Life in the year 2020 in Tokyo is tough, as crime rates are high, and crimes against women rank second only to murders. To prevent their daughter from being exposed to these crimes, Tsukasa's parents raised her to be a male. Tsukasa aspires to be a policeman fighting against the yakuza, just like her parents. However, her parents died in the line of work, leaving behind Tsukasa and her 3 brothers to fend for themselves. Tsukasa must thus work as a bodyguard for her classmate, Ryuji, who happens to be the leader of the most powerful yakuza group in Tokyo, to pay off the family's debts.
HOW I WAS INTRODUCED TO TOKYO CRAZY PARADISE:
"Tokyo Crazy Paradise" was one of my random finds. I don't very often read random manga, but in TCP's case, I'm glad I did.
When you boil TCP's story down into a mere plot summary it sounds dull and overdone--girl falls for bad boy, leader of a mafia organization at that. However, doing this certainly doesn't do TCP justice. The story melds romance, drama, and action so well that TCP becomes an incredibly unique story of its own.
The art of TCP is by no means bad, but it is a little different. The
art even seems to reflect the melding of genres--a little shounen action art flavor with the shoujo flavor. There are some areas of the manga that feel as if they have been drawn somewhat akwardly, but the majority is good.
The characters in TCP are just short of amazing. The protagonist, Tsukasa, is quite simply one of the strongest female characters in shoujo manga. Even considering the gender-bender situation, one doesn't lose sight of her feminine side. As for Ryuugi, he is less lovingly characterized than Tsukasa, but a great character despite it. As the volumes continue, one finds that it's easier to like him more and more.
TCP is unique, funny, and interesting. It has romance, drama, a love triangle, and gender-bending. I highly recommend anyone to read it.
NOTE ABOUT THIS REVIEW: Also, if you find this review unhelpful in anyway, send me a private message saying why (please) so that I can improve it for future readers! :D
I discovered this manga when looking for other works by Nakamura Yoshiki- I was first drawn in by her recent manga, Skip Beat!. It turned out she had written a manga directly before Skip Beat!, called Tokyo Crazy Paradise.
The story seems to cross over both shoujo and shounen lines, the shounen covered by the large amount of violence that occurs in this story and the"'I will protect/serve 'insert name of person or area here'" attitude that many, if not all of the characters hold. This aspect also hold up in the main storyline. The more typical shoujo aspects occur in the lead's focus on taking
care (up to and including physically) of her family and love interest. The latter is central to her motivations for acting as she does, which gives this more of a shoujo lean. However, as mentioned before, the main storyline holds to more shounen aspects, such as becoming a bodyguard, being immensely proficient at a weapon, protecting the weak, and defeating any enemies that threaten the peace that her life has. Thankfully, unlike with many shounen mangas, the story isn't long enough to fall into the 'enemy of the week' territory. It is also rather innovative, with the lead heroine the one who does the protecting instead of vice-versa. Also, theworld that the mangaka paints is very different than the one most do, with bleak imaginings of the world falling into violence and depravity. The politics of this world are well thought-out, with much study on the Mafia and Yakuza apparent. And while the ending isn't the one that I may have hoped for, it is nonetheless realistic and fitting.
The art is quite shoujo, with large, sparkly eyes and 'pretty' boys. However, is is a little rough in some areas. If you have also read Skip Beat! then the similarity in character design is aparent, with Skip Beat! smoothing out some of the rougher edges in the art style. This also holds true for the charater's personalities themselves- you can see that Kyoko was based of Tokyo's main lead. But in and of themselves, the characters in Tokyo aren't bad- Tsukasa is overall a sweet girl with a few rough edges and the will to protect those that are precious to her at all costs. Her love interest at first appears to be an aloof pervert, but Tsukasa comes to understand that he... is an aloof pervert. While he does fall in love with Tsukasa, to protect his clan and life, he is willing to marry someone else. He is also a definate prototype for Ren of Skip Beat!. And in case I forget to mention, this is a bit of a reverse-harem. Not only is she surrounded by men (all her siblings are male, too!), several men do fall in love, both with her female form and when she's disguised as a man.
I did enjoy how different this was from most shoujo manga. It had action, action, romance, action, and a surprising amount of violence for the demographic it's aimed at- and I didn't mind a bit. Well, almost. It came too close to being too formulaic and violent for my tastes, but that's just a personal opinion. Overall, an eight. If you liked this, I do feel that you will like (or at least like comparing it with) her later work Skip Beat!. For female gender-hiding and reverse-harem, go for Ouran High School Host Club. And for incredible amounts of power, action, a little violence, and more reverse-harem, go for Dorothy of Oz. Enjoy!
Tokyo Crazy Paradise is built upon clichés that we’ve read/watched about a thousand times with manga and anime: yakuza, gender bending, poor girl, rich guy, poor girl becoming the “servant” of rich guy…But these clichés are done well in which you forget they’re clichés in the first place. Warning: this manga is grittier than typical shoujos. There’re drugs, human trafficking, violence, prostitution—yeah, it’s all there. This is a Yakuza story after all. And sure, these things might not faze some readers (the seinen demographic), but need I remind you again that TCP is shoujo? You know, the same thing Kimi ni Todoke (shoujo in
its purest form) is labeled?
But Tokyo Crazy Paradise has all the right things I look for in a manga. There’s action (don’t underestimate the action scenes just because this is a “girl’s” manga), there’s romance, there’s comedy, there’s drama, and yes, there’s angst. And of course, the badass characters are a plus.
The art is old-school. The hair (bangs) are cut off in awkward waves—you know what I’m talking about. And the eyes are sparkly, as shoujos typically have them. This was made in 1996-2002 after all. But it grew on me, like old-school usually does. And of course, you see the journey of how Nakamura’s skills improve by the chapter.
