Update 7/27/15 - Tokyo Ravens Anime Review

So guys, I have been kind of flaking out the last few weeks, I haven't been the best blog mommy. I know. I was really busy moving rooms and getting everything set up. Plus I was studying my ass off for my certification test as a Veterinary Technician. But now, however, is a day to celebrate. Today is my 23rd birthday! You guys have now been through two birthday's with me. I am so excited to share with you a birthday gift from me to you! Enjoy!

Anime Review: Tokyo Ravens

I have been writing this review for the last two months almost. It's part of the reason why it took so long to get regular blog posts out. I am happy to present the official Kat's Anime Corner Tokyo Ravens Anime Review. 

As many of you know, back in 2013-2014 a small 24-episode anime was released on FUNimation and I fell in love with it. Well a few months ago I bought a copy of Otaku USA and they had a review of Tokyo Ravens. I was sadly disappointed in it because it didn’t really cover the show nearly enough and it barely mentioned the English dub. I had tweeted about it and Clifford Chapin, a voice actor for FUNimation who plays the lead character Harutora, had inquired about the review. It was then that I had the idea to write a full review for the series. Well, without further damn ado, let’s get this shit started!

So before I actually start this review, I will say that you can find all the sources I used for this review at the bottom of the post. I highly advise you to purchase or watch this show legally because supporting these shows helps companies like FUNimation and Viz get the rights to more shows.

The series was originally run in Japanese from October 9th, 2013 to March 26th, 2014 and was streamed and later licensed by FUNimation in the US. The series is based off a light novel series by Kohei Azano. The 8-Bit produced series did not hit very well with the critics. Initial ratings for the show were low among anime reviewers. Now, something that I have always noticed is that critic bombs like Tokyo Ravens turn out to be huge fan favorites. I mean yes there is something left to be given from the anime series but when you have an anime series based on an ongoing Light Novel series or Manga series, you tend to have a cliffhanger type ending to the anime. Still, overall the series wasn’t quite a bomb like the reviewers thought.

Looking at Anime News Network, this is what their users gave for ratings of the show. Out of 357 ratings, here is what users voted.

Masterpiece – 31 Votes
Excellent – 74 Votes
Very Good – 109 Votes
Good – 73 Votes
Decent – 28 Votes
So-So – 9 Votes
Not Really Good – 11 Votes
Weak – 8 Votes
Bad – 5 Votes
Awful – 4 Votes
Worst Ever – 5 Votes

Like I said, the critic reviews aren’t always the review you want to read. It’s the review of the fans that truly tell you whether you’ll like it. Anime News Network, because of the user votes, has the show ranked 1459/6233.

After all this technical jargon I bet you want to know what this show is…I probably should have talked about that first. But this is me and I do everything half-ass backwards.

From the studio behind Aquarion EVOL comes a supernatural fantasy featuring otherworldly battles and forgotten promises. Tokyo Ravens is the story of an ordinary high school boy from a not-so-ordinary family. Harutora was born an ancient clan of onmyouji known for their mastery of all things occult. Unfortunately, he didn’t inherit the magical ability to see spirit energy, so he was doomed to live a normal life. At least, that is, until a mysterious girl from Harutora’s past returns to alter the course of his future! 
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, School, Supernatural
Rating: TV-14
Number of Episodes: 24 

The staff on either dub of the series is impressive and well thought out. They definitely chose appropriately for this series. Let’s talk about each crew separately.

Japanese Cast and Crew
Director – Takaomi Kanasaki
Script – Hideyuki Kurata
Music – Maiko Iuchi
Harutora Tsuchimikado – Kaito Ishikawa
Natsume Tsuchimikado – Kana Hanazawa 
Kon – Aki Toyosaki
Suzuka Dairenji – Ayane Sakura
Kyoko Kurahashi – Eri Kitamura
Miyo Kurahashi – Fumi Hirano
Tenma Momoe – Hiro Shimono 
Reiji Kagami – Hiroyuki Yoshino
Hokuto – Hisako Kanemoto
Takiko Soma – Hisako Kanemoto
Jin Otomo – Koji Yusa
Toji Ato – Ryohei Kimura 
Senjiro Kogure – Shinya Takahashi 
Chizuru Tsuchimikado – Akeno Watanabe
Atsune Hirata – Akira Ishida
Ako Kifu – Aya Hisakawa
Kakugyouki – Hiroki Yasumoto
Daizen Amami – Hiroya Ishimaru
Chihiro Mutobe – Junichi Suwabe 
Genji Kurahashi – Juurouta Kosugi
Yakou Tsuchimikado (young) – Kaito Ishikawa
Alpha – Katsumi Chou 
Omega – Kinryuu Arimoto
Mako Fujino – Kotono Mitsuishi 
Mari Yuge – Marina Inoue
Fujiwara – Mitsuo Senda
Doman Ashiya – Nobuo Tobita
Karasu-Tengu – Omi Minami
Harutora Tsuchimikado (young) – Risa Taneda 
Yakou Tsuchimikado – Ryotaro Okiayu
Shaver – Takuma Terashima
Takahiro Tsuchimikado – Tomoyuki Shimura
Iwao Miyachi – Unshou Ischizuka 
Hishamaru – Yuko Kaida

