Tokio and Azuma’s character arcs have developed into something very complex and crucial over the course of Choujin X manga, especially after the time-skip.
For those who have paid close attention to how it developed, it is quite evident that both of them are going to be on two different trajectories. Even if they have sort of made up in chapter 43 after their brief cold-war, it is safe to say that their ideologies are still polar opposite.
But why am I even talking about this? Because, in the end, the direction that Choujin X’s story would take will all boil down to the choices these two would make.
Keeping that in mind, let us try to understand how the two main characters of Ishida’s latest manga fundamentally differ from each other!
I may have overanalyzed the whole thing, so feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments after reading! I look forward to hearing what you have to say!!
Tokio and Azuma’s difference in making choices:
Time and again Ishida has subtly highlighted that Tokio and Azuma have an entirely different thought process when it comes to the choices they make in the future.
And this became even more clearer from what was showcased in chapter 41.2. It was a case of contrasting ideologies.
Tokio the risk taker:
In chapter 41.2, Tokio was fighting a losing battle against a chaosified Palma Shishinegura.
The reason he found himself on the backfoot was because instead of putting down Palma in accordance with the laws, Tokio was trying to make her forcefully raise and use up her supercells in order to bring her back.
During this fight he thinks back to what Sato had told him at some point in the past.
The gist of the message was this – all roads eventually lead to hell. This was his way of telling Tokio that no matter what choice he made, there was a very real chance that things could go wrong.
But despite Sato’s dark outlook, Tokio was still determined to go down a path he chose just to see where he would end up. He was willing to take a huge risk in hopes of things turning out to be positive.
This is what he showcased when he chose to bring back Palma from her chaosified state. If he had, instead, decided to heed Sato’s advice, then Tokio would have, and taken the easy way out of eliminating her.
Because, Sato’s advice suggested that no matter the choices he made, he would still be reach the same end point. I wonder if Sato specifically gave this advice only to dissuade Tokio from taking unnecessary risks, or if he actually believes what he said.
Something similar happened in chapter 43 too.
When Mike and Mic wanted to give up on the search to find Zora’s poppy fields after 11 days of no success, Tokio stood firm and believed that they would find a breakthrough if they persevered and continued on the same path.
He took a huge risk by deciding to carry on the search, as there was a high chance that the Tower faction had become aware of their activities. This could subsequently disrupt the whole Old Market operation.
However, the very next day, they found their single biggest lead in Nude.
From the above two instances, it has become clear that Tokio is someone who wants to explore a path for himself before deciding whether it is right or wrong. He is someone who doesn’t want to have any pre-conceived notions about anything.
This thought process was instilled in him by his dad in my opinion. While they were having a conversation back in chapter , he wanted Tokio to follow his heart and do what he wanted. He was sure that his son’s life would end up being something good if he did so.
One could argue that Tokio is an optimist. But then, I don’t think optimism is the right word for it.
The only reason we feel Tokio’s optimism has worked is because the end results have worked in his favor till now. There is a very real chance that a choice that Tokio makes would not end up well for himself or those around him.
He got a warning regarding the same from Masamune in chapter 39.
The death of his friends in Iwato? That was probably something Tokio was responsible for, atleast partly. This would explain why Sato specifically said the words “You can’t let yourself forget this!”
There are emotions that Tokio is suppressing right now. And once he lets it all loose, we’ll get an even better idea on his mindset. I hope Ishida gives us more of it soon!!
So yeah, Tokio is not an optimist. I will categorize him as a risk-taker. However, he isn’t someone who takes a calculated risk either, instead, he goes with his intuition and gut feeling.
He might be bird brained, but no, I am not saying that Tokio is stupid!
Perfect character building:
Believe me, the behavior that Tokio is exhibiting right now sits perfectly with the kind of person he was before the time-skip.
Back then he had no sense of self and was overly reliant on Azuma for whatever he did. He was essentially like an NPC sidekick in a game, who only does what you order him to do.
He had no goals, nor did he have anything he wanted to achieve. And this was highlighted quite a lot in the manga.
For such a character, it makes total sense for him to try to explore new paths and get a better understanding for himself. By letting himself experience various scenarios, he is trying to understand what is right and wrong for himself.
He is growing slowly, and starting to make decisions for himself. This was visible when he opposed Arthur Sand’s idea. However, I’d say he is still in the learning phase. Tokio still has a lot to experience, and decide what exactly he wants to do.
One thing is clear though, he is no longer riding on Azuma’s coattails, nor is he clinging on to him for answers. Instead, for now atleast, he wishes to be strong enough so that he can stand by Azuma’s side on his own.
Now, this whole dynamic is the polar opposite of Azuma.
Azuma the Machiavellian?
Machiavellian personalities often display manipulative tendencies, value their power/themselves above others, display a visible lack of empathy and have an underlying wickedness to them.
Calling Azuma a Machiavellian personality seems to harsh. But after
overanalyzing his traits, there is a part of me which feels that he is somewhat closer to the spectrum than a lot of us believe.
I have said this before on some of my Twitter posts, and I will say this again here. Azuma is cold and calculative. And that side of his has been visible multiple times, especially after the time-skip. However, it gets toned down a lot sometimes because of Ely’s presence. She acts as a perfect foil for him!
Also, I feel that Azuma has consciously worked on his personality a lot to hide his flaws. That too sometimes masks his true instinctive nature a lot of times. However, it does show its face here and there, and that’s when we get a better understanding of his psych.
The first hint about his nature was in the chapter immediately after the timeskip, when the Tower faction attacked a plane in order forcefully convert unsuspecting citizens into choujins.
When Nari destroy the flight and escapes with Jin and Tawashi, Azuma’s first instinct was to go after them. It was only when Ely pointed out that he thought about saving the passengers stuck on the flight.
