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Wicked City

Entry updated 22 November 2021. Tagged: Film.

Japanese Original Video Animation (OVA) (1987). Madhouse. Based on the novels by Hideyuki Kikuchi. Directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri. Written by Norio Osada. Voice cast includes Takeshi Aono, Toshiko Fujita, Ichirō Nagai, Yūsaku Yara and Mari Yokoo. 82 minutes. Colour.

A woman (Yokoo), seemingly the one he has been dating for three months, invites Renzaburo Taki (Yara) back to her place. After sex she transforms, clasping him with four spider-like limbs – a set of vagina dentate are also prominent – but fortunately he is strong enough to break free before she can suck out his "life energies" and turn him into a Zombie; so with a farewell she scurries away down the side of the building. He is only mildly bemused by this, being well aware of "a vast and fearful world of darkness beyond our time and space": a Demon World next to ours (see Dimensions, Gods and Demons). There has been conflict for 5000 years, though in recent times a series of treaties has maintained the peace – and the latest, to last 500 years, will be signed the next day. Taki, a member of the Black Guard, is assigned to protect the lecherous 200-year-old Giuseppe Mayart (Nagai), a VIP attending the ceremony. He is allotted a demon partner, the beautiful Makie (Fujita); there is mutual attraction.

Taki is essentially a James Bond (see Ian Fleming) who battles Shapeshifting demons, armed with a gun (see Weapons) capable of killing them. A series of adventures follow, as the Demon World's extremists – who believe humanity should be their slaves, not equals – attack the trio. At one point the three are taken to the demon world; Maki is able to send the other two back, but is captured, raped and tortured. Taki, though knowing it is a trap, goes to rescue her. He fights off the temptation of a demon woman, blasting her and several other attackers with his gun – another he punches so hard their eyeballs pop out.

Returning home, the pair are fired by the Black Guard – on departing, they find Mayart has sneaked into their car, asking to be taken to a seedy club. However, Taki and Maki are now captured by the spider woman: she tortures them, but is killed before she can finish the job. They awake, healed, in a church, significantly beneath a statue of the Madonna; they have sex. The leader of the extremists (Aono) appears – but then Mayart enters, now serious, to explains the pair have not been protecting him, but he they: they are the result of Genetic Engineering by Scientists from both worlds: the couple "can have a child who bears the gifts of both worlds ... who will become a leader of a new world". A showdown with the extremists' leader follows – Taki and Mayart are in trouble, until Maki intervenes: now pregnant, her powers are strengthened and she easily despatches him.

Wicked City's most uncomfortable element is the treatment of women (see Feminism): there is frequent Fan Service, which sometimes shifts into pornography (see Sex), whilst all the female characters are heavily sexualized – and are, quite literally, demons. This distracts from the film's disquieting but charged conflation of sex and death. Religion is also an element: aside from the Christian imagery, we learn that the Black Guard's defensive spiritual barrier (see Force Field) is powered by Buddhism. Taki's character is not as obnoxious as it might have been, being painted as a romantic rather than a ladykiller. The plot is functional, linking the bouts of surreal and memorable body Horror that are the film's strength, in a similar style to the special effects in The Thing (1982). Though dated, this is a classic of 1980s Anime horror. [SP]


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