A OVA series based on the literary epic Teito Monogatari.
In 1908, the ghost of Yoshinori Kato, a soldier killed in the Sino-Japanese War, kidnaps the beautiful Yukari and offers her as a human sacrifice to Masakado, Tokyo's unofficial guardian deity. Masakado refuses Kato's offer, but Yukari gives birth to Yukiko, assumed to be Masakado's spiritual heir. The years pass, and Kato tries again to seize power at the death of the emperor in 1912. Child-prodigy Yukiko fights him off and he retreats to the underworld. By 1923, the traumatized Yukari and her daughter live with Yukari's brother, Tatsumi, and his new wife, Keiko, who is an undercover priestess charged with defeating Kato. Another coup attempt by Kato almost succeeds, resulting in the 1923 Tokyo earthquake (found in many anime, including Urotsukidoji, Oshin, and Smart-san). Tatsumi confesses that Yukiko is his daughter, and that Yukari's madness is the result of her rape by her own brother. Keiko goes out to face Kato one final time, revealing herself to be the Goddess of Mercy. She fuses with Kato, and Tokyo is saved, leaving Tatsumi to wonder that if even Kato can be forgiven, there might be hope for him.
With a virginal, sleepwalking heroine in jeopardy, a powerful, predatory sorcerer, and a wise old man seeking to keep them apart, Alexander-creator Hiroshi Aramata's original novel is a Japanese retelling of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Though often labored and unnecessarily slow, the series still has many good points, notably a well-handled incest subplot and a surreal palette of colors, textures, and set pieces. Later episodes move into Omen territory, as Yukiko struggles with her alleged destiny as the child of the Devil, though the finale is pure anime, with hallucinogenic visions and mass destruction à la Akira. The story is loaded with historical references-not only does Kato hail from the birthplace of medieval magician Abe no Seimei (hero of Master of Yin and Yang), but the period background also shows many of Tokyo's familiar landmarks under construction. Tokyo's guardian Masakado is a genuine historical figure, a 10th-century rebel from the region, just one of the real figures in a story that views the century since Tokyo became Japan's capital as an era in which the country itself was demonically possessed. The year 1940, as Japan prepared for WWII, was the thousandth anniversary of Masakado's death. Kato represents a modern malaise, a soldier forged in the fires of Meiji Japan's first foreign war, who dies in the battle of Dalian in 1894, returns to stoke nationalist arrogance after the defeat of Russia in 1905, and observes the "dark valley" of 1920s militarism. In this regard, he is a distant cousin of the prodigal soldier who terrorizes Tokyo in Patlabor 2. In a further subtext, the death of the Meiji Emperor had a recent parallel for a home audience that had just mourned his grandson Hirohito.
There are separate U.S. and U.K. dubs, each with their own merits. Manga Entertainment's uses British accents, which work well with the overpolite, middle-class characters but still leave them sounding unsettlingly twee. Streamline's U.S. dub, however, doesn't put quite as much effort into duplicating the haunting folksongs that carry much of the suspense in the middle episodes.
The story was also made into the live-action movies Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis (1988) and Dictator of the City (1989), directed by Akio Jissoji and Takashige Ichinose. A third film, Capital Story: Secret Report (1995), was a live-action epilogue set in the present day, when evil spirits use the traumatized survivors of the earlier films to return to our world. NV
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