After weeks and weeks of training, our characters don’t quite throw down like I had expected at the end of last week’s post. Instead, the bad guys just flat-out win. This isn’t necessarily the problem; lots of stories do this sort of thing. As the saying goes, “The darkest hour is just before the dawn.” So the bad guys will have their way, and our heroes will just have to pick up the pieces somehow. Therein lies the drama. Basically, Minami and her posse of catty girls attack Rinka’s school simply because Rinka is there. They make an example of her in case anyone else tries to stand up against them. To facilitate this, they even broadcast Rinka’s beating to the entire country. So Rinka gets beaten up, Kyotaro can’t lend a hand because he’s being mind-controlled, and even Peggi gets kidnapped. In fact, Rinka was beaten up so badly that the magical fish left her body, thinking she was dead.
Then afterwards, as an overreaction to a school being attacked, the government establishes an Esper Detainment Force. Keeping true to their namesake, they go around detaining espers regardless of where those espers stand. This is likely what the bad guys wanted. This now gives them the carte blanche to do whatever it is that they want to do, and, well, we’ve already seen the first episode of the series. We know the Professor and his cronies will take over the Diet. We just don’t know how Rinka will recover in time to fight back. As I’ve said, the girl’s lost her powers. Not only that, both Rinka’s dad and her master gets captured trying to help escape. Afraid that she’ll hurt Murasaki too, Rinka despairs and runs away to God knows where. Meanwhile, Minami has stranded Kyotaro on a tropical island. So… that’s where we stand. The good guys are basically in ruins. So was this an effective episode? Eh…
The problem for me is that I don’t buy the bad guys’ actions. First, we get a bunch of flashbacks from Minami’s perspective. These flashbacks are supposed to shed light on both her and her father’s characters. In her youth, he had returned home one day heavily injured around the face. He also confesses to Minami that her mother had died. One night, the Professor cried over the loss of his wife. Unbeknownst to him, Minami was standing nearby. The sight of her father in such a vulnerable state left such a mark on the girl that she promised to protect him at all costs. Then we see how Minami came to get her powers. Apparently, she was almost gang-raped by three hoodlums. Thanks to a magical golden fish, however, she was able to avoid this fate, but in the process, she had killed three… three rapists. Still, anyone would be shaken up by their first killing, much less three. So long story short, she and her father cast off their humanity!
Minami and her father intend to rebuild the world from the ground up, and this new world will be the one where Minami’s mother never would’ve died! The problem is, I don’t buy it. First, I think the Professor’s story is very weak. Yeah, the world is full of injustice. Yeah, your wife died. But you’re going to murder a countless number of people, instigate what is essentially a race war, and throw society into chaos because your wife died? That is pathetic, dude. Seriously, I’ve seen plenty of similar characters. They often wrestle with their feelings. Obviously, they feel a lot of hate towards the world because a loved one has just died. But at the same time, they’ll ask themselves, “Is this what my wife would’ve wanted me to do?” I don’t see that level of character development from the Professor. I don’t see that level of introspection. The thing is, the Professor acts like he’s Magneto (har har), but he doesn’t have Magneto’s story.
Magneto does what he does because he’s had to live through the fuckin’ Holocaust. He’s had to see millions of his own people systematically murdered and slaughtered at the hands of the Nazis. I can thus understand his extreme hatred and distrust for humanity. But even then, Magneto had more heart than the Professor. I don’t recall Magneto sending his thugs to beat up schoolchildren just to prove a point. Meanwhile, all the Professor did was lose his wife. That can’t be it, can it? So out of curiosity, I looked up some spoilers. It turns out there is a big government conspiracy, and that’s the reason why his wife was killed. Apparently, the guy who killed his wife ended up slitting his own throat in the middle of an intersection, and in the Professor’s mind, this proves without a doubt that the enemies are super powerful or something. And as a result, the Professor no longer believes that this world can’t be saved. Uh, okay. Y’know what? This makes the story dumber than I had previously thought.
You’re going to hurt millions of people just because of a small group of people involved in a government conspiracy? Really? Magneto wants to establish a new world order because he’s seen first hand how people — normal people, even — can a blind eye to the horrendous treatment of his people. Meanwhile, the Professor gives up on the world because a government conspiracy killed his wife, a conspiracy few people even know about! How can you just give up on the world because of a handful of people? No, the Esper Detainment Force is not a good excuse either, because it only came about as a result of the Professor and his group’s actions. Likewise, his underlings make no sense either, and I’m talking about these girls that Minami just recruited. I know that they’ve been through a lot; I know one of them almost got raped or whatever (apparently, everyone almost gets raped). But who the fuck goes from that to beating up a school in such a short amount of time?
I don’t care if I have a lot of anger towards society. I don’t go and beat up a school full of children because of it. As such, I don’t understand the bad guys’ actions whatsoever. The Professor’s crimes aren’t proportional to his pain. He’s not a compelling antagonist. He’s just an asshole. The same is true of the girls in this week’s episode. Blah blah blah, they’re the bad guys so they’re being bad. But that’s what I mean. This is boring good vs. evil nonsense. Antagonists can simply be people who have a skewed world view because of what they’ve been through. What I’m saying is that the bad guys in Tokyo ESP haven’t been through enough shit to justify the skewed world view that they have. They just look like a bunch of bullies and thugs. And if that’s what you want to portray, fine. But the way I see it, if the antagonists’ stories and motives aren’t compelling, then the narrative will suffer greatly because of it.
Oh yeah, the animation was pretty bad in this week’s episode. Embarrassingly bad. I guess Argevollen got all the bigger budget. Oh well, it does have a fancy mecha to sell…