Tokyo Babylon -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Central Park Media
  • MSRP: 19.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Tokyo Babylon

Tokyo Babylon

By Chris Beveridge     April 15, 2003
Release Date: April 08, 2003

Tokyo Babylon
© Central Park Media

What They Say
Psychic investigator Subaru Sumeragi is hot on the tail of a serial killer who seems to have some supernatural powers of his own. When Subaru encounters a young girl placing a curse on his suspect, the mystery deepens. The body count continues to rise, and Subaru must solve the case quickly, or he may become the killer’s next target!

The Review!
More a side story than a real prequel, Tokyo Babylon is a tale firmly set in the X universe of CLAMP.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The show has a decent sounding stereo mix with clean dialogue and sound effects. The previous release had issues with the soundtrack popping in the second episode, but that’s not noticeable here. The show has a minimal amount of directionality across the forward soundstage, but overall comes across decently and without issue.

Originally released in 1992 and 1994, these OVA’s are showing a bit of their age, but this transfer and authoring job show some significant improvements in color from the original NuTech sublicense. Some of the shallower colors are more fully saturated here, giving things a much more lively feel. Cross coloration is pretty much non-existent and there’s only a few minor areas of aliasing.

The same cover artwork is used again though with more black mixed into it so that it’s not as strikingly red. The central image of Subaru there in his very red outfit is a strong one and continues to be a favorite piece of mine. The back cover provides a few minor shots from the show and a small summary of the premise. The package in general has numerous quotes and pushes of the creative team behind it and its ties to a number of other very popular series. The reverse side of the cover has the same artwork but in black and white while providing the chapter listings, bilingual cast list and the basic production information for both sides of the crew.

The menu uses part of the cover image and sets it against one of the buildings from the first episode, and this is where the animation from the show plays against. A bit of the music plays along here, providing a good looking and sounding menu that’s in theme with the show. Access times are nice and fast and with no transitional animations, load times are good.

The only real extra here is a brief video art gallery of conceptual artwork and such, but there’s also a two minute original video piece that talks about the history of CLAMP and uses animation from shows that CPM has the license to. For those completely new to CLAMP, this is sure to be an interesting quick primer.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It’s been about four years since I had originally seen this show, and at that time my CLAMP knowledge was much smaller, both in their manga and their anime. Since then, I’ve definitely come to appreciate the variety of their shows and how they manage to weave tales between different age groups yet in the end pull them all together into a lightly cohesive universe.

Tokyo Babylon is a tale that lets us get to know Subaru Sumeragi, the head of the Sumeragi family that has been protecting the country from spiritual problems for two thousand years, as well as dealing directly with the controlling emperors and other rulers of the country since the tenth century. During the last century though, the family has gotten much smaller and their overall reach not quite as strong as before. Many of the older generation still adhere to the family name though, and the Sumeragi are still called in when situations arise.

Subaru finds himself called into a situation by one of those older generation men, this time an executive of a large corporation who wants to allay the fears of some workers. His company has been in the process of building five very “smart” buildings in one massive project over the past few years, but while there have been accidents over time as expected, it’s gotten worse lately and the building is being called cursed. The younger executive in charge of the project simply fired those who believed in the curse, but his boss overrode him about it and insisted on bringing in Subaru.

Subaru’s arrival is poorly timed though, as within hours of being brought in, the older executive has died in an elevator crash. The police can’t find any foul play though, but they continue to investigate. Subaru himself continues to investigate, even after being dismissed by the young exec, and he and the police begin to piece together a long history of trouble with this particular executive.

For X fans, there’s some definite interest in this show as not only does it have Subaru getting to use his powers and in general being an interesting character, but Seishiro makes some appearances as well as an acquaintance of sorts of the Sumeragi folks here. This show works very well as a nice little side story for the two characters and their own relationship without really impacting X at all.

Between the two OVA’s on this disc, we get some good CLAMP stories that focus on the abilities of Subaru as well as his own past and what haunts him. While not required viewing, I definitely enjoyed these shows again with the greater knowledge of the series and events behind all of this. Tokyo Babylon is definitely worth checking out for CLAMP fans.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,CLAMP Background

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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