Thursday, June 3, 2010

Evil spirits stalk the city in 'Tokyo Babylon'

Tokyo Babylon Animated Series (1999)
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

The "Tokyo Babylon" DVD contains both episodes of an animated series that focuses on Saburo, a young man who is the heir to Japan's greatest psychic/medium tradition and the most recent in a long line of mystics who have served the nation's movers and shakers for as long as there have been a Japan. Other main characters include his sister and their veternarian friend who is more than he appears. (By the way, I'm ASSUMING Saburo is male, although the character is about as asexual it can possibly be. I would actually assume it was girl, if not for the male name.)

Saburo and his sister are curious multicultural/multi-dominational mystics/psychics, displaying crosses and other Christian paraphenalia on their clothes and in their home, but practicing traditional Japenese magic and spritiualism. I like the sense of "whatever it takes to get the job done" that this conveys, that there's a little bit of truth in all religions.

The first episode in the series sees Saburo called in by one of Japan's captains of industry in order to see if the skyscraper his company is building really is being haunted by evil spirits. Before he even arrives to take on the new job, his employer is killed in the latest of the mysterious disasters. Instead of walking away, he becomes deeper involved... to his own peril.

The second episode has Saburo crossing paths with a post-cognative with whom he eventually teams up in order to solve the mystery surrounding a series of killings on the Tokyo underground. The mystical forces arrayed against the young medium are less formidable than those in the first episode, but the danger to his life and those she cares about is still very real.

Both "Tokyo Babylon" episodes feature average animation, okay voice actors, and fairly decent stories. While the first episode serves as a nice introduction to the principal characters--summarizing relationships that I assume one could understand better if one had read whatever comic book the cartoon is based on--the second episode is far stronger story-wise... and far more chilling.

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