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|Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis|
|Directed by||Akio Jissoji|
|Screenplay by||Kaizo Hayashi|
|Based on|| Teito Monogatari |
by Hiroshi Aramata
|Produced by||Takashige Ichise|
|Starring|| Shintaro Katsu |
|Edited by||Keniichi Uraoka|
|Music by||Maki Ishii|
Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis (Japanese: 帝都物語, Hepburn: Teito Monogatari) is a 1988 Japanese epic tokusatsu historical dark fantasy/science fiction film directed by Akio Jissoji, produced by "Exe" studios and distributed by Toho Studios. It is the first cinematic adaptation of the award-winning historical fantasy novel Teito Monogatari by Hiroshi Aramata. The film stars Kyūsaku Shimada, Shintaro Katsu, Kōji Takahashi, Jo Shishido, Junichi Ishida, Mieko Harada, Kō Nishimura, and Shirō Sano among others. With a budget of around 1 billion yen (roughly $8 million), the movie was one of the most expensive live action Japanese special effects films to have been produced during that decade (by contrast, the internationally released 1984 film The Return of Godzilla was only budgeted at $6.25 million).
The movie went on to become a notable success in Japan. It was one of the top ten highest grossing domestic motion pictures of 1988.It continues to be regarded in the country as a respected cult film. A sequel, Tokyo: The Last War , was released the following year.
The live-action film is an adaptation of the first 1/3rd of the original novel or the first four volumes (out of a total of 12).[ citation needed ]
The movie begins in 1912 with Yasumasa Hirai explaining to Baron Eiichi Shibusawa Tokyo's long history as one of the most haunted cities in all of Japan. He specifically warns Shibusawa that the vengeful spirit of Taira no Masakado, an ancient villain, must not be disturbed, as its spirit is powerful enough to destroy the city. In response to this heeding, Shibusawa allows the Tsuchimikado sect (土御門一門) to advise him on how to make Tokyo a blessed city. However, both Hirai's and Shibusawa's efforts are opposed by the oni Yasunori Kato, a former lieutenant in the Imperial Army, who wants to destroy Tokyo by awakening Masakado's spirit. To do this, he attempts to kidnap Yukari Tatsumiya, the descendant of Masakado, to use as a medium to communicate with the spirit. However, his plans are brought to attention to the Tsuchimikado by Koda Rohan. Hirai and his followers lock Yukari inside the Tsuchimikado temple and perform the monoimi (物忌) ceremony to defend her. Kato and his followers launch a frontal assault against the temple with shikigami. Kato escapes with Yukari and uses her as a medium, but Masakado rejects his offer. Ogai Mori diagnoses Yukari as pregnant with Kato's child. Emperor Meiji passes away, marking the end of the Meiji Era. In a dramatic display of devotion to the Meiji Emperor, Hirai commits seppuku. His act divines the year of Tokyo's destruction; 1923, the Year of the Pig.
The narrative moves to 1923, Tokyo. Kato retreats to Dairen, and he and his followers use magic to cause artificial seismic waves under Dairen that echo through the Earth to Japan. Kato returns to Tokyo to awaken Masakado's spirit by himself, but is interrupted by Koda Rohan and Junichi Narutaki, who use the Chart of Eight Directions (八陣圖), a form of Kimon Tonko sorcery, in an attempt to trap him. Kato escapes, but fails to awaken Masakado. The seismic waves generated in Dairen reach Japan, and the Great Kanto Earthquake is stimulated.
The setting moves to 1927. Torahiko Terada has been appointed by Noritsugu Hayakawa as manager of the construction of Japan's first Tokyo Metro Ginza Line. Hayakawa's construction workers run into Kato's shikigami provoking Terada to seek out the aid of Dr. Makoto Nishimura to use his creation Gakutensoku to finish construction for them. Masakado summons Keiko Mekata, a miko, to defend his grave from Kato. Keiko joins forces with feng shui master Shigemaru Kuroda, who discovers the location of Kato's hideout. While Kuroda fights an Asura statue guarding the place, Keiko rushes to stop Kato, but Kato summons his gohō dōji to fend her off. Kato attempts to awaken Masakado through Yukari's child, Yukiko, but even this is unsuccessful. Keiko explains to Kato that Yukiko is not his child, but rather the result of an incestuous union between Yukari and her brother Yoichiro making her uncontrollable by Kato. Gakutensoku self-destructs, cutting off the spiritual energy veins connected to Kato's temple. Kato tries to use onmyodo magic one last time to stimulate an earthquake, but this is insufficient and he is severely wounded from the effort. Though his plans are foiled, Kato kidnaps Keiko and takes her with him to Manchuria. The film ends amidst another annual district wide festival celebrating the birth of the capital. The Tatsumiya Family hopes for Keiko's return while Kyoka Izumi predicts Kato's return.
Other cast members include Seiko Ito as Wajiro Kon, Hideji Ōtaki as Oda Kanno, Hisashi Igawa as Ryokichi Tagami and Ai Yasunaga as Azusa Nishimura. Hiroshi Aramata does a cameo as a brasserie client.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (December 2016)
The film began being produced around early 1987. Swiss artist H. R. Giger was commissioned to design creatures for the movie.Originally, he showed interest in working directly on set, however his schedule would not permit it. His main contribution was the conceptual art for the gohō dōji.
