Today marks number 3. We've got only two reviews left in this marathon, and this train of reviews is finally pulling into the station. The review I have for today is a bit of a schlock title, but one that has a bit of a cult following, even to this day. It's cheesy, it's stupid, but there's a bit of a dark charm to it. With that said, let's look at the underground title known as Wicked City, and see if it's as bad as everyone says it is.
Taken from the anidb page:
"There is Earth, our familiar world, and then there is the Black World, a parallel dimension that very few people are aware of. For centuries, a pact between the two worlds has been observed to maintain peace, and terms must be negotiated and renewed soon to continue relative harmony.
This time around, there is a militant faction that will stop at nothing to prevent the signing of a new treaty for inter-dimensional peace. Two agents of the elite organization known as the BLACK GUARDS -- defenders of the balance between the two worlds -- are charged with insuring the success of the treaty."
The story of Wicked City is something of a double-sided coin. On the one hand, the story his rather original. Granted it has some cliches, but the concept behind it has some promise, and is actually kinda entertaining. Unfortunately, there are also a couple weak points within the story, especially the ending, which is kind of a cop out (I won't spoil it for you, but let's just say that it isn't as satisfying as you'd expect).
Once again, this is another anime film that takes place in a nameless Japanese City (I'm just gonna assume it's Tokyo. I'm pulling straws people!). On top of that, considering that this movie talks about the demonic world, you're only given fleeting images, mainly in the form of the demonic inhabitants that come over to the human world. Having said that, this is one of the seediest places I've ever seen: It just oozes sleaze, as there seems to be a lot of bars, strip clubs, and other dens of sin just about everywhere. The city also manages to invoke the images & feeling of neo-noir quite well, but at times it uses it's noir powers (Yes, I said noir powers) a little too much, and comes off as the bad side of cheesy.
The characters in Wicked City are....lackluster, to put it politely.
It's very clear that the characters in this game are good or evil. There's nobody that's on the fence, nor is there any character that seems to have a moral dilemma that can more the story either a lot, or a little (Even when someone has something akin to a moral dilemma, it doesn't feel like something that can contribute to the story). If there's any one thing that does make the characters at least watchable, it's that they ooze so much cheeze because of how monotone & basic they are.
Right off the bat, you can tell that Wicked City is a title from Yoshiaki Kawajiri, creator of equally famous titles like Ninja Scroll & Demon City Shinjuku. You can tell that this is one of his titles by how dark everything looks & feels, not to mention his usage of bleaker coloring to create his world of noir & horror. I have a problem with this: I consider this to be Mr. Kawajiri's calling card. His series always have a darker visage to them, and they drip atmosphere. I don't have a problem with this, as a director/editor should put his own spin on things. In Wicked City though, I think he tries too hard. The whole thing looks too dark, there's even more of a lack of color than other titles, and all of the characters & monsters seem to be a little stiff in their movement. There's action to be had, but it seems so much slower in Wicked City than in most of the rest of his work.
Boring! The voice acting in Wicked City is flat out boring!
Not much effort is put into the character's voices. Every voice actor seems to be putting in the absolute minimum into their assigned roles, and when the tone of a character's voice does change, it's only because (This is just my guess) the script tells them to change it. Even just a little bit of effort would lower my anger in this department, but they didn't, and thus I'm a little peeved!
EPISODES & EPISODE LENGTH
82 minutes is how long Wicked City runs. If the previous two shows I've reviewed were good afternoon killers, then this one is something to kill part of a night with, but I'll get to that in a minute.
AVAILABILITY & PRICING
Wicked City is one of those titles that because of it's status as a cult classic, you expect it to have been re-released in recent years, but you're wrong. This movie is difficult to find, but not impossible to find. There are a couple of the DVD releases on Amazon, and a couple more of the original VHS release. New copies of the DVD start at 27 dollars & used copies start at close to 11 dollars, while new VHS copies begin at 13 dollars, and used copies begin at the incredibly cheap 16 cents. If you're feeling adventurous, then go for the VHS edition. If you want to play it more safely, then buy a DVD copy.
Since I downloaded this, I don't know what the extras are.
If you've never watched Wicked City before, or if you've never heard of it before, then here are three points to look at. For starters, this is one of the bloodiest titles I've come across. People die rather horribly, often in brutal & visceral ways (One guy gets stabbed in the head through the eye with a cross, then gets evaporated with a lightning bolt). If you don't like blood, walk away.
On top of the violence, Wicked City is also filled to the brim with sex. The women in the show look sleek, sexy, and.......actually aren't treated with that much respect. Hell, just about all of the women in this movie are evil in some well. On top of that, many of them feel like objects in some way (Even the main heroine is treated like dirt sometimes). If you don't like sexism, walk away!
This last point is more of a funny observation than anything else. Despite all of the sexual content in Wicked City, it's technically not classified as a Hentai. You've got fellatio, penetration, tentacles (Which ties in with the fellatio & penetration), and other stuff, but it's not considered a pornographic film. Weird, isn't it?
GENERAL IMPRESSION & RATING
Much like Venus Wars from this past Wednesday, Wicked City had a lot of potential in my opinion. However, with Venus Wars I felt that it tapped into a little of it's potential, while this movie just revels in the gore, sex, and sexism that seems to pervade most of the scenes. I like blood, carnage, and sexy things as much as the next guy (And some women), but when sexism comes into play, I'm immediately turned off. I might act like a typical guy sometimes, but when I come across something (Or someone) that acts like women are inferior. Yet.....I can see why some would consider this to be a cult classic, so I won't crap on the fans of this movie for liking it.
Wicked City gets a 4 to 5 out of 10.
See you all next Monday, when we'll be checking out the final two. Until then, stay Otaku!
There was also a UK dub of the movie. Click the link below if you want to watch: