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"Tokyo Underground" Vol. 3: Out of Sight, But Not Out of Mind

by on September 20, 2005

Unfortunately, the title “Tokyo Underground” is indicative of this show’s fate: underground popularity. It won’t be breaking any sales records or be remembered for its intellectual depth or storytelling innovation. It will probably fade into obscurity. And that’s a shame, actually. Sure, it’s not Fullmetal Alchemist, Mobile Suit Gundam, or Evangelion, but at the end of the day, it’s a good way to pass a few hours.

The main plot is an interesting sci-fi/action tale about an society living underneath Tokyo. Escapees Chelsea and Ruri (two girls gifted with amazing fighting powers) team up with tough guy Rumina and his dorky buddy Ginosuke (who both also possess amazing fighting powers, naturally) and together, they battle the forces of the underground. The characters are all quirky and funny, save Rumina. I’ve always felt that a series’ strength is its supporting cast, but Rumina is just such a one-dimensional hothead that I find myself groaning whenever he has screen time.

Thankfully this volume deals more with Ruri and her struggle to keep from being sacrificed in an upcoming ritual by contrived-yet-still-ultra-cool bad guy Pairon (who looks an awful lot like Sakyo from Yu Yu Hakusho). This subplot proves far more interesting than the Ronin Warriors-esque fights that Rumina and Chelsea take part in.

As uninteresting as the fights are, I have to admit that they are well done and feature some clever finishes. A major plus is that they don’t seem to be the focus of the series. As of this volume, the full secrets of what the underground actually is haven’t been completely revealed yet, and the subtle hint-dropping and slow pace is wonderful.

Picture and sound quality are good. Dub-wise, Tokyo Underground is an odd case. Sure, it’s functional, but Brad Swaile, who’s normally a terrific VA, just doesn’t seem to click as Rumina. Major credit goes to David Kaye as Pairon, though. His smooth and calculating voice does wonders to make this character even more interesting. I’m also glad that the director decided to take a chance on a few of Ocean Studio’s lesser known voice actors and actresses, as I was particularly intrigued by Chelsea’s voice. Meanwhile, I’ve never heard of the group that did the theme song, but it rocks, and I’d love to hear more by them.

The term “special features” cannot be used with a straight face to describe this disc’s extras: an art gallery.

Basically, if you don’t like fight scenes where the characters call out the names of their attacks, and the generic, typical anime-styled character designs, then Tokyo Underground isn’t for you. If you do though, you’ll find a fair plot, some truly funny bits, and some really hot babes, so pick it up.

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