Stephen reviews: Darkside Blues (1994)

Darkside Blues [ダークサイド・ブルース] (1994)

Starring Akio Ohtsuka, Hideyuki Hori, Kotono Mitsuishi, Kōichi Yamadera, Masako Katsuki, Maya Okamoto, Natsuki Sakan, Nozomu Sasaki, Shinichiro Miki, Yasunori Matsumoto

Directed by Yoriyasu Kogawa & Yoshimichi Furukawa


Did you think that just because October is over we were done with the Hideyuki Kikuchi reviews? Well, guess again. Darkside Blues is yet another adaptation of one of his novels, though it isn’t a horror movie by any stretch. Sadly it’s also far too confused and unfocused to make for a good movie. It has at least three main characters, arguably four, and not enough explanation, which makes the story feel like it’s going nowhere.

Set in a dystopian future, the plot pretends to revolve around a dark, mysterious stranger going by the name Darkside who magically appears in one of the few parts of the world not yet owned by the Persona corporation. It seems that Persona sealed the guy in an alternate dimension years ago, and now he’s busted free on an epic quest to use his strange magic powers to give psychiatric therapy to people. I wish I could say he had some awesome plan for vengeance or to free the world from Persona’s tyranny, but all he seems to do is hang out in a motel and “renew” people’s dreams.

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Stephen reviews: Demon City Shinjuku (1988)

Demon City Shinjuku [魔界都市 (新宿) Makai Toshi (Shinjuku)] (1988)
AKA Hell City Shinjuku, Monster City

Starring Hideyuki Hori, Hiromi Tsuru, Kiyoshi Kobayashi, Kyouko Tonguu, Yuusaku Yara, Asami Mukaidono, Ichirō Nagai

Directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri


The next anime based on Hideyuki Kikuchi novels is directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, the same guy that brought us Ninja Scroll. Considering how awesome that film was, I was eagerly looking forward to this one. It certainly has the animation quality to match that later work, which surprised me coming from an ’80s anime, but unfortunately it left me a bit disappointed in other aspects.

The movie starts out strong, with a kick-ass sword fight across the rooftops of Tokyo that ends with the destruction of Shinjuku. (For the confused at this point, Shinjuku is not actually a city. Rather, it is one of the special wards of Tokyo.) Authorities believe it’s a bizarre earthquake, but we know better. That crazy evil guy we just saw was actually summoning demons to take over the world, and now Shinjuku is under their control. Fast forward 10 years, and Shinjuku is now a haunted wasteland filled only with villains, the dregs of humanity, and the demons that hunt them.

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Stephen reviews: Odin: Photon Space Sailor Starlight (1985)

Odin: Photon Space Sailor Starlight [オーディーン 光子帆船スターライト, Odin – Koshi Hansen Starlight] (1985)
AKA Odin: Starlight Mutiny

Starring Toshio Furukawa, Hideyuki Hori, Keiko Han, Goro Naya, Gentaro Ishida, Tessho Genda, Takeshi Kato, Tsubasa Shioya

Directed by Takeshi Shirado & Eichi Yamamoto


There are two versions of this film floating around. One, Starlight Mutiny, is a heavily edited version available with English dubbing, while Space Sailor Starlight is the unedited version that was never dubbed. The DVD was kind enough to include the option to watch the “standard version” which is actually the reduced and edited version, or the “extended version” which is actually the standard, unaltered version. I suppose it sounded better than “butchered version” and “unbutchered version.” Are they really that different? I didn’t bother trying to watch the short version, but since it cut nearly an hour from the runtime something important had to have been dropped.

To be honest, though, the film was pretty slow, so maybe trimming a few things down wouldn’t have hurt it. It’s almost two and a half hours long in its full edition, which can get pretty tiresome despite its kickin’ ’80s rock montages of people running around on the spaceship. Seriously, these guys board ships with more gusto than a pirate raiding a boat load of gold and virgins. At first I was unsure if they were taking the ship by force, or if they were just starting a rave. It turned out they were just getting to their posts. Somehow this required a lot of exuberance and hard rock. The spaceships in Odin are supposedly powered by laser beams shot from various places around the solar system, but I think it’s actually the concentrated power of pure awesomeness from rock concert light shows. How else can you explain the intense guitar riffs that kick in every time they hit the accelerator?

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