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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 3/2/00

Urotsukidoji: Perfect Collection
1993 (2000) - Central Park Media (Anime 18)

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Urotsukidoji: Perfect Collection Film Rating: C

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/B-/C-

Specs and Features

250 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, dual-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, bio for creator Toshio Maeda, promos for CPM's line of comics, collage trailer for Anime 18 product, anime art-form intro, trailers for Demon City Shinjuku, Grappler Baki, Midnight Panther, Beast City and Lady Blue, DVD-ROM features, film-themed menu screens, scene access (two discs with 20 chapters total: Disc One is 12 chapters, Disc Two is 8 chapters), languages: Japanese (DD 2.0), subtitles: English

This is for the sick types out there. Urotsukidoji, one of anime's most notorious collections, is now available on DVD. And if you're looking for an extremely twisted cartoon, absolutely not for the kiddies, sit back and I'll tell you what I know about one.

Urotsukidoji defies real explanation. I've personally seen it countless times, and I still don't fully understand it. I'm not an expert fanboy on anime, and I wouldn't even pretend to be one. I don't have any real capacity to understand the Japanese culture as it's presented by anime. But in my video library, I have around 200 anime titles and I have a soft spot in my heart for each and every one. But when it comes to Urotsukidoji, I'm instantly turned-off... and at the same time, drawn in by it. It's really hard to identify. Sure, I'm as sick and twisted and the next anime fan, but it's more about the look of the film that appeals to me (even if some of the subject matter doesn't). What you have here, are a gaggle of human-shredding demons, naked cartoon school girls and boys (although none represent a human younger than 19) and plenty of orifice probing tentacles. Urotsukidoji has got to be the king of what's known in many circles as "tentacle porn", although I've also heard it referred to as "spooge", or by its Japanese classification of "hentai". Whatever you call it, it's weird, it's wacky and it's very compelling stuff. I have no idea what the hell is going on in this film (or others like it) half the time, but I know that much of the time, you're seeing a demon raping a schoolgirl, or monsters fighting one another to the death.

Here's what I know about the story: legend dictates that every 3,000 years, a creature known as the Overfiend is brought into our plane of existence (there are three: the Human World, the World of Man-Beasts, and the World of Monster Demons) through the body of an innocent human. It's only purpose is to destroy the existing realm and unite all three dimensions into a new world. This new world would be beyond any human comprehension, and would be a place of ultra-violence, unrepressed lust and monstrous creatures committing all of the above to the Nth degree. The only hope for humanity is a half-demon named Amano Jyaku and his sister, who travel between the realms keeping an eye on things as they turn for the worse. Will they succeed in keeping the Overfiend at bay? Is there any hope for humanity? How do all those HUGE tentacles fit into such tiny spaces?

When it first appeared in 1987, it broke every boundary you could think of. If you've ever stumbled upon a weird website with anime characters having sex with what appears to be an octopus, and found yourself shrieking down the halls, you can blame this flick. It's the king daddy of hentai, and having it available on DVD is a pretty big step. Anime is one of those things that deserves to be on DVD, because there is so much of it and there's so much going on behind it. As many anime titles as there are available on DVD, it's just the tip of the iceberg of what deserves to be on DVD. Too bad this so-called Perfect Collection doesn't exploit that better.

Urotsukidoji: The Perfect Collection collects the first two films in the Urotsukidoji series, Legend of the Overfiend and Legend of the Demon Womb, uncut and "unedited." Both of those individual titles have previously appeared on DVD in highly edited and dubbed versions (the toned-down movie versions) from Central Park Media (CPM). This CPM release features these two films "uncensored" (although some of the original Japanese tiling -- Japanese export censorship -- is left intact) and subtitled. I know the purists out there are satisfied about that (and before you zing me, I'm fine with it as well). But being DVD, they really should have included a new dub. Mostly because that's what DVD is all about - accessibility. I think of it as an anamorphic issue with anime. If the studio went back, remastered their film and threw on some of the missing pieces, we'd all be better for it because we'd have new transfers PLUS we'd have some extras (that we could at least choose to not use). I'd much rather have a choice than no choice whatsoever.

As it stands, CPM should have (at the very least) created a new transfer with more strategically placed subtitles. Even though the transfer looks serviceable and in many way "good enough", it doesn't look as good as it could or at least, as one would want it to look. One very good reason to have a new transfer pops up about halfway into the film. Though the English subtitles can be turned off, whenever a character speaks German or English (as seen in the Demon Womb portion) the source has that language translated into Japanese and burned into the original print. When you use the English subs they overwrite the original subs (both in yellow) leaving a virtually unreadable mess. It's highly annoying. But by utilizing a new transfer however, this could have been avoided. Oh well. Thus is life.

The quality of these transfers is only a step above laserdisc, and that's too bad. This is really a tent-pole title in CPM's library, and more care should have been taken in presenting it on DVD. The video quality is fine (although you can see some forgivable dust specks and shimmer) and the audio quality is a standard Dolby Digital 2.0 in Japanese. It sounds good, and does the work it needs to, but it just didn't blast me. Extras are mild, with some CPM propaganda, DVD-ROM stuff (stills and character bios mostly) and a bio of Urotsukidoji's creator, Toshio Maeda. Most of the space on these discs is left for the film, and that's fine. But again, the inclusion of a new dub would have been a sign of extra effort, and a brand new transfer would have spiked this release in the end zone. As it is, at least I have a reason to throw away my video set.

When I first caught this anime, I couldn't stop showing it to my more twisted friends. For whatever reason, this was a curiosity piece and it remains so to this day. It pushed the boundaries of an art form (and of good taste) and pulled many fans over to anime. As a DVD, I'd say if you love the film series, pick it up. It's worth it as a replacement piece for your library. It doesn't really do anything new for DVD (as it could, and definitely should, have). Hopefully anime companies will start moving towards the force they have the potential to become, and start blowing people away on DVD.

Todd Doogan
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