Friday, October 19, 2012

Wicked City

Wicked City; animated horror-thriller, Japan, 1987; D: Yoshiaki Kawajiri, S: Yusaku Yara, Toshiko Fujita, Ichiro Nagai

Japan. A 'Black World', a world of humans who can transform into demons, co-exists with the human world. In order to prolong the ceasefire, a new peace treaty is about to be signed, so agent Taki is sent to protect 'Black World' diplomat Mayart, an old man, together with agent Makie, a woman from the 'Black World' herself. Mayart is assaulted in a brothel, but Makie and Taki manage to save him and hide from the 'Black World' extremists who want to prevent the peace treaty. Taki saves Makie, too, and falls in love with her. In the end, it turns out that Mayart was actually sent to protect them because their love could reconcile the two races.

Hard anime horror "Wicked City" falls indeed in the trap of its genre, namely to build its suspense too much from disgust and slimy monsters, yet despite splatter violence and shock, the underlying theme of the story is surprisingly humanistic, even adding a love story that eventually covertly transforms into the main resolution of the tangle. Director Yoshiaki Kawajiri ("Ninja Scroll") manages to polish up some inconsistencies in the script - no reason is given why extremists are against signing a peace treaty between the human and the 'Black World', the 'plot twist' near the end is not plausible - mostly thanks to great lighting, meticulous animation - the flawed characters' designs excluding - and a few neat little aesthetic tricks that strengthen the mood, like setting the entire story during the night. The plot might be an allegory on the North-South Korea relations and on the intolerance between two races, which makes the love story between the human Taki and the 'Black World' woman Makie even more indicative, whereas it is interesting to note that their sex scene is the only emotional one, the only honest one, as opposed to the previous three where sex is just used for 'black widow' ploys to assault a protagonist, such as the opening with the woman-spider who turns out to have teeth in her vagina or the 'Black World' prostitute whose breasts turn into glue by capturing diplomat Mayart - who, as a footnote, seems off because he looks and acts too much like the buffoonish perverted grandpa from "Ranma 1/2". In the ultra-bizarre finale demon tentacles appear from a statue of the Holly Mary (!), which makes the story not for everyone's taste, though, overall, "Wicked City" is a suspenseful film.



J Luis Rivera said...

Hi Marin. You are probbably the biggest anima fan I know so I have a question:
How is "Ergo Proxy"? Have you seen it? I read a plot outline and sounded interesting, however, I rarely dedicate myself to series (animated or not) due to my limited time, but I wanted to know if it was worthy.

Marin Mandir said...

Sorry, that anime is entirely unknown to me. Series can be time-consuming, but some are surprisingly even better than movies. Allegedly, "Ergo Proxy" has only 23 episodes, which is all right, so maybe you can try it out anyway.