Judging from the various films and animations I have reviewed for this website, you would be right in assuming I am an advocate for the anarchic, exploitative days of the 80's and 90's where anything seemed to pass and noone played safe. Now, especially so with animation that trend has reversed. I admittedly hope I am not the only one who is somewhat exasperated by the glut of flashy 3D CGI toons chock full of inane pop culture references, yawn-inducing kid underdog stories and animation that no matter how detailed each polygon looked made me rather admire a gorgeously shaded cel crafted by hand any day.
Furthermore, practically no animation director seems to want to make the decision to create movies that tackled dark, unconventional narratives all while wrapped in worlds draped with hues of blue and black. Where women were not ungodly bobbleheads voiced by washed up celebrities, men were charismatic badasses with laser magnums and cyborgs fought psychics in battles that would bring multiple dimensions to their knees. Good thing Yoshiaki Kawajiri is their to delight me with his warped spins on reality. Kawajiri is mainly well known for his 90's gorefest Ninja Scroll as well as his recent take on the Highlander franchise in The Search For Vengeance; I myself was actually introduced to his work through Lensman, his debut in 1984. Eventually I also saw 1987's Wicked City which to me is honestly one of the finest animated films I have seen (something which I rarely say about most animations) with it's creative blend of horror and film noir supported by gorgeous animation and character designs along with a wonderfully macabre atmosphere.
But out of all of his works, the one that seems to have slipped through the cracks is his two-part OVA series from 1989 Goku: Midnight Eye. This short lived animation was adapted from a three volume manga by Buichi Terasawa famously known as the creator of the kitschy space opera Space Adventure Cobra. So what happens when Terasawa's kitsch blends with Kawajiri's demon-encrusted imagination? The setting is a futuristic Tokyo, extensively rebuilt after a second great earthquake nearly wipes the city from the map. In this crazy world teeming with reprobates and criminals is the leather jacket sporting, no shirt on underneath (but still has a tie), hardcore private detective known as Goku. Immediately off the bat we know this guy is no ordinary cop (his dress sense notwithstanding) when he tangles with a cyborg accountant whose arms can stretch out like bubblegum. Goku with the help of a tiny metal rod, bashes one of the man's arms in half and stabs him through the stomach, all to retrieve a small key for the guy's turquoise haired girlfriend. The woman offers to repay him (*cough*sex*cough*) but Goku being a man refuses politely and requests for a payment to his account.
Goku cruises into the brightly lit city ahead, driving the point home that no matter how many times Japan rebuilds itself it will come crashing down again one day. Naturally this leads to the title card. We cut to a bar featuring possibly the craziest looking erotic dancer known to mankind; a woman with motorbike handlebars and a gearbox protruding out of her back while an engine revs in the background with the music. Just for effect her breasts our jiggling too, just to make the place more 'adult.'
An observer in the bar stares in the direction of a shady looking man sitting motionless with a glass of red wine, his reflection clearly showing in a window next to him. The other man prepares to strike when all of a sudden, peacock feathers with glowing pink eyes stretch from behind the two way window. The glow transfixes the man who consequently commits suicide through a shot to the head. Is your mind boggled now by the way? It turns out that this is just another in a string of mysterious deaths that are decimating the ranks of the police's Special Investigations Section. Goku is informed by the police chief that the possible next target is his former partner Yoko, naturally Goku immediately disregards the chief's order to stay out of the investigation. Meeting up with Yoko at the firing range, Goku proceeds to catch up with old times and learn about who might be behind these obviously suspicious deaths.
While cruising across the city highways, Goku learns from Yoko that these deaths are most likely related to a notorious arms dealer by the name of Genji; if you havent guessed that the shady bar dude with wine was Genji, you clearly need to watch more 80's action movies. We are also shown that Genji also actually owns that same bar hidden insidea skyscraper with a design aesthetic akin to two massive glowing testicles. Manly indeed. Two other Special Investigation members are seen playing peeping tom on Genji's fortress, noticing straight away a voloptuous black-haired woman baring her shapely chest. With the two officers distracted, the woman (who bears a striking resemblance to Wicked City's female spider demon) bears a smug grin and shock horror, unleashes her peacock feathers of doom stretching out of her back; Genji certainly has an odd fetish for unnatural female protrusions.
