Kyoya's father was a great warrior, killed at the hands of the diabolical psychic, Rebi Ra, who has now opened a portal to hell in the city of Shinjuku. It falls to Kyoya to finish what his father started and battle his way through demons, while protecting a young woman from harm. The only problem is that he's not exactly your classic hero type, and his powers are still latent.
I have a sneaking suspicion that Yoshiaki Kawajiri really likes John Carpenter movies. Because Demon City Shinjuku could be summed up as an OVA that mixes both Escape from New York and Escape From L.A. (despite being made after this OVA) together, has a little bit of Halloween thrown in there, and some has supernatural elements added for good measure. Good thing I'm a Carpenter fan then, right? In Cyber City Kawajiri lifted the basic premise of criminals having to do complicated missions for the state, with the chance of being pardoned (and with the risk of being blown up if they failed), just
like Escape from New York. Here Kawajiri instead takes the idea of having to rescue the President, deep within a city that has long been abandoned by decent people, and now overrun by crazy things, and turns that into an anime, with mixed results.
Demon City Shinjuku is and OVA from 1988, animated by Madhouse studios, and directed by none-other then Yoshiaki Kawajiri. Madhouse and Kawajiri have worked on countless other ultraviolent movies and OVAs over the years, and Urban Vision, CPM, and Manga Entertainment have released many of them here in the US, since he once had a huge following here. This movie-length OVA is very similar to his other works, perhaps too similar for it's own good. Anyway the OVA is about how the evil psychic Rebi Ra, deep within what's left of Shinjuku, Tokyo is attempting to complete a portal to hell. He is also a powerful swordsman, and seems to have sold his soul for all his powers. Once the portal to Hell is opened, demons will take over the entire planet. He must do this, because it is another price he has to pay for gaining all this power. The entire world seems to have become one single government, and it's hinted that the former countries have now become states or provinces, and that includes Japan. The World President is making a trip to Japan, when he ends up being captured by Rebi Ra in an attempt to destabilize the world, and send the world into chaos, and also prevent any counter measures against him. However he does not only kidnap the president, but his aid and spiritual adviser, Master Rai. Master Rai is well aware of who has kidnapped them and left them for dead, it is revealed that Rebi Ra is former student of his. Another student of his headed out to stop Rebi Ra many years earlier but failed and died in the process. Now all of mankind's hope rests with that man's son, a kid named Kyoya. Because only Kyoya and Master Rai have this hidden ability that could defeat Rebi Ra, and Rai must remain near the President's side or he will die and the world may fall into another dark age!
Kyoya gets contacted by Master Rai's spirit, and told he has to fight to save the earth. Kyoya explains that while it's true he learned some skills from his father, he only learned the basics before his father passed away. Master Rai pleads with him to try and save the president and defeat Rebi Ra anyway, because he doesn't, no one will. Kyoya's still not very eager to run off on some quest to save the world, and so he leaves his house and goes out for a walk. This is where he runs into the Presiden't daughter, Sayaka Rama, who tries to convince him to go with her to the city and save her father. He still refuses, and so she decides to try her luck on her own. When she gets there however she is attacked by some criminals hanging around the outskirts of the town, and Kyoya comes out of the shadows and saves her at the last second. Seems he can't let some innocent girl waltz right into the city of hell on her own. The rest of the OVA follows these two on their quest through the city, where they will meet some Escape from New York- esque allies and enemies, and finally save the day.
