Tokyo Babylon

Some shows go on forever without real purpose--like Gall Force--and others appear shot down in their prime. Tokyo Babylon is the latter. I haven't been excited about much anime in a while, but Tokyo Babylon restores my faith that there are good stories left to be told and animation worthy of anything Disney can throw out. There are only two 40 minute episodes available, though, so unless I can find the manga series, I will just have to be content with what I've seen. It's impressive in that it creates a great atmosphere while staying away from the mass appeal elements (primarily nudity and graphic violence) that tend to oversaturate the anime market.

Tokyo Babylon follows a young medium, Subaru Sumeragi, whose bloodline has been protecting the Japanese emperor and his people for centuries. He knows all about the spiritual dark arts, yet he is a friendly, outgoing young man who gets involved in various cases because of the good he can do. With the help of his (apparently) twin sister Hokuto and her mysterious but sweet boyfriend Seishiro, he finds himself in the midst of bizarre circumstances that can't always be explained.

In the first episode, he's called in by a corporation to bless a series of buildings they've been building. It turns out that they've had a number of deadly accidents on their sites, and the most recent one killed off the company's president. It turns out that there's not only an ambitious salaryman, Nagumo, who may be behind the whole thing, but a young woman named Kazami making matters worse by trying to lay less than perfectly written curses on him. It's good--not great--but it shows off the great animation style and gives a good basis for the characters.

The second episode is much more creepy and stands out as being as good as anything in the Vampire Princess Miyu OVA series for sheer goosebumps. A young murderer is prowling on the subways; Mirei, a woman known for her power of post-cognition, is brought in to find out what happened. Subaru, who was a witness to one of the killings, tries to help her find out who is responsible while also trying to aid her in sorting through the emotions that a lifetime of reliving evil events can bring. What's scariest about this episode is not really what is supernatural, but the all-too-human aspects of the criminal. Again, the animation is fantastic and the story well told.

Tokyo Babylon is one of several series created by Clamp, a coalition of woman manga/anime artists who have created their own series together. Although they have been newsworthy for a while, this is the first thing I've ever seen based on their work. If this is their average quality work, I've become a fan. I'd love to see more of this series come to fruition.

Tokyo Babylon ep. 1 -- violence -- B+
Tokyo Babylon ep. 2 -- violence -- A