Unlike many shonen anime protagonists, Tokyo Revengers’ Takemichi Hanagaki doesn’t grow more powerful over time. His true strength lies elsewhere.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Tokyo Revengers Season 1, now streaming on Funimation, as well as discussion of suicide and self-harm.
The Tokyo Revengers anime has a rather unusual shonen protagonist. Takemichi Hanagaki is tasked with the impossible job of going back in time to stop a notorious gang from transforming into a crime syndicate and killing his former middle school girlfriend in 10 years’ time. In middle school, Takemichi proclaimed himself a gangster even though he was decidedly not.
Typically, shonen protagonists undergo some kind of power-up and emerge as an all-mighty hero, so you might expect Takemichi to do the same. That’s not the case here. Strength-wise, Takemichi is just as weak as he was in middle school, but that doesn’t mean he’s a weak person. On the contrary, he might be one of the strongest characters in Tokyo Revengers, and a true hero.
Takemichi Breaks the Mold as a Shonen Lead
Takemichi gets punched around a lot. Out of all of the gang members in Toman, he’s the weakest. He has never come out of a fight unscathed. Takemichi knows this and it’s a point of frustration when he constantly finds himself at a severe disadvantage. It’s even worse when he’s thrown into a world where battles are often won through sheer physical strength. But people like Mikey, Toman’s leader, have never faulted him for not being the strongest guy around. In fact, it’s something he admires and represents his vision for the new era of delinquents. Strength doesn’t just revolve around physique in Tokyo Revengers — it’s based around character and morals.
Another way Takemichi breaks the toxic masculinity mindset is how he isn’t ashamed to show his emotions. Nobody shames him for crying. He’s even nicknamed “Crybaby Hero” by Akkun, demonstrating that even though he cries, it doesn’t make him any less brave or less of a hero. Compared to Mikey who is well-regarded as the strongest person in Toman, Takemichi had to hide how scared he was when Draken was hurt because he had to uphold an image of the Invincible Mikey. For Takemichi to wear his heart on his sleeve takes an extraordinary amount of courage.
Takemichi’s Mental Resilience Is Second to None
Saving his former girlfriend Hina is Takemichi’s main motivation in Tokyo Revengers. After finding out her death was caused by Toman, Takemichi has been trying to go back in time to find out the root cause for the gang’s corruption and to stop it to prevent Hina from dying. So far, he has been unsuccessful multiple times. The first time he saw a future where Akkun, who now follows Kisaki, committing suicide because of how terrified he is of Kisaki’s control. The second time, Takemichi thought he’d succeeded after saving Draken’s life — only to watch both Akkun and Hina die once again.
It’s a lot of trauma for one person to take in. And this won’t be the end of it: Takemichi will most likely see more horrible futures as the story goes forward. What’s worse is that once he’s in the middle school timeline, he won’t have anyone to confide in. He must shoulder all that fear and pain on his own, not knowing if any of his changes are making the future better or worse. What started off as saving one person grew to save more of his friends. It’s an enormous responsibility to bear. Any other person would crumble under the pressure but not Takemichi. He’ll just keep time traveling until he saves everyone — no matter how many times it takes.
Takemichi’s Strength Is Never Giving Up
Can you imagine punching someone over and over again, knowing you’re ten times stronger than them, but somehow they refuse to back down? That’s Takemichi. He’s undeniably physically weak, but it doesn’t mean he’s going to lose in a fight. He has proven time and time again that as long as he never gives up, he won’t lose.
Part of what makes Takemichi a great hero is his recognition that he can’t blame others for his shortcomings. He takes ownership of his weaknesses and works to overcome them, such as when he realizes he couldn’t run away from his fight against Kiyomasa in Tokyo Revengers Episode 10. If he does, then he has already lost the fight before it’s even started.
Although Takemichi had voiced some doubt in his ability to become the top boss of Toman, he has shown that he has leadership qualities. Takemichi knows he’s weak, but his refusal to not go down without a fight is what makes other people want to stand alongside him. If this guy can take on the toughest badasses in Japan, then there’s no reason for anyone else to run away.
For more information on the warning signs and prevention of suicide, click here. If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you live outside the U.S., click here for a list of international hotlines.
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