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Friends From ‘Tokyo Revengers’ Manga Fully Inform Japan’s New Adults

A collaboration between the Japanese government and the popular manga series Tokyo Revengers communicates the meaning of a new law on adulthood for 18 and 19 year-olds.



There are notable changes happening in the year 2022. After two years of closures, recently the government has opened the borders again, allowing a capped amount of international students to enter Japan.

Furthermore, effective from April 1, The Plastic Resource Circulation Act has come into force. It’s aimed at our future, curbing plastic waste by reducing the use of petroleum-based plastics and promoting recycling.

These will be influential in Japan’s society. But there is another significant policy change that will have an even greater impact on current and future generations of Japanese.

Beginning April 1, 2022, Japan has lowered the legal age of adulthood to 18 years old, down from 20. Some 2 million people who are 18 and 19 years old came of age in Japan on that day.

RELATED: Japan’s Legal Adult Age is Now 18 (from 20): 8 Things That Change, 4 That Stay

Now a collaboration between the Japanese government and Kodansha’s popular manga series, Tokyo Revengers authored by Ken Wakui, aims to communicate the meaning of this pivotal decision. 

Tokyo Revengers manga, which has sold over 50 million copies since it was first published in March 2017, covers various themes - youth, school life, love, friendship, time, regret - just to name a few. The series’ storyline starts when the key protagonist, Takemichi Hanagaki, hears news of the death of his middle school girlfriend, Hina, in a gang-related incident. In a sequence of coincidental events, he accidentally travels back to the past. Takemichi is determined to uncover and correct mistakes in the past that could hopefully save his girlfriend from meeting her death in the present/future.

Now the Japanese Government has recreated scenes from the Tokyo Revengers anime and produced an announcement video to convey these important changes. It’s a very novel way of communicating life changing events that could have a big impact on the future of Japan’s newest adults.

SPOILER WARNING: there may be some revealing plot elements of Tokyo Revengers shared below. Please proceed with caution.

Creating Hope and Encouragement

The opening scene of the announcement is taken from the first episode of the anime itself, when Takemichi hears the news of his middle school girlfriend’s death. It then turns to the news of the changing age of adulthood in Japan to 18 years.

Shortly following the initial scene, Mickey, another key character from the series appears. He talks about gaining confidence to make decisions for the future and “expanding your world”. These scenes were recreated from Mikey’s speeches of encouragement delivered during the intense buildup to rival gang fights in the original anime. 

Following those is a scene showing Naoto (Hina’s younger-brother) describing why this new law has passed. In the original anime, Naoto was trying to explain time travel to Takemichi, and describing how events in the past can change the future. The new announcement uses the scene to convey the government’s wishes for the younger generation to expand their potential and participate more actively in society from an earlier age. 

It’s a nice touch to show courage as the age of adulthood is lowered, and  a message of hope and encouragement for the future of young Japanese. 

Taking Responsibility

Moving to the next scene, we find Takemichi and Hina talking in her room. In the original story, Hina was expressing her gratitude to Takemichi for saving her brother Naoto from the delinquents who were bullying him, and also pointing out that Takemichi has matured and become an adult. It’s a very fitting message for the new age of adulthood.

The recreated version shows Takemichi excited about being able to do things reserved only for adults in Japan, like signing up for a credit card and applying for a loan. He jokingly boasts about going on a shopping spree, and is swiftly cautioned by Hina, who reminds him that contracts aren’t easy to cancel, and dealing with money should be taken seriously. Ultimately, it is their decision now.

Then we hear Takemichi’s dialogue about where to live thoughts about his own future. He alludes to the fact that 18 year-olds can now rent apartments and sign contracts under their own name. The scene concludes as he resolves to be responsible: saving money to secure a place for himself and Hina, as well as proposing to her. 

The clear message is for Japan’s new adults to consider financial and life-planning decisions early, without waiting. 

Impact of Good Decisions

The second half of the manga recreation starts with Mikey pointing out there are still some things that don’t change for 18 year-olds. For example, alcohol consumption, tobacco, and legal forms of gambilng are still off-limits. He shares the regretful story of a friend whose life was in danger because of alcohol and cigarettes, and an addiction to gambling. Mikey encourages people to make the right decision.

In the original anime, this was the scene of his famous speech at Musashi Shrine, where he fired up the gang and led them to victory. 

The key message: act together for the shared benefit of your friends and yourself. The recreated anime is full of relatable reasons why the young generation should embrace the norms that will keep them out of trouble.

The Past and Future Path to your Dreams

A scene toward the end shows Atsushi, Takemichi’s close friend from middle school, confessing that in the past he was a victim of a pyramid scam. The scene shows how getting involved in a scam caused trouble to his friends and left him with a lot of debt, all because he thought he could make quick money. He begs Takemichi to help others. 

Takemichi then uses the anime to travel back in time for a conversation with young Atsushi about following his dreams. Atsushi shares his dream of becoming a hairstylist, while Takemchi warns him about falling for money traps along the way, introducing a help hotline (188) in case he finds himself in trouble. 

Returning to the future, Atsushi is inviting Takemichi to be his hairstyling model. This brings tears of happiness to Takemichi, who realizes that his friend was able to avoid being scammed by making better decisions in his revised past.

The last scene in the recreated anime, spoken by Naoto, is a reminder that turning 18 doesn’t automatically mean you’ve matured into adulthood. Making decisions and signing contracts require care and awareness. He adds a cautionary note that becoming eligible to make these eventful decisions can bring on new dangers, such as becoming targets for scams. 

In closing, Naoto presses for the current generation who have reached adulthood to help those who follow. 

Future Impact

Decisions made now can have a big impact in the future. This is a key theme throughout the original manga series Tokyo Revengers, and now in the government’s promotional video. It’s a great vehicle to share the new law on adulthood. After all, fans of all ages can enjoy hearing their favorite Tokyo Revengers characters remind us that our decisions and actions today make us what we are in our future. For more on this creative campaign, see the gov-online campaign page detailing other FAQ and policies affected by the April 1 change.

Writer’s note:

Western audiences may notice the swastika symbol, 卐 or 卍, in Tokyo Revengers

Today it is primarily recognized in the West for its use by the Nazi party. However, in Japan and many east-Asian cultures, it is a symbol of divinity and spirituality. It is used, among other places, in Indic religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. 

The Western version of Tokyo Revengers for foreign audiences sometimes omits the swastika symbol in the anime series due to its complicated associations in modern history.

Author: Galileo Ferrari

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