The main problem with this anime is it's very by-the-book, standard and unoriginal. It's even very predictable at times. It's not a bad story, but it feels like we've seen it before. Now you have to forgive it a little bit, as the OVA probably predates many other shows we've seen that have this kind of plot, but still it's nothing groundbreaking either. That's not to say that this is a bad movie by any stretch, because it's not. It's just the plot is not as strong as it should have been. The best part of the story is the initial premise of people from the outside trying to rescue to President deep within the city, and going through hell to do it. And you know what, I credit Carpenter more for that, then Kawajiri. Still it plays out decently, and many of the Escape from New York characters show up, like your token double crosser and insider who helps the main characters out a bit. And these characters are all quite interesting, although they don't get enough screen time sadly. The main character, Kyoya is actually not that interesting of a person. He's sort of boring and 2 dimensional. He's not a bad character, but probably better fit for a side character, as he's not interesting enough to carry the weight of an entire OVA. His struggle with becoming stronger, and awakening his potential is well done however. Sayaka, the President's daughter is instead a very interesting character, perhaps she should have been the lead. She's not too tough ina fight, but she's a strong willed person, eager to help if she can, and shows that she's scared, but willing to press on despite that. She feels helpless at times, but tries to do whatever she can. She's a very strong character. Her romance with Kyoya towards the end seemed forced, There was no development there, and felt like the only reason they kiss is because she's a girl, and he's a dude. The two have very little chemistry and really don't seem to be hitting it off, so why do they seem to become a couple? Because the movie needs a little romance I guess. Another interesting character is Chibi, a midget (I think?) who helps the two, and gives them pointers and hints about the city. He saves them while they're fighting a monster, and guides them to where they want to go. He's not eager to get invovled with a fight, but he won't leave anyone to die either. He's an intriguing character who probably should have been a more important character. Master Rai is another compelling who doesn't get nearly enough time to develop, but he's very likeable. The themes the movie deals with are nothing special, and sort of generic. While no one would ever go into this film looking for something very deep, it reall doesn't help that the themes of innocents, love, and inner strenght are very generic and tossed around very lightly. Perhaps if they were more explored the OVA would be a bit better.
The fights in Demon City Shinjuku are less frequent then I had imagined. But when they do come up they are very well choreographed, and very fun to watch. The main character has to fight a few demons and monsters as the show goes on, and many others get involved as well. The tone may be a little dark, but it is not at all depressing. While not a light or funny show, it's not overbearing either. Another problem with the show however is its tendency to use expository dialogue. By that I mean characters backstories, the history of the city, and even the plot are revealed through way too much dialogue. Instead of showing us what happened, the characters oddly explain things, and some of these explanations go on way too long. While I would have no problem with one or two of these, four or five in one movie is a bit much. At times when they could have used a flashback or something, they go for the easy way out and have the characters explain things. This, mixed with some sloppy writing at times really hurts the overall show. The final fight scene is also very anticlimactic. I hate to keep criticizing this OVA, as it is a fun watch and I did enjoy it. But I can't leave out these these things either. I guess what I'm saying is despite these problems it's still a good anime.
Production values for this OVA are all over the place. The animation is sometimes as choppy as a bad Yogi Bear episode, while other times everything on screen flows incredibly well. Most of the fight scenes are impressive for 1988 (very fluid motion), but other parts can either look ugly, or pretty depending on the scene. The artwork is a great style, with a very nice color palette. The color palette is dark, but not gloomy, and looks quite nice at times. The character designs are pretty original looking, and very attractive, especially the President's daughter who looks very pretty. However the opening scene, and some scenes deep within the city look very odd, with a dated looking color palette that's very different from the rest of the movie. Everything will have a blue or red tint, and it looks very ugly. This was obviously done to either emphasis how this scene is in the past, or emphasis how close the gateway to hell, is getting to earth, but they just don't work very well at all. The make the OVA look more dated then it otherwise would, since this is a pre-Akira anime after all. But other then that the visuals are quite impressive, and those scenes are quite short. The music is very electronic and unimpressive. While the soundtrack is not exactly bad, it's very generic and mostly forgettable.
The dub on this is pretty good for it's era. While I've heard better from this time, it's not at all bad. This is another one of the older Manga Video UK dubs, directed by Michael Bakewell and with mostly a British and Canadian cast. And most of the actors fit their roles very well. There is a tendency to use accents in this dub, and on the large this works quite well and gives the show a worldly sound. The President and his daughter have British accents, which is very fitting in my opinion as they seem to be Europeans, so this is a great way to emphasis that. Chibi (pronounced "Chippy" by the cast, although I'm not sure why? Perhaps that's a British thing?) has a Mexican accent which sounds a little stereotypical, but it does seem realistic and works for the character. Another character has a Spanish (Spain) accent, and this also comes off very well. Master Rai is played by George Little, and he gives the character a very authentic Indian accent, which fits since not only is his character from India, but very spiritual and he needs an accent to demonstrate this. The rest of the cast, including Brad Lavelle, who plays Kyoya, put on American accents and they seem real. The dub is mostly well acted, with all of the main cast doing a good job for the most part. Sadly it seems every major actor has an awkward line somewhere in this dub, but it's not that bad.
