Demon Warrior Koji -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: NA

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  • Audio Rating: N/A
  • Video Rating: N/A
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: N/A
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 17 & Up
  • Region: All Region DVD
  • Released By: Anime 18
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 127
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Demon Warrior Koji

Demon Warrior Koji

By Giaourus Ericus     February 07, 2002
Release Date: March 13, 2001

The Review!
Content: A-
Demon Warrior Koji is a very original, extreme and daring hentai-anime from the artist who made the word "hentai" apply to a genre: Toshio Maeda, creator of Urotsukidoji, Demon Beast Invasion, Nightmare Campus, La Blue Girl and others. Having started the hentai genre, and defined many of its well-known aspects, Mr. Maeda has since continued to experiment with his chosen subject matter, continuing to defy the supposed limits of the allowable in anime, and also defying the cliches and norms of the genre he originally started. DWK is a prime example of this. I suggest watching it in Japanese, with subtitles, because I think that the English voice actors just aren't into their roles, and the story loses much of its dramatic punch in result.

The art, as always in a Maeda anime, fits neatly with the story content. DWK is extremely "noir." Almost everything is painted in off-tones, as if dirtied or dulled, with practically no solid primary colors. DWK's colors are muted, but subtly and finely shaded - in a way, much more like real life than many animes (which I also like), which are painted in day-glo hues. It's as if DWK's whole reality has a hangover, or is somehow depressed. Mid-day looks as gloomy as midnight, or worse. The focus is often soft - intentionally, for atmosphere, since some kinds of sequences (such as demon-battles) are always razor-sharp. The animation is excellent, though unusual in some respects. Some of the characters are extremely realistic-looking, very subtly and finely drawn, particularly the women and Koji. The women are generally voluptuous and beautiful - but always in ways that real women can be, naturally. During some of the sex scenes, you'll swear you're watching live action (pun not intended) - though, oddly, their realism is offset by having the female characters frequently assume hillarious, gymnastic positions of a type that I'm sure I don't have to describe. Koji, though physically fit, is a very believable-looking person - skinny, often a bit slouched, his face average-handsome and lightly scarred. Some of Koji's super-powered co-workers, on the other hand, seem to be straight out of a cliche super-hero comic in their style and color schemes - in fact,they're the most brightly-colored things in DWK!

The title character, Koji, is a Tokyo Police "Sex Murder Investigator" - basically a homicide detective, specializing in sexually-related homicides. He is tormented by a horrific tragedy in his past - partly related to the fact that he can, at conscious will, change into a demon. He can also start to become one *against* his conscious will if he smells blood, which leads into one of the cliche-defying aspects of DWK (I won't spoil it, but it's both strikingly original *and* also an in-joke for fans of demon-hentai - such as myself). He's assisted by a veritable super-hero team of characters, including a pallid, "undead" (but still quite beautiful) lady psychic investigator named Jun, who has her visions during sex; a guy with a cybernetic arm that has interchangeable tool and weapon attachments; a weird, Grim Reaper-like being with a scythe; and a pair of twin girls who, when together, can heal the wounds / increase the powers of the entire assembled team. Koji's current assignment involves a series of homicides in which the victims, all men, were murdered in baffling, seemingly supernatural ways shortly after having sex -- another striking reversal of a hentai cliche, men instead of women. But this is just one of DWK's plotlines - there are signs of a massive conspiracy involving Koji's superiors (and some of his team), and also of some even-stranger, equally sinister scenario involving a possessed old man...

The scary thing, I think, about DWK is the characters' motivations for having sex: it's almost never *sexual.* Sex is used as a means to some non-sexual end or other (such as Jun's visions). In one case, it's used as punishment. But as far as romantic feelings, or genuine sexual desire in the "I find you attractive, would you like to..." sense goes, it's almost nonexistent in DWK's world, and when it does occur, the person at whom it's directed flat-out ignores it. Almost all of the characters seem to have completely lost contact with that part of themselves, an essential part of their Humanity. Even a certain lady who has sex much more often than most people (and has violent climaxes, to boot) doesn't ultimately, strike me as being into the sex for its own sake: instead, she seems to be acting under some kind of self-punishment compulsion that isn't even masochism, but instead a hatred of self. This sets DWK apart from all of Maeda's other works to date, in which nearly all of the main characters have, in one way or other, a profound rapport with their sexual nature (albeit sometimes in a destructive way, as with the demons). Coming from Maeda, this peculiar quality of DWK is a personal gesture of extreme horror. The developed characters in DWK seem, with about two exceptions, to have practically lost their sexual souls. I wonder if the odd sexual positions are a metaphor for detachment from real sexual interest, comparing the scenes in which they predominate to those in which they're least present.

