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ANIME: Demon City Shinjuku (1988), contemporary dark fantasy mixing Vampire Hunter D (1985) and Wicked City (1987).

May 21, 2016

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MY CALL: Vampire Hunter D (1985) and Wicked City (1987) heavily influenced this good, but not great, anime foray into contemporary dark fantasy. Still highly entertaining, though. Enjoy the spider demons, tentacles and succubi. MORE MOVIES LIKE Demon City Shinjuku: Check out Vampire Hunter D (1985) and Wicked City (1987) for more supernatural fare. Also try Bio Hunter (1995), Ninja Scroll (1993) and all manner of Tokyo Shock cinema like Tokyo Gore Police (2008) and Vampire Girl versus Frankenstein Girl (2009). however, despite the themes of psychic space vampires and cyborg zombies, Cyber City Oedo 808 (1990) struck me as a boring major disappointment.

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Anime can fall flat without meaningful characters that we come to love. When we first met protagonists like Makie (Wicked City) and D (Vampire Hunter D), they had instant appeal and offered backgrounds of intrigue or mystery. Our hero of Shinjuku is Kyoya, a swordsman charged with protecting the president’s daughter and preventing Hell on Earth. I generally like him as “a good guy,” but I’m not nearly as invested or interested in him as I was the aforementioned heroes. I’m not hating here–just identifying my single negative criticism of this movie. Everything else was great.

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Director Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Wicked City, Ninja Scroll, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust) sure knows how to make an awesome contemporary dark fantasy. First, an evil swordsman opens a gate to Hell after some sort of Highlander (1986) duel with Kyoya’s father–who fights down to his last limbs like the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). 10 years later, evil demon tentacles thrash from a bouquet of flowers and kidnap the president! That’s what the world has come to…evil thrashing tentacles abound.

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The demons in this movie are pretty cool. Following in his father’s footsteps practicing the way of the sword, Kyoya must defend the president’s daughter from their attempts at her life.

Much as Wicked City (1987) had its Black World dimension, many of the monsters of Shinjuku possess gifts of interdimensional travel through shadows, teleportation or dreams.

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A bit of a throwback to the lady spider demon from Wicked City (1987), one of them is a sort of spider-centaur with a giant hermit crab claw and a toothed maw on his stomach! As if this fiend wasn’t powerful enough, it teleports through the shadows. Kyoya is also pulled into an underwater dimension to battle what I can only describe as a three-eyed demonic sloth hag.

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And perhaps influenced by Vampire Hunter D (1985), the mysterious Mephisto battles a constricting succubus composed of tentacles.

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Throw in all manner of lashing tentacles (at one point randomly and most amusingly dismembering a stray cat) and a villain reminiscent of Vampire Hunter D‘s (1985) Count Dracula complete with white hair and telekinesis, and we have a damn good time. It may not be terribly original, but it’s highly entertaining.

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