Ikebukuro West Gate Park (池袋ウエストゲートパーク) is a series of seinen, urban mystery novels written by Ira Ishida that received an anime adaptation this Fall 2020 simulcast season. The series is being produced by Doga Kobo with direction from Tomoaki Koshida and is scheduled for twelve episodes. When I went paroozing for the season’s offerings, I became intrigued by this because of its genre. Mysteries tend to be a weakness of mine and IWGP sounded like it’d be worth testing out at the very least. After watching the first segment, I find myself feeling rather indifferent towards it all around, which is mildly disappointing.
Ikebukuro West Gate Park revolves around a fruit vendor named Makoto who gets involved in some questionable shite thanks to his mate Takashi, the leader of a large group of hooligans residing in the city of Ikebukuro known as the G-Boys. In the first episode, Makoto gets shanghaied into helping a young girl seek vengeance against homebrew drug dealers that have brought great suffering to her mother.
Normally, I love serials that take a grey, vigilante-eqsue stand on dishing out justice against terrible people, especially hardened criminals who treat kids like trash. So, that was an element of IWGP that was an immediate appeal for me. I also like Makoto’s personality as he reminds me quite a bit of Eikichi Onizuka from GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka, a delinquent with a big heart. But for some reason, the episode just didn’t impress me in the ways that I hoped it would.
Takashi, the leader of the G-Boys, is referred to as “King” and treated as such by practically everyone in the city, except Makoto. He’s the silent type that is supposed to come off as intimidating, but instead he felt rather inconsequential to me. My hope is that he shall be revealed to be much more badass in the upcoming segments because as it stands he’s quite basic, not a good trait for the leader of a big ass gang.
As Makoto helps this girl get her vengeance via hunting down the drug dealers, I wanted to feel invested in what was happening and kept hoping for some sort of excitement to ignite that would make me more engaged with the plot, yet I felt rather apathetic about the whole situation from beginning to end. I haven’t been able to put my finger on it yet, but there’s something missing in the writing and/or execution of the compelling and evocative-attempting storyline. To say that it was frustrating would be somewhat of an understatement. I watch so many cop-type shows, and this is rather run-of-the-mill in that regard, except it’s via the perspective of gangsters rather than the police. Because of how much I enjoy this breed of media, I walked away from the first episode surprised at the disconnect that lingered between me and IWGP.
The animation is standard with decent use of details and neat shots of the cityscape, particularly at night. I loved the animation of the food as they looked mouth-watering and scrumptious, even the strange-as-hell Fruit Deluxe Ramen thing that Makoto seems to love (whut). The computer graphics didn’t feel too out-of-place either, not that there was a heavy-handed use of it (yet). The opening song has a good sound to it too. There’s not much for me to complain about in the technical aspects of the series so far.
Moving forward with the anime, I want to see more action. I want to see better written suspense and intrigue. I definitely need more badassry from Boss Takashi dude and overall more authentic evocation of emotions. Since first episodes can be misleading indicators of the quality for an entire series, I’m not ready to give up on Ikebukuro West Gate Park just yet.
If you’re interested in checking out this series for yourself, you can catch it on Tuesdays over on Funimation.