Tokyo 24th Ward: Ran and [SPOILER]’s Friendship Is Strained to the Breaking Point

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 5 of Tokyo 24th Ward, "Red Line," now streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.

Aoi Shuta and his friends Suido Koki and Akagi Ran make up the RGB team of friends, and together, they saved Sakuragi Mari's life from a runaway train one fateful day. The three boys go way back and trust one another during missions, but they have their differences, and disaster strikes in Episode 5.

Shuta and his friends saw a vision of a terrorist bombing in Episode 4, and in Episode 5, the three boys go after the terrorist, only to realize it's Ran's good friend Kunai, a fellow hacker. Koki wants Kunai dead, while Ran wants to redeem his friend and make things right. However, Ran may be too late to save his troubled comrade.

ran in tears

At first, the dilemma of whether to kill the terrorist or let him get away with his crimes seems one-sided. As a matter of course, the RBG boys will take down a criminal to save an entire cruise ship of innocent people from getting blown up. Then Ran, a hacker activist in the DoRed gang, realizes that the instigator is his friend Kunai, and Ran won't just shoot his friend dead, even if it means preventing a terrorist bombing. Ran lures the bookish Koki away with a false lead, then goes after Kunai on his own to find a new solution while Shuta sneaks aboard the cruise ship, WINNER'S.

Ran racks his brains for a solution, and he uses every clue he can find to track down Kunai's location in an abandoned train car where Koki and Shuta would never think to look. Ran confronts his old friend, who is clearly in anguish. Kunai isn't the type to kill innocent people, and Ran knows it, but Kunai feels he has no choice. His app, Di-VA, had been twisted into a weapon as an excuse to demolish the Shantytown region and replace it with a casino, and Kunai blames himself for his role in this.

Kunai feels trapped with only one way out, and Ran tries his best to create a third route in the future and escape the dilemma Suido Asumi's ghost had explained earlier. No doubt this is Carneades' work, and in the end, it's Carneades who gets the last laugh, because Koki arrives with a SARG team that shoots Kunai dead.

koki in car

Episode 5 ends before Ran can confront Koki about the cold-blooded assassination of his friend-turned-terrorist, but no doubt this bold, decisive move on Koki's part will create a deep rift between the two friends, and their respective attitudes about Kunai reflect the overall controversies of the 24th ward. The entire ward is mired in controversy about the state surveillance system called Hazard Cast and the strong SARG presence there, and while Koki supports the system as the ward mayor's son, Ran opposes it. Ran is a street activist who uses graffiti and hacking to fight the power, cyberpunk style, and Koki only barely tolerates it because Ran's actions aren't too disruptive or destructive. However, Kunai's death is a different matter.

In Ran's eyes, Koki is in the wrong on multiple levels here. For one thing, Kunai was little more than a victim of the greedy adults who took advantage of him, and Kunai deserved a chance at true justice, not just death. Koki's actions also show a complete disregard for Ran's own feelings and his personal attachment to Kunai, and sure enough, Koki coldly states in Episode 5 that Kunai is just a terrorist, no matter who is or whose friend he may be. Needless to say, Ran can't accept that.

Finally, someone in Ran's position would see Koki's actions as a grim precedent for how the state-loving Koki handles problems -- using the iron fist to crack down on all threats to security, no matter the circumstances. To Koki, justice and the law are absolute, while Ran sees things from a more humanistic point of view. With Kunai's blood on Koki's hands, Ran no doubt wants justice served, and he just might turn on Koki for real and become his enemy. He may also ask Shuta to take his side against Koki and SARG, and Shuta just might do it. If he carries on in this vein, Koki may be making more enemies than he's eliminating.

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