to sell more tickets. And that takes you out of the story more than seeing the main cast out of character immediately after Part 1 ends.
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