I’ve written about Patlabor before. The TV series is a great sitcom about Japanese police officers in the future, that offers commentary on politics, humor working with strange people, and treats robots as nothing more than we would treat guns or police cars in a police sitcom set in 2015. The second movie is an sophisticated political and philosophical tale about foreign wars, Article 9, and the point of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. So what are we to make of the first Patlabor movie? Did Headgear go all out for the first time the heroes from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Special Vehicle Section 2 make it to the silver screen?
(**Warning – This review is a tad more not safe for work then my average review. You have been warned**) Wicked City is a 1987 Madhouse film directed by one of anime’s living legends, Yoshiaki Kawajiri. Never heard of him? Well that’s probably because the types of films he makes are a hard sell these days. Ultraviolent, hypersexual, horrific action titles used to be a dime a dozen in the day, Kawajiri was the crowned emperor of the genre, but today these types of anime are few and far between. Sure he’s not as well known as other living legends like Mamoru Hosoda, Makoto Shinkai, Hideaki Anno, or Mamoru Oshii. He may not be as remembered as our recently departed Ryūtarō Nakamura, Osamu Dezaki, and Satoshi Kon. But he’s just as much of an auteur as any of them, if not more so, and he leaves a distinct mark on any anime he directs. I think someone should get rolling on trying to crowd-source Kawajiri’s next film or something…since the market rarely provides for him a chance to get his teeth wet anymore. Anyway Kawajiri was once known for epic titles such as Ninja Scroll, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, and a bunch of stuff I already reviewed. Wicked City may not be his magnum opus, but it is a damn good film, and his most sexual to date. Wicked City is the first of many film adaptations of Hideyuki Kikuchi’s novels that are directed by Kawajiri .
Many of the shows I review are violent in a way that lacks class and sophistication, but are entirely awesome and gleeful. Take for example the disgusting and gruesome Genocyber. It is unrefined, crass, dirty, and enjoys killing people. This is the type of anime that aims to make you enjoy watching the deaths of others. It’s creepy, it’s hateful, and it’s entirely entertaining. But there is another kind of violence prevalent in anime, one that is not “fun” to watch. One that does not enjoyably kill off its cast, but when someone dies or is hurt you feel their pain. This type of violence is what I call empathy violence, as opposed to ultraviolence (where you enjoy the killings). For example, no one ever roots for the young boy to be shot in Babel (at least I hope no one does). That movie has empathy violence in it. But in The Last Stand we love to see Arnie run some bastards over (spoilers) with a freakin police SUV! We love to watch him spray a minigun at a bunch of killers (spoilers) and then say a witty line ! We get some sort of enjoyment from these crazy, ultraviolent action scenes! Kite has extreme violence and incredible action scenes, but we are never “having fun”. Instead we have a knot in our stomach the entire time, we worry if Sawa is going to be alright. We have compassion when Sawa gets hurt. We pity her for having such a horrible childhood. When people die in this anime we don’t get excited, we get upset. This is an anime with a 60 minute running time that makes us care. There is an elegance to Kite that few anime and live action movies have. This is not some bottom of the barrel over the top violence, there is real thought behind every single scene.
I just had the pleasure to be on Episode 23 of the NTR Radio Podcast! I talked about the glorious 1980’s, specifically anime from that decade (but also important events from it) with the very cool trio Kgods, VZ, and Anubis . I had a lot of fun, probably the most fun since I was last on a podcast! I do hope you guys all listen, maybe you’ll get a little bit of an idea as to why I love the 1980’s and anime from that neon lit decade!
Some anime skimp out on the plot, characters, and themes and try to get away with just spending all their money on top notch animation and beautiful artwork. The powers that be think they can get away with this, perhaps only by the skin of their teeth, if at least the production values shine. They hope that audience will be so enticed and overwhelmed that they won’t notice the anime is missing key components. Sometimes they do succeed with this underhanded technique. The opposite is also true; there are dozens of examples of anime with brilliant ideas, characters, or concepts that just can’t seem to get a good budget. These anime sadly end up looking very unpolished, but still manage to tell an excellent story. Spiral is one such example. Looks are not everything; in fact I’d argue they’re one of the least important aspects to telling a good story.
Hey there! My name’s Don “Kangol” Jones. I run a blog called the Check-in Station where I talk about anime, manga, animation and pervy stuff. Feel free to stop by anytime. I’m here helping out my buddy Prede (that’s right, I just gave you a nickname) talk about the wonders of old school anime. Or at least anime that isn’t of this century.