Brad Lavelle fits the lead very well, and has a great chemistry with George Little, specifically in the begining of the OVA. Sayaka, the President's Daughter is played by Teresa Gallagher, who gives the best performance of the dub. She has a very distinct voice, and her different sounding voice fits the character well. She puts on a British accents that some may find a little different then the norm, but she's a native Brit so you can be sure this is authentic, and personally I thought it sounded great. Chibi is played by Alan Sherman, who really fleshes out the character, with his Mexican accent, and adult way of talking. The Japanese dub made him seem more like a child, which I'm pretty sure he's not one. He plays off the two main characters very well. One problem with this however is some of Chibi's lines seem left out. Two or three times in the dub you will see his mouth move, but nothing come out. Switch the Japanese track for a second and you clearly hear dialogue (and it's tranlsated in the subtitles). I wonder what happened here? Some overlook or mistake perhaps? It's nothing major, but it's just very jarring to hear a character answer him when he doesn't say anything in the dub, or him answer someone with silence. Rebi Ra is played by Bob Sessions, and he is the weakest actor of the dub by far. Some of his lines in the opening scene are outright terrible, and really bring down the quality of the dub. By the ending of the anime he's much better, but still not good enough as he should be. While the casting of him as the character works because he fits Rebi Ra, the person casting should have thought about weather or not he could act, because from this my answer is "not really...". It's a good thing he doesn't have many lines. Some of the smaller roles are sort of bad, although no one sounds outright like an amateur. Other smaller roles sound really good, like the children who appear for a small scene, or the old short lady who wants money from the two leads. The script is the real problem of this dub though. At times it's very clumpy, cluttered and rough. At you can really hear the actors tripping over their lines. It's not that the actors are bad, most of them are at least decent, but you can tell the script needed some work. Cursing is frequently used in the dub as well. While I'm never against some good cursing in an anime, and in this OVA the content really does call for it, I must question the times and placement of the curses. Many times a curse just feels oddly placed here or there, and other times it feels like they could have used a curse word but didn't. The dub is sort of odd, and very different sounding. But I find it has more positives then negatives, and I like a lot of things about it. I just wish the script was a little better, then it would be more then enough. As it is it's quite all right, but Bakewell has done better.
Central Park Media has released this many times on VHS and later DVD. I have the 2004 DVD release, which was inlcuded with the Kawajiri Brick Pack which actually is quite nice to look at. The DVD includes an insert, which is a nice little postcard thing, although I like the ones inlcuded in the Birdy the Mighty and A Wind Named Amnesia DVDs a little more. But it's still very cool. I think I like the 2005 release cover artwork a little better then my DVD, but both are nice. The DVD menu however is very ugly, and looks quite cheap. I've made better DVD menus messing around with Media Center on my computer. Besides looking ugly it's also quite slow to load. This is quite a shame becuase it is my opinion that CPM has some of the best DVD menus out there, looking through my collection they have some of my favorites. The extras included are just "meet the cast" type extras. These are there to remind you who these characters are, by showing a small clip from the OVA focusing on them. Cool little extra, but no real content.
So far this is the weakest Kawajiri anime I've seen. But weak Kawajiri, is still pretty good in my book. This is worth seeing a few times, but there are better titles in the genre.
- Review copied (and edited) from my personal blog
- Original Review posted here: http://predeanimereview.blogspot.com/2010/01/demon-city-shinjuku.html#comments
Worst of the shorter OVAs from the 90's. Titles like BioHunter, Wicked City, Twilight of the Dark Master and Baoh put this one to shame. Action is weak and re-hashed. Story was boring and there was no part of it that stands out. Characters are really bad. The main villain looks ok, but rather uninspiring. Uninspired actually sums up this one quite nicely. There are a ton of better OVAs to watch, but if you must, download it for free and watch it when your REALLY bored. You will be disappointed.
1988 the where Japan is at its glory in the economy. The 80’s the era where anime can have the most decent plot duration since episode in this decade are much more cheaper to produce and this is the decade where the west are influence by the Japanese animation. The year where the most notable movies are release and that are Akira and Grave of the Fire flies that became very iconic and popular to the masses and up to this date still popular and very fun to watch. But why does “Maki Toshi Shinjuku” didn’t became memorable and have place in
the history of anime? Even if have the best production value from MAD house studios. Simply because dark anime related to demons, occult and super natural are a common theme in this era. There are other similar movies are made which is more gory and plot content.
Demon City, it’s alternative title, it’s particularly not a bad anime just because it doesn’t stand as a very different title but because it’s very simple and basic in content you feel like you have watched the same movie with lesser gore, tension, action and mostly less in particular high adult content hentai scenes we expect for adult demographic movies.
