The Persona Century Corporation has taken over almost the entire world, with the exception of Kabuki Town, the Darkside of what was once Tokyo. (Hmm.) All that are left in this enclave of independence are criminals, misfits, and the paltry few rebels against Persona. Can a mysterious psychic and a few brave people stand up to Persona? Or will the downtrodden forever be singing the blues.
Interesting premise, atmospheric execution...but ultimately this flick doesn't really succeed at whatever it's aiming to do. The question here: what IS this flick trying to do? It's as if someone took the atmosphere of X, inserted some random Bubblegumisms, a few of the punks from Venus Wars, the dimension-shifting suspense of Iczer-One, and put it to a blues soundtrack. Really.
Technically, the animation was pretty good, and the dark palette really lends itself to the atmosphere of the film. Actually, the atmosphere is what you most remember coming out of the film...it's so heavy, that it could be cut into fabric and used to clothe the naked. The character interactions remind one of one of CLAMP's darker-toned works, and though it isn't by them, you could swear there are characters pulled out of, say, the baddies from Rayearth. Maybe a better comparison would be calling this a better-executed version of Demon City Shinjuku...indeed; it's the same city (though with reversed situations this time)...and the same creator (Kikuchi Hideyuki).
The music, by the way, will stick to you, but not in the way it intends to. Japanese may have found this novel...but the blues singer would have been so much better if he could only have ditched that hideous accent. "Aiiiii gah-tah dem DAH-KU-SAI-DU BU-RUUUU-ZU!" Ouch. "Engrish" is cute when it's silly (say, Hayashibara Megumi silly), but when it's done seriously, it...well...hurts. (We don't go around trying to add Pizzicato Five to the Backstreet Boys' songs, now, do we? This ain't Delta Blues...it's Ginza Blues. Or ginsu-ing the blues...)
Oh, did I forget the plot? So will you. This thing has enough twists in it to confuse Albert Einstein...but then again, it just doesn't have the logic to hold itself together as a coherent story. Just *where* does Darkside come from? Why is that guy from Africa so dang psycho...and was his entire point in the story to get killed? And how DID Persona take over the world anyway? These, and many other questions, will not be answered be the end of this flick. And the ending...well...it leaves the story wide open for (never apparently produced) sequels. After all that confusion, you just get even more confused.
Yes, I know, this film is probably heavily laden with symbolism that my Judeo-Christian-Buddhist-Shinto background would deny me understanding of... (yes, I'm being facetious). If the creator was trying to say something, it quickly got lost in this jumble of a movie, that, while somewhat entertaining to watch, leaves you wondering what in the world went on after all by the end. Initially interesting, but ultimately pointless, and it has nothing on Kikuchi's masterful Wind Named Amnesia - now there's something to watch.
Add an additional two stars if you like to bask in pure atmosphere for hours at a time. If you liked The Crow, and I mean, REALLY liked it, you might find this one fairly enjoyable. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: Too dark-toned for kids (and a good many adults). There are also a few anti-kid-friendly torture sequences, general violence with light arms fire, menacing baddies, and general sexuality, especially a pointed shounen ai (homoerotic) undercurrent that will not sit well with some. Definitely for mature teen and adult audiences only.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Darkside Blues © 1994 Akita Shoten / Toho Co Ltd / JC Staff
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