When anime was first introduced in my country, it was done in a way that was completely wrong. Even though that has been a long time ago, when I was in my early teens, I remember watching a news item that mentioned kids were being introduced to a new Japanese artform that focussed on strong violence and sex. As usual the media saw this as an opportunity to sensationalise this, and parents were in an uproar. The anime videotapes that you could buy back in those days, only seemed to bring out movies that were either hentai or contained incredibly graphic violence. And of course the tapes sold like crazy. Not a good way to start my introduction to the wonderful world of Japanese animation. A movie that was featured a lot in the news item I spoke of earlier was Wicked City. In it’s opening scene a man is making love to a gorgeous looking woman, that eventually turns into a spiderlike demonic creature. I swear that every man who saw this scene must have given up on sex pretty much right away….well maybe.
Wicked City was a horrormovie, but a truly disgusting one, with over the top violence and sexscenes that could almost be considered porn. It certainly showed the darker side of anime and is a film that while very infamous, is one you should pretty much avoid seeing. This rather long introduction serves as a stepping stone to the film I am about to review. Demon City Shinjuku is strangely enough directed by the same man that was responsible for the aforementioned movie. But it is a much better film, and could almost be considered as a mild version of the atrocious Wicked City. So there is really no need for concern, or to think that my blog has suddenly turned into a platform for promoting movies that push all the wrong buttons. Are your minds set at ease? Right, let’s get on with the review then.
High atop the roof of a building in Tokyo two men are locked in mortal combat. With supernatural energy dancing around them, swords clash back and forth, until eventually one of the men is defeated and dies. With a triumphant roar the victor, a man named Rebi Ra, sees the entire city going doing down in a powerful earthquake. He has been possessed by very strong demonic forces and promises that soon the entire world will be enslaved by demons from another realm. Ten years later the moment Rebi Ra spoke of is almost at hand. The World President, that is on a mission of peace to bring together the human race, suddenly gets captured by Ra. This is all part of his plan to stop the only person that might put an end to him, a young man called Kyoya Izayo, the son of the man he killed on the rooftops all those years ago. Meanwhile the president’s daughter, the beautiful Sayaka Rama, tries to enlist the help of Kyoya. At first he wants nothing to do with her, but when she enters the ruins of Tokyo alone, he decides to follow her in. The city is but a former shadow of itself though, and the horrors they find inside might be enough to stop them from preventing Rebi Ra’s plans to enter the entire world in eternal darkness…..
One of the things I love the most about this movie is the incredible atmosphere it breathes out. The ruins of the destroyed city of Tokyo are brought to life in a truly breathtaking way. With subtle touches like still working traffic lights, skyscrapers that have fallen against each other, and other things like that, the city has become an almost living entity. You feel a constant sense of fear and dread, that is just perfect for a horrormovie. The story of the film is one of it’s weaker points. It simply serves to bring our heroes from point a to b, and encounter a new and potentially horrifying creature. And that is another thing this movie does well, the plethora of monsters it serves up. It’s not called Demon City for nothing, as our young hero Kyoya certainly has his hands full at fighting a number of horrifying abominations , while at the same trying to protect the girl.
The two main characters of the film, Kyoya and Sayaka, are not exactly what you would call well developped. Kyoya is your basic cocky and kind of macho type male, that at first is rather annoying. In fact you kind of wonder how a guy like that can save the world. This all changes of course when he meets Sayaka. She brings an innocence with her, that tempers his bravado, and turns him into a different person. While Sayaka is, for lack of a better term, rather dull, she is certainly brave although also rather stupid. For her to be entering a demon infested city alone without any kind of weapon borders on suicide. All in all though, even though the pair won’t be winning the award for best anime characters ever created, they work just well enough to grow on you. In fact a certain scene with Sayaka near the end of the film is quite beautiful and rather touching.
Demon City Shinjuku is a pretty good horror anime film. While the animation is now almost thirty years old, it still looks good enough to draw in people who usually don’t like oldschool anime. With a great atmosphere, some cool fight scenes and horror that never turns gory, what we have here is a film that can be enjoyed by most people that like horrormovies. The only thing worth mentioning on the negative side of things, is that the end of the movie feels a bit anti-climactic. Still though, it doesn’t ruin the movie itself, and I highly recommend the film all the same. If you have trouble tracking down this movie, you can find it on YouTube for free in both a subbed and dubbed version.
I give Demon City Shinjuku a 8 out of 10 score.