Spooktacular: Demon City Shinjuku

Anime from 1988. I'm shamefully watching a dub, as the better version I have has no subtitles! This movie was so popular it got a Big Eyes Small Mouth RPG adaptation, tho it's 2 decades out of print. There's several remake/inspired-by games. I barely remember actually watching this, must've been 25 years ago, but I've used the game several times.

Hairy man with a stick, and sorcerer Levi Rah have a swordfight on a rooftop, and when the sorcerer wins, he plunges an elite shopping district of Tokyo into darkness and ruin. That monster!

10 YEARS LATER, President Can-do-no-wrong has stopped all war and flies around in a Space Shuttle. This is the future world if we only got rid of shopping!

Scruffy hero Kyoya (son of hairy man) & sexy woman co-worker who talks like a Southern hillbilly work at a noodle shop, and he trains kids in kendo, but SECRETLY he's a master magic ninja "Nenpo". Ghost Yoda shows up to recruit him, but says he's not ready, and all he has is a wooden bokken. Can-do-no-wrong is tangled up in evil vines for some reason, guarded by Real Yoda. Daughter of Can-do-no-wrong follows scruffy hero down a dark street to recruit him.

Long segments of Kyoya & President's daughter running around Shinjuku, fighting gangs, getting conned. Everyone who talks is sucked into a black void, or a sewer, or attacked by a giant bug.

Young punk Chibi guides them around. Cool trenchcoat guy Doctor Mephisto with faux-Transylvanian/Russian accent shows up to help, which is so not suspicious. A sizzling hot chick refugee from Wicked City shows up, with explosive results. So far all the weirdo monsters have been good, but there's half an hour of nothing happening between them. There's zero character development of anyone, just weird people in a dark city.

Multiple times, Levi Rah can pull Kyoya into ghost worlds to be hit by monsters, or just sit in a nice park (actually an abattoir populated by demon children, the worst kind of children!). But he never seems to seal the deal.

A final showdown, a sacrificial virgin, Levi Rah rules all, and has an actual magic sword instead of a stick and Nenpo. "I despise you!" [exploded] Levi Rah finally gets to monologue at an audience, and it's pretty good. Kyoya finds the magic stick of his father, which failed to killed Levi Rah the first time, but somehow it works now? This final fight makes no sense. Anyway everyone walks away happy, with a hint of a sequel that never came.

The visuals of this film are astounding; this is why we have anime, to make demonic hellworlds real. Not enough is done with the fact this is Shinjuku, there should be more shops, style-gangs or demons, government intervention instead of it being like Escape from New York. The music's pretty mediocre, jazzy trumpet city pop mostly, with some synth stingers. This cries out for a full-on vaporwave soundtrack in a remake. The actual plot is the most linear D&D adventure possible.

★★★½☆

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