Darkside Blues poster

Darkside Blues

The Persona Century Corporation has purchased nearly every parcel of land on earth. Dissension is not tolerated within the corporation's borders and those who oppose Persona are dealt with swiftly. Of those few places not yet under Persona's control is the free town of Kabuki-cho, also known as "The Dark Side of Tokyo". Within the town, under the leadership of a woman named Mai, is a small resistance group called Messiah. Into this world steps a man who takes the sobriquet of Kabuki-cho: Darkside. Sealed up in another dimension eighteen years ago by Persona Century, Darkside now returns to aid Messiah using his unique mystic power of renewal. (Source: ANN)

Ranking 5376

User Count750
Favorites Count1
Start Date8th Oct 1994
Next ReleaseInvalid date
Popularity Rank5376
Rating Rank10291
Age RatingR
Age Rating Guide17+ (violence & profanity)


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\[Old review is old.\] Darkside Blues is a film that manages to be both very interesting and very dull simultaneously. On one hand it dabbles in a ton of interesting things and provides intriguing presentation, but then again the topics aren’t explored very deeply and the presentation amounts to very little in the end. The source content was written by Hideyuki Kikuchi, who also did Vampire Hunter D and Wicked City. I bring this up because there is obviously a strong world that this film is based on thanks to him, but it appears that the production wasn’t enough to do it justice. This was the first project by studio J.C. Staff, and due to the things they would make in the future, it’s obvious that they tried the sci-fi genre for starters and never picked it up again afterwards. The story revolves around the walled-off section of a futuristic Tokyo, the only place of land that hasn’t been bought by a big bad business that runs the world from their headquarters in space. One day a mysterious man in a flying horse drawn carriage arrives in town and opens up a service looking into people’s dreams. Since the city’s name is Darkside, he takes up that name too. At the same time, a resistance to Persona is led by a woman known as the Messiah, trying to create a change in the world. The movie throws you into the world without much exposition, leaving the audience to figure out most of the workings through pure observation. I always respected a story that doesn’t spoon-feed information to viewers, but since the film doesn’t focus on one particular protagonist, it makes it difficult to keep track of everything. This doesn’t mean that other stories that lack proper exposition and a main protagonist have been failures (notable examples in anime include Darker Than Black and Baccano). Darkside Blues falls flat when none of its characters are particularly interesting and it fails to utilize presentation opportunities effectively to compensate. Because of the safe presentation, an equal amount of attention is given to Darkside, the Messiah’s group, the business people, and the terrorists. The disconnected developments become intertwined as the film progresses, and while it turns out weak connection, it does build the world decently. Some characters end up getting more development than others by the resolution, but with that comes the realization that hopping from character to character didn’t deliver anything different or creative in the overall picture. Darkside himself is shrouded in mystery but kinda cool when fighting. The messiah is a pretty strong woman even though her sidekick is rather annoying at times. The people at the business are foreboding to say the least, and there’s also a nurse character they focus on who goes through some big changes as well. Intrigue amongst them isn’t strong, but the final changes amongst those aforementioned few prevent a completely stale cast. One character that made no sense whatsoever was a reoccurring little kid who doesn’t do anything but sit and look at the camera. This guy pretty much opens and closes the film, but nothing can really be derived from his existence in the movie. I just thought he was a tool for fake symbolism and a waste of animation. For a J.C. Staff that was just starting out, select sequences look pretty great. Unfortunately, the animation gap they conjure up is pretty bad, regularly cutting to really cheap really fast. My biggest complaint about the art is how the backgrounds were handled in the film. Again, some of the paintings and the details are impressive, but then the next shots end up being generic and flat. This prevents our immersion in the setting, especially when Darkside Blues came out between two sci-fi giants like Akira and Ghost In The Shell. In those films, consistent attention to how the setting was presented turned out amazing results. Every little thing is seen, we constantly know how things work and how the world ticks. In Darkside, we get those few detailed images but then cut back to the bland parts of the town or the run down slums for most of the running time, which doesn’t look that good. A tight budget is pretty evident, but there should have been a middle ground on how to portray the world consistently. Take notes from Trigun. As far as music went, there may haven been a bit riding on the title of the film itself, and to be fair, there are a few solid tracks. An insert song about 15 minutes into the film solidifies the mood for the movie, and an energetic organ is always a pleasure to hear. Side from a nice ending song, everything else on the OST was pretty poor, but credit given for a pair of nice standouts. The voice directing in the dub was awful, with dozens of awkward deliveries and even more weird stutters. Not to say that all the actors were bad, in fact some did fine, it just wasn’t a very good script adaptation. The last thing I’ll talk about is what they try to do with their themes, and how they miss more than they hit. In the beginning, the ideas they want to get out are done through lazy one liners. A bunch of characters will be talking simple people talk, and then out of nowhere somebody says something philosophical, but then they go right back to normal talk and never go into it. They get more focused in the end like they should, and what they do talk about is pretty worthwhile. The characters throw around concepts having to do with the justification of violence as a suitable means for change, or when peace itself becomes corrupted, and it all comes to fruition in the closure. At the same time, however, the Darkside guy talks about unfinished concepts being passed to another person and how they have to start anew, almost as if they’re being reborn. This is only done through the repetition of a few vague phrases, never really fleshed out. Most of the film can be described likewise. Never able to present itself consistently, whether it be from a misplaced narrative structure or a mediocre animation job. About halfway through, the movie had a mirage hotel where the lobby was shifting and changing all the time. That could have looked especially fantastic if the funds had been a given, but the constraints were too much for J.C. Staff to do anything striking with it. The intentions of following the content are there, and a bit of effort and money was put into the cool bits of the setting, but for the most part it’s a very slow trip through the boring parts of the city. Even the characters who get development take their time before they do. Combined with the brief and messy thematics, the film ends up being underwhelming on all levels. It’s certainly not the worst anime movie you could pick for a watch, but it’s far from the best. <u>Darkside Blues (1994)</u>\: 4.2/10

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