DVD Review: Demon City Shinjuku


Demon City Shinjuku

Eastern Star / Discotek




Shinjuku is a ward in Tokyo.  It’s home to Kabukicho, a famous red-light district, and the Metropolitan Government Building, where the administrative functions of Tokyo’s government are carried out (coincidence?).  It’s also the site of a horrific demonic infestation, and ground zero for the upcoming apocalypse.

Rebi Ra and Genichiro were both students of Aguni Lai, a Kempo master.  Genichiro is the better of the two; so Rebi, racked with jealousy, sells his soul to a demon for the power to defeat Genichiro.  This he does, and in the process Rebi sets off a devastating earthquake which has come to be known as the ‘demon shake,’ which was entirely confined to Shinjuku.

Ten years later, Shinjuku is a wasteland, but aside from that, Japan is doing pretty well.  A Japanese man, Kozumi Rama has been elected President of the World, and a Japanese woman has been elected Ms. Universe.  But the good times come to an end on live television, as a mob of reporters watch as he and his daughter disembark a plane.  Ms. Universe is there to greet him and hands Rama a bouquet of flowers that promptly attack him with their flower tentacles.  Is Ms. Universe evil, or was she unaware?  They don’t tell us. The next time we see him, the president is suspended by tentacles in an otherwise empty room on a high floor of a skyscraper being watched over by Aguni Lai.  Where is he?  How did he get there?  Why didn’t anyone at the airport try to save him?  They don’t tell us.

This is a common thing in short anime productions (72 minutes) based on longer works (in this case, a novel).  The producers tend to assume that the audience is familiar with the source material, and make the movie a kind of ‘greatest hits’ collection of scenes.

But all is not lost for Shinjuku, there’s a new hope.  Genichio had a son, Kyoya.  He’s the stereotypical 1980s anime hero; an arrogant, slightly jerky guy with some special power.  The 1990s replaced these heroes with diminutive wimps (which the average anime viewer could more easily identify with).

He’s joined by the president’s daughter, Sayaka, and the two journey into Shinjuku to defeat Rebi and prevent him from opening the demon void, turning the Earth into a demon realm.

The animation is pretty good.  It’s about what you’d expect from an OAV from the ’80s (back when they thought they actually had to put effort into them to get fans to buy videos).  The character designs are of the slightly more realistic type that was common of hardcore genre productions (like Akira, or Crying Freeman) of the era.

A few plot holes aside, Demon City Shinjuku is a solid action movie with some fun flourishes.

The video looks quite good on the DVD from Eastern Star.  It must have been remastered in Japan recently.  A nice surprise is the audio, which comes in Japanese 2.0, 5.1, and DTS, as well as an English dub.  Extras include a storyboard sequence, and the original trailer.

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