That is a lot to take in but, I promise that all these voice actors deliver. Kaito Ishikawa who plays the protagonist Harutora is known for his role as Tobio Kageyama from Haikyu and Moroha Haimura from World Break: Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman. Kana Hanazawa who plays the female protagonist Natsume is known for her role as Angel/Kanade Tachibana from Angel Beats! Most of the characters in this series are voiced by well-known actors. I sincerely love the Japanese version and I scream a little inside every time I watch the series again.

However in 2015, Funimation released the series in two parts. Tokyo Ravens Season One Part One was released April 7th, 2015 and Tokyo Ravens Season One Part Two was released on June 30th, 2015.

English Cast and Crew
ADR Director: Colleen Clinkenbeard & Zach Bolton
Script: Jamie Marchi & Tyson Rinehart
Executive Producer: Gen Fukunaga
Producer: Carly Hunter, Justin Cook, & Michael Harcourt
ADR Engineer: Cris George & Kevin Leasure
Assistant Producer: Zach Bolton
Head Writer: John Burgmeier

Natsume Tsuchimikado – Caitlin Glass
Harutora Tsuchimikado – Clifford Chapin
Takiko Soma – Felecia Angelle
Touji Ato – Ian Sinclair
Jin Otomo – J. Michael Tatum
Suzuka Dairenji – Jad Saxton
Reiji Kagami – Jarrod Greene
Senjiro Kogure – Joel McDonald
Tenma Momoe – Josh Grelle
Kyoko Kurahashi – Leah Clark
Kon – Monica Rial 
Hokuto – Tia Ballard
Miyo Kurahashi – Wendy Powell
Iwao Miyachi – Alex Organ 
Hou’oubiden – Alexis Tipton
Mari Yuge – Alexis Tipton
Alpha – Andrew Chandler 
Kokuryuu – Apphia Yu
Doman Ashiya (young) – Austin Tindle
Fujiwara – Charles Campbell
Omega – Chris Guerrero 
Kakugyouki – Christopher R. Sabat
Yakou Tsuchimikado – Clifford Chapin
Chihiro Mutobe – David Wald
Tougo Miyoshi – Jason Kane
Shaver – Jerry Jewell 
Kousaka – John Burgmeier
Genji Kurahashi – John Swasey
Daizen Amami – Kent Williams
Mako Fujino – Laura Wetsel 
Suzu Saotome – Lindsay Seidel 
Atsune Hirata – Micah Solusad
Doman Ashiya – Michael Johnson 
Dassai – Michelle Rojas
Takahiro Tsuchimikado – Mike McFarland
Hishamaru – Monica Rial
Reisen – Morgan Garrett 
Etou – Patrick Seitz
Chizuru Tschimikado – Rachel Robinson 
Yasuzumi Tsuchimikado – Robert McCollum
Ako Kifu – Skyler McIntosh 
Reisen – Terri Doty 
Yashamaru – Todd Haberkorn
Makihara – Vic Mignogna

At first when they announced that there would be an English dub of Tokyo Ravens I was skeptical, but then they announced the cast and I was a little more open to the idea. It wasn’t until I watched episode one in English that I was hooked. It was Attack on Titan’s Connie Springer and the BroadcastDub Laughing Under the Clouds’ Mutsuki Ashiya that had me fall in love with Clifford Chapin. Then he went on to voice Moroha Haimura in the BroadcastDub of World Break: Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman. I knew that I would love his voice as Harutora. As far as Caitlin Glass goes, what can’t that woman do? She played the lovable Haruhi in Ouran High School Host club as well as had us falling in love with the wrench-wielding Winry Rockbell in Fullmetal Alchemist. She brings something of a mix between those two characters to the cross-dressing, traditional Natsume. Plus even though they recorded their parts separately, there is a cute chemistry between Clifford and Caitlin that works for their respective characters.

