Twilight of the Dark Master is a faithful OVA film adaptation of the manga graphic novel of the same name. It is one of the more obscure anime out there but worth a look. The story is set in 2087 where humans and demons are fighting each other for survival. It focuses on the last guardian sent to protect humans from the demons.
Thousands of years ago Mother Earth created powerful demons to test humans because they had become weak and frail. The demons over powered humans and ruled over them but the humans rebelled and over threw their demon masters. To this day, humans and demons continue to battle each other in the shadows.
Tsunami Shijo is the last guardian. He is a fire manipulator and works as a private detective in the city of Neo Shinjuku. He is hired by a client to look for her fiancé who has disappeared. During his investigations, he discovers the existence of a special kind of pharmaceutical drug that turns humans into demons through continued usage. He also discovers that the spread of drugs is somehow connected to the ancient plans to resurrect evil the demons masterminded by an old enemy.
The story is intriguing and gripping with much of the backstories and background lore of the world told through glimpses and brief explanations. It is fast paced with constant action and revelations and violence. Fight scenes are often won with ease but the demons however are very powerful and the characters do have a variety of supernatural abilities at their disposal that does keep each fight being interesting and unpredictable. Decapitations and death scenes are brutal but quick. Blood splattering is stylized and messy it adds into the effect of how violent the world is. Transformation scenes is disturbing and often violent too another aspect of the horror. Some nudity is there in the film but its secondary to the violence and story.
The anime deals with age old themes such as love, loss, death and good vs evil. The atmosphere is dark, brooding and grim and the sense of dread is sustained throughout the film. The mixture of gothic art and cyberpunk blends well with the world design. The gritty, slick high-tech design is reminiscent of blade runner. Overall, the storyline and atmosphere lend to the overall dark ambience of the film. The dark and shadowy noir style of the film worked pretty well.
Character motivations are clear and direct and are not muddled as the plot is simple. The character designs for the humans and the demon designs were really highly well-made and unique. The hand drawn animation by Madhouse still looks great today even though it was done in the early 90s. There is CGI in the film.
The films cinematography its highly neo noir with carefully planned camera shots and angles. The use of light and shadow is also a notable aspect of the shadowy noir visual style showing the amoral world the characters live in. The dark synth wave music goes well with the brooding and dark atmosphere of the film. The voice acting for the English dub was generally ok and it matched their characters personalities.
There were a few downsides to the film. The characters are not fully established and their personalities seemed somewhat flat and one dimensional. There was not much background information on the characters so there were some unanswered questions. The story does kind of become kind of cliched at times with the fate of humanity in the hand of a single guardian. Some of the dialogue in the English can be pretty cheesy in an attempt at humor but it falls flat most of the times. It’s a pretty good horror cyberpunk anime overall and you do not have to read the manga to enjoy the film.
This gets 3 stars.
If you are into gothic horror and cyberpunk, you are going to really like this anime.