Warning the content’s might contain minimum spoilers
Story (5/10) Average
The story of Demon City is very basic for it themes. Let me summarizes why it is basic in a few sentences.
Set in a world of humans, two talented individual mastering the unique power of “nempo” battled to the future of humanity. The main villain Levih Rah, a talented nempo master, surrender his soul to the devil to surpass his rival Genichirou in being the strongest and planned to fuse the demon world and the human world as one to make him the supreme overlord. The battle between good and evil ended in a stalemate for both of them died and the world is save temporarily. Levih Rah after 10 years will be revived again and the story of our main protagonist begin, the destined saviour of humanity by finishing of what the former hero have done.
The plot is simple to follow as I said in the introduction all elements from the common theme is presented which are more lessen than before.
Summary of the character worth mentioning and what I think about them:
-Izayoi, Kyoya is the son of the former nempo master that defeated Levi Rah 10 year ago, a typical teenager. Kyoya is the only person in the “world” who possesses a unique power that can battle the forces of evil. His grandpa master taught him the way of the nempo and instructed him that his the only one that can beat the ultimate evil. A special gifted character that in default destined to win and prevail anyway making the protagonist predictable.
-Rama, Sayaka a typical nice girl archetypes female protagonist which is brave but also frail at times. Stand at the side of our male protagonist. Nothing much likeable about her and I even considered a possibility of hentai fan service but sadly not much as a hentai here but just boobs.
Lasty: Levih Rah the main antagonist of the story that became villain just because he wanted to be stronger and end up ambitioning ruling and controlling the world with demonic darkness. Your typical one-dimensional bad guy that you have no choice but to kill him to achieve the peace in humanity. His character is easily forgettable.
I didn’t mention them all because it will be major spoilers. Most likely I just give a few to give some teasers for you guys to watch it.
Full Character Analysis:
First from the start you’ll know what the character roles are and what will end up in the process. The characters are very predictable. The side characters have some flavour but not enough screens are dedicated for them for you to care. The romance in the last minute is force for you really don’t see much of the two main characters having a romantic interaction. It seems like the female just became a trophy for the leading after finishing his destined task to spice up the happy ending. The characters are well executed but it end up easily forgettable.
Art (5/10) Average
The movie has good production values at it times. The action is fluent enough to give you attention. The animation didn’t focus in using buckets of bloods to decorate the atmosphere and the hentai scene is just a suggestion than a teaser fan service.
Music (5/10) Average
Funky 80’s music in the background that matches the atmosphere of the events. You’ll easy identify the intense scene and the dull moment by just hearing the sound. The emotion is handle properly for there are decent pacing between the drama, action and other etc.
Enjoyment (5/10)nothing much
I didn’t seen the movie bad. It has dull moments and also exciting moment but the action is just really very few. Honourable mention that the last fighting scene which I have seen very boring the tension is there but the problem is that the main villain getting killed by one hit is just “meh”. I still like the funky music though.
Overall (5/10) Average
The anime is so simple in its premise that you will end up getting bored on most of the scenes. The genre can offer a lot because it is targeting adult demographics than children but it still holds back on its content. I am not asking for it to be extreme like other over the top blood anime with demons in it. I just wanted it to be a little flashy and cool for you to enjoy more.
Wicked City I highly recommend this movie if you wanted see a higher lv of goriness and more content. Warning this anime content high adult hentai material. Be advice to take caution when watching it.
Legend of the Overfiend (Japanese version) this is the anime I am talking about with the over the top gore and the most explicit classic hentai.
Contrary to my overall score (which is brutally honest), I absolutely adore this.
I think the reason I enjoy this so much is down to Nostalgia, more than anything else - I used to watch it a lot with my Step-Dad before he died.
Still, I do enjoy it after all these years, though I can agree with some of the criticisms, like the anti-climactic ending, poor over-dub and generic story arc and characters that're typical of most Anime.
I love the music though - It's a combination of being really, really shit, and really, really endearing - One song in particular is just so, so
lush, during a point which is also fairly melancholic, which still holds up to this day.
It's worth a watch, but considering it's over 20 years old and superior Anime has since been released using the same story elements, don't expect anything new.
Except for that song. I'd probably just recommend listening to the OST, but it's nowhere to be found, so.... yeah.
Nothing makes an anime scarier (or more thrilling) than those that feature grotesque beings terrorizing everything -- including us viewers. This in-depth look at these utter monstrosities will reveal why these horrific beasts are, in fact, so frightening.