How Tokyo ESP Reminds me of Chivalric Literature

A while back, I finished watching Tokyo ESP.  That the author of the manga is responsible for Ga-Rei Zero–an indisputable masterpiece–greatly excited me.  However, the very first episode planted the seeds of doubt in me that such genius would not strike twice.  While a fun show with an amusing X-men vibe, the subsequent episodes proved my doubts correct.  Though the characters are inherently likable, parts of the plot and writing could have been better.  I must also mention that the final fight between Minami and Rinka almost bored me.  Minami’s poor technique made it seem like she never wished to kill Rinka!  For example, the fight should have ended right here:

Certain Death for RinkaFew anime character know how to exploit having a sword in each hand.  By pulling back with a draw cut at Rinka’s neck with her right and aiming a cut to the legs with her left, Minami could have placed Rinka in an difficult position.  Parrying the cut to her neck, Rinka might obscure her vision of the low cut.  With her arms crossed like that (that’s an ugly parry, isn’t it?), she cannot parry a low cut, which means that she would need to retreat backwards in order to evade and then would no doubt need to immediately deal with a thrust.  But, Minami does not see this simple combination:

Minami temporarily forgets the sword in her left hand, I guess?

Minami temporarily forgets the sword in her left hand, I guess?

Isn't that position just begging for Minami to aim a strike to Rinka's legs?

Isn’t that position just begging for Minami to aim a strike to Rinka’s legs?

My dear readers might be asking at this point: “Is poor swordsmanship the link to chivalric literature?”  No, chivalric literature never really describes techniques.  The knights double or redouble their strokes and hack through certain points of the body; but no author ever describes their technique–or at least, there are so few examples that none comes to mind.  The connection which I was thinking of revolves around how the protagonist goes from this:

Rinka badly beatenTo this:

 

And yes, I find Rinka a puella forma pulcherimma!

Puella forma pulcherimma!

Such happy restorations of one’s good looks after the beatings Rinka took are not possible!  Have you ever seen a pugilist’s face?  They usually show signs of the beatings they take.  As pure and beautiful as Rinka’s heart is, her visage should not match.  I cringed every time Rinka was beat down.  And, I just want to point out something curious about that last picture: See the cuts on Rinka’s elbow?  This is almost the animator’s nod to the fact that Rinka’s body would not escape unscarred from her experiences.

I love the shirt. :)

I love the shirt. 🙂

My favorite character in the show.

My favorite character in the show.

The same phenomenon occurs in chivalric literature: a knight goes through dozens of battles, which involve several severe blows to the helm and body, causing blood and chain mail to fly off him.  Yet, ladies always find these knights very handsome and fawn over them each feast, exclaiming how handsome they are!

Kobushi Kuroi was perhaps my favorite character in the anime.

Wait, we have that here, too!

In real life, warriors are often not so handsome if they served through many campaigns.  The author of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes, states in writing his masterpiece: “…my only desire has been to make men hate those false, absurd histories in books of chivalry, which thanks to the exploits of my real Don Quixote are even now tottering, and without any doubt will soon tumble to the ground.”  One of the ways in which he shows chivalric literature’s lack of reality is by detailing Don Quixote’s wounds.  Those of you who’ve read the book know that Don Quixote undergoes several beating which mar his frame.  Most famously, a Basque squire chops off half of his left ear!  Needless to say, Don Quixote does not present a pretty picture to behold!

Nunchaku girl is too awesome for me not to show a couple of pictures of her.

Nunchaku girl is too awesome for me not to show a couple of pictures of her.

Two Down

Of course, I am happy that Rinka’s countenance does not feature a permanently swollen lip, cauliflower ears, one eye slit smaller than the other, and a crooked nose after all those beatings.  But, that’s how she’d really look!  That she still retains her beauty reveals that the impulse in chivalric literature of having heroes go through ridiculously terrific beatings without a permanently marred countenance still exists.  Though, I must note here that the same rule does not apply to middle aged men: all of the fathers in this anime have scars.  Just another interesting thing to note!

Dad with SwordsIn any event, I generously give Tokyo ESP three and a half stars for the pure, visceral pleasure it provided in the viewing.  I’m looking forward to Hajime Segawa’s next work!