10 Tokyo Warriors: Vol. 1
It doesn't take long before you realize anime has several layers of quality. The A-list consists of movie theatre quality, the shows/films you would show to people who dismiss anime as purely kid's stuff. Then, there are genuinely good shows which are suited for people open to learning about Japanese culture or already know a little, so they understand the 'in' jokes (e.g. holidays at the hot springs, bells and fireworks on New Year's, and the diversity of vending machines).
Next is the Z-list... 10 Tokyo Warriors is not entirely bad -- as I've seen a lot worse -- but it's not great either. When the cover alone invokes memories of X: The Movie and Silent Mobius, you understand this isn't going to be excellent animation time.
A straightforward DVD menu contains scene selection and language set-up for the standard dub/sub option with an English language audio and subtitle selection. Of the four trailers, I only recognized one title: Iria, which has a special edition coming out. The teasers were in the style that I love to MST3K: a string of clips set to horrible generic music. Apparently, we're supposed to judge titles based solely on these scant clues. Sadamitsu looks to be The Mask set in the future, with mecha and frantic Mexican music. Figure 17 is about two little girls who merge together to form a weird goddess-lady, and there are two adults who ride flying Skidoos, killing reject Angels from Evangelion. Zenki is like Dragonball Z, but with a very energetic song where "ZENKI!" gets shouted a lot. Hey, you just got three reviews for the price of one!
10 Tokyo Warriors opens up, literally, in the middle of things, and I spent three episodes trying to figure out what the story is and who the characters were. A small introduction shows the story of ten warriors who battled the Demon King 400 years ago and lost. However, they must have won, because he is sealed. Switch to present day, where we open with an angst-ridden boy and a guy in a white military uniform. Obviously, Angst Boy does not like taking orders. We learn later his name is Jutto Segu, a Demon Fighter who has the power of light. 400 years ago, his name was Jusho (sometimes subtitled as Jussho) and everyone keeps alluding to something that happened way back then. He, being the Angst Boy, refuses to listen to everyone else, especially older Demon Fighters. As it happens, his mother was killed by a Kyouma right in front of his eyes, and Kyoshiro, the defacto leader of the 10 Warriors, could do nothing; hence Jutto's disobedience and Squall Complex.
Slowly, we get a handle on the current crisis. Said seal on the Demon King is weakening, and demons (the Kyouma) are crossing the boundary into the world, possessing people and working to free their king. The only people who can stop them are the 10 Warriors, reincarnated from 400 years ago. They are: Kyoshiro Kagami, Warrior of the Mirror and a private inspector; Hagiri, a schoolgirl and Warrior of Fire (she tosses lighters or fireworks; we only see this attack once); Jingo, a blonde trendy teenage boy who uses wind attacks; Futuba Amitaka, a quiet girl who uses paper charms; Nanao, a computer geek who attacks with monofiber threads; Rokumon, a reporter/photographer who uses plants; Narutoki, a blind priest who refuses to accept his destiny; Jutto, Warrior of Light; and Kokono Kifu, a country girl new to the city who summons a Sacred Beast (a firebird) through her pet mouse, Tsuina. (Kokono Kifu seems to have some sort of connection with Jutto in his previous life.) Last is Hajime Shirogane, Warrior of Martial Arts and former commander of the 10 Warriors through telepathy. He is the same white uniformed man mentioned before. He thinks winning the war is impossible and he wants to make a compromise with the Kyouma to co-exist with them... something that both the Kyouma and Kyoshiro disagree with because there can only be one. The current leader of the Kyouma seems to be Lord Shindagan, who is a naked woman with long black hair concealing certain areas. (I think someone made a translation error.) We only see her/him once, so how he/she plays into the series is still up for grabs, yet I was getting a weird Sailor Moon vibe... You know, how the middle-level villain only survives long enough for a good fight episode and to hint at who is the real enemy. Or this is a prequel to some hentai of the city-wide Revenge of the Overfiend variety.
The music is horrible. I didn't really notice music within the episodes, so it must be nondescript. The opening song is okay, but the ending songs seem to be garage bands randomly selected; that's how disjointed they are to this anime. They vary from a cutesy, fluffy song that belongs in a romance comedy to a very depressing Radiohead-ish song.
Animation quality deserves a paragraph of its own. I've seen it described as manga panels, and that's probably dead on. You really get a feeling from the 'in media res' beginning that you've just opened the first volume at a random page. The framing of the scenes is done in manga-style, in that each movement looks like it could be drawn, or conversely, that it was picked straight off a page. The animation is so flat that at times I was looking for word bubbles. Beyond the style, there was a lot of corner-cutting done. During a few scenes I could literally see the levels of cels; the background, foreground, characters, et cetera. For a train moving in front of the characters, the train cel was just moved across the screen, a trick that animation students learn in school, but it should never be obvious to the viewer. Motion on the train was shown by bouncing the frame up and down, and some characters spoke without mouth flaps or just lurked in the background, mouth open for no reason, while other characters talked on for minutes. These things might not be as noticeable to someone else, but they were glaringly obvious to me.
The insertion of CG is so blatant it is disturbing. There is no reason, none, that professional animation of any type should have visible vectors and look like it was done by a high-schooler. None.
Surprisingly, the Japanese voice work was very well done, with distinctive voices for each character and a good range of emotion. Oftentimes, voice actors are the first place where costs are cut. The subtitles were okay, with some confusion on Jussho/Jusho and spelling errors, but I could still understand them.
Overall, this is a sub-average anime. Unfortunately, 10 Tokyo Warriors is the anime you often find on video store shelves and rent, if only because it's the latest anime release and the only one you haven't seen. We at Animefringe strongly encourage anime viewer-ship and supporting anime as a whole, but we also believe in protecting the public from bad anime. This is bad. The storyline is hacked from so many sources (X, Silent Mobius, Psychic Force, Psychic Wars, and Urotsukidoji popping to mind). Three episodes in, you don't have emotional attachment to the characters, so the threat of the world being overrun with demons doesn't really seem all that bad. If you want to see a good supernatural anime, try Hellsing. Try anything other than this waste of cels and time.