Tokyo 24-ku might risk starting to feel repetitive if the boys receive missions that are all just slight variations on the trolley dilemma and yet we see in this fifth episode that there’s still some room for them to explore. While the first dilemma they faced was easily overcome by finding a third option, the second problem that floated their way ended in failure due to a lack of communication (and the scale of the disaster they were up against).
In this fifth episode we see again the boys having been posed a variation on this question. The options given to have a terrorist shot dead or have a boat full of people blown up. Even learning that the boat is full of the wealthy and probably corrupt who are the cause of numerous problems in the district doesn’t really make blowing up the boat seem like an actually viable solution and Kouki, the most rational of the team, more or less draws a line on this one. He’s going to use Sarg to take down the terrorist and that isn’t up for debate.
Tokyo 24-ku divides its lead characters this episode, both physically and morally.
Where Shuta boards the boat, ambitiously hoping to find the explosives themselves and neutralise them, his role this episode is considerably diminished as the main drama focuses on Ran and his allegiances as well as Kouki’s determination and black and white view of the world.
Sure, Shuta gets a brief action sequence where he gets to hop about and avoid gunfire but ultimately he doesn’t manage to retrieve the explosives or have much impact on anything and is actually so in the dark about everything else that has transpired he doesn’t even know why after the events are resolved he cannot contact either Ran or Kouki.
This really is Ran’s episode though with Kouki merely providing the contrasting perspective this week in Tokyo 24-ku. Unlike the other two, Ran recognised the terrorist in the vision and through a series of flashbacks we learn about Ran’s childhood and growing up as well as the formation of DoRed with his partner in crime (or I guess partner in art would be more appropriate).
But, disillusioned by his lack of artistic talent compared to Ran, he delved into hacking, at least until Ran surpassed him there as well. Still, he developed an App that if used correctly could have been an amazing thing for so many people and yet, as Ran had cautioned while his friend was developing it, if used incorrectly things could go badly wrong.
And so the mystery behind the mind-altering drug in the slums is finally revealed.
Where the audience of Tokyo 24-ku can really get drawn into this episode is in seeing the sequence of steps, mostly innocent ones, that ended up leading a character to such a dark place. A simple feeling of inadequacy as well as being broke and having little power or ability to protect his family, an app developed with the optimistic goal of making people’s lives better and selling it in order to reap immediate rewards, and then the ugly spiral downward after realising just what had resulted from actions that were never intended to harm.
Even though he is ultimately painted very clearly as a terrorist and his actions are clearly no longer driven by that optimism or hope to change the world for the better, you can’t help but wonder how things might have been different if the world hadn’t failed this character so completely.
Though ultimately what this episode of Tokyo 24-ku leaves me wondering the most is how will Ran choose to deal with this. In the moment he very nearly made an irrevocable and incredibly poor choice but was stopped, weirdly by the guy who had been about to make the same choice.
Will Ran be able to work with Kouki or Shuta again? Or is this the catalyst that takes Ran from being someone who wants to change people through art to someone who wants to take more drastic actions and will this see him at odds with the other two?
As I said at the start of this post, Tokyo 24-ku could fall into too familiar patterns if it just set up a trolley dilemma and had the boys resolve it but so far each incident has highlighted different aspects of the political and social situation within the ward as well as the personalities of the boys themselves. I am curious to see where this will go.
Images from: Tokyo 24-ku. Dir N Tsuda. Cloverworks. 2022
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