Tokko Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: D
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Manga UK
  • MSRP: ┬£19.99
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Letterbox Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tokko

Tokko Vol. #1

By Dani Moure     March 15, 2007
Release Date: March 19, 2007


Tokko Vol. #1
© Manga UK


What They Say
The Box Of Dirge is open and all Hell is about to break loose on the streets of Japan!

Shindou Ranmaru has just graduated from police academy and assigned to Tokki: Special Mobile Investigation Force. On the day of his graduation, he meets the half-naked girl he has been seeing in his dreams, Rokujo Sakura. It turns out she works for a secret group within Tokki, known as Tokko: Special Public Safety Task Force. Shindou ends up joining Tokko to avenge his parents' death, and solve the mystery mass murder of residents in his hometown of Machida.

Bottomless pits start to appear around Japan, and mysterious creatures emerge from them, linked to the mass murder of humans.

Tokko is the new, blood, guts and sexy action-packed horror anime from studio AIC Spirits (Burn Up Scramble).

The Review!
Manga bring over a brand new series, right up with the US release, and Tokko proves to be a lot of fun in the traditional Manga style.

Audio:
For my review, I listened to a mixture of the Japanese and English DTS mixes. Dialogue sounds good, with most coming from the centre channel. Sound effects and music really shine though, with plenty of directionality at various points that is really noticeable and makes the show feel more immersive. I didn't notice any technical issues with either track as I listened.

The English dub is interesting; produced by Bang Zoom it works out really well for the most part, with all the main actors really seeming to fit their roles and find their feet right away. There is a fair bit of profanity in there, but it does feel as if it fits the tone of the show.

Video:
The video looks really good, with colours coming out very well in both the dark and lighter moments. The colour palette is quite drab at times, but is reproduced well and the video looks crisp and clear for the most part. I didn't notice any artifacting as I watched either.

Subtitles are in a white font which is easily readable, but unfortunately (and very disappointingly) they are dubtitles.

Packaging:
No packaging was included as this was a check disc.

Menu:
The menus are quite basic, with several still images of the characters from the show rotating in to view, taking the main portion of the screen, with the show's logo and the selections at the bottom of the menu. The opening theme plays over this screen, while the sub-menus are all static with no music playing.

Extras:
Despite the extras on the first US release, and listings to the contrary coming from Manga's PR company, the only extra other than trailers on disc one is an image allery (still images looping to the opening theme) on the second.ss

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Tokko is just the type of show any anime fan that was around during the 90s UK anime boom would just expect Manga UK to pick up. Though they've made leaps and bounds over the past couple of years in branching out into different genres, Tokko just exudes the sort of violence and language that was a staple of their catalogue back in the day, and that they're clearly still a little bit partial to.

Based on a manga by Tohru Fujisawa, best known in the west for GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka, Tokko sets up a nice story in its first volume that introduces several plot threads to draw us in to its tangled web. Said story revolves around a young man called Shindo, who lives with his sister, Saya. Both of them work in the police force, with Shindo having just been promoted to Inspector. Their parents were viciously murdered five years ago, along with everyone else in their apartment complex.

It's not the most original start (though the slightly odd nature of Saya and Shindo's relationship isn't particularly standard), but things start moving when, in his first day on the new job, Shindo meets a member of the Second Division (him being in First). She takes a liking to him, and when he talks with his friends in First about her, they start telling him rumours about Second's nickname being Tokko, and they apparently carry swords and deal with the undead.

Shindo rights it off, but when he actually runs in to a member of the undead, only a red-headed babe, sword in tow, can save him. And that's the first episode in a nutshell. Naturally, the rumours turned out to be true and Second Division is indeed "Tokko", and they do deal with the undead. The red-head turns out to be a girl called Sakura, who ends up having more in common with Shindo than first expected, having also been a survivor of the Matsuda apartment complex murders.

The show establishes several relationships and elements that promise to grow ad change as the series continues. As you'd expect, there is tension from offset between First and Second Divisions once Tokko start showing up at all the crime scenes and killing the undead. The initially mysterious link between Sakura and Shindo is slowly revealed through the course of his dreams, and as more characters are introduced these relationships start to twist, turn and intertwine.

I really liked how the story developed over the course of the remaining episodes. Every episode so far seemed to contain something plot-related that was either resolved from a previous event or introduced as a new element, and by the end of the volume there are several things already starting to be answered leading towards what will be the more final conclusions.

The characters also make up an interesting group. As the lead protagonist, Shindo is actually very likeable and very natural. He is easy to relate to as a person trying to come to grips with all the changes in his world going on around him, and he seems to make most of the choices your average person would make in the same situation (rather than doing something insanely stupid, that so many anime characters do). His sister bounces off him really well too, although her tendency to take the relationship in to more disturbing territory is, well, disturbing at times.

Sakura is a fairly typical anime babe surrounded by some mystery, but she works well in the context of the story as more about her is revealed. The Chief is a whole lot of fun, his attitude being hilarious and providing a great deal of comic relief in with the drama. His character actually typifies the series as a whole for this first volume, as the more intense drama is interspersed at select times, such as the moments with Shindo and Saya, or when the characters are in the lecture hall in the first episode, with some comedy that works as light relief rather than seeming forced.

With the story just beginning to heat up by the volume, as we start to find out more about the undead and Shindo's relationship with them, see the emergence of the mark on his arm and so on, it looks like the show will be good. The animation quality isn't the best you'll ever see, but it does the job well enough without having any particularly stand-out moments. The music is really fitting to the action, with a good opening and ending theme to boot.

My only disappointment with this disc is in the technical area. As is becoming a bit of a bad trend lately on Manga discs, Tokko is dubtitled, despite the fact that the US release isn't. Why on earth Manga UK don't just use the US release's subtitles is beyond me, because it becomes blindingly obvious at some points that the subtitles, while probably conveying the meaning, aren't particularly accurate to the dialogue. Lines like "This blows hard [...] it really does blow" don't really help matters. Despite heavy profanity at times (which does seem quite in-character for the show), there don't seem to be any great changes to the dialogue from what I could tell. The chapter stops are also oddly placed, so there is no chapter stop before the opening (after the prologue) or after the ending (before the next episode preview). It's a bit disappointing, but ultimately these issues didn't stop me enjoying the disc a great deal.

In Summary:
Despite some frustrating technical issues with the disc, I enjoyed the first volume of Tokko a great deal. What I expected to be a purely mindless violence kind of show turned out to have a really interesting story that builds up well over the course of time, and the characters and their relationships were very enjoyable too. There are a few clich├ęs and things at times, but overall the series gets off to a very good start and I am looking forward to more.

Features
Japanese Language (2.0; 5.1 & DTS),English Language (2.0; 5.1 & DTS),English Subtitles,Image Gallery

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Philips DVP 5100 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, Pioneer HTP-GS1 5.1 Surround Sound System.

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