Demon City Shinjuku (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, February 07, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, December 01, 1998
After a cataclysmic earthquake the Shinjuku portion of Tokyo has been reduced to a hellish city of demons and pitiful humans all under the power of Rebi Rah. Now the time has come for Rebi to bring the demon realm to earth. But even as he sets his plans in motion, Kyoya, a young man with some training in martial and spiritual arts, is pressured into journeying into the city with Sayaka, a young woman who must save her father by killing Rebi Rah. Their journey takes them through a nightmarish world of demons and deception with Rebi Rah waiting for them at the finish. But can hope remain alive in this land where only darkness can exist?
Acting: Japanese: 4
This is one of those movies I wished had been a bit longer, or maybe even an OAV series. There was plenty of potential to go into the characters more and delve into the city even more. As it is, this movie takes you through at a pretty rushed pace and you get to the climactic battle a little too soon. It left me wanting more, but I wasn't disappointed in the least.
The animation is very good. It's the backgrounds and mood making lighting that makes me give this film a top rating. It is perfectly atmospheric, and works wonderfully with the story. The background is black with colors heaped against it, so you aren't watching a dark movie, because the colors are so brilliant, but this is a dark movie nonetheless. It is rare to see this in animation and rarer to see it in live action movies (Angel Dust and Cube are the only two I can think that accomplish this). I also give a big thumbs up to the inventive creature design in the movie. Not the same old monsters here, we got some invention and thinking going on (again a longer series or movie would have had more monsters to see and play with). The sounds fit the action and some went out of their way to add to the movie (i.e.: creature sounds, and atmospheric sounds). The plot, even though it is very straightforward, is entertaining and engrossing. Perhaps a few more characters could have added some tension to scenes (especially after you kill or injure them). Upon closer examination this story is basically a myth. Check it out and apply some Joseph Campbell to it and see what happens, or better yet compare it to the Star Wars saga and see all the parallels you get. This isn't bad, only something interesting I noticed the second time I watched it. The Japanese acting was well done and added to the story. The English dub would have been average but they went and gave many characters goofy accents. I don't know why this was done, or what the dub director was hoping to accomplish, but it made the movie laughable in parts. Only Sayaka's British accent seemed to work and even that was kinda strange especially since she looks Asian. I really don't get it. The music worked fine with the movie, adding tension and atmosphere in appropriate places.
The disc is another good job from CPM and U.S. Manga. The picture is clear and clean, and the dark backgrounds and brilliant colors do not interfere with the picture or images. The sound is good and clear, no 5.1 and that is a shame, but I don't think it would be possible with an old show like this. Again this could have been a wonderful show off piece if the sound had been in surround. We got the CPM menus again, plain and functional, and a little slow in the opening menu. The packaging is pretty eye catching and with it's brilliant colors and dark background you see what the movie will look like. The reverse side of the keepcase tells you most of the important info. Languages, subtitles, goodies, regions, and movie length. No mention of what kind of sound though... You get some more info on the reverse of the packaging (I've harped on this before so I won't again). You get some trailers for upcoming or released DVDs from CPM. You get menus that jump to the character or demon featured in the film, but no text to tell you a bit about each. Again the goodies aren't bad but I would have loved some more behind the scenes stuff.
I would definitely recommend this movie to almost any anime viewers. The story is intriguing and different enough to keep you interested. It's also rewatchable and looks simply marvelous on DVD. My only real complaint is that I wanted more. I really think that enough creative energies were in place and ready to make something truly epic out of this story. Too bad it didn't happen. But what you do get is better than the norm and worth owning.
Mania Grade: NA
Audio Rating: N/A
Video Rating: N/A
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: N/A
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: All Region DVD
Released By: Central Park Media
Running time: 82
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Demon City Shinjuku