Tokyo ESP Vol. 1 (Vertical)

TokyoESP

CREDIT: Vertical

Rating: 4.5/5 – Just Don’t Call Them the X-Men!
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Al Sparrow.

Rinka Urushiba is a struggling high-school girl trying to make her way through life in the poorer sections of Tokyo with her father, a retired policeman. Then one day she starts sinking through the floor of their tenement and winds up in the room below. No sooner can you say Kitty Pryde than a dashing young man teleports in and helps her figure out how to control her powers. No sooner can you say Kurt Wagner than her father begins to exhibit magnetic powers. No sooner can you say Magneto…well, you get the idea.

What sold me on Tokyo ESP is that the book doesn’t shy away from such comparisons. Rinka’s father looks just like an older, more mature version of Wolverine, and they even go so far as having him hold three pseudo-blades in-between his knuckles at one point. The creators are totally in on the gag, which made it easy to relax and just have fun reading it…and make no mistake, this is a very fun book, despite the seemingly grim and gritty plotlines that surround it. It’s good ol’ shonen fighting fun like mother used to bake.

One night in Tokyo, some glowing, flying fish began to appear in the sky, chased by a flying penguin – work with me here – and shortly after that, people began to develop superpowers. It doesn’t take long before these newly-endowed people begin using their powers to commit crimes or help prevent them. In this first volume (which I believe is collecting the first two volumes of the Japanese release) the battle lines are beginning to emerge.

As mentioned, it’s easy to make the connection between the super-powered entities in this book and those of another company – just don’t say the word “mutant” – but these characters certainly stand on their own merit. Rinka is every bit as cute and adorable as a certain Ms. Pryde, but she’s not necessarily a computer whiz like Shadowcat. Her sometimes unwanted partner-in-crimefighting, Kyotaro Azuma, sees his newfound power (and everyone else’s) as nothing short of a miracle and loves the idea that he can be a bona-fide superhero now. The villains are equally fun. Black Fist – who may turn out to be on the side of the angels by the end of this story – is a tough-talking girl with the power of invisibility. Small wonder she takes up burglary, right? The colorful cast of characters, as with any shonen story, is likely what will keep this series as fun and entertaining as it is.

Hajime Segawa’s crisp, detailed linework certainly doesn’t hinder matters. The fighting scenes are a veritable study in how to do them properly, which is saying something for a genre that rises and falls on its ability to craft a good battle sequence. What kept me flipping page after page, however, was the humor of the book. Despite all the fighting and seriousness going on around them, the characters manage to tread that fine line between drama and comedy without falling into goofiness. It’s not that the characters aren’t aware they’re in an insane situation, but that they acknowledge it’s all-too real to them. If Segawa can keep up that balance, I’m in for the long haul on this series. I’m hesitant to seek out the anime, as I think I want to just keep enjoying this manga for what it is: the flip-side of Tiger & Bunny (another examination of the super-hero mythos) with a less-slapstick style of humor. And nary a Professor Xavier in sight…yet.

Reviewed by: Al Sparrow
(al@comicspectrum.com
)
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