Rich (Webmaster)

Based on: Entire film

UK Distributor:  MVM (DVD)

MVM have been releasing some really great stuff of late – Tenchi Muyo, Serial Experiments Lain, Ninja Scroll TV and Fruits Basket to name a few – so it was a surprise and a shame that they have blotted their copybook with this ‘90’s demon anime throwback.

The back plot is surprisingly well explained – at the dawn of time mother nature created a demon in order to provide trials to make the fledgling human race adapt and grow, unfortunately it became too powerful and she was forced to create a guardian to defend humanity.  The story begins in the future where a worker for a research company transforms into a hideous monster which badly wounds his fiancée.  Now driven by a desire to give her former lover the release of death she searches the city for the monster he became, and soon she has enlisted the help of a mysterious man who lives in the ruins that were once downtown Shinjuku.  As is always the thing with stories like this there is of course a shady organisation which appears to be manipulating things for some unknown purpose, strong supernatural elements and plenty of mysteries to be solved.

Sounds a lot to fit into 40-odd minutes doesn’t it?  And that is this film’s problem.  It has some good ideas and some intriguing plot possibilities that could have made a relatively strong and interesting series, but in the time frame allowed by the short film format everything seems far too rushed.

Characters appear and disappear within the space of a few minutes, often with no explanation as to who they are, what they are doing and why; all dramatic tension is omitted in favour of some all too brief action scenes; and important chunks of plot are sacrificed as the story thunders towards the inevitable and unbelievably anti-climactic final showdown.

There are some points to praise this on – considering its short run time it manages to get across a lot of story and some of the music is pretty good.  It is also not as pointlessly gory as many of the anime titles it resembles – preferring to keep most of the messy deaths off screen – and does try to create some emotional involvement with the characters.  Another plus point is that the DVD itself has a great extra which shows the superb cover art being created, which is certainly interesting, if a little galling for envious (cos I’m crap) artistic wannabes like myself.

Sadly though Twilight of the Dark Master just ends up coming across as a decent premise wasted by a lack of time to develop any of the characters and a (albeit highly amusing) crap ending.  You won’t hate watching this, and if you are a fan of the likes of Urotsukidoji or Monster City you will probably enjoy it more than I did, but considering it’s not a budget release you could do a lot better for your money.

Best Bit:  The truly hilarious ‘oh, we’ve ran out of time, better wrap this up quick then’ final show down.

Worst bit:  The Guardian’s mean and moody moping in Shinjuku.


Feature:   Extras:

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