Demon City Shinjuku (1988)

Director:Yoshiaki Kawajiri .
Characters: Master Rai, Rebi Ra, Earth Demon, Mephisto, Rapist, Hag, Yin, Chibi, Water Demon, Genichiro, Rama . Japan. 1h 25m

The makers of this slightly underpowered Anime are responsible for much more adored favourites such as Ninja Scroll (1993) and Wicked City (1987), so it’s got a high standard to live up to. The story is somewhere between Supernatural adventure and a Romantic horror, and at times seems to be a missing link between the two.

Opening mid way through a battle between good and evil, two men, former friends Rebi Ra and short lived hero Genichirou are doing cool battle shit when one hits a limit break and kinda sparks off a huge explosion which opens a gateway to hell and this envelopes the Shinjuku area.(as you do) Cut to the modern day and only a few years after this “event” and the city has been become a no go area. The military had tried to control the nasty creatures that reside there but failed miserably but despite this an underground of people still live in their beloved district.

Kyoya Izayoi, a young man whose father, Genichirou lost the battle at the beginning of the movie, is now learned martial arts specialist, who gets goaded into escorting a beautiful girl into the Badlands of Shinjuku in order to battle evil and rescue the city after a demonic attack on a diplomatic official.

The resistance is strong in our hero for this weird adventure, he really didn’t want to have any part in this, but a young girl launchers herself into danger and he’s there to rescue her, and is soon taking control like any good guy should but it takes a while before his bravado kicks in and despite his daddy issues and doubts he’s pretty apt at the job.

This was one of the first Anime’s that I watched Dubbed first, and I was taken back by the range of accents, from Texas to Mexican, I had assumed that there would be a variety of voices but unsure why the street kids in Shinjuku were South American and the Japanese Southern belle waitress was a little off-putting.

So the two soon to be lovers and their trusty street kid sidekick Chibi and for a while his trusty two headed dog, help fight against evil powers in a sort of demon infested neo tokyo apocalyptic slum. Quite randomly part way through the story, they hook up with a mysterious man called Mephisto who they seem to trust just at about a time when they realise they can’t trust anyone, and things get rather predictable but the journey is entertaining. There are morphing monstrous spider women, Cerberus style dogs and demonic/vampyric children for a while the film seems to be inspired by a certain ancient journey, then when Mephisto mentioned Pandora’s box you’ll start to understand the makeup of this movie.

It’s a day’s work and sadly a little predictable, I much prefer Ninja Scroll and Wicked City as there’s more character depth, better monster design and a more on depth story but this feels as if it’s pre runner to the greats despite coming out after Wicked City.. the edge is there but something is lost in the detail, I wouldn’t be surprised if the best bits have been cut for the sake of sensors or just because, much like the abysmal early release of Akira (1988) (please go and see the original series). Still it’s a thrilling chase with so many unusual characters and the blend of neo tokyo and demon hunting gives it an authentic steampunk feel.

Rating 5/10

RBio Hunter (1995), Wicked City (1987), Ninja Scroll (1993)
L – A-Z of Anima Vol 1, 10 of my favourite old school Anime
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