WICKED CITY, Special Edition (1992/2002)

 

Format: 82-minute feature

 

Rating: NC-17 (N, SSC, AC, AL, GV)

 

American Production: Urban Vision

 

Japanese Production:

 

Grading

 

Premise:

C+

Story:

B

Writing:

B

Character Design:

B

Animation:

B-

Artistic Merits:

B- (but see below)

English Dub:

B-

Musical Score:

C+

 

 

Humor Content:

n/a

Action Content:

B+

Drama Content:

B-

 

 

DVD Presentation:

D-

DVD Extras:

B-

 

 

OVERALL:

B

 

Synopsis

      Two worlds exist - the world we know and the Dark World, which by our definition is the home of demons. A small number of individuals in both worlds have been aware of the existence of the other for centuries, and there has been some crossing over between the worlds. A long-standing peace treaty currently exists between the worlds which has strong supporters on both sides. That hasn’t stopped the occasional Dark World radical from slipping over to our world and causing trouble, however, and the upcoming signing of a new peace treaty has driven the radicals to be more daring than normal in their efforts to interfere; the radicals want the new treaty stopped at all costs. That seems to mean killing one Giuseppe Mayart, an extremely old, wizened, and lecherous-to-the-max little man who is key to the negotiation and signing of the new treaty.

      Assigned to protect Giuseppe are two members of the Black Guard, a long-standing secret organization charged with maintaining the peace between the worlds and dealing with those who illegally cross over (basically a mystical version of the “Men In Black.”) One is Taki Renzaburo, a dashing, well-built man who’s too much of a romantic for his own good. The other is Makie, a woman from the Black World whose human form is strikingly beautiful, but she’s also no slouch in a fight. They have a prickly relationship at first but really hit it off as the intense dangers of their protection assignment draw them together. And dangerous their jobs are, for all manner of demonic creatures are after their charge. Late in the story we get an inkling that there might be more to this upcoming treaty than what has been let on so far, and that Taki and Makie are more intimately involved in bringing it about that what they realize at first.

 

The Long View

      Wicked City is a title aimed at mature audiences. Unlike most anime titles that make their way to the States, it features adults rather than teens or children as main characters, and the graphic content is extreme. It is at turns both titillating and profoundly disturbing, with nudity, strong sexual content, graphic violence, gore, mysticism, and demonic imagery all blended together, sometimes in the same scene. Both lead characters are put in no small amount of physical and sexual distress, but it is especially strong with regards to Makie. This may bother some viewers. There is a definite level of artistic merit to it all, but this is a movie which even many adult viewers might not be able to handle watching. This title is only one small step away from being hentai¸ so make sure you’re aware of what you’re getting into.

      The animation in Wicked City is decent but there are much better examples out there and the musical score is a bit uneven. The writing, which is adapted from a novel, is solid, as is the English voice work. It’s in its conceptual art merits where Wicked City is a true wonder. Although the background artwork is less then stellar, it takes a certain dark genius to come up with some of the foreground imagery present here, particularly the way human-seeming characters are transformed into half-monsters. One of the most interesting-looking characters is a spider-woman, one whose limbs turn into spike-tipped spider legs and whose nether regions become a gaping maw from which she can spin her silk and spit poison. Another female demon has a body that can transform into the consistency of wet dough and envelope someone she’s having intimate relations with, and a third female demon’s body can turn itself into a giant replica of a certain part of the female anatomy for an interrogation and sweet death that most men would be unable to resist. (Most male viewers will find this all far more disturbing than stimulating, however. I get the distinct impression that the director was trying to make his audience squirm in their seats.) Another demon, which is patterned off a legendary Malaysian variation on a vampire, can detach his head and viscera and fly at an enemy, while others can emit entangling tentacles from their chest cavities. Admittedly, half-human demons and demonic transformations have become commonplace in supernatural anime over the years, and the admixture of sex and demonic elements has been a staple of hentai since at least the mid-80s, but rarely will you see such a visually creative blending of the two.

      The story for Wicked City is fairly straightforward, albeit with one big plot twist near the end. Although I felt this twist opened up some intriguing possibilities, the story wraps up a bit too quickly and ends before really exploring those possibilities. That’s the one major complaint I have against the movie. Otherwise it is a fine view for those who can handle the graphic content.

 

DVD Extras

      The rating and Extras listed here are based on the 2002 Special Edition DVD release. The big problem with the DVD is that the video transfer, quite frankly, sucks. No effort was apparently made to clean up the video in the transfer to DVD, so flaws that would have been present in a film print can still be seen on a better TV. This is inexcusable, hence the low rating in the Presentation category.

·  Company trailers

·  Character profiles – Only three, and the details on some of them are inaccurate

·  Director interview        

·  Original trailers

·  Web link to site with additional extras

 

Principle English Voice Actors

Role

Voice Actor

Taki

Stuart Miller

Makie

Tammy Holloway

Giuseppe Mayart

Mike Reynolds

spider woman

Lisa Robinson

hotel manager

Bill Richards

Mr. Shadow

Ronald Baker

 

            No solid details are available on the voice actors for other significant roles.

 

 

 

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