Ankoku Shinwa / Dark Myth (1990)

Director : Takashi Anno, Tomomi Mochizuki
Writer: Daijiro Morohoshi
Starring : Nozomu Sasaki, Alan Marriott, Mizuho Suzuki. Japan. 1h 40m

When I first started getting in Anime Akira (1988) probably kicked things off for me, and I dug deep in powerful fast pace cyber and horror films. But one film really stood out on a few trailers. Its pale colours, still images and traditional soundtrack make it stand apart from the rest of the 90’s Manga collection.

Having a deep love of folklore and being totally mystified by the demonic creatures in the advert I was sure to get a copy ASAP and i fell in love with animated films all over again, but for very different reasons than before.Dark Myth examines Japanese mythology and religion  through the tale of a young boy, Takahashi, who is a reincarnation and embodiment of Atman which is the name given to the energy of the human spirit. He’s been plagued by  nightmares after the brutal death of his father. But now, despite his young age the fragile and confused boy finds himself in the centre of a nightmarish battle, between good and evil, he has to basically level up in order to face off against the God of Darkness, if that isn’t enough, there is a vicious power struggle between the Kikuchi clan which he also gets tangled up in as they want his powers for themselves.

Takahashi is a teenager but his appearance makes him seem much younger and he has such dark and twisted creatures  to face up to, the young tyke is totally out of his depth that he often seems like a toddler. Luckily he has a guide, and older man who tries his best to direct the boy  to safety, much like the elder psychic in Bio Hunter (1995), I really do love when his mentor is telling stories to explain situations as the movie shifts into storytelling mode, and it depicts stories in stills and  at times as paintings on walls and artifacts that really tie it into the fabric of Japanese history. But it’s Takahashi’s task to fulfill his destiny.

Travelling through Japan, trying to dodge a dangerous clan, monsters, and other pitfalls there’s a surprising amount going on but I wouldn’t class this as an action movie,  if you want all this and action check out Wicked City (1987). There are copious amounts freaky monsters like Devilman (1987) but I couldn’t call it a horror  but the creepy levels go through the roof at times. It has a mystery element to it, but the magic works in the detail of the folklore tales and analysis of ancient cultures and myths.

Although the project is still unfinished it’s still an excellent example of anime for people who like to contemplate the esoteric. 

Rating : 8/10

R : Bio hunter (1995), Wicked City (1987), Devilman (1987),

L: A-Z of Anime films, my favourite Anime films,


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