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Beyond the Earth we know and inhabit lies another world: the Black World, a terrifying parallel dimension that few even know exists. For centuries the two worlds have maintained a peace treaty enabling them to live side-by-side in relative harmony. But as the 20th Century draws to an end the pact is due for renewal. A militant faction from the Black World will stop at nothing to prevent the signing. Taki Renzaburo is a Black Guard, one of a group of undercover agents that defend the balance between the two zones. Together with Makie, a Black Guard from the other side, he is charged with protecting Giuseppe Mayart, an ambassador who has come to Tokyo to sign the treaty.

First released in 1987, Wicked City still rates as one of the classic Manga titles. It’s a disturbing tale that mixes the common elements of anime success—sex, violence and creatures with slimy tentacles—to good effect. Taki is a Bond-like hero whose fatal flaw is a romantic streak bigger than Mount Fuji, Makie is a cool and controlled otherworldly beauty with killer fingernails, and Mayart a lecherous little demon who hides great wisdom behind his obsession with female flesh.

The animation has been surpassed since, but Wicked City still possesses mind-bending visuals. What it lacks in Hollywood slickness it makes up for in sheer audacity. Mutation, regeneration and transfiguration are the order of the day as the tentacled ones become ever more bizarre and twisted opponents for Taki and Makie. As ever with Manga the soundtrack provides equal atmosphere and the remastered, surround sound English dub is an impressive one.

Unfortunately Wicked City is also a showcase for many of Manga’s less appealing qualities. Makie may be tougher than Taki, but she still manages to get gang-raped at roughly ten-minute intervals. Each time her tears are accompanied by screams more of reluctant enjoyment than pain and fear. Not one for the kiddies. There’s not much extra included on the DVD release, although a 15 minute handycam Q&A with the director reveals the man with the tortured imagination to be surprisingly bland and uninteresting. It’s always the quiet ones you have to watch out for.
Stuart Whitmore

Published August 30, 2001

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You can buy it HERE - next day delivery within Australia


VOICES OF: Richard Barnes, Dean Elliot, Richard George, Dougray Grant

DIRECTOR: Yoshiaki Kawajiri

RUNNING TIME: 82 minutes


DVD RELEASE: June 12, 2001

Interview with the director; Character profiles; Theatrical trailers; Languages: English (5.1 and 2.0 stereo), Japanese (with or without English subtitles); Aspect ratio: 4:3

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