Yep, I’m still on that 80s horror anime tip. Despite some serious reservations, my experience with Devilman was a blast, so I thought I would see what else the genre had to offer. While searching for my next watch, I found that record label Tiger Lab Vinyl had put out the awesome soundtrack to Devilman, as well as something called Wicked City. If Wicked City, like Devilman, was good enough for these connoisseurs, it would likely satisfy my grungy, grindhouse, monster-loving cravings. As it turns out, Wicked City is perhaps a little more coherent than Devilman, but it’s even weirder, and much further down into the erotica basement than I anticipated.
Much like Devilman, the world in Wicked City is separated into the visible, normal human world, and a secret, demon-haunted world. A tense truce between humans and demons that has held sway for hundreds of years threatens to dissolve into open war if the upcoming new treaty attempt is sabotaged. The human organization Black Guard sends agent Taki to ensure that Dr. Joseppe Maiyart, instrumental in the treaty process, makes it to the signing unharmed and peace can continue to reign. A mysterious, powerful woman from the demon world, Maki, arrives to assist Taki in his quest, and what seemed a simple mission at first becomes much more complicated for everyone involved.
So far, so good, right? Definitely well-trod ground – a secret world, a secret war, a threatened peace – but as far as setups go, it’s not a bad one. Oh boy does Wicked City amp up the sex early, though. If you’re in the least bit allergic to odd sexual content, especially of the exploitation film variety, then I’d suggest steering clear of this one. There’s a sexy demon woman that turns into a spider-monster with toothed nethers, another with a kind of chest-vag, like the cover of Bjork’s recent Vulnicura, and there’s a bit of demon-rape that attempts to titillate rather than horrify – are those demon moans of agony or pleasure? Dr. Joseppe Maiyart is also not just a diplomat, but a dirty old man. So, yeah: it’s all pretty tasteless and offensive stuff, especially when you add in all the blood and gore.
Offensive it may be, but Wicked City is also gorgeous. I love the character designs, the beautiful animation, and the background art – this is a lovely piece of 80s horror animation. It’s also got some great monsters and cool action sequences. The soundtrack is a great bit of 80s scoring, too – from synths to funky jazz compositions. Your mileage may vary (see the above discussion about the sexual content), but I really dug Wicked City. It’s weird, fun, cool, looks beautifully ugly, and has a great grindhouse vibe. I’m bound to run aground at some point in my aimless anime horror explorations, but so far, I’m two for two. Recommended.