The movie was also one of the first Japanese productions to employ Sony HDVS equipment for filming. Approximately six minutes of the final movie was filmed using this technology.
The movie received a great deal of publicity with the media highlighting the grand recreation of circa 1927 Ginza district being made just for use in the film. The open set, which cost around 300 million yen by itself, was a 150 meter long life sized facsimile of the early Showa era district featuring several electric cable carsand 3000 fully costumed extras.
The production was plagued by many mysterious accidents, which some attributed to the influence of Taira no Masakado's real life spirit. It is now common practice for Japanese filmmakers and TV crews to pay respect to the burial site of Masakado before bringing him to the screen.[ citation needed ]
When Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis was released in Japanese theaters, it quickly became a commercial success and received critical acclaim. Peer Magazine, a prominent cinema publication in Japan, even hailed it as the "best Japanese science fiction production of all time." The film earned an impressive annual revenue of 1.79 billion yen, making it the third highest grossing Japanese-produced film of that year, and the eighth highest-grossing film in Japan overall.
However, the subtitled version of the film received mixed reception in the West. Anthony Romero of Toho Kingdom praised the high production values of the film but criticized it for attempting to cover too much ground in too short a time. GenjiPress, a Japanese enthusiast website, deemed the film "absolutely ridiculous from beginning to end" and criticized its confusing plot.
On the other hand, Ian Shutter of videovista.net gave the film a high rating of 8/10, describing it as a "surreal yet always fascinating gothic urban nightmare" with a blend of urban history and fantasy horror centered on the great disaster of 1923. Lee Broughton of DVD Savant rated it as "Excellent" and commended its highly original mystical epic storyline and great characters. The film's ambition was even compared to Terry Gilliam's Brazil. DeVilDead.com, a French website, found the film's narrative too compressed and dense, but praised its visually elegant production, rich history, and superb scenery and acting. Sarudama, another website, called it an incredibly ambitious and well-cast movie.
In his book Tokyoscope, author Patrick Macias gave the movie a positive review, describing it as "overcooked" but "far from a bust." Jim Harper, in his book Flowers from Hell: The Modern Japanese Horror Film, conceded that the film could have been a "bona fide cult classic" if not for some pacing problems and a ponderous plot.
In a 2015 Blu-ray commentary, the filmmakers compared Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis to David Lynch's 1984 film adaptation of Frank Herbert's Dune, both being ambitious, visually lush, large budget adaptations of dense science fiction works that compressed the source material's narrative to fit a 2-hour time slot.
The movie was notable for being the first to visually portray Chinese and Japanese folklore tropes such as shikigami, kodoku magic, gohō dōji, and Kimon Tonkou magic in Japanese cinema.The movie's box office success paved the way for a film franchise consisting of a direct sequel, an OVA remake, two direct-to-video spinoff titles, Teito Monogatari Gaiden (1995), Sim-Feng Shui (1997), and a theatrical spinoff, The Great Yokai War (2005).
The movie was the first major successful project for Takashige Ichise, the producer who would go on to be responsible for the contemporary J-Horror boom by financing such franchises as the Ring and Ju-On series.It was also the most financially successful production for director Akio Jissoji, best known in the West for his work on the classic tokusatsu series Ultraman .
Kyūsaku Shimada's performance as Yasunori Kato, the primary antagonist of the film, was extremely popular with audiences and is considered the most popular representation of the character. Hiroshi Aramata even rewrote physical descriptions of Kato in the novel's republications to more closely match Shimada's image. Shimada's portrayal of Yasunori Kato has been frequently homaged in Japanese popular culture, such as in the fictional characters Washizaki from the manga/anime Riki-Oh and M. Bison/Vega of the Street Fighter video game series. The character also has a cameo appearance in the opening chapters of CLAMP's Tokyo Babylon manga, and has been parodied in TV animation and video games.
Independent film director Go Shibata has cited Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis as an influence on his work, including his 2009 film Doman Seman .
In Japan, the film is available on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray. In 1995, Manga Live released a VHS edition of the film in the UK which was edited, as well as dubbed.In 1998, ADV Films released a subtitled VHS copy of the film in the North American market. In 2003, ADV Films released a subtitled DVD edition of the film to the North American market.
The film and its sequel were both released in Japan on Blu-ray on August 8, 2015 in a Special Edition package featuring new cover designs by SPFX artist Shinji Higuchi (who worked on the film).
In 2023, Media Blasters Licensed the Film and Released the film on Blu-Ray under the Title "Doomed Megalopolis: The Last Megalopolis". It features the movie in Japanese with English Subtitles and the English Dub from the Manga UK VHS reconstructed in HD.
Onmyoji (2001): An equally successful historical fantasy film dealing with some of the same subject matter. The novels the respective films were based on were released only a few years apart and thus are considered part of the same "boom".
