With the first two episodes of Ikebukuro West Gate Park out now, we wanted to share our first impressions of the series so far focusing on the overall feeling of the anime, standout characters, predictions, and other points of interest. Let’s get started!
Compelling Episodic Stories (so far)
Although the episodic style of storytelling isn’t for everyone, that seems to be the general direction IWGP is going for, at least in this early stage of the series, and we have to say that they’ve done a terrific job so far! Each episode has introduced a new conflict for Makoto and co. to deal with that gets neatly resolved by the end while also introducing new characters and groups to the mix and not feeling rushed or unnatural.
Out of the two, we’d have to say the first episode was definitely the stronger one but both have already gotten us familiar with the general setup of the G-Boys and Kyoichi’s newer Red Angels gang along with hints of some shadowy forces even more behind the scenes. Although we wouldn’t be surprised if a core villain emerges to take over the plot later in the series, the versatile Ikebukuro underworld setting lends itself perfectly to the episodic style we’ve seen and enjoyed so far so let’s keep it going!
It seems like we’ve only scratched the surface of the characters in Ikebukuro West Gate Park so far but what’s there is promising. The setup of Makoto and King being old friends and how that interacts with him being the G-Boys leader seems ripe for more exploration into both of their pasts. Speaking of things that are ripe, the whole Makoto being a fruit vendor thing is fun and all but what’s up with that fruit ramen?! We can only imagine what other wacky moments are in store and how many other part-time jobs Makoto is doing besides selling fruit and apparently writing a popular newspaper column. Kyoichi’s shirtless dancing introduction was also interesting to say the least, particularly given how tattoos are viewed in Japanese culture and the eye-candy of course for those who appreciate that.
All-in-all, we’re eager to learn more about the cast and hope that episode one’s Mion will be coming back at some point, given her complete absence in the second episode, as she also had potential and good chemistry with Makoto.
Considering Doga Kobo is mostly known for their cutesy slice of life comedies and emotional dramas, we were happy to see them flexing some of their animation muscles in Ikebukuro West Gate Park’s action sequences, bringing in the same attention to detail. This has produced some interesting results given they tend to stick to reasonably realistic animation. The first episode’s chase sequences when Makoto and Mion flee the “Smoke Tower” building particularly stood out as did most of the fight sequences so far.
Rule of Cool
Another big source of appeal in IWGP is its general cool factor. There’s clearly a lot of work put into the wardrobes of each character that stick in our minds like Makoto’s iconic “smoking kills” shirt, appropriate for someone fighting against illicit drugs. The setting of Ikebukuro itself also has a lot of charm that’s been well-utilized like the Global Ring and seemingly endless back alleys for future villainy to explore. Likewise, both the OP and ED have a great sense of style that meshes well with the modern, streetwise vibe the series is projecting. Whether or not the series will ultimately live up to this image isn’t quite clear yet, but definitely works on face-value at least.
All-in-all, our first impression of Ikebukuro West Gate Park is that it’s a glamorous series with a lot of potential in its characters and setting that we hope is continually well-utilized. While it definitely elicits comparisons to some other series, particularly Durarara! given its similar subject matter and nominal Ikebukuro setting, IWGP’s more grounded take on the criminal underworld and how it affects the lives of everyday people gives the show its own identity. Needless to say, we’re looking forward to what happens next!
Would you try fruit ramen? Please let us know what you thought of Ikebukuro West Gate Park in the comments section below and be sure to stick around Honey’s Anime for more coverage of the latest series and more! Until next time, see ya~!