Draken and Mikey

How Tokyo Revengers Has Renewed My Love for Anime Delinquents

Make sure that kid's meal comes with a flag

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Spoilers for Tokyo Revengers episodes 1 – 7

There’s a kid walking down the street with a bandage on their cheek from a fistfight and a pompadour hairstyle that, no matter what decade it is, will always be in style for them.

Your instincts tell you to hide in the trash can before they toss you in themselves, but to your surprise, the delinquent is busy living their best life with their found family of thugs, riding a bicycle down the sidewalk as they talk about dreams of becoming a hairstylist.

Huh. Maybe these punks aren’t all that bad, in fact, maybe they’re some of the kindest, more determined kids roaming the streets who have no problem kicking a rapist in the face while wearing flip-flops.

Let’s talk about anime delinquents and how series like Tokyo Revengers continue to give troublemakers a good name. If you want more details on the series itself, check out my write-up here about the first three episodes.

Be sure to watch Tokyo Revengers over at Crunchyroll.

  • They try to make the most of unfortunate circumstances

Draken

While not every delinquent in the animeverse has had an emotionally taxing upbringing, there are those that have who, somehow, manage to roll with the punches. Draken—the Vice President of Toman, the main gang of the series—never knew his father, his mother was a prostitute who abandoned him when he was 2, and he grew up in the red light district in Shibuya. Despite this, he manages to be a voice of reason to his gang, especially to its leader, Mikey, and is recognized by the main character, Takemichi, as Mikey’s heart.

Draken never shows regret about his upbringing and the world he’s a part of, he actually seems to enjoy his life and the bond he has with Mikey and the rest of Toman. His growing up in a brothel is just the way he grew up, and he just leaves it at that.

Takemichi is another example of making the most of a bad situation. With him being able to travel back in time, he has a chance to change the fate of his one and only love, Hinata. Since this is time travel, this can (and does) go wrong. While that is his main focus, I was pleasantly surprised that even with the pain of losing Hinata and, now, one of his best friends, Takemichi continues to make the most out of the situation he’s in. This includes him spending more time with those he cares about, but also making up for his lackluster adult life. Even when he’s getting his ass thoroughly kicked, he always manages to make the most of it because he’s not acting like the weak-willed adult who lets others walk all over him.

He’s clearly learning from the delinquents around him and shaping up to be a better person along the way.

  • They have a fierce sense of loyalty toward those they care about

Pah

While I expected to see this with Takemichi since the story focuses on him going back in time to prevent a devastating tragedy (now TWO of them), I was surprised to see that Toman (the gang that causes Hinata’s death in the future) is actually a bunch of kids who are very much a family.

When the gang finds out that 3rd Division Captain, Pah, had a friend who was severely hurt by another gang, that friend’s girlfriend raped in front of him, Mikey doesn’t hesitate to say that Pah can rely on Toman to take revenge. Even with Pah pointing out that going up against the gang (Mobius) would be a lot of trouble, Mikey and Toman have no problem with going after Mobius because of the damage they’ve done to the people Pah cares about.

They could’ve easily stayed out of it, hell, they could’ve even made Pah let things go, but they not only support Pah, but Mikey also lets Pah fight against the Mobius leader (Osanai) even if Pah doesn’t stand a chance. Pah is easily defeated by Mobius’ leader, but Mikey reassures him that he didn’t lose the fight. What matters, at that moment, is that Pah wanted to defend his friends, and since he got to do that, he’s the winner in Mikey’s eyes.

  • They’re often misunderstood/have a heart of gold

Takemichi learns, along with the rest of us, that Mikey isn’t nearly as awful in the past as he is in the present. In the past, Mikey was someone who would put a stop to fight clubs that were going on within Toman because it gave the gang a bad name. While the main plot has Takemichi trying to figure out what the hell changed to cause Mikey, and Toman, to go off the rails in the future, we get to see that Mikey is someone who’s been trying to do what’s best.

It’s not just Mikey, though, as we get to see the influences around him and how he’s come to rely on characters like Draken, who remind him what they’re fighting for, and how they should work to clean up their messes without involving innocent people. Even if what happened with Mobius isn’t Toman’s fault, Draken and Mikey take responsibility, giving the victim’s parents someone to blame and giving themselves the task of punishing Mobius for their crimes.

  • They understand their shortcomings and work to do better

Takemichi

Takemichi.

Hands down.

What’s truly amazing about Takemichi as a protagonist is that he’s clearly not as physically strong as the people around him. He gets beaten up at any, and every, opportunity, but his greatest quality is that he keeps getting back up. Since he’s looking at everything as an adult, he’s fully aware of his shortcomings, and since so much is on the line he is constantly trying to be someone that everyone can rely on.

While the plot is about him going back in time to save Hinata, in a lot of ways, the main focus is him going back to become a better person who doesn’t bow his head and apologize for things he should NOT be sorry for. He may have run away from what was going on when he was in middle school, but now that he’s a time-traveling adult, he’s going back to do things in a more satisfying way (with some time-travel hardship, of course).

  • They have a strong code of honor code that, when broken, they’ll atone for

Pah bloody

Back to that whole Mobius altercation. While it does end in an overwhelming victory since Mikey, then Draken, makes Osanai get intimate with the pavement, Pah isn’t completely satisfied with the turn of events.

He wants Osanai to truly pay for what he did.

So he stabs him.

While you’d think that a bunch of gang members wouldn’t give a shit about that, Toman very much operates with fair fights. Once a fight is done, it’s done, and they certainly don’t bring weapons to the battle. Pah stabbing Osanai is seen as taking things too far, and even Pah recognizes the mistake he made. In order to make things right, Pah stays behind so he can be taken away by the police. While it’s not a decision that Mikey agrees with since he doesn’t want to lose Pah, Draken goes along with it since Pah has decided to step up and hold himself accountable for his actions.

Again, not what I was expecting to see amongst of group of troublemakers, and I’m personally playing the tiniest violin for seeing a rapist get stabbed, but delinquents in anime come equipped with a code of honor that they live by, and if they falter, they make sure they atone for it.

 

  • They’re just cute okay?!

Especially when they’re underestimated.

Or waiting for the kid’s meal to have a flag put in it.

Mikey

I just like murder kittens, okay?

Tokyo Revengers is just the latest in a longstanding tradition of anime delinquents being a bunch of wholesome kids (or adults, depending on the series) who make you see the benefit of not judging a book by its well-worn, somewhat bloody cover. If you’re watching Tokyo Revengers, whose your favorite delinquent so far? And if you’re a fan of anime delinquents in general, who are some of your favorite “I’ll punch you in the face but also save a kid from a speeding vehicle at the cost of my own life” characters?

via GIPHY

(Image: Ken Wakui, KODANSHA/TOKYO REVENGERS Anime Production Committee)

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Author
Briana Lawrence
Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)