One of the guys decides that before killing himself to chuck his friend out the window, plunging down to a bloody death on a car window. His eyes gleaming white, the second dude also takes flight to the streets below. Convenientely enough, Goku and Yoko turn up to watch the second guy splat against the sidewalk leaving our resident Kawajiri female protagonist the last one in the unit alive. Goku decides to take action and with scuba gear in hand proceeds to inflitrate Genji's abode, Yoko is left behind to provide support (in other words, nothing to taint his manliness). Soon after being flushed into the system, Goku rips his gear off to reveal he still refuses to conform to a sensible dress code. Alluding a few guards, Goku is a few minutes later cornered by a giant who bashes his face into a piano, as well as Genji and his growling (no joke) woman/motorcycle pet. Genji warns our wounded hero that his interference will cost him dearly and tests his latest weapon on him, a mosquito that paralyses humans after absorbing their carbon dioxide. This anime makes Metal Gear's technology look plausible. Goku faints, waking up dazed in his car and drives straight ahead; but out of nowhere, Goku's bad luck strikes again as the evil peacock lady hypnotizes him. In a desperate bid to escape, Goku proceeds to stab out his own left eye and promptly crashes into the sea. Now thats what I call a 'Riki-Oh' style getaway.
Goku slowly begins to return to consciousness, lying naked in a dark blue void. An ominous voice outlines that Goku now has a few alterations to his body inluding a new left eye. But this is no ordinary left eye, it's the most advanced computer terminal on the planet. What this means for Goku is he now with just a thought can access any computer system from any location as well as perform scans on anything and anyone. Goku has now officially replaced Bruce Wayne as the world's greatest detective. Adding to his omniscience, Goku also receives a new crime fighting tool of badassery. A metal pole that can extend to any length and can fire lasers, by decree I think this weapon should become a standard household accessory. Goku then proceeds to wander about the city testing out his new toys on various thugs throughout the city until realising that he left Yoko behind like a dimwit. He breaks into her apartment with his god-like eye, Yoko naturally not questioning where he went and proceeds to want to shag him, cue lots of boob shots and groping. Surprisingly with this wonderful erotic display in his lap, Goku refuses the sex (twice he has done this now) instead seeing to an invisible thug he spotted a moment ago with his eye.At the same time, Yoko tries to stab Goku after briefly spotting the peacock lady and is promptly knocked to the floor by his rod. I can't keep track of all of the 'rod' euphemisms I have used thus far.
The thug is promptly blasted by Goku's thick rod laser (homoeroticism has just gone off the charts) and he tends to bringing a still nude Yoko to her feet. The nightmare hasn't ended yet though as the evil paralysis mosquitos swarm into the room and knock our hapless female out cold. Goku grabs her and rushes to the nearby elevator holding his breath to avoid the mosquito's deadly weapon. Kawajiri not wanting to stick to being remotely classy deicdes to also do a full on panning shot of Yoko's naked body in Goku's down to her crotch. Goku and Yoko leave the elevator in time to be immediately confronted by Peacock Lady who in the nick of time is blasted through the stomach by Goku's laser pole killing her instantly. Yoko is soon rushed to a hospital but due to the numerous mosquito bites, she does not make it though the paralysis and dies leaving Goku a solemn loner out for revenge. The police chief now forbids Goku entirely from taking down Genji knowing fully well the damage he may cause. Ignoring this entirely, Goku takes control of a television satellite broadcasting in the middle of the city his threat to kill Genji in cold blood.
Our villain rushes back to his base to finalise a new arms deal on a weapon with some shady businessmen. This weapon is beyond ludicrous and keep in mind this anime already has a lady with mind bending bird feathers. Genji's diabolical plan is to inject swans with a virus that is secreted from hormonal glands during sex. So that when the swans migrate and mate in the spring season, the virus spreads over the country they are in. At this point, I think any plausibility with this show is now completely non-existent. Oddly enough the businessmen agree to this bizarre weapon choice wihtout much questioning. Goku in an equally stupendously implausible entrance controls a helicopter (no build up to how he got it) and with his pole, vaults over an ENTIRE city block and crashes into a window on Genji's base alerting his guards. Genji is confident in his victory over Goku though despite his entire detachment of troops being battered and eluded by Goku's gleaming metal stick of awesomeness. Why is he so confident? Well moments later Goku is attacked by the crazy motorcycle woman now complete with pink mouth laser and an armoured midget driver. To be honest, nothing surprises me anymore with this show.
Goku defeats this concoction of WTF-ness by zapping the woman's head off. Controlling the disembodied head he scorches the midgets head as he cowers on the floor. Genji now can't stand Goku winning so he floods the entire floor hoping that he drowns and proceeds to finalise the deal with the businessmen over the swan virus (two words that shouldnt go together). Long story short, Goku uses his eye to direct the water through the building corridors and into Genji's office creating a tidal wave that sweeps Genji and his cohorts out of the window and into the sea below. Not just yet though, Genji still has a little fight left in him. He clutches for dear life on the window edge and aims his golden gun (subtle bond reference for the win) at Goku; in return Goku shows no remorse in using the motobike lady's severed head to blast a hole right through Genji's head. After making a good old fashioned cheesy death cry, Genji falls into the water below his headquarters and business in ruins. Goku regrets in a monologue how he can never love a woman without her being killed and pole vaults into the city to dispense some more manly justice.
Phew, you thought that was crazy? Well that was just the first half. Check out Part 2 for more insanity.