Volume 2

Starring (voice): Kenichi Suzumura, Fumiko Orikasa, Akemi Kanda and Kana Ueda
Manga Entertainment
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 18
Available 21 May 2007

Five years on from the bizarre massacre in which hundreds of residents of the Machido apartment complex were mysteriously slain, Ranmaru Shindou, one of the survivors, is an officer of Tokyo's Special Mobile Investigation Force and has become inextricably involved in the investigation into a recent spate of murders that may be related to the Machido massacre. Now aware that the rumours regarding the existence of demons in the city are found to be all too true, Ranmaru makes contact with the members of Tokko, the elite secret police outfit responsible for combating this unearthly threat. Through them he learns the legend of the Box of Dirge, an artefact that alchemists in Middle Ages were said to have used to summon demons to earth. He also discovers the shocking truth regarding those known as "symbiotes" and, as a result, is literally forced to confront his own demons...

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 Two includes episodes six through nine:

Sorrow - Who Kills My Brother: In a meeting with Councillor Ogata, superintendent Ibuki reveals her suspicion that Ranmaru could be housing a symbiote. Before further action is taken, Ibuki asks Kureha to find out for certain whether Ranmaru has the symbiote inside him. Kureha picks up Ranmaru and takes him out on a "date". They visit a graveyard where Kureha explains that her parents and younger brother are buried here. They were killed in the Machida massacre. Kureha discovers that Ranmaru does indeed carry a symbiote. She explains that these symbiotes are demons and once awoken may take control of his body and use it for the forces of evil, or may fight on the side of humanity. This is what happened to her little brother - he awoke the demon, which was evil, and Kureha had to kill him.

Love - A Telephone Call: Ranmaru gets a strange phone call from someone who says he can provide him with information on what really happened at the Machida massacre. Soon afterwards Ranmaru is attacked by the 13th Phantom demon. Ranmaru is no match for the monster, so is glad to see Sakura and Inukai, who quickly slaughter it. Could it be that whoever had telephoned Ranmaru was setting up a test for him?

Awake - Time to Say Goodbye: Ranmaru is warned off hanging around with Tokko by two men in black. Soon afterwards Saya, Ranmaru's younger sister, is knocked over by a motorist, who seemed to be deliberately driving at her. Ranmaru meets with the Tokko to ask about awakening his symbiote. They are about to warn him about the full dangers when they are attacked by a group of demons. Ranmaru says he wants to awaken the demon within him and so Kureha obliges. Thankfully, the demon is on their side and helps to slay the other demons.

Dignity - We Were Born to Be: Ibuki is called before her superiors. They are not happy that she helped awaken Ranmaru's symbiote. Apparently there has been an ongoing truce between the demons and Inuki's bosses - one that now looks to be broken as the demons are angry with the sudden shift in balance. Later a demon attacks Ibuki, but luckily Ranmaru is on hand to help. His true powers are unleashed and we discover that he is one of the more powerful members of the Tokko. Ranmaru also discovers why the group had earlier tried to warn him off awakening his inner demon without knowing the full consequences. It seems that win or lose, the members of Tokko will all ultimately lose in the end.

This two-disc set comes with the episodes repeated on both discs. On disc one we get a choice of either 2.0 stereo or 5.1 audio (both in either English or Japanese), while on disc two there's English 2.0, or DTS (again in English or Japanese).

Extras are a little lacking. All we get are a Gallery (1 and a half minute photo gallery set to the show's theme tune. Although the pictures are too small and for some reason the designers thought it would be cool to add lots of distortion as though you were watching it on a TV that has a bad reception - it isn't cool); DVD Rom content (a screensaver); Opening and Closing theme songs without credits; and trailers for other releases.

This volume moves the story on dramatically, although as this only a 13 part series I can't quite fathom out how on earth everything will be resolved in the final four episodes. This is certainly a series anime fans should be collecting.

Pete Boomer

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