DVD
Tokko
Volume 1

Starring (voice): Kenichi Suzumura, Fumiko Orikasa, Akemi Kanda and Kana Ueda
Manga Entertainment
RRP: 19.99
MANG5041
Certificate: 18
Available 19 March 2007


Five years after surviving the bizarre Machido massacre in which their parents were killed along with hundreds of other innocents, Ranmaru Shindou and his younger sister, Saya, have become patrol officers in the local police force. Ranmaru is assigned to Tokki, the Special Mobile Investigation Force. During his first day in his new position, he encounters and recognises a young red-haired woman, Sakura, who he learns is a member of another police unit known as Tokko, the Special Public Safety Task Force. Sakura has been appearing in a recurring dream that has been haunting Ranmaru since the day of the Machido tragedy. The mystery deepens when investigations into a recent murder spree suggest the latest killings may be related to the earlier massacre. Then the holes begin to appear; bottomless pits from which inhuman creatures are reportedly emerging...

Tokko is based on the best-selling manga by Tohru Fujisawa. This 13 episode anime series brings together X-Files-style conspiracies, supernatural terror, sexy crime-fighting detectives and regular doses of limb severing swordplay in an apocalyptic tale of demons running amok in modern-day Japan. I suppose the best way to describe it is X-Files meets Hellraiser.

Volume One includes the first five episodes:

Dawn - Awakening: Five years have passed since the Machida massacre. Hundreds of people lost their lives in this strange and still unsolved crime. Ranmaru Shindo, and his younger sister Saya, were two of the survivors. Both are now working in the police force. During his transfer to the Shibuya precinct, Ranmaru encounters a woman who has plagued his nightmares since the massacre. He discovers that this red-haired woman is an elite officers from the Tokko division. Ranmaru, with his partner Ichiro Hanazono, investigate their first case of homicide with their superior Kaoru Kunikida. A group of what appear to be drug addicts attack the investigation team. It soon becomes obvious that these are some sort of hybrid creatures. Bullets seems to have no effect on them, and just when it looks like the police are in serious trouble, the mysterious red-haired girl appears and slices up the evil gang, and the strange insect like creatures that leave the human bodies.

Dream - A Girl Appears: After saving Ranmaru and his team, it is hinted that the red-haired woman is also one of the survivors of the Machida massacre. During an investigation by Kunikida and his colleague, Shogo Muramasa, it is discovered that the Machida massacre may have been covered up by the Tokko division and the Public Security Investigation Agency (PSIA). It appeared that their were reports of a demonic killer in one of the strange incidents in Kameida. Yet again the Tokki detectives are forced to confront the demon-controlled suspects, only for the Tokko division to arrive in time to kill them once again. During an investigation on Ranmaru's old neighbourhood, he realises that the red-haired girl was his old neighbour Sakura Rokujo.

Bond - Moments Would be Lost: Ranmaru reflects on the recent strange events, as well as on the Machida massacre. A mysterious tattoo has appeared on his right arm and his little sister is concerned about where it came from. Saya forces Ranmaru to visit the local police hospital to get a check-up. While waiting for the results, Ranmaru discovers a secret PSIA-guarded hospital ward which houses Sakura's younger brother, who was almost a victim in the Machida incident. Meanwhile the strange insect like creatures that can possess human bodies, infiltrated the hospital and possess some of the hospital's medical personnel. The local police seal off the building and come up with a cover story that an insane patient is on the rampage inside the hospital.

Omen - Corpses in the Laboratory: Trying to play matchmaker, Saya organises a blind date for Ranmaru. Ranmaru isn't really interested until he learn that his date is a forensic expert working in the very building his boss is eager to infiltrate in order to find out more about these demon possession. Ranmaru goes out with Yukino Shiraishi, and discovers that the demons who were responsible for the Machida massacre, and for the death of his police comrades, are believed to be of European origin. According to the legend, the demons were summoned by alchemists in order to achieve immortality during the Middle Ages. Sadly the demons tricked them and when summoned brought forward more demons than the alchemists could control. When Ranmaru discovers that Yukino's mother died at the same time as the Machida incident, he fears for her life and heads of to the forensics building to check on her.

Demon - A Father, all Alone: Yukino tells Ranmaru that her father is involved in researching the strange creatures that Ranmaru has encountered. Ranmaru requests a meeting with Dr. Shirashi, who seems fairly open - even explaining to him the legend of the Box of Dirge, the artefact that the alchemists used in the Middle Ages to summon the demons. Ranmaru discovers that the Box of Dirge broke into 108 pieces, each piece being hidden inside a demon. When Ranmaru pushes for more information Dr. Shirashi calls a sudden end to the meeting. Entering the abandoned Special Organisms Laboratory, Ranmaru discovers that the entire staff have been transformed into half-human/demon hybrids.

Extras include a photo gallery and trailers for other releases. Despite the press release claims that the DVD also contains a "Making of" featurette and a "Cast Forum", I could find neither of these extras on the DVDs that were sent to us for review.

Like the Ghost in the Shell releases from Manga Entertainment, these episodes come on two discs. The episodes are the same on both discs, but the second disc includes a DTS soundtrack. I really am at a loss to understand why. There are plenty of examples of DVDs that offer DTS soundtracks as well as stereo, 5.1 and a couple of audio commentaries, so why couldn't Manga release the DTS tracks on the first disc. To be perfectly honest, they could do away with the stereo track - all TVs now play 5.1 soundtracks as stereo these days.

Ignoring that slight moan, Tokko is well worth adding to your anime collection.

Pete Boomer

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