Abe no Seimei was an onmyōji, a leading specialist of Onmyōdō during the middle of the Heian period in Japan. In addition to his prominence in history, he is a legendary figure in Japanese folklore. He has been portrayed in several stories and films.
Keiko Han is a Japanese actress and voice actress. She sang the theme songs in productions such as Story of the Alps: My Annette and Kazoku Robinson Hyōryūki Fushigi na Shima no Furōne. Han is a fortune teller of western horoscopes. She wrote books on the subject. She is employed by talent agency Never Land Arts, and was previously affiliated with Aoni Production & 81 Produce.
Taira no Masakado was a Heian period provincial magnate (gōzoku) and samurai based in eastern Japan, notable for leading the first recorded uprising against the central government in Kyōto.
Shiroi Kyotō is a 1965 novel by Toyoko Yamasaki. It has been adapted into a film in 1966 and then five times as a television series in 1967, 1978, 1990, 2003, and 2019. The 1966 film was entered into the 5th Moscow International Film Festival where it won a Silver Prize.
The Great Yokai War is a 2005 Japanese fantasy film directed by Takashi Miike, produced by Kadokawa Pictures and distributed by Shochiku. The film stars Ryunosuke Kamiki, Hiroyuki Miyasako, Chiaki Kuriyama, and Mai Takahashi.
Teito Monogatari is an epic historical dark fantasy/science fiction work; the debut novel of natural history researcher and polymath Hiroshi Aramata. It began circulation in the literary magazine Monthly King Novel owned by Kadokawa Shoten in 1983, and was published in 10 volumes over the course of 1985–1987. The novel is a romanticized retelling of the 20th-century history of Tokyo from an occultist perspective.
Shibusawa Eiichi, 1st Viscount Shibusawa was a Japanese industrialist widely known today as the "father of Japanese capitalism", having introduced Western capitalism to Japan after the Meiji Restoration. He introduced many economic reforms including use of double-entry accounting, joint-stock corporations and modern note-issuing banks.
Yasunori Katō is a fictional character, the protagonist of the Japanese historical fantasy series Teito Monogatari, created by Hiroshi Aramata. He first appeared in a 1983 issue of a science fiction magazine published by Kadokawa Shoten but gained more widespread attention with successive publications as well as his cinematic debut, and has since gone on to be referenced frequently in Japanese popular culture. His character is generally associated with onmyōdō mysticism since Teito Monogatari was one of the first novels to popularize the art in modern Japanese fiction.
Doomed Megalopolis is a Japanese original video animation (OVA) series. It is an adaptation of the historical fantasy novel Teito Monogatari by Hiroshi Aramata. The anime is darker in tone, more violent, and more sexually explicit than any previous adaptations of the novel; an artistic decision likely inspired by the financial success of the OVA Urotsukidōji: Legend of the Overfiend. Like its live-action predecessor, Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis, the anime is only an adaptation of the first third of the original novel.
Akio Jissoji was a Japanese television and film director best known outside Japan for the 1960s TV series Ultraman and Ultraseven, as well as for his auteur erotic ATG-produced Buddhist trilogy Mujō (無常), Mandala (曼陀羅), and Uta (哥).
Kōda Shigeyuki, pen name Kōda Rohan, was a Japanese author. His daughter, Aya Kōda, was also a noted author who often wrote about him.
Kaizo Hayashi is a Japanese film director and screenwriter. He made his directorial debut with To Sleep so as to Dream (1986). He is best known for his neo-noir Maiku Hama trilogy, The Most Terrible Time in My Life (1994), Stairway to the Distant Past (1995) and The Trap (1996). In addition to film, Hayashi served as creative director on the 2000 Konami video game 7 Blades for the PlayStation 2, and was director for two episodes of Power Rangers: Time Force.
Tokyo: The Last War is a 1989 Japanese epic tokusatsu historical dark fantasy/science fiction film directed by Takashige Ichise and distributed by Toho Studios. It is an adaptation of the eleventh book of the Teito Monogatari novel by Hiroshi Aramata. It is the second cinematic adaptation of the Teito Monogatari series and is a sequel to Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis.
Teito Monogatari Gaiden (帝都物語外伝) is a Japanese horror/dark fantasy film. It is a spin-off of the Teito Monogatari franchise. It is not based on the original novel, but rather adapted from a side story novel, Karakuri Doshi. Like the animated adaptation which preceded it, the film is much darker, more violent and sexualized than its predecessors, and deviates greatly from its source material. It was released through V-Cinema in 1995.
Yasumasa Hirai (平井保昌) is a fictional character from the historical fantasy novel Teito Monogatari by Hiroshi Aramata. He also appears in the prequel novel Teito Gendan
Kyusaku Shimada is a Japanese actor.
Giuliana Stramigioli was an Italian business woman, university professor and Japanologist.
Nichiren is a 1979 Japanese historical drama film written and directed by Noboru Nakamura. Based on Matsutarō Kawaguchi's novel of the same name, the film chronicles the life of Nichiren, a Japanese Buddhist monk of the Kamakura period. It was the last film Nakamura directed.