This Week: Sex Demon Metropolis (Inma Daitoshi: Beast City)
It is October, and there is time for monsters to mash all month long.
Although that means more than one thing in this case.
I will keep this relatively clean, but, do look at the title again.
I should not have to point out a Not Safe For Work reading label over this to warn you if this is inappropriate material.
It does exactly what it says on the tin. I can confirm there is a whole lot of sex and the having of it by demonic forces in a metropolis.
But, that does not mean there is nothing to talk about.
I have actually had this series on hold for a while, wanting to save it for October and general anime horror talk. If you remember, I ended up making a comment about Cool Devices in these posts not too terribly long ago. It is an anthology series with some quasi-rotating staff, and tries to fish for something of a harder core version of Cream Lemon’s format. I ended up watching the whole thing because Yasuomi Umetsu had a segment in it, and I wanted both it and the rest of the series as a point of comparison. Digging around the production credits more, Naomi Hayakawa had character designs in “Operation 10: Binding.” Go a little further, and one sees they worked on numerous other hentai products, of which Sex Demon Metropolis is one they did both the original story and character designs for.
With the director of said work turning out to be Shinichi Watanabe. Nabeshin. The afro sporting and Lupin jacket donning director perhaps most notable for the Excel Saga anime adaptation.
This is why reading all manner of staff credits down through their various mazes is a super cool thing. I did not know Watanabe made tentacle porn at the same time as Tokyo Pig!
Yet here we are. You know too now, if you did not already, and we are surely all the better for it.
With that in mind, his handprints are all over these three episodes.
The reaction faces, the hyperactivity, how audio and timing gags are handled. This is an action comedy demon sex romp where when a vampire wants to suck blood out of a hapless dude’s penis, but it is not sufficiently hard enough to do so, we get numerical ratings on the side and video game style sound effects relative to the progress in changing this set of affairs. The primary demons of the series can be best described as if the Xenomorph chestburster came out of ones mouth instead, but rather than running away after exiting they instead speak, taunt, or otherwise react to their general situation. Which if you remember your Alien imagery of course, means they look like a talking dick hanging out of character mouths.
In that respect, I can see a lot of what Watanabe and Hayakawa were going for here. A high dose of Go Nagai style antics, in both his wacky sexual humor and elements of general brutality senses, as mixed with aspects of OVA tentacle and BDSM porn of the 1980’s and 90’s. Toss in some quite serious demons and rather ridiculous vampires (complete with vampire bat transformations where they keep their human form hair) to fight them as the undead girls try to unravel a larger world threatening conspiracy. A production has to handwavingly justify what is happening in the violence and sex departments somehow, or as an alternative view find a way to include them so as to get sufficiently greenlit for certain production companies.
There is a budget for it if one is willing to put in the work and sales pitch, especially in a pre-broadband internet age, and Watanabe did double as Producer.
What tends to cause the series to derail, rerail, and derail again for me is twofold.
For one, the series has a hard time deciding what tone it wants to have, and how serious we should be taking what is going on. One moment we are in incredible wacky taffy faces and dick jokes territory as characters run around and bounce like rubber, chopping up violent demons who look like penis mouths and blood sprays everywhere. Then the next we may have a completely serious masturbation scene being played with utmost sincerity, or a character torturing another with boiling tea or calligraphy brushes in places they do not ordinarily go.
It is not like there is a sudden shift where those serious scenes become silly, and that was the joke and setup. There is always a transition in or out. So the two operating modes do not interact directly all that much. The series wants to be a running around with its underwear on its head style affair tonally like Hentai Kamen, while also wanting to go about channeling the likes of Violence Jack. Then add a demon splash for thematic and visual flavor.
But the mix feels more like oil and water than a blended cocktail.
There is then also the matter of the third episode.
It took eighteen months to get out the door, and Hayakawa seems to have left the project (switching from “Character Designer” to “Original Character Designer,” for instance). Information seems minimal, but there were some serious production issues somewhere. While the episode starts with a puppet show , the animation beyond that does not fair a whole lot better. Significant decreases in overall number of shading layers, characters go off model often and not for comedic purposes, multiple instances of eyes, mouths, and even heads being moved back and forth on the cels to create movement and save frames, and so on. Characters just walk around naked a lot of the time as opposed to any better humor or timing gags, which is a double critical miss when considering the rampant animation and modeling issues.
As the three episodes tell a complete story, having the third one and thus a third of the total package implode like this does not entice one to leave with a good impression. That it was never licensed for the North American release, not even the relicensed set announced just a few days ago, should tell you something (and also makes this post shockingly more relevant than I had intended).
Leaving the story incomplete is seen as a better option for consumer opinion, such is the level of disastrously majestic drop between those first two episodes (whose issues are more in wildy uneven focus and tone) versus how the finale was assembled as a visual piece of media.
As a three episode direct to video comedy gore porn series, there are some alright jokes and shots along the way in Sex Demon Metropolis. But also a whole lot of tonal dissonance, as if it is not able to fully bring itself to commit to either of its potential audiences and ends up hedging its bets at the best of times or just downright jarring scenes transitions at others. In the process sabotaging various scenes in either direction. It is interesting as a historical novelty for Watanabe’s professional involvement just prior to when he was prominent as a director for a few years, and so that is its most endearing legacy into seeking relevancy in a present day context. There are techniques used here he would refine a bit more in his later and far less pornographic comedy series, before then pretty much stepping down from full television show directing as he has now.
But if one just wants to watch a relatively reasonable tentacle comedy with some body horror elements, I would probably stick with Call Me Tonight.
Mothballs is a weekly write-up of already completed anime I have either removed from my backlog or have recently revisited. A crash space for my immediate thoughts and personal processing, these are not intended as full reviews.