When I saw that they brought in the big guns Ian Sinclair and J. Michael Tatum, I was sold. Ian Sinclair, if you read my VA Spotlight you’ll understand why I was on board after his announcement, played the goofball chef Bardroy in Black Butler as well as the cool captain Hirato in Karneval and he played the struggling Ryner Lute in The Legend of Legendary Heroes. On the other end of that is the smooth J. Michael Tatum. He played opposite Ian in all three shows. He played sensual demon butler Sebastian Michaelis in Black Butler, the goofy captain Tsukitachi, and the dark mage Miran Froward. Both bring something sexy to their characters that make them stand out despite being side characters.

Then you have the cute duo Jad Saxton and Tia Ballard who are most famously known for playing the cute Exceed sidekicks Carla and Happy, respectively. I love them both dearly and they are so darling. Heehee. See what I did there? Besides playing the Exceeds of team Natsu in Fairy Tail, the two are known for their own roles. Jad Saxton is well known for her role as Sena Kashiwazaki in the hilarious comedy anime Haganai as well as the serious Koneko Tojo in the voluptuous High School DxD. She takes her stand as the cute, genius Suzuka in Tokyo Ravens and she delivers. Now her counterpart in Fairy Tail, Tia Ballard plays the cute childhood friend Hokuto. Miss Ballard has a lot of anime under her belt as does Miss Saxton. Some of the better known roles of Tia are the purrfect Eris from Cat Planet Cuties, the adorable Yoshino from Date a Live, the stalker Mizore Shirayuki from Rosario + Vampire, and the falling apart zombie Rea Sanka from Sankarea.

I saved the best for last. This FUNimation dub wouldn’t get my gold stamp if it didn’t have my two powerhouse voice actresses and my heartbreaking favorite voice actor. First up, playing a cool and collected classmate of Suzuka is the one and only zombie-obsessed Terri Doty. With her and Tatum in the same anime I remember the days of That Anime Show. Next playing the roles of Kon the cute fox shikigami who follows Master Harutora everywhere and the devoted Yakou shikigami Hishamaru is the amazingly wonderful queen of the vampires…I mean queen of the host club…I mean, oh hell, it’s Monica Rial! Monica as I have so wonderfully introduced is known for playing the Queen of the Vampires Mina Tepes in Dance in the Vampire Bund (most recently she plays the Third Progenitor “Queen of the Vampires” Krul Tepes in Seraph of the End) and the Otaku Queen/Manager of the Host Club Renge in Ouran High School Host Club. Last but certainly not least, what would a favorite anime of mine be without the one and only Todd Haberkorn. I was honestly shocked when I heard his voice as Shido “Professor” Dairenji and the Souma Princess’ shikigami Yashamaru. Most of the time I look into EVERY article I can get my hands on to find out who is going to be whom, but for this series, I didn’t. I wanted to be surprised when I heard the voices. Okay I know I said previously that I read the announcement article, but that is different. That was to convince myself to watch the English dub. At the point of Todd’s involvement (Part Two of Season One) I had already been invested in the series.

As a result of good casting, I’d say that FUNimation got another one right. Good Job FUNi! 
Now, something that you all know is a Pass/Fail for me is the opening credit. Well, have no fear! Tokyo Ravens did it right! In both the opening and ending credits, you get a glimpse at what you should expect.

Opening Credit 1: 
“X-encounter” by Maon Kurosaki 
This opening credit gives you a look at the character design and shows all the main characters while also giving a feel for what you should expect. Plus the song by Maon Kurosaki gives a good feel for show. In all the first opening credit gets you pumped for the show. 

Ending Credit 1: 
“Kimi ga Emu Yugure” by Yoshino Nanjo
This ending credit is more light hearted than the opening credit and casts a light on the soft romance that is intermixed into the series. It mainly features clips of Natsume and the other characters throughout Tokyo then it cuts to Natsume and Harutora in the country where they first met. It is very beautiful and fitting. 

Opening Credit 2: 
“Outgrow” by GERO
This opening has a lot of the same clips from the first opening credit but brings in new clips that show off the bonds formed between the characters. Standout scenes for me are the scenes between Harutora and Natsume as well as between Touji and Suzuka. It also focuses a lot more on Harutora who becomes the main protagonist in the second half of the show. You can also feel the shift of focus from Natsume to Harutora with the addition of Gero’s song in comparison to Maon Kurosaki’s song in the first opening credit. 

Ending Credit 2: 
“Break a Spell” by Mami Kawada
This ending credit takes on a techno feel that you didn’t get in the first ending credit. It fits a lot more with the building of the characters and the story. It focuses on Harutora and Natsume again leading more to the feeling of the revival of Yakou Tsuchimikado even alluding to it at the last scene. 

