|Actor: U.S. Manga Corps|
Number of Discs: 1
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MPAA Rating: Unrated
Actor: U.S. Manga Corps
Based on a manga series by the all-female Clamp studio, these two OAVs from 1992 and 1994 are linked by the character of Subaru, a powerful medium whose family has used their psychic powers to "protect Japan for 2,000 ye... more »
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Tokyo Babylon is arguably CLAMP's greatest tale!
shemayal | 12/24/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Tokyo Babylon is a magnificent, heartbreaking CLAMP story (and a personal favorite) about young Subaru Sumeragi, his twin sister, Hokuto, and their friend, Seishiro Sakurazuka. Together, the three explore Tokyo City, commenting upon the hypocritical and unthinking masses and the damage group mentality can cause the individual. Subaru Sumeragi, as an onmyouji (a Japanese medium and exorcist), is privy to things that a normal sixteen only imagines. In Tokyo Babylon, Subaru is the protagonist of a tale that interweaves an existentialist Tokyo with traditional Japanese mysticism. Unfortunately, the seven-volume CLAMP manga series will probably never be commerically released in the United States, as it is primarily a societal criticism with some male-male romantic underpinings between Seishiro and Subaru. Combining the knee-jerk reaction in the US toward any suggestion of homosexual romance and the culture-bound nature of the criticism makes for a story that is unlikely to sell. However, the anime demonstrates neither of these (despite the cover art's insinuation), so this two-part anime certainly the most assessible manner in which to enjoy Tokyo Babylon. Unlike many anime OVA series based upon manga titles, the anime comprises original stories, which, incidentally, were not created by CLAMP.The first volume details Subaru's confrontation with Negumo, a young businessman with uncanny good luck that seems to leave anyone in his way dead. After Negumo's luck leads to the death of a colleague, the man's sister seeks revenge, using spiritual means that endangers everyone. Subaru must help this woman, but how can he reach a woman in deep mourning?In the second volume, Subaru witnesses a grisly murder on the subway. A postcognitive woman also witnesses the murder with her powers, and Subaru immediately feels a connection to her. Caught up in a horrifying web of murder and madness, Subaru is forced to meet the serial killer face to face. This episode also includes a beautifully interpreted animation of the famed "Sakura Barrow" scene.Thus, though the anime contains many of the surface features and motifs of the CLAMP creation, it lacks much of the depth and passion that made Tokyo Babylon so great. For example, in both parts 1 and 2, Subaru needs physical rescuing. In the manga, he is a onmyouji of great competence and professionalism; when he needs rescuing, it is typically from himself, not others.Also, the anime is open-ended. None of the underlying story arcs are resolved or explained. US Manga Corps changed the dub significantly to try to resolve these issues, undoubtedly appalling purists, but, in the sub, the ambiguity has been preserved. In either case, though the complex relationship between Seishiro and Subaru is sublimated and not at all well-represented. This relationship between the two is explained and developed in another CLAMP title, X. For this reason, this anime is a must for those familiar with X (X/1999 in the US).Why, then, is the series called, "Tokyo Babylon"? Such a question is not necessarily made clear even upon repeated viewings of the videos but is essential to truly understanding the story. The title is a metaphor, likening the city of Tokyo to the Biblical city of Babel and criticizing the hubris of the modern populace. Their selfishness and arrogance is compared to the purity and innocence of Subaru. The Tokyo of the anime is dark and oppressive; buildings loom high overhead, threatening those under them and people brush past without a second glance.Nonetheless, the Tokyo Babylon anime is a delightful story, subtle and impressive. It has a provocative, if disturbing message, one that will surely move any who take the time to view it. I highly recommend it to anime lovers interested in a story that transcends super-powered robots and big-breasted women and definitively label it a must for all CLAMP fans."
tsurara | Upstate NY USA | 07/08/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is a wonderful companion to the original manga series, but even the most versed Tokyo Babylon fans will likely be a little let down by the material covered here. The stories covered in the OAVs, while presented true to the spirit of the original manga, aren't particularly integral to the much larger story behind Tokyo Babylon. The only hint of the series' true depth in these OAVs is a brief opening sequence. Unfortunately it's been done in such a way that will leave those who haven't read the manga scratching their heads in confusion. Still; the animation is excellent for its time, the action is fast-paced and the OAVs stand alone much better than CLAMP's other early OAV attempt RG Veda. It's still enjoyable... just not as much as it could have been."
A great glimpse into the dark saga of Tokyo Babylon
aelice | Albuquerque, NM United States | 06/20/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For those who are calling this DVD a prologue to the X TV series.. that's not really accurate. Tokyo Babylon is NOT NEEDED to understand X, but it's nice to understand the deeper relationship between Subaru and Seishirou, and why they seem to know each other so well in the X series. Both episodes cover cases that Subaru tackles during his Onmyouji duties. The animation isn't top-notch (considering how recently it was made), but it's not painful. Watching the subtitled version is recommended, as with most anime, because Subaru's English voice actor especially wasn't at his best. If you want to really learn more about Subaru and Seishirou, you can always import the manga (untranslated when I wrote this review) because I'm sure this disc will leave you wanting more. Also take note that it does not cover a LOT of important details later in the manga, mainly how Seishirou lost his eyes, how Subaru was betrayed, why Seishirou killed-- you get the point. Basically, occult fans, bishounen, shounen-ai fans, CLAMP fans, and mystery fans should enjoy this nice little snippit from the Tokyo Babylon saga. I personally really enjoyed this disc as a TB fan. [PS: BTW, its Seishirou, not Seichiro. ;) Seichiro's a completely different character.]"
A pale shadow of the manga
Nel | Louisburg, KS United States | 07/30/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This anime takes the wonderful and adorable Tokyo Babylon manga and makes it look bad. It gets points from me because I adore Subaru and Seishirou, but the dub voices are awful, the plot is, while CLAMP-ly original, not on par with the original manga (which has not been translated in the US, but you can find translations and scanlations of it online), and the animation just doesn't hold the same charm that other CLAMP titles do. I've heard said about this that you either love it or hate it. Personally, I was disappointed. Some adore it, but most haven't seen the manga, of which this is a sad, pale shadow."