Anime Meta-Review


Darkside Blues


By Date



This Page


Title Info

  • type: movie
  • grade: weird
  • source: U.S.Manga
  • form: sub
  • dur: 80
  • made: 1994
  • Review created: Thu Feb 22 13:25:34 EST 2001
  • mod: none

A lot of the time, when i'm hunting out a bunch of titles I know nothing about, I realise a lot of them are going to be fairly average or re-hash's of something i've seen before. Thus it is a pleasure when something downright weird like this comes on the screen and pokes you right between the eyes.

What's the plot? well, I don't know that I know the answer to that even after watching it. But I can describe the situation. It seems that in the future the catastrophe that shook the world was not natural or nuclear, it was corporate. In particular "Persona Century." now claims ownership of 90% of the planets surface. Governments and the forces of authority are either formally or in practice little more than another arm of the corporation. And the leaders of this group are so used to power and authority that they simply can't imagine anything being different. When they call the citizens `bugs' they're not attempting to insult, they're just explaining the way things are.

Still, while the power of the corporation is nearly infinite there are still some people and places beyond their control. They're not really winning, or even very threatening, but they're still there. Thus we get to meet some elements of the "anti-persona" freedom fighters / terrorists. However the main focus is on a group of skilled "juvenile delinquents" who live in a region free of control. Known as the darkside of Tokyo. It's a dangerous place, there's no authority at all, but as such it's also free of the corporations control.

It's also the place where one evening a dimensional gateway appears and disgorges a dark-haired person driving a horse and carriage. He's powerful, he's weird, and he seems to be able to shift reality to his convenience. Perhaps it's science, perhaps it's magic, but it's certainly more power than has been in darkside for a long time. He also seems to have some purpose or plan, as well as some interest in the group we follow. At the same time it seems his history might be linked, and they're definitely aware of his return. The only name he'll give is the name of the region in which he has made his home, thus he's known as darkside.

What can I's weird, it's darkly gothic and it's actually good fun. Mind you, if you can't tolerate a bit of confusion and some degree of `arty' stuff then you should probably move on. Likewise there's not as much action as you might think. While there's no doubt darkside has a lot of power he's relatively restrained in how he uses it. It's more to further his own strange aims than directly affect the situation. The members of the group, who are pretty cool and competent, have their moments and some nice moves but this doesn't dominate the time. There's no final battle and no epic conclusion.

The main part of the plot probably involves a Anti-persona fighter trying to escape, the last survivor of an attack squad. But that's really more a motivator for us to see various scenes, places and peoples within this strange but believable world. It's actually about people and the things that drive them much more than anything else. And through all this darkside assists or watches according to his own agenda, the only word being that he offers "renewal".

And the world is good. The shattered and unmaintained landscape of this place. The presence of people good, evil and unimportant. It has the feel of a complex place. And some of the places we see have lovely depth to their design, a bar, a darkly gothic hotel that darkside has made his own, the corporations gleaming offices and satellite. It's got a strong and confident sense of style and scene that's really pretty damn cool. Sure, it's a touch artificial at times, trying a bit too hard, but in general it's absorbing stuff.

The production itself isn't new...and some things don't work. For an example the horse drawn carriage is nice, but is a bit too much and the animation of the horses is flawed. But in general it's got a strong sense of style and is quite attractive within that style. The characters look good, move and act with a strong sense of personality, and are well supported by their dialog. Incidental design is wonderful and the `big energy' fights, although rare, are skilled and novel in how they are done. It's no longer flashy, but its interesting and capable. The voices are fine and the music actually moody blues type tunes which work very nicely. The only problem here is that one blues vocal track is sung in Japanese-english. It probably sounded cool to the Japanese audience, but it's a bit painful for native english speakers.

Other Reviews

  • THEM review Well, them certainly agree that the atmosphere is solid, but they don't believe this is enough to craft a movie from. Interesting that they and I hold completely opposed views on comparing this and "Wind named Amnesia" (2/5).
  • Anime Critic review The critic wasn't expecting much and thus was pretty much impressed by the solid atmosphere to be had. He notes that many characters remain mysterious, and that Darkside is actually a `support' rather than focus character. Still, the review is long, detailed and ultimately positive (4/5).
  • Lord Carnage review Lord Carnage, a guy who doesn't like writing synopsis', but's in a brilliant effort here. This is a great and concise description. His response is a bit more basic putting it firmly in the "mindfuck" category. While he feels it would have been better in a longer OAV format he's relatively positive about this "dark and brooding" movie (3.5/5).
  • Anime Review review This review is less than impressed, but it does a good job of supporting this position. Effectively it states that `bits' have been taken from a book, and well represented, but the connections and meaning largely lost leaving an unsatisfying experience behind (1/5).


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:17 WST 2009