Tom (Webmaster)

Based on: Entire film

UK Distributor:  MVM (DVD)

When I finished watching Twilight of the Dark Master (TOTDM), I knew this was going to be a strange title to review. Not only was this due to the plot, which kept switching from straightforward to garbled, but also due to the fact that TOTDM was unlike any demon anime Iíve seen before.

TOTDM starts by explaining that, in the beginning, the Great Mother (patents are open budding rap-stars) created the demons in order to give the newly created humans something to fear and ensure that they did not think they were the most powerful beings on Earth.  The greatest of the demons was the ĎDemon Masterí (inventive huh?) who exceeded its intended power and the Great Mother had to create a guardian in order to protect humankind.  We skip forward to the year 2089 and lovers Eiji and Shizuka enjoying each otherís company when a strange force transforms Eiji into a demonic beast and he attacks Shizuka and then disappears into Tokyo.  Shizuka survives and employs the use of Tsunami Shjyo - the current guardian - to help release Eiji from his torture by giving him the only escape Ė death.

Although from the start it was pretty obvious that TOTDM was going to attempt to pack to much story into a short space of time (45 minutes), I was initially intrigued by TOTDMís take on the usually bland sub-genre of demon anime, as it was quite interesting that it did not choose to focus on mindless violence and degradation of women like so many of the others.  One of the main differences I found with TOTDM was that the majority of demon attacks were shown off-screen and only sound could be heard, and for me this was much more effective then the usual show of guts and tentacles that is so common with demon anime.  Also noticeable is that there is a much bigger focus on plot then you would expect, and in most scenes the plot does take precedence over the action.

Unfortunately though this is were the bad points kick in.  Although the focus on plot is good to begin with, it quickly becomes clear that TOTDM create far too many plot points and moves too quickly in order to deal with them in such a short space of time.  Characterisation is practically non-existent and new characters are often introduced with little explanation as do who they are before they die very quickly.  This gives the film a very disjointed feel and gives the viewer the impression that they are watching a selection of random clips, rather then scenes that are actually meant to link together.

The action is also a disappointment.  Although the character design is well realised, the animation itself seems very dated and you often feel you are watching an anime from the 80ís, even though TOTDM was made in 1997.  Many fans of action anime will be disappointed by the lack of action and will be left wondering why a more straightforward approach was not used a short film, while drama/sci-fi anime fans will be wondering why someone if bothered coming up with TOTDM.

If that wasnít enough though it canít prepare for the terrible ending which is a massive cop-out.  Fans of bad cinema will love it for itís extreme badness, but the more serious viewer will have their head in their hands.  I never give away an ending but Iím not joking when I say it is one the worst endings I have ever seen.

So despite starting off interesting, TOTDM slid steadily downhill and fell down a ravine at the bottom.  It is worth a watch if you want to see a different spin on the demon sub-genre, but only just as it is ultimately a pretty bad film.


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