The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Tokyo Babylon

Title: Tokyo Babylon
Genre: Action/Drama
Format: 7 volumes
Mangaka: CLAMP

Synopsis: The Tokyo of the nineties has become a modern-day Babylon, defying God’s reign over the world. Because of it, the vengeful spirits of the dead require a spiritual treatment to overcome their tragic memories and rest in peace, literally. Enter Subaru Sumeragi, the 13th leader of the Sumeragi clan of onmyoujis (spiritual mediums) to restore the balance in the corrupt city of Tokyo. With the help of his twin sister Hokuto and the mysterious veterinarian Seishirou Sakurakuza, will he survive a long forgotten promise from his past?

Cast: Annoying characters. With good interaction.
Art: Dark side of Tokyo.
Plot: Unoriginal “spirit of the week” theme.

Tokyo Babylon, one of CLAMP’s earliest works (not counting their doujinshi days), has two big problems: annoying characters and a very unoriginal plot. Most chapters deal with Subaru dispatching evil spirits not before listening to their extended explanations as to why they are tormenting a certain location in Tokyo. That is, when he is not being rescued by Seishirou while he is unconscious. To make matters worse, Hokuto spends most her panel-time convincing Subaru that him and Seishirou would make a perfect couple.

However, even with Tokyo Babylon’s unoriginal “evil spirit of the week” excuse for plot, each encounter reveals a facet about the not-so-magnificent city of Tokyo: from betrayed lovers, unsuccessful actresses, to dysfunctional families; these grim stories are not for the whole family. The artwork enhances the dark tales of the city, from very inked pages to CLAMP’s attention to detail; everything oozes despair. Then, when you think that the story cannot get any more gloomy, the climax between Subaru and Seishirou’s past kicks in the last couple of volumes (though it is constantly foreshadowed in previous volumes) and delivers an even more depressing ending.

Tokyo Babylon could have been a lot shorter than it originally is, since most of the stories are self-contained and get repetitive fairly quickly. Those who feel repulsion towards shounen-ai should be warned that although it is present, it is only used as a comedic element rather than a romantic one. I recommend Tokyo Babylon to those interested in observing a darker image of Tokyo that other mangas would not dare to expose. Keep an eye on X-1999 as well, for it continues the stories of Subaru on a more epic scale but with him as a secondary character instead of the story’s main lead.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: Rove

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