Director – Yoshiaki Kawajiri 82 minutes
Following UKHS look at the underrated Demon City Shinjuku we take a look at another horror anime stable in Wicked City (Youjuu Toshi), again based on a Kikuchi Hideyuki novel and directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri (the team would also go onto adapt the much popular Vampire Hunter D) Wicked City was heavily edited upon release mainly toning down the sexual content.
What sets this apart from some of the other horror anime is that sexual imagery is used to enhance the story rather effectively as a form of body horror (for the most part, this can get into Hentai territory but not enough to discomfort viewers whom aren’t interested in that) this works well in our tale of Demons and humans coming to end of a long standing peace treaty.
Manga UK released this on the now infamous VHS lines which still take pride of place in many a fans collection and there is also a R1 DVD from Urban Vision out there.
For hundreds of years peace has existed between Demons and Humans, although both sides are tentatively trying to sabotage and end the peace for their own gains; our protagonist, Taki is a member of an elite special force called “Black Guard” and he is sent on a protection mission to safeguard a renowned doctor adding an extra element of help from demon ambassador Maki.
Taki comes across as a womaniser and the viewers first introduction to the hero is winning a bet with a barman that he could get into a girls panties; Classy.
But as this is anime nothing is as seems and Taki soon gets more than he’s bargained for and after he’s help up his end of the bargain so to speak, the woman transforms into a rather creepy spider-woman who will come into play later on in the film in one of the more exciting and gross scenes, of which they are plenty.
Things pick up when the unlikely pairing of Taki and Maki comes into play, add the old doctor Joseppe Maiyart, who is a sleazy self important leach whom would rather hook up with prostitutes and visit Tokyo than allow Taki and Maki to do their duty and garantee his safety.
Joseppe spends his time in the safe haven which the black guard have cast a proctection spell over looking at porno magazines and throwing tantrums like a spoilt child; to think such a pivotal figure in the peace is such an annoyance adds to the tribulations of the Blackguard.
Another interesting aside is that along with the characters the viewer garners an impression that not everything is as seems, as with all great conspiracies it all unfolds during its relatively short runtime (roughly 80 mins).
Noir style voiceovers work incredibly well here with Taki’s inner dialogue and an unannounced narrator filling in plot details speedily and effectively allowing the animators to focus on the action.
The action moves steadily and the animation is fluid, kinetic and well paced this enhances this movie to no end, the cityscape and surroundings are atypical of anime of this era coupled with an excellent soundtrack reminiscent of Carpenter and Vangelis.
The aforementioned body horror plays out superbly reminiscent of Cronenberg with bodies contorting, melting and shifting in grotesque demon designs which are a pleasure to watch.
One vital encounter sees a female spider-woman reveal a demonic womb complete with teeth the initial shock and clever editing enhances the peril to no end.
The sex and rape scenes in particular are discomforting but adhere to a vital moral dilemma between the protagonists and although graphic and excessive never over step the boundary into perversion instead utilising the sex as a weapon theory among the demons both physically and to extort information.
As the treaty signing draws ever closer the danger increases at every corner and culminates with a climatic and exciting finale pitting the Doctor vs. the demon Jin in an excellent battle but a throw away plot addition nearer the end of the movie takes a little away from the movie but overall this doesn’t hinder proceedings too far and creates a happy ending scenario, making Wicked City essential viewing for the horror fan looking for something a little different.
Viewers can expect plenty of sex, gore, and an enthralling tale of deception control and power in a Tokyo filled with hidden threat and tough moral decisions for the greater good.