Wicked City is an anime movie adaptation of the first novel of a Japanese horror series “Wicked City Black Guard” by writer Hideyuki Kikuchi. This move marks the directorial debut of Yoshiaki Kawajiri. He also the key animator, screenwriter, storyboard artist and character designer for Wicked City.
The story is set in the 90s at the near end of the 20th century. Two worlds exist: the human world, and the black world, home of demons. Demons and humans have fought a shadowy war against each other for several years. A peace treaty was signed between the two worlds where both sides could live in peace. Demons are considered to be a myth to most humans and only a select few knows of the demons’ existence and the peace treaty.
A mysterious government organization called “Black Guard” Is formed to keep the peace between both worlds. Black Guard agents have full time day jobs as cover and only work their true jobs when their services are required. The movie focuses on Black Guard Agents Taki Renzaburo and Makie. They are sent by the government to escort a mysterious mystic who central to keeping the peace as set out in the treaty between the demons and the humans. The treaty is renewed every hundred years. A group of Demons knows as “Radicals” wants to sabotage the peace treaty and establish Demon Supremacy. The Radicals are led by the powerful demon known as Mr. Shadow. Most of the movie happens in one night where Agents Maki and Tackie uncovers a conspiracy affecting both the Human and the Demon worlds.
Plot twists in the film are unexpected and effective and it keeps a sense of suspense throughout the story. Character development scenes and learning about the lore of the story is well done.
The chemistry between Makie and Taki is fun to watch from start to finish. They both have their own distinct personalities. Agent Taki is a playboy romantic while Agent Mackie is a calm and reserved professional. Awesome action scenes are stylized as ultra-violent and fast paced and numerous. It is it is pretty good to watch.
The film has a lot of graphic sex in it per the neo noir genre. There are sex related themes in the film that does fit in with the nature of the plot.
Rape scenes do happen every now and then and they are not for the faint of heart. Tentacles you would see in Hentai do appear in the film but these scenes are rare and brief. These are meant to show the ruthlessness and cruelty of the demons and their willingness to stop at nothing to destroy the peace. The other main character is Guiseppi, a legendary mystic telepath who is 100 years old Giuseppi is really perverted and makes a lot of sexual innuendos in the film from reading Playboy to visiting Bathhouses and watching porn. He gets Agents Taki and Mackie into a lot of trouble. Guiseppi is more of a nuisance then help initially and he seems to have his own hidden agenda. Much of the humor from the film comes from him and it comes off as crass and vulgar. It can be a little bit out of place at times in contrast to the serious nature of the film.
Wicked City also has a very good neo noir art style. The visuals of the film are dark and shadowy and the use of blue tint works very well. The cinematography is excellent with unusual camera angles, sharp contrasts of light and shadowing effects, mirror reflection and scene framing. These add to the visual atmosphere of the movie. I also like the hand drawn animation that’s really smooth and intricate for its time. The background design of the world looks really well made. Character movement was natural and done without any problems. The character designs for the demons looks really disturbing and each demon has their own unique deadly power. Editing was especially efficient as scenes transitioned smoothly. The voice acting is serviceable enough where it fits right in the characters personalities.
If you enjoy music from the 80s, Wicked City has a pretty good noir styled soundtrack. The reprinted 2015 version of the film has improved audio, sound effects and English subtitles. You can choose between either the Manga UK, Streamline or the original Japanese dub so you do have options. The 2015 version is uncensored. There are a few new extras like a more recent interview of the director.
I did find a few shortcomings but I am not going to rate it down because of graphic violence. The story was muddled and confusing at times and it leaves some parts not fully explained. It does have the occasional script hiccups in the dialogue but most of the time it works quite well. The Manga UK Dub is pretty weak and if you had the choice, go for either the streamline or original Japanese dub. Red and white flashes appear in the movie sometimes it can be challenging maintaining constant focus.
Wicked City is sometimes disturbing with the graphic violence and rape scenes. However, its intriguing as well. Overall, I liked the movie and its worth 4 stars.
If you decide to watch Wicked City, be warned.