Wicked City (1987)
Genre: Fantasy Horror Sci-Fi Animé (Japan)
Starring: Takeshi Aono (Devilman; Hakkenden: The Legend of the Dog Warriors)
Directed By: Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Ninja Scroll; Vampire Hunter D)
Overview: In the realms of Earth and the Demon World, the signing of a new Peace Treaty between these two worlds is drawing near, but extremists from the Demon world plan to interfere by destroying the emissary. We follow a human and demon, the two guards sent to protect him.
Acting: When you have a director whose also done a while bunch of stuff that the average Animé fan's heard of, not to mention Ninja Scrolls, which may be considered one of the Top 10 best Anime films ever, you're going in for a pretty safe bet. On the other hand this is his second project ever, and though the voice acting is decent, it's really nothing spectacular.
Cinematography: Ouch. 1987, fine, fine but not only is this a choppy dirty cartoon that is clearly outdated, but when there are interesting moments like a good old fight scenes or rivers of blood, they're always offset by gratuitous sex and nudity, or a terrible late 80s fashion faux-pas. Certainly does not stand up to the test of time.
Script: "Love, now fragile like a glass, slowly crumbling down, please make it stop. It's not easy, when I still love you, so how can I say goodbye, smile and say that it's just a silly joke? My darling, if I would break down and cry, please don't turn away. Don't you understand for me it's not easy?" - Song on radio while driving.
We did have the choice of having an English version which is nice, but we all know the original Japanese is the way to go and though the subtitles had the occasional typo, the story unfolds with a fairly good balance between clues and confusion, between revelations and mysteries. The characters expressed themselves rather well and enough was explained to satisfy the moments, the reasons and motivations. Unfortunately more backstory would have been nice, but otherwise a decent show.
Plot: This focused far too much on the human world. When looking at a story with two sides, it might be good to see the demon world or get their perspective a little more. When two sides have such a vested interest in one another, being left in the dark about things doesn't make for a fun time. The whole time I expected that they would do a scene explaining why the Demon World needed the human one, clearly the humans are no match for them. Nope, no hints at all. That makes it lame. Oh yeah and way too much sex, but not good classic over the top Orutsokidoji stuff either. Plain gratuitous, not hilarious.
Mood: The blurry animation might have been forgivable if more about this was cooler. There's a couple of good scenes, like the one where the Emissary gets attacked by his massage girl, who tries to absorb him into her flesh, or the one where the spider lady takes her natural form, not to mention the fight scenes that really bring out the (mediocre) demon powers but there was no real context. When we saw Hell in Constantine, we hadn't expected to, but we understood a lot more, and it was a necessary touch. This needed a healthy does of that sort of thing.
Overall Rating: 60% (A Touch Too Malignant)
Aftertaste: If I were to redo this story, it would be the new technologically advanced humans who would be going after the Demon world (the Treaty is 200 years old), while a team of Black Guards (Defenders of the Treaty) tried to stop the human extremists, who of course would be lead by a Whitehouse General in charge of the Supernatural Affairs Branch. Something like that would be fantasy enough to be cool, believable enough to have nice subtext and we'd actually get to see how the other half lives, you know?
Well, I guess when you can only think of how to make a film better, it couldn't have been too good to begin with.