Gender benders usually annoy me in which they’re not done well. I mean, c’mon! No matter how much I love Hana Kimi, you can obviously tell Ishiya is a G-U-R-L! But when I first started reading Tokyo Crazy Paradise, I seriously believed Tsukasa was a boy. Her (His?) tough actions and rough boy-ish looks just screamed MALE! She lives life by her own pace and fights for justice. Tsukasa also has a specialty weapon she fights with: a whip made of chains. How she grew accustomed to it, I don’t know, but she’s essentially a badass.
I’m also really sick and tired of useless and weak female protagonists in manga, but Tsukasa is probably my favorite heroine ever in manga/anime history. She’s funny, she’s strong, and she has morals (she DOESN’T go around, “obliviously” flirting with guys or “accidentally” tempting men to want her or blush at every hot guy who glances at her).
The other protagonist of this story is Ryuji, the young yakuza boss who has an interesting relationship with Tsukasa. Is he her childhood friend? Her childhood rival? Or are they childhood classmates who rarely ever talked to each other? All three. The answer is all three.
At the beginning, Ryuji is depicted as cold, harsh, and someone who deserves the title of head of a yakuza clan. But he’s still essentially, 14 years old (one throwback of TCP. They’re friggin 14 and in junior high as the story progresses!). And who’s the one who makes him feel that way? None other than our badass and goofy heroine, Tsukasa. Believe me, I could go on forever about these two, so to shorten it up, these two bring out the best and the worst in each other—and they wouldn’t prefer it any other way.
The rest of the TCP cast consists of some of the most likeable (and badass, you can never have enough badass) characters in manga. Tsukasa’s goofy brothers and Ryuji’s yakuza clan members just create this huge (entertaining) and loving family. You don’t know whether you want to watch them from afar in fear of their short tempers or join in with their chaos.
(In replacement of Enjoyment…) Romance: 10
Tokyo Crazy Paradise is a slow romance. I love slow romances, so it’s perfect for me. Some people don’t like slow romances, but c’mon, at least it’s faster than Skip Beat! (I still love you though Skip Beat!). There’s this Romeo and Juliet thing going on between Ryuji and Tsukasa since Ryuji is the head of his yakuza clan and Tsukasa grew up with cops as her parents who engraved into her head that yakuza are horrible people who Tsukasa should never involve herself with.
But these two form a friendship with each other over the years they’ve been together (refer to paragraph 2 under Character) and of course, once Ryuji discovers Tsukasa’s real gender, he can’t keep his eyes (and hands) off of her. There’s chemistry and a hint of something more, but there’s the Romeo and Juliet thing going on that stops any feelings from arising. Then, their relationship takes another turn when obstacles arise, both in their love lives and their life together as individuals involved in the underground world.
The romance between these two aren’t light and fluffy either. You can say their love is mature, but you can also say it’s restrained, and in the end, it’s uncontrollable. Sorry, that sounded really cheesy, but that’s exactly how their love progresses. Like I said, the romance is really slow at the beginning, but when it gets going, IT GETS GOING! So yes, your romance needs will definitely be fulfilled in Tokyo Crazy Paradise. And that’s the way I like it!
All in all, you have no idea how much I wanted these two to be together and get a happily ever after even though they weren’t meant to be.
Overall rating: 10
I’ve said all I need to say about Tokyo Crazy Paradise (I’m lying. There’s so much more I can say, but as you can tell, this review is long enough as it is). Not once was I bored when I read this manga, and yes, I did read TCP in one sitting. Admittedly, the ending was not as satisfying as I wanted it to be, but when I reread the series a second, then third, then fourth time, I realized the ending wasn’t as unsatisfactory as I initially thought.
I won’t lie and say you’d definitely enjoy Tokyo Crazy Paradise if you gave it a chance since everybody has different tastes. But I can assure you that the label of “shoujo” shouldn’t make you lower your standards. There's the perfect balance between romance and action and I've never seen any other manga/anime that has done a better or even level job as Tokyo Crazy Paradise. Both guys and girls can enjoy this manga and I sincerely hope you do give this series a chance. Who knows, it might just become one of your all-time favorites as it became one of mine.
Too bad there isn’t an anime for this or an English license. I’d throw away all my savings to buy all 19 volumes/box sets in a heartbeat.
Story - set in the future, when it is dangerous for women to be on the street, comes the story of two 14 year olds. One, head honcho of a powerful yakuza group, the other the daughter of policeman, living as a man.
Yes, this is the basic story, but it is So Much More!! It is action packed, it is (slightly) romanitic, it is about growing up, and growing together, it is jealousy, it is humour, it is just so addictive!!! There were many occasions when I laughed outloud, in situations where I was not expecting any comedy.
Art - you can tell who
all the main characters are, and Tsukasa's (our heroine) facial expressions are just grand! Ryuji despite his stoney expression conveys a lot, and I actually love it when they slip into chibi style. The art isn't as clean as I like it, but that is a personal preference, and not a failing of the mangaka. Occasionally I had trouble telling characters apart (that would be the younger brothers and some of the school friends), but on the whole I am really impressed with what happened with a LOT of characters.
Characters - I can't say anything other than outstanding. As mentioned above, there are a LOT of characters, and each has their own feel. Throughout the story, they grown, and change, and I fell in love with both Tsukasa and Ryuji! As well as numerous side characters.
Enjoyment/Overall - I got hooked. I got addicted. I sat down and read all 19 volumes across 2 days. And I don't regret it! It also has very high re-read potential. This manga has made it to my list of all time favourites. All I can say is give it a go - I don't think you will be sorry.