Villains Becoming Heroes – Towa no Quon, Part 2

After the first two films left me unimpressed, I went into the subsequent entries with lowered expectations, yet an open mind. After all, the drought of trailers available for the series didn’t really give me much to build an idea of what awaited me. I’d also be lying if I said I didn’t see the potential for the series to save itself. Sure enough, the third film, The Complicity of Dreams, was the first truly great entry in the series.

Minor Story Spoilers Follow

Illustration by Yutaka Nakamura

The first two films suffered from a story that couldn’t quite pull me in. Even the second one, with a more compelling approach to the themes of oppression, had issues with pacing and I had a hard time getting invested. On the contrary, this entry wastes no time delving into a story with a great setup.

The attractors are trying to save a young boy with powers, but while Quon is fighting with Custos, Epsilon corners the boy. In desperation, Tei, one of the attractors, activates her ability, sending her, the boy, and Epsilon into a slumber. Within their minds, their dark pasts intertwine, revealing much about all of them.

What follows is a race against time. Custos begins tracking Tei’s brainwaves through Epsilon and Quon uses his vaguely powerful abilities to enter the boy’s mind in hopes of saving him and Tei. Along the way, we creep into the mind of the child they are saving and see his maladjusted sense of right and wrong. More importantly, we learn about the pasts of Quon, Tei and most intriguing, Epsilon.

Epsilon (Aka Shun Kazami) in his standard black outfit and armor

Film three is where Epsilon’s development takes a big step forward, as he confronts a past he has repressed. He is far more emotionally expressive throughout this film because of this. The absolute standout performance by David Matranga carries this tragic tale. It may be my favorite character he has voiced and that’s considering his performance as Tomoya in Clannad.

Quon also gets some much-appreciated exposure. Through a backstory equal parts colorful and tragic we meet Quon’s brother Towa, whose philosophies on equality no doubt influence Quon’s. The tragic fate of his people is conveyed through a haunting arthouse scene with a pencil-drawn look.

Animation by Takahiro Ikezoe

Last post I didn’t go into much detail on the characters making up the show’s cast, a mistake I intend to rectify now. I really love them all, partially for the designs by Kawamoto I praised last time, but mainly for Sentai Filmworks’ vocal direction in the dub. There are some line reads that are a bit off now and again, but when they get it right, they really get it right.

Tei is almost like this series’ Jean Grey, a very powerful psychic whose ability can cause great harm when not controlled. She’s clearly very selfless puts the well-being of others above her own mental health. Yuri, one of my favorites, sticks out for her charisma as much as her sexuality. Plus, she possesses awesome superspeed.

Yuriko Akatsuki

Takao is a young man with immense respect for Quon, but who also is very critical of his methods when they put his own life in danger. He was hit or miss at first, but his youthful, bratty attitude grew on me when it became apparent he was basically a tsundere for Quon. His Japanese voice actor, Miyu Irino, even admitted it. Perhaps why I feel the need to give greater attention to the characters now is that the series starts to put the team dynamic on full display around this point.

While Quon is trying to save Tei and the boy, the rest of the characters try to throw Custos off the trail. With big casts of characters, I always worry about wasted potential but here, everyone’s abilities become integral to saving the day. Well, Takao kinda gets in the way but he’s adorable enough to get a pass.

Both in storytelling and animation, The Complicity of Dreams felt like they were finally pushing the story along in an interesting direction, enough that I was happy to boot up the next entry right as the credits ended. To my delight, things only got better.

The school of thought on what makes a good hero can often differ from what makes a good character, depending on how you look at it. Logic would persist that a character should grow through an arc and undergo change, big or small, by the end.

Our heroes can be what they are because of this same type of story, but other – more classic depictions perhaps – are special because they don’t change that much. Characters like Superman or Goku embody ideals that push the supporting cast (and even the audience) to learn from him. I came to a similar conclusion in my review of SSSS. Gridman when I was assessing the main characters.

This type of character sometimes gets a bad wrap because of the lack of an arc. At the beginning of the fourth film – Roaring Anxiety – I began to really assess what I thought about Quon as a character. The film begins as people are starting to question what they think of Quon.

After Tei’s mental prison in the last film dug up secrets from his past and projected that upon the other Attractors at the amusement park, Quon’s dark past resurfaces. The children he saved now fear who he used to be. He is an immortal hero with a dark past, striving to become better than what he was. The lack of originality is not a terrible thing, it’s just that Epsilon’s arc is more interesting.

Epsilon undergoes quite a transformation in this film. Narratively, he begins to accept his past sins and embrace who he really is, slowly turning him into a hero as his ties to Custos break. Visually, his suit turns white and he begins to unleash abilities arguably cooler than the already awesome ones we’ve seen from Quon.

Epsilon’s White Suit, in what looks like the only good visual reference I can find online.

The themes of oppression and equality are still present but approached more diagetically through stories like that of Epsilon. Quon saves him, but all the other Attractors want him dead considering he used to hunt them down. Getting in Epsilon’s way is resentment from those he wishes to save and contempt from those whom he used to fight for. It’s a great setup for an even greater redemption.

As for the animation, I was far too quick to assume the quality based on the series’ Sakugabooru page. There is plenty to enjoy here, especially during the final battle of the fourth movie. I’m beginning to think the Sakugabooru page should be updated. However, having already watched the final two films, the best of the best still lies ahead.

Film four ends on a sudden cliffhanger that didn’t quite leave me shocked or fearful for the mortality of the characters. Nevertheless, it marked a huge turning point for the series as the story approaches its epic conclusion.

When I finished the first two films, it was late December and I took a long hiatus before getting around to continuing the series. I’d say that was indicative of the quality before me. However, the third and fourth films exceeded my expectations thanks to better pacing, great action and most importantly, the characters.

Part Three

Towa no Quon is available for legal streaming on HIDIVE. It is also available on Blu-ray from Sentai Filmworks.

I look forward to concluding this series next week, as I ponder how this series has become so obscure. In the meantime, leave a comment below telling me what you think about Towa no Quon and let me know what other obscure Anime I should check out. Thanks for reading and as always, I’ll see you next time!

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