Everybody knows the Japanese comics industry, or "manga" as the nerds say, is a giant powerhouse producing millions of pages of comics a year, read by sumo wrestlers, salarymen, students, and everyody in between. And while many American comics fans sneer at the entire field of "manga", claiming it's all big-eyed, speed-line infested nonsensical fantasy, the fact is that they're only right part of the time. The manga industry is so huge and so little of it makes its way over to the West that finding the gems of true badness amidst the sheer volume of material takes time, a certain amount of Japanese language ability, and a discerning eye - none of which we have a whole heck of a lot of.
However, we have managed to find some examples of Stupid Manga here and there. Here's one about how Tokyo was taken over by mysterious evil spirit demons who are strangling the World Federation President and only a fierce martial arts fighter and the beautiful President's daughter can save the world!
Anybody who's struggled through Shinjuku Station - the busiest train station in the world - during rush hour knows what we're talking about when we say Shinjuku is a demon city! But there aren't ACTUAL demons, unless you count the tourists walking on the wrong side of the hallway. Nope, we're talking about the 1988 video animation Demon City Shinjuku, which was based on a 1982 novel by Hideyuki Kikuchi. The animation, directed by "Ninja Scroll" director Kawajiri, was a stylish bit of nonsense that struck audiences as a wimpier, less lurid version of his amazing masterpiece "Wicked City". For some unearthly reason in 2002 Akita Shoten decided that what the world really needed was a manga version of Demon City Shinjuku, and American anime/manga import company ADV was more than happy to make it happen on this side of the Pacific as well. So let's meet our characters!
Kyoya Izayoi, spirit-blade wielding spirit warrior, Subway Sam his streetwise sidekick, and Sayaka Rama, the Chelsea Clinton of our story, versus Levy Rah, the evil wizard spirit heretic who is using his ultimate spirit power to curse the President every half hour on Fox News. Watching it all from behind the scenes is the mysterious Doctor Mephisto, who appears to help out when things get bad, just like Tuxedo Mask, but with better hair.
Now let's join Demon City Shinjuku, already in progress! Remember these are Japanese comics, so drive on the wrong side of the road, walk up the left side of the escalator, and read from right to left! Even though you'll be reading the English text from left to right! I know it's confusing! Just go with it!
Hideous death! Heart-rending cries! The innocent sacrifice of the President of the Earth Federal Government - all will usher forth the demon world under the coming of the Dark Being! Because you can never elect another president, right? Levy Rah is unclear on this whole "democracy" thing.
But with an incredible burst of mind power our hero Kyoya burns up the contracts Levy Rah has that bind the spirits of the dead to his unholy stipulations. It's this sort of attention to detail that gives Eastern spirituality its obsessive-compulsive character.
Here's a fun trick. The next time you're swinging a giant evil sword, try hollering THIS DEMON SWORD HAS TASTED THE BLOOD OF THOUSANDS. IT IS INFUSED WITH THE LUST FOR REVENGE FELT BY ITS VICTIMS AS WELL AS MY OWN DEMONIC POWER. AND IT'S REALLY SHARP. You'd have to be swinging that sword pretty slowly, unless you're Ron Popeil.
Sayaka stood in everybody's way because she doesn't like fighting but Kyoya poked his sword from behind her and stabbed Levy Rah. This gives Sayaka a chance to be both charming and charmingly annoyed, because she's an anime girl, who's attracted to the hero but can't show it. How cute! (gag)
After some spiritual force beam magic sword fighting, our heroes find themselves in what this manga calls "Takada Nobaba". I think they mean Takadanobaba, which is a neighborhood in Tokyo near where manga legend Osamu Tezuka lived in a rooming house with other famous cartoonists including Shotaro Ishinomori and Hideko Mizuno, and where the train station intercom plays the "Astro Boy" theme when the train doors open. All of this is more interesting than what's happening in the manga, by the way. If you're ever in Takadanobaba, check out the giant Tezuka mural painted on the wall across the street from the train staion.
Uh oh, we're now in the Shinjuku Danger Zone, where giant crowds of people shop, commute, live, work, play, and get into giant street fights between rival gangs of psychic ESP warriors.
It's the giant fat women ("The Hippos") versus the tall skinny men ("The Mantises"). I believe they will be battling over who eats the fat, who eats the lean, and who licks the plate clean.
Here's how you know you're in manga-land - people shooting magical force beams at each other while characters stand around, astonished at the power levels involved.
Aw, Sayaka can't stand to see people fighting. How adorable. Too bad she's not in a friendlier manga, like "Doreamon".
Uh oh, she's made the Espers mad and they're PSYCHICALLY RIPPING HER CLOTHES OFF! I'm sure the intendend 12-18 year old male audience for this manga doesn't want to see this happen at ALL!
Her majestic rack exposed for everyone to see, Sayaka's pure heart and courage impresses the entire crowd of hellscape-dwelling gang members who live on the fringes of society, but whom apparently have never seen a pair of breasts.
Inspired by Sayaka's hooters, the crowd puts an end to the Esper street fight, which will henceforth be replaced by the Sayaka Memorial Wet T-Shirt Contest.
Oh no, topless Sayaka has been captured by Levy Rah's Demon Phantom, whom they met at Big Box Plaza! You meet so many people in Demon City Shinjuku, it's hard to keep track.
But the skinny Espers and the fat Espers band together to protect the wonderful Breasts Of Sayaka, breasts that end fighting and bring all humanity together in their warm, bouncy embrace. We'll always remember your breasts, Sayaka!
So let's wrap this thing up. Levy Rah has come back in an immortal cyborg body, which enables him to use his spiritual demonic force to even greater effect. Kyoya found his magic sword, Dr. Mephisto and Sayaka and Subway Sam are firing a super spirit ray gun at the rock demon, and the reader by this time has realized there aren't going to be any more bare breasts in this story, so he's put the manga back on the shelf at Borders.
Oh no! Levy Cyborg Rah is going to kill Kyoya and the horrible box which contains the evil world-conquering demon spirit is about to open and the World Wrestling Federation President is about to die all at the same instant!! How will good triumph over evil NOW??
Suddenly Kyoya's entire spirit being is filled with the Deus Ex Machina power of the Righteousness Of The Universe, which gives him Real Ultimate Power to Totally Flip Out.
And Levy Rah is cut right in half and descends into the pit of hell like all good vanguished anime villians, murmuring "this can't be!" as he's vaporized by the righteous force of the (pick one) Wave Motion Gun or Firey Phoenix or the Psycho-Gun or the Super Saiyan Power Blast or the Moon Prism Power or the Super Electromagnetic Yo-yo or the Blazing Sword. Take your pick.
But how did it happen? Old wizard Yoda... I mean, Aguni Rai, used all his life force to channel the righteous "force" of the universe into Kyoya Izayoi, who is now "THE" Kyoya Izayoi. Apparently he's now referred to in the third person, like "The Rock". And the President is going to be all right, until the next primary season.
And oh yeah, that box was actually Pandora's Box. I bet you didn't see that one coming! Always be yourself, Kyoya. Or "The Kyoya" if you prefer! And remember if you ever need to stop fights, just lift your shirt!
The anime DEMON CITY SHINJUKU has recently been re-released on DVD in North America by Discotek. The manga publishers ADV are out of business, as is Borders and many of the fine anime retailers who spent their capital trying to sell America on Demon City Shinjuku. And thus, balance is restored to the universe.
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