This showcased a certain lack of empathy in him.
Azuma is someone who is obsessed over his strength. Tokio’s growth as a choujin has put him in a very uncomfortable spot. This could be his insecurities boiling up. However, he is also someone who is very focused about his powers.
He is someone who likes to be hero, as evident from his previous interaction. And in order to stay on top, he is ready to go to any extreme extent. Atleast he hinted at such a possibility.
In chapter 43, Azuma suggested that if a war breaks out, it would help him to get stronger. He immediately clarified that he jokingly suggested, but even so, I think it was one of those instances where his inner personality reared its head.
Also, Azuma is too rigid when it comes to his choices. He is always hellbent on upholding the law. In fact, he won’t even mind doing so at someone’s expense.
When he fooled Palma with the onigiri, he proved that he can be cunning and manipulative when needed. Later, while fighting her chaosified form, Azuma once again showed no empathy, and wanted to stick to the rules and eliminate her altogether.
Even while questioning her, Azuma just saw her as a piece on a board, once again showcasing how cold and calculative he can be.
Now, check out the following behavioral patterns of Machiavellian personality. I am not saying Azuma has them all, but when you look closely, he does tick a lot of boxes.
Struggling to express his feelings, and having cold social interactions are also his traits! While Tokio too is repressing some of his emotions, as I mentioned above, he is openly wearing his insecurities on his sleeves. We don’t see Azuma do that at all!
So, while Tokio is someone who goes with his gut, Azuma is someone who makes calculated choices. That’s one of the major differences in their personas. But there’s also something else.
Choosing the right path:
I mentioned before that Azuma was someone who followed the rulebook to a fault. However, that’s not the only thing he is obsessed about. Azuma always is under the burden of making the right choice.
Check out what he says in chapter 43 once again.
The reason why he is so cold and calculative can be attributed to this mindset of his. He wouldn’t wanna go with his gut feeling, instead, he wants to make sure that the choices he makes are the correct one.
Unlike Tokio, Azuma didn’t develop this side of his after the timeskip. In fact, he has been like this ever since the start of the manga. Remember him trying to go and save Tokio from Umezawa and Ricardo. He was burdened with similar thoughts back then.
Where did he get this trait from? Well, once again its from a parent.
Just like Tokio’s dad was the one who encouraged him to explore the options in front of him freely, Azuma’s dad was the one who instilled the peculiar ideology in his son.
When he took Azuma down the wrong railroad, the message translated to something like this in Azuma’s head “Make sure you always choose the right path” or something like “make the right choices always.”
In the end, Azuma always has this added pressure of wondering if the choices he makes will be right. However, that is not always the case with Tokio. He is following his mind freely.
Fighting vs Talking:
Another crucial difference in the character of Tokio & Azuma is how they choose to resolve their issues.
If you didn’t notice it yet, then Azuma is someone who chooses to resolve his issue by fighting. He let’s his fists do the talking.
It is true that he has lived by the ideals of not shirking justice, however, for him, this essentially translated to beating up the bad guys.
This desire to fight doesn’t just extend to the bad guys. In fact, fighting is the way Azuma chooses to stamp his authority and prove his superiority to himself. And I believe this has been the case ever since the start.
If you don’t believe me, then look at the two instances below. The first, when he turned into a choujin, and the next, from chapter 43 when he wanted to smoothen things out with Tokio.
In both these cases, Azuma chose to throw punches, rather than hold his horses and talk.
Azuma has also shown the tendency to quickly categorize anyone who doesn’t follow the rules, or anyone who doesn’t fit into his views as villains or the bad guys regardless of the circumstances.
Tokio, on the other hand, despite having ridden on Azuma’s coattails for a long time, is not someone who looks to resolve things through fighting.
True, Tokio has turned out to be a menacing fighter, but unlike Azuma, he is not quick to brand people as bad guys and then immediately proceed to fight them.
For instance, Tokio wanted to talk things out with Zora in order to understand her side of things, but Azuma on the other hand was quick to cast her as a villain.
In the end, it is quite clear that both these characters have polar opposite outlooks!
What does it mean?
Well, as I mentioned above, their character traits are going to dictate how the future of Choujin X manga pans out.
We are at a very crucial juncture of the story right now. With Batista seemingly setting his eyes on Azuma to convert him into the third beast that Zora needs, there is high chance of his hidden nature coming more to the forefront.
He will be the personification of the War Choujin!
However, that’s not all. If Tokio indeed hesitates and plays coy, exploring options based on his gut feeling, there is a very high chance that it might end up hurting someone close to him again.
Masamune’s warning is a bad omen all the way!!
During the Old Market arc, I have constantly been worried that something will happen to Mike and Mic. And if it does happen, then it might bring about some more changes in Tokio’s persona.
But, if they end up safe, then the crosshair of death shifts to Ely next. And if something does happen to Ely, then it would somehow lead to Azuma following the same path as Batista, who according to popular assumptions, turned to the dark side after the death of his loved one!
And if that indeed happens, then Tokio’s prophetic dream would have come true.
Neither Tokio’s nor Azuma’s personality is perfect right now. And the choices they make based on their outlook is like a ticking timebomb which will make or break the Choujin X verse.
So yeah, for me, it felt like decent choice to lay down the nuances of their personas to better understand them.
Also, the opposing personalities could also be a hint that these two are eventually going to be on opposing sides anyways.
In Tokyo Ghoul, Ishida made history repeat itself when Kaneki became the dragon. The same way, maybe Ishida will repeat history by pitting two friends on the opposing sides. It won’t be something new as the same happened with Mado-Zora and even Batista-Sandek.
So don’t be surprised if Tokio and Azuma face off with the fate of the world hanging in balance.
I am assuming that Azuma will be one to go over to the other side, but it could very well be Tokio too!