Tokyo Revengers: Why Kazutora’s Hatred of Mikey Makes Heartbreaking Sense

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Tokyo Revengers Episode 16, "Once Upon a Time," now streaming on Crunchyroll.

Kazutora Hanemiya was a very different person in middle school. Before the events of Tokyo Revengers, he and his five best friends spent all day riding bikes. They occasionally got into fights, but that's what happens when you're a delinquent gang. He would do anything for them and especially admired Mikey, Commander of Toman. It's hard to reconcile these images with the current Kazutora, who is now the Number Three of Valhalla, wants nothing to do with Toman anymore, and abhors Mikey to the point where he wants to kill him.

Where did it all go wrong? Following Episode 16, if we unravel a little bit of Kazutora's backstory, his hatred of Mikey starts to become more understandable, if not justifiable.

Mikey Saves Kazutora

tokyo revengers happy young mikey

Kazutora grew up in an abusive household, with his father constantly hurting him and his mother. Sometime after his parents divorced and he lived solely with his mother, he met the members of Toman. He didn't warm up to them initially, and couldn't understand why the other founders were so loyal to Mikey since he seemed so bratty. Kazutora has never really had any friends before, and the two adults who were supposed to protect him didn't. Trusting anyone is a difficult ask for him. It wasn't until Mikey saved Kazutora from his father and his bullies -- and what he said to his friend -- that things started to change.

According to a fan translation of a bonus booklet in the Tokyo Revengers anime's Blu-ray, Mikey told Kazutora he belonged to him. This might sound patronizing and demeaning without much context, but Mikey elaborates and says all of Kazutora's pain and suffering belongs to him as well. Mikey is choosing to take responsibility for Kazutora's past, present and future and is willing to shoulder his burdens.

Kazutora's Breaking Point

Toman had become Kazutora's loving family, and for Mikey to offer him that as well as sharing his burden meant the world to him. The least he could do in return was get Mikey the bike of his dreams. He knew how badly Toman's leader wanted the CB250T and if Kazutora has to steal it, then he'll do it if it means making his friend happy. Sadly, Kazutora didn't understand that Mikey has always valued his friends above all else -- he even trashed his moped as a statement to Baji. He would never be happy with his new bike if he knew what Kazutora and Baji had to do to get it for him.

As we know, on the night Kazutora and Baji went to the bike shop to steal the CB250T, disaster strikes as the two get caught stealing by the shop owner -- Mikey's older brother Shinichiro. Kazutora immediately slams the chain cutter into Shinichiro's head, killing him instantly. He'd had tunnel vision, only seeing Baji in danger and doing what he thought he had to do to protect him.

When he realized what he'd done, Kazutora's guilt swallowed him up. Mikey had offered him a family and Kazutora singlehandedly took Mikey's blood-related family away from him. Kazutora starts panicking, absolutely terrified. He immediately denies it, saying he would never kill Mikey's brother.

tokyo revengers mikey kazutora baji arrest

Kazutora's logic is that if it hadn't been for Mikey's birthday, he would have never tried to steal the CB250T and Shinichiro wouldn't be dead -- therefore, Mikey was the bad guy. He is the one to blame for Shinichiro's death and not Kazutora. And to right this wrong, Kazutora has to kill Mikey.

At first glance, this line of thought doesn't make sense. But it's the only way for Kazutora to cope with his guilt: he projects it onto Mikey and blames Shinichiro's murder on him. This is also why he says he hates Mikey -- he's pushing his self-loathing onto his former friend.

The mental strain and trauma from his abusive father had already rendered Kazutora's mental state quite frail. Although Toman saved him for a time, he still needed help -- but before he could get it, he hurt the first person to ever offer him the hand of friendship. Ironically, Mikey remains Kazutora's savior: his goal of killing Mikey is the only thing holding his mind together, and that's what makes Tokyo Revengers Episode 16 so gut-wrenching.

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