When I say Tokyo Revengers is a love story, you’re probably thinking “okay sure.” Yes, Takemichi is doing everything in order to save the girl he loved in high school and who he honestly probably still loves. But the love in Tokyo Revengers isn’t as simple as that. No, it is a multilayered story that is also about boys loving other boys. And no. I don’t mean that romantically. I’m not saying Tokyo Revengers is a BLor shounen in any manner. I’m not saying they are inherently interested romantically with their love, but it is some sort of love that drives the characters. Today, as part of Doki Doki Days, I wanted to do a deep dive into that, and what kinds of love I have at least observed.
The first people I want to talk about in this post are none other than Mikey and Draken. These two, while often shipped together, have a much more familial relationship. In fact, when thinking about gangs, Yakuza, etcetera, oftentimes, you’ll see more familia love than anything else. This is where Draken & Mikey exist. In a way, Draken very much acts as an older brother and protector towards Mikey — which is funny because Mikey doesn’t need protecting. However, he does need someone to care for him. He grew up with no father and mother, and his oldest brother died when he was young. Mikey may seem like he can take care of himself and all of Toman, but he has revealed time and time again that Draken is a cherished member of his family. Draken is there carrying Mikey when he’s too lazy, making sure he eats well, and even helping him get up in the morning. One could argue this is just a lackey doing his bidding, but Draken clearly cares for Mikey’s wellbeing. He, more than anyone else, tends to act as Mikey’s moral compass much like you’d expect from a guardian role. When Draken dies in the original timeline, Mikey completely loses all the caring he once had and turns to the dark side where he becomes fairly apathetic. In fact, it’s when taking that into consideration, along with Mikey’s quiet breakdown after Draken is deemed alright, that made me realize that yes–Tokyo Revengers was a love story between boys in the way that is a love story between brothers.
But then there are other complicated stories like that of Baji, Chifuyu, and–I’m going to throw him in too–Kazutora. Another ship (or pair of ships) that people like to assume is BL. While I’m not to say that is or isn’t true, it’s very clear that they certainly love each other the way best friends do. Which is funny because not all of them or friends. But when it comes down to it, Baji clearly loves Kazutora deeply as a friend. He is so willing to do so many things with him, perhaps because he knows he’s all Kazutora truly has. He follows him in his questionable decisions, puts strain on his other relationships, and puts himself in danger–he even cares about Kazutora even when he’s no longer in his life. It’s the love of a childhood friend and only wanting the best for them in life, even when you grow apart. Meanwhile, Chifuyu does very much the same for Baji. Except they are best friends. Still, Chifuyu is so ready to put himself in harm’s way to save Baji and even when Baji is no longer in his life, he goes out of his way to make sure Baji’s wishes come true. This comes in the form of a future (or many) where instead of holding anything against Kazutora, he is the first to greet him with a warm welcome and give him a place to be (which is right beside him, where Baji would’ve wanted him). It’s a very sweet sentiment that transcends time, and I truly believe it is both Chifuyu and Kazutora’s love for Baji that ends up with them becoming so close in possible futures. Looking at them, it’s so clear that Tokyo Revengers is a love story between boys in the way that it is a love story between close friends.
Of course, when we look at the story as a whole and think about all the boys and all the relationships between them, especially everyone’s relationship with Mikey (and Takemichi), it becomes even more apparent this is truly a love story. Everybody, out of their own admission, adores Mikey. When he’s in charge of Toman in his teen years, he clearly cares about the members like his own family. Yes, he’s selfish in a lot of aspects, but he so willingly gives outcasts a home. Everyone has a story about Mikey and they all love him for it–love him as a leader, a brother, or a friend. And then there’s Takemichi–who, despite how much I rag on him–also really gains everybody’s adoration. Yes. He cries a lot. Yes. He’s useless a lot of the time. But, Takemichi, at the heart of this story–isn’t just trying to save the love of his life for an epic romance. He’s trying to save everyone eventually. As he goes back into the past and meets more people, the more he truly wants to save them. Takemichi, more than any of these complicated delinquents, feels love so hard for so many of them. As friends, as his brothern, hell as other human beings. If there’s one thing Takemichi is good at, it’s crying. But it’s also showing love and care for others. It’s why people adore him, why all these hardass delinquents like him (even if they just say he’s just entertaining). He is so weak but so strong when it comes to protecting those he loves. It’s admirable. It’s inspiring. I think it makes them all just a little softer, even Mikey.
So yes. I will defend this to the end, even having not finished the manga yet and knowing all the twists and turns. I know enough to say that Tokyo Revengers is a story of love between boys, but that doesn’t make it a BL. It’s simply a story that showcases all the ways in which boys can love each other without it necessarily being romantic. So some may call Tokyo Revengers, and I, in my perhaps unpopular opinion, am calling it a love story.