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About the Author
Kim Lindbergs spent her wasted youth in the 80’s clubbing, squatting, dumpster diving, making music, writing poetry, reading too many books, watching too many movies and dreaming. She occasionally found time to write for zines such as Propaganda and Spontaneous Combustion under the oh-so gothic guise of Eva. She also attempted publishing her own zines on occasion, including the first English language US zine dedicated to women's comic culture in Japan called Shoujo S.I.Ndicate.

After graduating from the University of Life, she began studying art, web design, literature and film at her local community college. Since then she has gone on to work as a freelance writer for publications such as Comic Culture and Book Passage, while holding various web related jobs. She is now working on numerous design and writing projects, and is currently obsessed with photography and digital art. She hopes to further her education at UC Berkeley and maybe even earn some type of degree before she’s 40. Other future hopes include seeing the world, publishing a book and being able to afford a larger apartment.

More of Kim’s work is available at her web site.
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Ill | Kit McAllister

   

   


Welcome to City Gothic
Kim Lindbergs
Anime for goths.
City Gothic is a term used in Japan to describe a style of anime set in a futuristic world, which features gothic and cyberpunk overtones. One of the genres most famous directors is the talented Yoshiaki Kawajiri, who has directed such notable City Gothic films as Wicked City (a.k.a. Monster City), Demon City Shinjuku, and the three part series Cyber City OEDO 808. Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s work is often filled with sexually explicit scenes and he enjoys using dark religious imagery to exaggerate a point. All of Kawajiri’s anime projects seem to feature unusual heroes with a rather bleak outlook, who are often hiding some type of dark secret as they battle an array of sadistic enemies. Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s masterful direction and beautiful character designs make his City Gothic anime titles “must-sees.”
Kawajiri’s latest anime project is the new Vampire Hunter D film, and his character designs are based on illustrations by Yoshitako Amano from the original Vampire Hunter D novels. Yoshitaka Amano is most well known in the States for working with Neil Gaiman on the Sandman project Dream Hunters, which he illustrated. Kawajiri’s new Vampire Hunter D anime relies heavily on the dark fantasy look of Amano’s illustrations and brings his characters to life like never before. Vampire Hunter D promises to be one of the best Western anime releases this coming year so look for it in theatres sometime in spring 2001.
Another of Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s many collaborators over the years has been the amazing director Rin Taro who has also created anime in the City Gothic style such as the Doomed Megalopolis series and X. Rin Taro’s flair for the dramatic and bold dark imagery seems to define itself within the City Gothic genre. In Doomed Megalopolis, a malevolent sorcerer known as Kato looms over Tokyo searching for a woman to give birth to his demon child. The young woman who he selects isn’t willing to be his pawn, and so he wrecks havoc on the unsuspecting city. Taro’s X anime is a complicated and disturbing story about a two powerful groups called the Dragons of Earth and The Dragons of Heaven. Both groups are after a young man called Kamui who holds the fate of earth’s future in his hands. Kamui must decide if humanity should be destroyed to create a purified universe, or whether it should be protected to preserve civilization. The story unfolds slowly like an old gothic novel but the violence that ensues is utterly modern. Like anime director Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Rin Taro also enjoys using religious imagery such as the crucifixion to express his ideas.
X is based on the manga of the same name by the female artist collective called CLAMP. CLAMP is well known for their dark and unusual stories, involving magic using characters, which do not easily fit into good guy or bad guy roles. Another of CLAMP’s darker manga stories that has been animated is their two part series, Tokyo Babylon. Tokyo Babylon is the story of two twins, Subaru and his twin sister Hokuto, who have psychic spiritual abilities, and are called upon to battle evil and solve crimes in modern Tokyo. They dress in all types of outrageous and wonderful fashions, reminiscent of an 80’s goth party, and their morbid and romantic story will haunt you. Unfortunately only a small portion of the long Tokyo Babylon manga story is told in the two available animes, but they are still well worth watching.
Other animes with City Gothic overtones include the Silent Mobius movies and Darkside Blues. Silent Mobius 1 and 2 tells the story of a tough female police team called the AMPD (Attack Mystification Police Dept.), who save Tokyo from demonic entities in a dark futuristic world. Darkside Blues is set in a very different Tokyo and focuses on a group of outcasts, rebels and terrorists known as Mecia. Members of Mecia fight against a deadly corporation that runs the bleak and barren world of Darkside Blues. When a mysterious character known only as “Darkside” appears in a phantom coach, the Mecia group welcomes him into their ranks and the story grows more complicated and violent.
If you’re bothered by extreme violence or sexual situations, then City Gothic may not be your type of anime. In these films the future is most often seen as extremely dark and foreboding, where characters are thrown into violent situations suddenly and unexpectedly. In the City Gothic worlds, magic and technology have merged into a powerful force used for good, as well as evil. And in the future, who’s to say what is good, and what is evil? This blending and morphing of the past and future, along with old notions of what is right and wrong, set many City Gothic anime films apart from other adult anime titles, which use violence and sex as mere plot fillers.
Anime titles such as Ghost In the Shell and Akira can be defined by their Frankenstein approach to the science and technology of the future, but these films leave out much of the elements of magic found within City Gothic anime. They are well worth seeing though and touch on subjects commonly found in all forms of anime, including City Gothic.
Tips for enjoying an anime video night
Always rent or buy the subtitled versions of Japanese anime titles when they are available. Even though the dubbed versions are often cheaper and easier to obtain, many dubbed animes have had their stories horribly altered from the original. The quality of the dubbed in voice acting can also be terribly low and distract from the story. The dubbed versions of Wicked City and Tokyo Babylon are examples of terrible voice acting and story altering – avoid both at all costs. Two of the best places to find anime online are www.amazon.com and www.AnimeNation.com
Educate yourself. If you’re new to anime or don’t know a thing about Japanese culture, you may not understand the small nuances in many anime films. Thankfully there are some really helpful books available for the novice anime fan, or the experienced viewer who just wants to know more. I recommend The Anime Movie Guide and The Erotic Anime Movie Guide, both by Helen McCarthy, as well as The Anime Companion by Gilles Poitras.
Kit McAllister, illustrator of this piece, also recommends Samurai from Outer Space by Antonia Levi for your reading pleasure.
Last, but certainly not least, eat Japanese snacks while watching your anime. Things like Pocky and Rice Crackers make the anime watching experience much more enjoyable. You can order Japanese snacks online at stores like www.AsiaFoods.com and www.JapanCandy.com