Monday, 8 August 2011

Tokyo Babylon

I wasn’t impressed by the Tokyo Babylon OVAs when they were screened after Read or Die at the first meeting of my university anime club. In fact, all that I wrote on 13 October, 2002, was that ‘the comparatively dull Tokyo Babylon proved an unsuccessful follow-up’. But the scant two episodes, barely hinting at a main storyline, were never going to be a satisfactory adaptation of Clamp’s manga. They have the feel of a pilot, attempting to put over characters and themes in a short time, yet coming nowhere near to having a satisfactory plot arc or showing any real progression.

This is in some ways Clamp distilled, in perhaps the worst way. A twin brother and sister use magic to fight demonic forces. They are dull even for Clamp designs, and Madhouse make them even more ordinary than in the original manga. Meanwhile, a quiet, mature doctor with hidden powers provides some comedy with his homoerotic attachment to Subaru, the male twin. The girl is mostly useless, supporting her brother from the sidelines, while he is shy, gentle and submissive despite his great powers. The intended audience is clearly female, but even so, those of us who actually enjoy this sort of plot theme will find it far too obvious and dull to work.

I’ve never been a great fan of Clamp, despite Cardcaptor Sakura. And this is one of their lesser works. While the manga is better and even successful enough to have been adapted into a live-action feature, I cannot say I recommend this. Lacking originality, likeability or scope, it’s assuredly one to miss.

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