Not rated, 82 min. Directed by Yoshiaki Kawajini.
The familiar Japanimation storyline of demons from an alternate universe entering our own is back (does it ever go away?) in this better-than-average slice of stuff we've all seen before. Representatives from the Earth and the Black World are on the verge of signing a mutual non-aggression pact after years of bloody savageries. Earth guy Taki -- one of the elite Black Guards chosen to defend the Earth from renegade Black World denizens -- is teamed with a female Black Worlder named Makie in order to protect the life of Mr. Meiart, a dwarfish, oversexed buffoon who just happens to hold the key to universal peace. Liberal dollops of gore and sex follow from here on in, but the film rarely reaches the delightfully sadomasochistic heights of previous NC-17 Japanimation such as Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend (which was itself trimmed quite a bit before its American release). Wicked City, on the other hand, is much easier to follow. Its storyline is linear and rapid, without the annoying flashbacks and nonsensical Cyber-ese outbursts that make this particular genre particularly annoying. The animation seems to be clarified right along with everything else, making for an adult cartoon that actually appears to make sense, for once. You may find yourself shaking your head in disbelief at the Black World sexbomb whose well-shorn nether regions hide a hideously toothy surprise (talk about your maneaters!), but at least you'll be able to keep up with the flow of events. Definitely not for children, this may not be the second coming of Akira, but it's a step in the right direction.
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