Film Review: Wicked City (1987) by Yoshiaki Kawajiri

by Fred Barrett

Yoshiaki Kawajiri is well-known for his ultra-violent and hyper-sexual anime like “Ninja Scroll” or “Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust” and his solo directorial debut, “Depraved Metropolis”, is the animator’s sleazy tackle the well-worn people versus demons subgenre, which provides greater than sufficient problematic thrills to be entertaining, though its penchant for sexually degrading its feminine characters would possibly show an excessive amount of for some.

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After a interval of fierce battles and battle, people and the demonic inhabitants of the so-called “Black World”, managed to succeed in a peace settlement which has introduced centuries-long stability to the 2 worlds. This peace is protected by the Black Guard, a corporation of secret brokers recruited from each dimensions. Renzaburo Taki (Yusaku Yara) is an elite human member of the Black Guard, working as a salaryman by day. When the hard-won concord between people and demons is threatened by a radical group from the Black World, Taki is tasked with defending the eccentric Giuseppe Mayart (Ichiro Nagai) from the terrorists as his signature is required to ratify the treaty and safe the continued coexistence of each races. Aided by the attractive demon Makie (Toshiko Fujita), Taki should battle to guard Mayart and defeat the demons who want to overthrow the present order and enslave the people. Nevertheless, unbeknownst to him, his personal future is tied up in the way forward for each worlds as properly.

“Depraved Metropolis” is a classy darkish fantasy neo-noir whose dense ambiance remembers sci-fi works like “Blade Runner”, “Akira” and even Hideo Kojima’s legendary cyberpunk journey sport “Snatcher”. The fantasy components supply some weird physique horror as properly, depicting contorted physique components, melting pores and skin, giant genitalia-esque orifices and phallic tentacles. Greater than anything, it’s the feel and appear of the world that makes this pretty typical narrative stand out, since there may be little in the way in which of unusual story twists or fleshed-out characters. The aesthetic is the principle attraction right here, from the hazy neon backdrops set to a hypnagogic metropolis pop soundtrack to Kawajiri’s extremely completed route and framing (even when the animation between the motion set items is lackluster at occasions). The director’s propensity for unorthodox digicam angles and dynamic battle choreography would later be seen in his glorious phase, “Program”, created for the underappreciated “The Animatrix”.

Sadly, any potential enjoyment of “Depraved Metropolis” will seemingly be dampened by the movie’s remedy of its feminine characters and its feminine lead specifically. Not content material with placing her in life-threatening hazard, Kawajiri topics Makie to a number of scenes of graphic sexual assault that may’t assist however really feel gratuitous. After establishing her as a cool and competent undercover agent early on, she is shortly relegated to the function of damsel in misery and is objectified, kidnapped and sexually humiliated at each flip, each verbally and bodily, the movie continually exhibiting her in varied states of undress whereas the digicam ogles her bare physique. The portrayal of sexual violence will be difficult even with one of the best of intentions however it’s apparent that little care went into treating the topic with any delicacy by any means. Given the prevalence of those scenes, it’s tough to dismiss them as innocent, juvenile indulgences and after the credit roll, the anime is prone to go away a bitter style in lots of viewers’ mouths.

Whoever is ready to look previous these points (which had been sadly quite common in a whole lot of anime of the period), in addition to some obnoxious comedian reduction, would possibly get a kick out “Depraved Metropolis”‘s dirty, action-packed and twistedly erotic tackle the style. However everybody delicate to sexual content material of this type is best off staying away.



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