Archive for November 8th, 2012

Demon City Shinjuku (1988)

An evil demon named Rebi Rah makes a pact with a demon lord that gives him power to defeat a man that’s come to stop him. After overcoming the man (who looks like Wolverine!), the Tokyo suburb of Shinjuku is decimated by a massive earthquake which becomes known as the Devil’s Shake with the area breaking off from the rest of the city and becoming a place only inhabited by demons, monsters and criminals. It’s an area that’s avoided by all sane human beings. Shinjuku is renamed Monster City. The rest of Tokyo is unaffected by the chaos. 10 years later and Rebi Rah plans to open the gate that will allow the demon world to cross over into our world and take it over. Master Rai, a keeper of the mystical art of Nempo chooses a young man Kyoya Izayoi whose father was the one that got killed by Rebi Rah all those years ago to stop him from plunging the world into darkness forever. At first he refuses to help but after meeting a beautiful young woman Sayaka he changes his mind. Sayaka’s father is the President of Japan and he’s slowly dying at the hands of the evil demon. She goes alone at first to Monster City to face Rebi Rah but she runs into trouble. To her rescue comes Kyoya. Kyoya must master the art of Nempo very quickly before he has a chance to kill Rebi Rah but first he must defeat his 3 trusted henchmen and defeating them won’t be easy. Will Kyoya triumph against the forces of evil?

I haven’t reviewed an anime movie in a while so I thought it was high time I did that. This is a short but highly imaginative adult horror anime from the late 80’s by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, the director behind the excellent Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. Even though it may be an adult anime, it doesn’t come close to being as graphic as Kawajiri’s other works or even Overfiend in that there’s no frequent sex scenes/nudity and extreme violence. This movie does have it’s gory moments but it’s never ultra graphic in nature. The story is engaging but not original (some say it mirrors Star Wars a little), the pace motors along quickly and the creature designs are top notch – one such example is that of an arachnid/humanoid demon. The demon creatures are terrifying and very cool looking. It’s the characters that provides the main failings of the movie. I wouldn’t say the villain Rebi Rah is a memorable antagonist at all. He doesn’t come across as frightening or threatening. I do like the magic sword he weaves which reminded me of Lion-O’s Sword Of Omens from Thundercats. Kyoya and Sayaka are rather flat characters as well. Kyoya is just your usual young hero who swears, moans constantly and thinks about sex! Sayaka is a stereotypical damsel in distress who is seen as being rather naive. It’s one of the supporting characters in Mephisto who comes across best in the movie. A rather mysterious person, the viewer doesn’t know whether he’s on the side of good or evil. As the movie is short there’s no time for any character development at all. The version I saw was the English dubbed one and the accents given to some of the characters is ridiculous. The character of Chibi who is supposed to be a young Japanese kid is given a stupid Mexican accent and swears like a trooper! Even Sayaka is given an awful British accent. The animation is well done and I especially liked the look for the ruined suburb of Shinjuku. It feels sinister and oppressive – you expect something dangerous lurking around every corner. There’s a great scene in a park where Sayaka and Kyoya confront the souls of the people that died there during the devastating earthquake that happened 10 years previously. It ends rather touchingly with the dead souls able to move on to the afterlife and coming down as drops of rain. I was hoping for a thrilling confrontation at the end between Rebi Rah and Kyoya but it ends all too quickly. What an anti-climax and such a disappointment. It feels a bit rushed like the filmmakers wanted to get this project over and done with and move on to something else.

I wouldn’t call this an essential anime movie to watch. It’s an interesting 78 min feature, has soon good action scenes and it’s never boring but if you want to see director Kawajiri at his best check out the two titles I’ve mentioned above. This could have been a lot better.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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