In Otaku USA, they said: “You might expect those battles to at least be visually engaging based on the show’s slick OP, which takes a couple cues from Attack on Titan’s second opening (not surprising, since From the New World’s Masashi Ishihama directed both Ops). Alas, the production from studio 8-bit (Walkure Romance, Infinite Stratos) looks nice enough all the way through, but there are only a few scenes showcasing any notable action animation or particularly well-timed comedy”. Harsh, I know, but in all honesty, there were times where the timing felt off or more or less awkward. However, I think that is the part that makes me love it so much. I almost feel like the studio purposely did it that way to help elicit an actual response from the audience. I felt like I connected more with the characters during that time.

So I went to Twitter (on my Kat’s Anime Corner account) and asked the English voice actors to let me know their favorite part of the series. I received comments back from Monica Rial (Kon) and Clifford Chapin (Harutora).

Clifford’s response was, “That time I fainted in the booth”. Which he talks about a lot! I even found out from him a little while later that Zach Bolton who was the director of the second part kept that part in the actual show.

Monica’s response was, “Tail harassment ;)”. I had to laugh because I completely agree. Those were some of the funniest parts from the show. If you follow me on Twitter you saw that I even tweeted something on my Kat’s Anime Corner account about Kon’s harassment in the show’s commentary.

After reading their responses, I really wanted to know more. So I finally broke down and bought the series on Blu-Ray/DVD. Thankfully I did because the commentary goes into depth about certain bits of the show. I absolutely love it! The series comes with audio and video commentary. There is nothing better than listening to the voice actors discuss the show and well let’s be honest things that aren’t even related to the show. The first commentary on Part One is for episode 5 which features Monica Rial, Clifford Chapin, and Ian Sinclair (Touji). The second commentary on Part One is episode 7 and is a video which features Clifford Chapin, Colleen Clinkenbeard (ADR Director), Monica Rial, and Ian Sinclair. The third commentary on Part One is episode 12 which features Caitlin Glass (Natsume), Jad Saxton (Suzuka), and Leah Clark (Kyoko). The commentaries continue onto Part Two and the first commentary is for episode 14 which features Clifford Chapin, J. Michael Tatum (Jin), and Michael Johnson (Doman). The second commentary on Part Two is for episode 18 and is a video which features Zach Bolton (ADR Director), Caitlin Glass, Jad Saxton, and Leah Clark. The third commentary on Part Two is for episode 23 which features Josh Grelle (Tenma), Austin Tindle (Doman – young), and Jarrod Greene (Reiji). I laughed so very hard while watching the commentaries that I probably couldn’t tell you everything they said. I highly recommend buying the series so you can watch them. They give you a good insight into the world.

I still haven’t figured out what scenes it was that caused Clifford to faint but I have narrowed it down to the second part and I have a feeling that it is in one of my favorite episodes. It is most definitely a great convention story that Clifford can share in the future. A cool thing about the video commentary is that we get to see the voice actors and, I am blushing while saying this but, Clifford is really cute. If you are into his kind of guy…or guys at all. Okay…we’re done talking about this, because I am seriously blushing and I don’t want to spend my 23rd birthday looking like a human-sized tomato. I hate tomatoes.

Well, back to the DVD/Blu-Ray of Tokyo Ravens. I am in love with all the bonus features that come with this series. Tokyo Ravens Season One Part One comes with the following: Episode 5 Commentary, Episode 7 Video Commentary, Kon Explains It All! #1, Kon Explains It All! #2, Episode 12 Commentary, Textless Opening & Closing Songs, and Trailers. Tokyo Ravens Season One Part Two comes with the following: Episode 14 Commentary, Episode 18 Video Commentary, Kon Explains It All! #3, Episode 23 Commentary, Textless Opening & Closing Songs, and Trailers. They are all awesome bonus features and I have no doubt that others will love them as much as me.

Overall I like to think that FUNimation did a hell of a job dubbing this amazing series. Here's to hoping that Japan will produce a season two that we can get further enjoyment out of.

You can watch Tokyo Ravens on FUNimation here.

Available on BluRay/DVD through FUNimation here.

Also on iTunes:
Tokyo Ravens (Original Japanese Version).
Tokyo Ravens Season One Part One.
Tokyo Ravens Season One Part Two.

Well guys, this was a ton of fun and I hope that you guys enjoy this. I really loved writing it and it was awesome to tweet with Clifford and Monica about the show. A big shout out to FUNimation for buying the rights to the show and a huge shout out to all the Japanese creators without whom we'd be bored.

Until next week guys!

Ja ne!

xx Kat

(Sources: Tokyo Ravens - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaTokyo Ravens - FUNimation!Tokyo Ravens (TV) - Anime News Network)


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