TOKKO: Volume 1

Manga Entertainment brings manga author Toru Fujisawa’s (GTO) look into the near-distant future where demons infiltrate modern society and only the elite members of Special Security Section can stop them. However, the main branch of the Special Mobile Investigation Force gets caught up in the ongoing war and starts to investigate the elite squad’s secret work. TOKKO: Volume 1 introduces new detective Ranmaru Shindo as he joins the Mobile Investigation Force to help solve the death of his parents in a mass killing spree five years ago. Unfortunately, Ranmaru is about to be dragged down into a fight for his life as he discovers a new world not known to the public as he tries to reveal the truth behind the Machida incident five years ago.

DVD: TOKKO: Volume 1
Release Date: 3/27/2007
Release Studio: Manga Entertainment
ADR Production: Bang Zoom! Entertainment

MSRP: $24.98
Audio: English 5.1 DD, Japanese 5.1 DD, English 2.0 DD, Japanese 2.0 DD, Spanish 2.0 DD
Subtitles: English
Episodes: 5
Runtime: 123mins
Extras: Cast Forum Excerpt, Cleaning Opening & Closing, Image Gallery, Screensaver (DVD-ROM)

Notes: Review is based on a Screener copy of the final product.

Survivors of the Machida incident, Ranmaru Shindo and his younger sister Saya have stayed together helping one another. Ranmaru has just graduated to become detective with the Special Mobile Investigation Force which works on solving violent crimes that have become somewhat of a norm in the past five years. Saya watches out for her big brother, including getting him up for work, cooking, and even trying to get him a girlfriend. The loving sister will even go as far as walking around in her panties and bra to comfort him until he has a girlfriend of his own. This is a bit of an odd relationship and Ranmaru knows this, but talking sense into his little sister’s head just doesn’t seem to work.

For several years, Ranmaru has been haunted by a recurring dream where he is chased by monsters and only a red-headed girl with a long sword can save him before he dies. Yet, he has never been able to figure out what the dream means or who the girl is. Until, of course, Ranmaru spots her walking around the hallways of the Mobile Investigation Force. Ranmaru and his buddy Ichiro Hanazono get an uneasy introduction to her superiors Kureha Suzuka and Ryouko Ibuki of Special Security Section (SpecSec). Rumours surrounding the special Section 2 say that the squad uses swords for weapons and takes on unusual cases that get covered up. Wary of the special section, Ranmaru keeps his distance until a murder investigation for the Mobile Investigation Force turns up people possessed by evil talking heads on parts of their bodies. The elite squad of SpecSec arrives in time to take out the people possessed by demons, but now there are several witnesses to their secret actions, including Ranmaru and his nosey boss Kaoru Kunikida.

The first two episodes introduce Ranmaru and show us his run ins with SpecSec. Suzuka takes an instant liking to Ranmaru and offers him the chance to transfer to her special squad if he ever gets bored with Kunikida and the Mobile Investigation Force. Ranmaru’s dream girl becomes real when he spots her in the hallway, but seeing Sakura Rokujo save his life in person only drives him further into investigating what really happened in Machida. The demons are hunting for the survivors of the Machida incident by the scent of their blood and Ranmaru and Saya are not alone on the list. Kaoru Kunikida also begins his search into the background of Section 2 when his murder case is taken from him and covered up as a drug deal gone bad which resulted in the death of several men under his command.

Episode three follows Saya’s concern for her brother who has been acting strangely and has a strange tattoo on his skin. A trip to the doctor doesn’t reveal much at first until Ranmaru does some digging in a guarded building on the hospital grounds. Sneaking inside he finds Sakura and learns more about their shared past and why she helps destory the larva demons that possess humans. The doctors testing Ranmaru’s blood put Saya in danger as the larva take over staff members to hunt down surviors within the hospital.

The final two episodes push Saya into setting up a blind date for her big brother so that he does something to get a girlfriend. Yukino Shiraishi is a lab researcher at the Mobile Investigation Force lab facilities and a good friend of Saya’s. Ranmaru decides to go on the date to gain access to the lab which recieves evidence from Mobile Investigation Force and SpecSec cases so he can find out more about the demons. However, Shiraishi’s father runs the lab and doesn’t want the young detective to discover what the lab is really up to. Kunikida keeps trying to get the brass upstairs to look into Section 2 while SpecSec attempts to locate the source of the recent larvae. Yukino finally reveals the secrets of her father’s work to Ranmaru, but saving her from the very people she works with is going to be tough on his own.

TOKKO presents an interesting story following a security squad of demon hunters. It’s unfortunate that this isn’t the main story to the show and instead we are following the regular detectives of the Mobile Investigation Force who have run ins with the SpecSec members. I’ll take a show following Sakura, Lt. Suzuka, and the rest of Section 2 any day over Ranmaru’s delving into the truth of his parents’ death. After all, that’s what the cover gives the impression of and what I hope the rest of the show might be about. The casting for this series isn’t much better with the Japanese cast being “ok” at best and the English dub from Bang Zoom! brushing “so-so” more often than anything else. If it wasn’t for some decent character designs, the fascination of how Suzuka’s breasts almost never get revealed despite only wearing a loose leather jacket, and the coolness of watching Sakura slice-and-dice the demons, I might start to question looking at another volume of this Fujisawa series.

Manga’s TOKKO: Volume 1 has some issues that need to be addressed. There’s only one chapter stop for each episode: at its beginning.  This is very odd for a DVD when nowadays there should be one for the opening, show break, and credits at the very least. The subtitles are solid for the first four episodes, but the thick black border around the font disappears for episode five which can make the subs difficult to read on some TV sets. The amount of episodes on volume one is very nice, but I would still recommend trying to find this for about $15 to $18 before you start the series. If you accept that you are going to really be following Ranmaru’s investigation and brushes with the Section 2 members, then you can enjoy this title quite well. The final episodes for Volume 1 show some promise with a bigger story arc yet to be revealed, but it is going to have to happen quickly when there are only 13 episodes in the entire series.