Suikoden: Demon Century
Stop me if you've heard this one before -- a massive earthquake hits Tokyo, completely rearranging civilized life there as we know it. Gangs of criminals enjoy a reign of terror over the citizens, doing and taking what they please. The government and police are nearly powerless to stop them.
Every once in a thousand years, though, a band of legendary heroes is reborn to battle evil. A Buddhist monk forsees the gathering of these heroes, and they are the only hope against the dark forces that are also beginning to gather. But our heroes number only a few, and they face a virtual army of foes. Will this last hope be extinguished before the real battle begins?
Hey, it's Demon City Shinjuku, only with martial arts! Fortunately, Suikoden is a little better than its "hive of scum and villainy" brother Shinjuku...but not by too much. Suikoden's main failing seems to be that it aims low...and hits right on target.
If "underachievement" was one of the operative words in the producing of this OAV, "derivative" had to have been another -- there is very little in Suikoden that can't be found somewhere else in another anime out there. Right from the start, the viewer is treated to a blurb describing the events leading to the post-apocalyptic setting that sci-fi fan worth their salt could generate with both of their hands tied behind their backs. The initial meeting between the two main martial artists of the title could easily have been pulled from any other bad Hong Kong action flick on the bargain shelf of the rental shop. And it just went on and on -- even the reincarnation concept had been used before in other martial arts flicks.
Not that any of this would have been so bad by itself -- I was actually kind of hoping that this title would end up being one of those titles that would be still be entertaining despite its hokiness, or even because of it. And it did start that way...until the producers decided about halfway through that the only thing their audience would want is action, action, action. The already-thin plot quickly became an excuse for a mindless action-fest of poorly-directed violence and gore. I like my action with a little bit of suspense for flavor, and Suikoden's action is decidedly bland in that department. Even the climactic last battle seemed to be just sort of jammed in as an afterthought, over before it had hardly begun.
It's really too bad, too, because for a while, this title showed some real promise. The character designs were at least above average (at the very least, I could see them used in a good fighting game), and while the animation and art wasn't anything to write home about, it wasn’t terrible either. Unfortunately, the production staff of Suikoden seemed to have other ideas. Suikoden is about as empty in calories as it gets.
Recommended Audience: Graphic violence, gore (there's quite a bit of blood being spewed in the fight scenes), language, and a cross-dressing character with a homosexual bent makes this a title not for kids. The "Christian Commando" characters who whoop praises to the Lord whilst plugging the enemy full of bullets would have been hilarious if they weren't so offensive.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Suikoden: Demon Century © 1993 Yoshioka Hitoshi / Kadokawa Shoten
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