DOOMED MEGALOPOLIS (1992)

 

Format: 4 OVA episodes totaling 175 minutes on two DVDs (as a boxed set)

 

Rating: R (N, AC, GV)

 

Type: Supernatural Thriller/Horror

 

American Production: Streamline (originally), ADV Films

 

Japanese Production: Toei Video

 

Grading

 

Premise:

C

Story:

B+

Writing:

B+

Character Design:

B

Animation:

B+

Artistic Merits:

B+

English Dub:

B

Songs:

C

Musical Score:

C+

Opener:

n/a

Closer:

C

 

 

Humor Content:

n/a

Action Content:

B

Drama Content:

B

 

 

DVD Presentation:

C

DVD Extras:

F

 

 

OVERALL:

B+

 

Synopsis

      In early 20th century Tokyo a former soldier named Kato, who has become a demon sorcerer empowered by the Northern Devil, seeks to wreak destruction on Tokyo. To do this he at first attempts to awaken the spirit of Masakato, Tokyo’s guardian deity, and manipulate him to that end; when this ultimately fails he tries other methods. His cat’s paw in all these endeavors is a young maiden named Yukari, who is vulnerable to his influence because an earlier near-death experience allowed her “to see the gates of Hell and return.” As the series progresses over a period of 14 years, Yukari has a daughter, Yukiko, who may be the spawn of Kato and who also falls subject to Kato’s machinations in a variety of ways. Fortunately for both, the threat Kato poses draws various protectors to them, who regularly battle to protect the two and stave off Kato’s vile plans.

 

The Long View

      Doomed Megalopolis is considered a classic amongst supernatural thrillers in anime, and it’s not hard to see why. It combines solid storytelling with high production values to create a very dark and dramatic story that mixes heavy doses of mysticism with historical fact. Those who can handle its graphic content and sometimes unsavory subject matter will find a viewing experience well worth the cost and time commitment.

      Amongst the characters, the villainous Kato is the star. Exactly why this supposedly deceased military officer seeks to disrupt Tokyo isn’t entirely clear, though some other characters theorize that he may be the embodiment of the curses of the neglected dead – which would be a particularly disturbing realization to Japanese, whose Shinto religion heavily involves honoring the spirits of ancestors. Yukari is arguably the most prominent among the other characters, but to call her a heroine would be a misnomer; her middle name might as well be “victim” because what happens to her over the course of the series is at best distasteful, and at worst outright cruel; that she is driven insane over the course of the series is no surprise. A variety of supporting cast members come and go, but the only other one that remains constant throughout is Tatsumiya, Yukari’s significantly older brother. He works at the Finance Ministry on an effort to rejuvenate Tokyo with a massive rebuilding plan and has been responsible for Yukari since their parents died when she was still fairly young. (This is more implied than outright revealed, however.) Tastumiya is a hard-driven man who places great value on family image and has very mixed feelings about his sister - and not necessarily good ones. That he may be indirectly responsible for all the bad things that happens to his sister is a thought that doesn’t seem to be lost on him, though he tries to deny it to himself. This makes him a very interesting - though not sympathetic - character to watch. Arguably the most likeable character is Keiko, a temple maiden who marries Tatsumiya in the third episode with the secret intent of protecting his family against Kato.

      Doomed is a story awash in magic, Eastern mysticism, and disturbing children’s ditties (which don’t translate well), although it mixes in real-word scientific and mathematical principles. It also incorporates in real historical events, such as the Great Earthquake of 1923 that devastated Tokyo. Its artistry, which is good and mostly devoid of clichés but starting to show its age, is peppered with symbolism both subtle and overt; some of it may catch you off guard. The animation, and English voice work are all good, but lacking in places are subtitles that would be very beneficial. The handling of the final episode’s climatic confrontation, where Kato is finally overcome in an unexpected way, is a masterpiece of execution that ranks in my book as one of the best “final battle” scenes I’ve seen to date in anime.

      Finally, some note should also be made about the content. The rating I have given Doomed is well-deserved for the graphic violence and bloodshed alone, although there are much more extreme series out there. Nudity can also be found in the last three episodes, and there are scenes of rape, incest, and molestation as well. This is absolutely not a series appropriate for younger viewers, and even some adults may not handle it well.

 

DVD Extras

      This review is based on the Special Edition boxed set edition, which is the series’ first DVD printing. Not only does it lack case liners and any extras beyond company previews, but it also lacks subtitling options and the original Japanese soundtrack! This is unforgivable for a DVD release; what was ADV Films thinking? I can only hope that another version will come out in the future that actually has extras.

 

Principle English Voice Actors

Role

Voice Actor

Kato

Jeff Winkless

Yukari

Joan-Carol O’Connel

Tatsumiya

Kerrigan Mahan

Narutaki

Cam Clarke

Yukiko

Wendee Lee

Hirai

Mike Reynolds

Keiko

Barbara Goodson

Aichi Shibosawa 

Michael Forest

Hiakowa

Michael McConnohie

Prof. Amano, Keiko’s father

Ed Mannix

Narrator 

Wilton James

Doctor Nishimura

Cliff Wells

Koda

Sam Fontana

Kuroda 

Steven Kramer

Professor Terada

Steven Bulen 

 

 

 

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