Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Demon Hunters of Kaiser Crowbar's Crypt of Doom

Halloween has only been a recent phenomenon in Japan, but has quickly become very popular.  Despite this, Japan has a longstanding penchant for horror.  Most of their horror stories center around ghosts and spirits, as is evidenced by such popular movies as Ringu and Ju-on and video games such as the Fatal Frame series (which are some of the scariest games I've ever played).  In the late 80s and into the 90s, there has also been a fascination in anime and video games on demon hunters.  A lot of these anime (and some of the games) made it to the states and became one generation's first glimpse at the world of anime (myself included).  So I decided to take a look back at some of the anime and games from the past 20 years that focused on demons and the people who hunt them.

One of the most successful anime studios, Madhouse, cranked out these supernatural anime like nobody's business during those days.  Features such as Demon City Shinjuku, Wicked City, Devil Hunter Yohko, Vampire Hunter D, and Phantom Quest Corp. were staples of the anime section of any movie store (Devil Hunter Yohko was actually ADV Films' first release).  All of these were made by Madhouse.

Though Madhouse was the most prolific, others made supernatural anime as well.  Most notable was Devilman, based on the manga by the legendary Go Nagai, it focused on Akira Fudo, a timid young man who is encouraged by his friend to fight demons.  In order to do this, Akira becomes possessed by one of the strongest demons in Hell, Amon.  Only his pure heart keeps Akira in control and allows him to transform into Devilman, an amalgamation of Akira's will and Amon's strength.  Another one, Tokyo Revelation, is based on the Shin Megami Tensei video game series (which I'll get to in a minute).  A young man discovers he can control demons using a computer program that works much like a summoning spell and wreaks havoc with his demonic tools until a childhood friend tries to stop him.

All of these demon hunting movies do share certain characteristics:  Blood, Violence, Sex, and Nudity.  Not all of them are the same, though.  For instance, Devil Hunter Yohko does have nudity and sexual situations, but little to no blood and gore, while Wicked City is dark and gritty with plenty of sex, violence, gore, even a rape scene.  Phantom Quest Corp. is probably the tamest, as it's primarily a comedy.  There is some sexual innuendo and a short flash of breasts, but it doesn't get graphic.  Then there's series such as LA Blue Girl and Urotsukidoji, both of which are notorious for their "tentacle porn."

As if anime wasn't enough, Japan had quite a few video games that involved demon hunting.  A lot of them were based off of some of the anime I've already mentioned.  I know that, Devil Hunter Yohko and Devilman have been turned into video games.  The most recognizable series, though, is Shin Megami Tensei, which was originally based on a novel about summoning demons through a computer.  The first games, were released on the Famicom, when the series was just called Megami Tensei.  They added "Shin" to the title when they started making them for the Super Famicom.

One of the first games from the franchise to reach the states was Persona for the PS1.  It's not technically part of the SMT series, it's more of an offshoot.  The main difference was that, instead of summoning demons with electronics,  each of your party members summoned a "persona," a sort of archetypal being that arose from their personality, that would cast spells to defeat demons.  It achieved a cult status when it released and the sequel came out for the PS1 as well.  Persona was one of the first series of SMT based games to have each game brought out to the States (The Digital Devil Saga series and the Raidou Kuzunoha games also have been completely released in the states, but Persona was made before them).  Along with the different series, standalone games, such as Nocturne for the PS2 and Devil Survivor for the DS, were released.  Each of these games have gotten critical praise for their innovative RPG elements, fascinating premise and themes, and their art and design.

So now that you have seen how they do horror on the other side of the Pacific, check some of these games and anime out (except for Urotsukidoji, unless you have a thing for girls being raped by psuedopods, freak).

Kaiser out

No comments:

Post a Comment