Manga were once renowned for releasing violent anime. Their Daily Mail-baiting output during the 1990s may have caused a huge amount of controversy, but it was also damn popular. Nowadays the UK anime market has changed, and sex and violence packed sci-fi action titles forms a much smaller part of it. However, it has been making a mini-comeback of late with the likes of ADV Films' New Fist of the North Star and Elfen Lied and MVM's Gantz, and now Manga are joining in.
Tokko is much more of a throwback to the 80's and 90's than Gantz and Elfen Lied. The story follows policeman Ranmaru, a talented young officer who is plagued by nightmares. Ranmaru and his sister Saya are amongst the few survivors of the Machido Massacre, a bizarre unsolved killing spree in which their parents were amongst hundreds of people massacred in an apartment complex. Both of them joined the police to bring the unknown perpetrator to justice, but now a beautiful, sword-wielding young woman haunts his dreams with increasing regularity. However, there is more behind the massacre then he knows. Strange demonic creatures are invading our world from giant pits in the ground, killing and possessing people at
will. Ranmaru's role on a special public safety task force known as Tokki soon brings him into contact with the zombie-like victims of the demons and just as their unit is about it be killed they are rescued by the girl from his dreams! She is a member of a special force within Tokki known as Tokko, and they are tasked with destroying the demonic incursion. Ranmaru is confused by all that's going on, but he will have to get his head round it, and fast. Survivors of the massacre are being hunted down by the demons, and that put him and his sister directly in the firing line...
This is a problem. Whereas Elfen Lied and
Gantz reinvented the old fashioned splatter anime into something
new, Tokko doesn't seem to. You have heroes with powers
they don't know about, hordes of disposable enemies that are dispatched
in the goriest ways imaginable, rubbish demons and scantily clad femme
fatales. It's a formula that's been seen loads of times before,
but it's always been a popular one. The plot about the demonic
incursions does have a little bit of depth to it and the characters are
relatively interesting. There is some drama and tension,
particularly when Ranmaru's sister is trapped in the hospital ward, and
some of the action is pretty stylish too.
The members of Tokko are cool and aloof, particularly Sakura, the girl from Ranmaru's dreams. However, Ranmaru himself is a bit of a weak lead character and all the character design is pretty generic. There is no real individuality about the series, and that is its main flaw. However, is it fun to watch? Well, for the most part yes. The strange little demon parasites that take over human bodies are kind of creepy and there is plenty of hack and slash action to keep you interest. It appears the parasites can only be killed by being cut out of the host body with a sword or bladed
weapon, which means that the kind of death shown in the screenshot above is quite a regular occurrence! This makes it quite a good no-brainer action series so far, but whether it can hold your interest over 13 episodes is unclear on this evidence.
Tokko really is a return to Manga's titles of the past, putting horror, gore and action over story, dialogue and character development. This isn't as bad as it sounds, just because it's a no-brainer that doesn't mean it's rubbish, it's enjoyable enough but so far it doesn't really do anything new and the animation is not that great either. However, there are some bits that could get interesting and plenty of action and horror to sink your teeth into. Tokko is Saturday night anime, get some mates round, crack open a can of beer and settle down for some head splattering action!
Quite a lot of stuff, as we have come to expect from a Manga release. Image galleries, a short Making Of feature and some footage from a Japanese Cast Forum join the usual trailers. Not bad.