A more obvious disturbing theme in DWK is its take on its country of origin's social values, which are close enough to Western social values so that this angle is both apparent and unnerving to Western audiences - though not to the same extent it would be to Japanese ones. Consider the Japanese values regarding respect for one's elders, responsibility toward family members (especially children), general politeness, personal hygiene, cleanliness in general, and related topics...and then look at what DWK does to them. DWK intentionally jabs needles into the audience's sensitive spots, setting up situations and scenarios practically guaranteed to outrage and disgust. It's these that make DWK so extreme. It's what, in horror films, is called a "button pusher." I'm amazed that Maeda found an anime company to produce this three-OVA story arc - which leads me to a little bad news:

This series has no ending. The three OVA's are very obviously the "pilot" for a longer series which, as far as I can tell, no-one is making. The story-arc itself ends - the case of the sex-murders is solved - but the other plots (such as the conspiracies) remain unexplained, and many of the characters lack development (for instance, the only one of Koji's super-powered coworkers we really learn about is Jun - I'm sure they all have fascinating life-stories). This is the only one of Maeda's animes that simply dead-ends like this. Nightmare Campus ended as it did to make a philosophical point (life IS an "Endless Battle"). The Urotsukidoji series has a definite ending - which, since it's the very short final scene of the series, often flies past unnoticed. DWK, though, is genuinely unfinished as a series. I'd like to see more...but I don't know if I ever will. I can hope. Meanwhile, what does exist is quite good.

Just about the only thing that I was *seriously* upset about with this series was that it gave an absolutely erroneous impression of a particular sexual lifestyle, given by the sex-constantly lady. I'm sure that this was not Mr. Maeda's intention, but it could be misconstrued that way. I can state from personal experience (and NO, I will NOT elaborate on that - it's disrespectful) that women into the "swinging" lifestyle, if mothers, are normally *VERY* careful not to let their children see, hear or catch word of their sex lives, and are as conscientious as most parents with regard to making sure that, when not under their personal supervision, their children are watched by a responsible, well-known and "normal" adult (such as a family member who ISN'T senile). The potential inference of things being otherwise is why I give DWK an A- instead of an A+. The (unintentional) inference offends me deeply. It's as bad as saying that gay men all want to rape guys, and as false.

Also, so that the following doesn't take you by surprise (as it did me) and ruin your first viewing of DWK (as it did mine): while the actual OVA's proper are not censored in any way, the (thankfully) brief re-caps at the beginnings of the second and third OVA's display digital mosaics. This doesn't cause us to miss seeing anything, because the re-caps are edited-together bits of footage from the preceding OVA's - not the same events drawn differently, as in some other anime re-caps. This probably explains why they're mosaiced: so that they wouldn't have to spend time (which is money) censoring the recaps, the original Japanese production company probably made the OVA's sans the recaps, then made the censored version for Japanese release, and then copied the recap footage from the censored version. Therefore, the main bodies of the OVA's exist in an uncensored form, and so could be obtained by CPM that way, but the recaps only exist censored. At first I didn't realize this, and was quite upset, but it isn't CPM's fault.

Just to round things out, the ending theme song "Ice Rain" - the bluesy tune heard in Anime18's trailer for DWK - is absolutely lovely to me, even though I've never been much into blues. Musically, it's intriguing, and the lyrics (which are in Japanese, subtitled in English) are beautifully sad and hopeless - perfect icing on DWK's noir cake. I hear that there's an Original Sound Track album for DWK. I'm getting it. "Ice Rain in my heart...let it freeze some more and let me sleep."

Review Equipment
Sony DVP-S360 DVD Player


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