Halloween Review – Doomed Megalopolis

This week’s Halloween review is an anime, with another work from Rintaro, whose work we previously covered with Dagger of Kamui. This time it’s double adaptation – an adaptation of the film Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis, which was in turn adapting some of the novel series Teito Monotagari, featuring the character who I’d best describe as Japan’s Dracula, Yasunori Kato.

General Information

Kouichi Yamadera as Junichi Narutaki
Kyusaku Shimada as Katō Yasunori
Goro Naya as Hirai Yasumasa
Kan Tokumaru as Nishimura Makoto
Kaneto Shiozawa as Tatsuya Youichirou
Keiko Han as Tatsumiya Yukari
Ken Yamaguchi as Kamo
Kenichi Ogata as Kuroda Shigemaru
Kôichi Kitamura as Amano Junkichi
Naoki Tatsuta as Terada Torahiko
Osamu Saka as Shibusawa Eiichi
Ryotaro Okiayu as Fortune Teller
Shigezou Sasaoka as Mori Ougai
Takaya Hashi as Hayakawa
Youko Asagami as Tatsumiya Keiko
Yuusaku Yara as Kouda Rohan

Directed by Rintaro
Written by Akinori Endo from the Teito Monotagari series of novels by Hiroshi Aramata
Animated by Madhouse

Available on DVD from Amazon.com & Rightstuf.com

The Premise

During Japan’s Taisho period, the Japanese government works to lay out a new plan for developing Tokyo into a modern city. However, all their work could be brought to naught by the malevolent cursed spirit of Yasunori Kato, who is bound to walk this earth as long as Tokyo exists, and he will use everything in his power to destroy it, no matter what the means.

The High Points

Yasunori Kato is a wonderful villain, and Kyusaku Shimada, who had played Kato twice before in live action film, brings in an excellent performances as the character. Also, the character of Kato and how the character is envisioned as a supernatural near-force of nature works rather nice. I don’t know if the idea among Geologists among others of Tokyo as “a city waiting to die” existed at the time the books were written, but if it was, Kato is a great anthropomorphic representation of this concept – a city waiting to die and the man seeking to kill it.

For all the ludicrousness of Kato trying to use the moon to destroy Tokyo, I do like that he just can’t do it on his own – he has to have someone work out the math first, to make sure it’s done properly.

The animation in general in this 4-part OVA is generally fantastically done, with great attention to detail and fantastic visuals. There are a few hiccups but we’ll get to those later.

The Low Points

First off, Kato’s plan in part four. Specifically, crashing the moon into the Earth. If he’s powerful enough to do that then there’d have to be better ways he could try to destroy Tokyo that he hadn’t attempted before, like, oh, trying to trigger a tsunami that would wipe out the city, for example.

Second, the Great Kanto Earthquake, which is probably one of the biggest catastrophes to occur in Japanese history short of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is depicted rather tamely. Considering that Madhouse’s first work was Barefoot Gen, you’d think they’d flex their disaster muscles and go for it again. Considering that this is probably one of the occasions where Kato’s efforts bring harm to civilians and so, by showing the human tragedy of the Great Kanto Earthquake we see how much is at stake if our heroes fail.

Content Notes

There is no gore here, but there is some very bloody violence, as well as some nudity, including one character being raped and others being molested by Kato’s demonic powers.

The Scores

Originality: This is an adaptation of an adaptation, though one that takes some liberties from the source material to make for a better conclusion. 4 out of 6.

Animation: Generally good, though as before I’m disappointed by the depiction of the Great Kanto Earthquake. 4 out of 6.

Acting: Fantastic, particularly with the performance for Kato. 6 out of 6.

Story: The story is very well written, and as presented it does a great job of depicting the passage of time as well. 4 out of 6.

Emotional Response: The degree of time that passes between episodes makes the emotional response interesting. Kato can’t win totally – then the series is over. However, the heroes can’t win totally either for the same reason. Nobody can go big until the end, by which point the stakes have gotten so absurdly high that only one resolution becomes possible, leading to no suspense at all. 4 out of 6.

Production: The music and sound effects are fair enough. 3 out of 6.

Overall: This is a decent OVA. It’s more character-driven then supernatural action driven then I anticipated, though it still worked out fairly well. 4 out of 6.

In Total, Doomed Megalopolis gets 29 out of 42.