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Twilight Of The Dark Master

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Twilight Of The Dark Master

25 Jan 2005

In the beginning, the Great Mother created the humans, who were weak and frail. In order to toughen them up a bit, she created the demons to give the humans a lesson in how to defend themselves. The demons turned out to be too good, and the ‘Demon Master’ went way beyond the intended roughhousing. The Great Mother was forced to create a guardian in order to protect humankind and there was a climactic battle…

From this explanation the viewer is catapulted to the year 2089 and two lovers Eiji (a pharmacist) and Shizuka are enjoying each other’s company when Eiji suddenly (and seemingly randomly) turns into a demonic beast and attacks Shizuka before busting down walls and lumbering off into Tokyo. Cue police being mutilated by said demon. Shizuka somehow survives and employs the use of the disturbingly effeminate Tsunami Shjyo (the guardian from the intro) to help release Eiji from his torture by giving him the only escape – death.

Based on the original manga by Saki Okuse, this anime suffers by being a paltry 45 minutes in length. There are far too many plot points and characters for such a short film. Characters are often introduced with little or no explanation as to who they are and what they do, so you find yourself not actually caring when they are viciously dispatched. This gives ‘Twilight of the Dark Master’ a very disjointed feel and the viewer is left with the impression that they are watching a selection of random events with just enough gore and gratuitous nudity thrown in to keep it ‘interesting’ with perhaps the most confusing, cop-out endings I have ever witnessed.

The animation style seems very dated and the viewer could be forgiven for feeling they are watching a show from the eighties, rather than one created in 1997. The combat scenes, where they actually occur on screen (most demon related scenes are a blank screen with sound effects) are very much reminiscent of X/1999 in their execution. Though the cityscapes are richly drawn (and smack of the tech noir cityscapes of Bubblegum Crisis and AD Police) TOTDM uses the off the rack dystopian future first seen in the movie Blade Runner and blends it with a dash of mysticism and fantasy magic.

The DVD comes with both the English dub and original Japanese language track with subtitles. The dub is not as jarring as it could have been, and there are a smattering of extra’s on the disc. First a few trailers for other Urban Vision titles and the theatrical trailer. The main extra though is a delightful 15 minute short showing the creation of the film’s beautiful cover art by artist, Hisashi Abe. Set to some cheesy music with no dialogue or narration, but it's quite interesting to watch the man sit down and draw, he just makes it look so easy. The extra features are rounded off with a gallery of production art and sketches. Shame the film is not as beautiful as it’s cover art.

Interesting start, then goes downhill, before starting to tunnel down to the exceptional level of rubbish that is TOTDM.
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