published in Empire No.86, Sydney
The title Tokyo Underground sounds sexier than this young children’s series could possibly be. The Underground referred to is a dimension beneath the city of Tokyo, inhabited by Elemental Users who are powerful beings in control of all the physical elements. From their terrain, an escaped maiden – Ruri, who is the Miko of Life and capable of regenerating life from dead beings – is on the run. Her bodyguard – Chelsea Rorec – has the power of gravity, and is a fiery girl fiercely dedicated to protect Ruri. They end up by chance (or is it anime fate?) in the backyard of Rumina – a high schooler who is ruthlessly (and hilariously) trained by his grandfather in extreme martial arts combat.
Tokyo Underground is carefully patterned according to game-play quest narratives, and almost stoically sticks to the stereotypes which populate so much contemporary anime being sold in the west. The heroic young boy, the damsel in distress, the range of villains possessing extraordinary powers, the yoke of responsibility and the drive toward fulfillment. Tokyo Underground – being mostly for young kids – is not concerned with subverting or even playing with these conventions, so those seeking something a bit more malleable in this form are not likely to be overwhelmed with this adventure yarn.