Another "dust collector", a somewhat scary older tape that spends most of its time lurking on a shelf. In this case the shelf in question being in the Melbourne Teachers College, now absorbed by the Malevolent Melbourne Uni.
Within the sprawling city we know as Tokyo there exists a simple shrine to a long dead Samurai. A seemingly unimportant relic of a time long past and without meaning to the modern world. However those who are aware of the spiritual world know that this shrine represents the very hub of Tokyo. For this Samurai, who tried to build a utopia on the site Tokyo now occupies, has become a massively powerful spiritual force that shields the city. However should he be woken, and realise that the city is the product of his enemies rather than his own dream, he would wreak terrible destruction.
Fortunately though no-one would be mad enough to attempt to trigger this doom. I mean it's not like insane militaristic sorcerers suffused with hate and seeking the destruction of the city, like that guy over there, are..... oh dear, it looks like it's time to start planning on re-building what's left. Let's hope that the forces of good, and perhaps the architects family caught in the middle of the magical battle, can win out over the insane, and incredibly powerful, Kato.
The first thing is that Tokyo being destroyed actually doesn't carry the expected emotions for an anime fan. Tokyo always gets destroyed, it's downright traditional. It doesn't even count as a story, it's more just a background. So the natural question is what story this anime has to tell.
The first part of the answer is that the anime is clearly based upon some series of Japanese novels, possibly with some historical basis. If not it just has a rather intricate fake history built for it. For someone with a negligible knowledge of Japanese lore there's really no important differences between the two. I get the feeling the story itself is rather convoluted, with a large cast and a slow building of suspense. Not that you are going to be able to tell from actually watching the anime. It feels a lot like the anime is making references to the original, perhaps on the basis that you know the original material, rather than attempting to represent it in full. As such it's pretty fragmented, full of seemingly irrelevant story events and references, that don't make all that much sense.
On top of that, accentuated by the rather odd dub, is a rather lovecraftian horror ambiance. Rather proper English toff's, using elegant and anachronistic wordplay, calmly explore the latest horror threatening the city. They're cultured, and scientific, but are forced to realise that the threat and the solution, are products of a spiritual world they can't deny. I wonder if I can re-create some of this;
Chap1 : I must mention, my esteemed colleague and fellow scientist,
that it appears that our plans for an underground railway are being
endangered by mysterious tremors in the earth.
Okay, so we have a fragmented story with little period piece interludes, it's not looking good so far. To fill in the rest of the story we have a couple of people who become pawns of the evil sorcerers nefarious plots. This is primarily because they're female and females make neat victims. It's also because we can't just have Kato, who seems to have no limits on his power, simply blow Tokyo away. Instead he corrupts and endangers three different females as part of his rather convoluted plots. This allows some psychological horror, and a little bit of fan service, in an attempt to generate some rather needed intensity. It's a bit sort of yuck though, and doesn't really seem to connect that directly with the wider story.
And then we come to the dominant element of the title. This is where some total lunatic (Rin Taro, I'm looking at you) decides to ignore story, character and logic in order to show off. In a self-indulgent frenzy completely over the top visual effects are slathered all over the screen. The magic, that would be better served with some subtlety, is loud, obnoxious and neon colored. It's just downright silly. You can tell someone had fun thinking it up, and it has all sorts of hidden cleverness and inappropriate humor (cute elements within the horror), but it's just so chaotic and disconnected it actually manages to tear the story apart. It even manages to become tedious, the creators amusing themselves but leaving me with the wish they'd just get on with it. There's just no control, no subtlety, no sensitivity to it all. No logic, or progression, either. And the eventual conclusion is.... corny. I know deep down everyone just needs a hug but really.
So taken as a whole the thing is a complete and total mess. Lots of sections which, taken independently, have some value, are sticky taped in a veritable frankenstein's monster of a title. It's completely unforgivable because there is both sufficient money, skill and content that it seems virtually impossibly to make a crap anime. But they managed, creating something that does nothing more than waste precious minutes of your life. Since it is not committed to telling a story, or coherent, each of the events has whatever power it contains leeched from it. Which means you get the yuck but not the dramatic benefit of it.
The production, as indicated, contains the most annoying possible combination of decent quality and extremely poor application. It really doesn't look that bad, and has clearly had some decent money pumped into it, I daresay it generates some pretty decent screen captures. In practice however the animation style jumps all over the place, the progression is visually illogical and a lot of the character and effect design is quite ugly. The characters all have this odd elongated look to them, especially in their feet, and tend to over-act. The magic really does look like the animators just coming up with crazy concepts and seeing if they work. Sometimes they do, and often they don't. And if they do work be sure they'll repeat them several times for you. The voice acting is equally over-done and the British accents deeply incongruous with a story so deeply connected with Japanese mythology, the music was un-remarkable. Some Japanese folk songs are sung in English, which doesn't scan, but is actually quite creepy in its own way.
My suspicion is that the original story, on which the anime was based, is a suspense filled story that eventually leads into lovecraft styled horror. In this case the animators get bored halfway and just ham it up with some of the most excessive visuals and over-wrought drama ever seen in an anime. The end result is a title that continuously flaunts it's lack of structure and logic.