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Youjuu Toshi

There is Earth, our familiar world, and then there is the Black World, a parallel dimension that very few people are aware of. For centuries, a pact between the two worlds has been observed to maintain peace, and terms must be negotiated and renewed soon to continue relative harmony. This time around, there is a militant faction that will stop at nothing to prevent the signing of a new treaty for inter-dimensional peace. Two agents of the elite organization known as the Black guards—defenders of the balance between the two worlds—are charged with insuring the success of the treaty. Director Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Ninja Scroll) blends stylish eroticism, graphic horror and pulse-pounding action as these two race to consummate the peace treaty in time. (Source: AniDB)
User Count2706
Favorites Count8
Start Date25th Apr 1987
Next ReleaseInvalid date
Popularity Rank2985
Rating Rank8743
Age RatingR
Age Rating GuideNudity
Subtypemovie
Statusfinished

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Reviews

Yoshiaki Kawajiri's **Wicked City**, based on a similarly titled book by Hideyuki Kikuchi (who also wrote VAMPIRE HUNTER D) has its share of devoted fans who consider this a classic in the halls of Anime, but I stand firmly behind this review. This is a disgustingly vulgar, reprehensibly distasteful, and needlessly gory animated mess with little in the way of genuine appeal. Despite a promising start and a potentially interesting plot, **Wicked City** goes all out on shock value at its most repulsive level -- to the point that whatever virtues it may have are all but forgotten. It's misogynistic as well, with extensive scenes involving a female character being raped (three times!), and other two femme fatales who use their sexuality as a weapon to deceive and/or kill unsuspecting prey. As mentioned, it's also quite violent, with plenty of moments involving blood splattering, again for no specific reason other than violence for the hell of it. Shock value for shock value's sake does not a good film make, animated or otherwise. Too bad, because **Wicked City** does have a few moments of redeeming qualities, although as mentioned, they aren't enough to elevate my star rating. The film's opening half hour is arguably the best; sans again another sequence that will make one queasy. The sequence in question involves Taki Renzabur', a salesman by day, spy by night, who lands a "date" of some sort with a pretty girl at a bar after winning a bet. She takes him to her home, and, after an extensive sexual intercourse session, she transforms into some sort of monster with spidery legs. Her *vagina*, of all things, even transforms into a fearsome maw with sharp teeth! Taki survives the encounter, and his boss reminds him to "be a little more sexually cautious from now on." Shocking and revolting as that opening scene is, it is practically nothing compared to the other graphic bits that happen throughout this seemingly never-ending 80-minute "thriller." Following that unpleasant episode, we learn that Taki is a spy for some sort of "Black Guard", which apparently helps keep tensions between humanity and the "Black World" (in other words, monsters and ghouls) in check. He is assigned to protect an ancient (200 years old) midget named Giuseppe Mayart who has come to sign a peace treaty that will ensure public safety. Taki also meets Makie, a beautiful but skilled Black World woman who becomes his partner and something much more besides. Their mission to keep Mayart safe from attacking "Radicals" who want to sabotage their efforts proves to be anything but easy. Mayart, incidentally, is a most unpleasant character. He's a repulsively lecherous, crude, and generally foul-tempered pain in the butt who arguably proves to be more troublesome than one would expect. He refuses to stay put when his guardians take him to a hotel for his own good, goes off gallivanting to a "soapland" where he gets into trouble with a demon posing as a slut, and acts contemptuously toward the people who are in his best interests. At this point, the film devolves into a back and forth series of violent confrontations involving nasty, nightmarish creatures, mostly in the form of rapists and seductive temptresses. The most sickening of these creatures isn't even the last obstacle our heroes have to encounter. Midway through the film, Makie and Taki are attacked by some sort of "parasite" no bigger than a tongue (I kid you not) which burrows its way into the former and bursts from her stomach, transforming into a phallic tentacle which takes the unfortunate girl captive and begins to sexually assault her. As if that isn't enough to make one uneasy about seeing more, we are also treated to two other such scenes, both of which involve Makie being violated, and our hero coming to save her. And so on and on it goes, to the point where it becomes tiresome. If this is the sort of stuff viewers of Japanese animation demand, then **Wicked City** certainly delivers, but I found it to be very off-putting and too overdone. Part of this may be because I am of the standard that works involving violence and sexual assaults should present the material in question if the plot commands for it, or at the very least doesn't do so gratuitously. Satoshi Kon's far more interesting and arguably more terrifying **Perfect Blue** found the right balance in its effort to tell a "break the innocent" sort of story in which the protagonists is subjected to such atrocities and feels rightfully terrified because of it. Here, however, the unpleasant bits are thrown at the viewer in non-stop fashion that whatever story it tries to convey ultimately becomes forgotten. That, to me, is poor filmmaking, and it's a shame that Kawajiri's efforts are wasted on such a wretched work. To Kawajiri's credit, however, **Wicked City** does sport an appropriately gothic, smoky atmosphere. The animation, although at times limited, is smooth and legitimately frightening as opposed to being cheap and nasty. Produced by the folks at MadHouse, who are legitimately known for lavishly animated and often times disturbing series, the monsters are imaginatively drawn and while the transformations may again rub viewers the wrong way, they are at the very least convincingly depicted without looking hokey. On that level, **Wicked City** does at least excel. Kawajiri also treats the picture like a live-action movie, and it shows from the skillfully edited and choreographed action bits. It's almost enough to make the viewer forget that they're watching an animated feature. The film, interestingly, received two different dubs around its release. The version most American viewers are familiar with are done by Streamline Pictures, while international audiences had to endure a somewhat censored cut by Manga UK. Neither is a particularly outstanding effort, but of the two, the Streamline dub, surprisingly, is more effective, which is not something I usually say when it comes to their output. Their dubs have often been hit and miss, with most of their efforts (with the exception of Fox's **My Neighbor Totoro**) being in truly dreary territory. This is actually one of their better ones, with appropriately cast voices and smooth-sounding dialogue. Greg Snegoff gives Taki a very natural, tough-guy persona to match his personality, while Gaye Kruger, Mike Reynolds, and the late Jeff Winkless all excel. The Manga UK dub, on the other hand, is a seriously awful, laughable, choppy, stilted embarrassment with both bad acting as well as phony (and out of place) accents. Save for some characters like Makie and Taki's boss, everyone else is miscast. The dialogue adaptation is also needlessly profane, with smatterings of f-words every fifteen seconds as well as lines that come across as either rushed or so bad they're funny such as "Don't ever think you can win this battle, you pathetic ANIMAAAAAAAAL!" Not having seen the Japanese version, I can't say how either version compares, but if it's English you want to hear this movie in, the Streamline version is the less cringeworthy one. Discotek Media has recently rescued **Wicked City** from the morgue of oblivion and included both dubs in their rerelease, with superior video quality to boot. Considering the company's track record, fans will surely be pleased. I, on the other hand, absolutely detest this film and I can not recommend it to anyone who is faint at heart or even for pleasurable entertainment. Or for ANY reason. Still, take my review with a grain of salt.

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