A.K.A. Monster City
Director – Yoshiaki Kawajiri
The late 80s had a wealth of OAV (Original Animation Video) find its way to UK and US soil; seen as an edgy provocative product a generation latched onto classics such as Akira and Ghost in the Shell devouring whatever titles were available.
With the growing popularity of anime in the West, then Manga Entertainment released a spate of horror and science fiction anime, importing and releasing as many of the titles as they could in an excellent VHS line which subsequently introduced many a fan to the wonderful techno metal noise merchants Mad Capsule Markets whom featured heavily on the trailer reels.
Adult fare like Urotsukidoji legend of the overfiend and Wicked City proved immensely popular with adults making anime both taboo and attractive at the same time much to the dismay of the national press in the wake of the video nasty project.
Ninja Scroll creator Yoshiaki Kawajiri and animation house Madhouse released the OVA of a popular Japanese work of fiction, Makai Toshi: Shinjuku a simple yet effective tale of the classic good Vs Evil confrontation.
Two rival students Rebi Ra and Genichirou (who looks a lot like the protagonist from Ninja Scroll sporting rather excellent sideburns) open proceedings with an atmospheric battle in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, Rebi Ra is intent on leaving a wake of devastation in Tokyo and attempting to make Tokyo a haven for demon’s Rebi is only successful in overthrowing the Shinjuku district as the death of Genichirou stalls the expansion of demon territory.
Flash forward ten years which is how long Rebi Ra states would take for his preparations to be completed, Shinjuku is overrun with criminals and desolates portrayed beautifully in the technical animation with monochromatic pallets used effectively to portray an excellent atmosphere throughout.
The world president whom is gaining every closer to achieving world peace is kidnapped upon his arrival to Tokyo after being presented with a bouquet of flowers which capture him in a thorny embrace holding him hostage by Rebi Ra in an attempt to allow his master Aguni Lai regain control of the world.
The president’s daughter seeks help from Genichirou’s son Kyoyo whom has inherited his father’s powers and is adept at Nempo. Kyoyo is a reluctant hero and given a short deadline of three days to defeat Rebi to save the president and bring about world peace is forced into the world of demons and a personal revenge and redemption from his father.
The Shinjuku district is desolate and feels grimy which is far more effective than the peril that the protagonists face bringing a lot to the depth of the story which is credit of Madhouse studio’s incredibly talented staff.
Throw in some atmospheric scenery, clearly influenced by John Carpenter’s Escape from New York as is much of the score, inspired character design and crisp, clean animation make Demon city Shinjuku an excellent entry level anime for fans wishing to explore classic horror and science fiction anime.
The soundtrack is pulse pounding 80s electronic music with dystopian synth sounds scattered throughout developing later in the OVA into more atmospheric, spooky sound fitting in perfectly with the animations action for the most part, although a few of the cues are somewhat sloppy and impulsive distracting from the action and dialogue but this is a minor quibble that won’t remove anything from a viewing.
Demon City is also rather light on the sex scenes which is unusual for a horror anime of this period, on one the rare occasion it is used it’s not for fan service or to titillate which is a refreshing and won’t alienate viewers who are put off by the excess of some the anime from this decade.
Although by no means the perfect OVA Demon City is still essential viewing which enraptures an era of animation trends while not piling on the gore and nudity.
Demon City Shinjuku comes recommended to people dipping their toes into the world of Manga corps immense back catalogue and is perfect for fans of supernatural horror.
Sadly Demon City Shinjuku is only available on a R1 DVD and the Manga Entertainment VHS.
Rating 5.5/10 (add an extra .5 if you appreciate solid technical animation)