The Persona Century Corporation has purchased nearly every parcel of land on earth. Dissension is not tolerated within the corporation's borders and those who oppose Persona are dealt with swiftly. Of those few places not yet under Persona's control is the free town of Kabuki-cho, also known as "The Dark Side of Tokyo". Within the town, under the leadership of a woman named Mai, is a small resistance group called Messiah. Into this world steps a man who takes the sobriquet of Kabuki-cho: Darkside. Sealed up in another dimension eighteen years ago by Persona Century, Darkside now returns to aid Messiah using his unique mystic power of renewal.
Directed by: Nobuyasu Furukawa
. Starring: Akio Ôtsuka
, Hideyuki Hori
, Kotono Mitsuishi
, Kôichi Yamadera
, Masako Katsuki
, Maya Okamoto
, Akira Natsuki
, Nozomu Sasaki
, Keizo Horiuchi
, Hiroshi Yanaka
, Maki Kachisa
, Jon Avner
, Scott Cargle
. Music by: Kazuhiko Toyama
An excellent point is that the movie begins and ends in the middle, so while the plot is interesting to look at, it is completely secondary to the message being conveyed by the animators. Once you strip away the distorted lense that Japanese culture comes to us, this film is full of messages. If you see past the wormholes and mutant people (no giant robots here though) there isn't enough plot to disguise the fact the animators are trying to tell us something. What that message is, could be just about anything. It is most likely a political or social commentary though. I'll give some examples, but I warn this could become potentially dry andor thought provoking so skip down a bit if you don't want to think too much.
There shouldn't be any spoilers here, just an idea of what themes you might make out of it.. which frankly could come from any orson wells+cyberpunk plot.
A cry against globalization. 1994 was around dawn of the internet; the increasing interconnection of knowledge and people. The trade disuputes between japan and china going to the WTO(GATT or whatever it was called then) and about 10 years of the US hating on Japan for having an export heavy trade balance. I don't remember if the Asian market crash was before or after this movie. Probably after, but if it came before this movie I would point at that as a source of resentment towards globalization. Generally international trade creates losers only of those not taking part, but when your currency goes down the pipe you might not be so happy.
An Orson Wells approach against unified power. We have the UN becoming a leading world authority by picking up members at a rapid pace, and the Cold War has been over for a few years, leaving the US with a superior economic and military power(Political scientist dub this a "Hegemonic" or "Unilateral" distribution of power, where there is a clear leader, as opposed to the "Bilateral" distribution between the Cold War superpowers, or the "Multilateral" distribution of the many warring countries prior to the modern age) This argument is a weaker one though, since people didn't commonly hate the US until this decade, where we start using that power in the middle east. Oh, Japan had been feeling heat from the US congress in the form of trade barriers, threats of tariffs and whatnot since the 80's, so that could spark a theme against overwhelming economic power. Google a synopsis of the book "No More Bashing" to find out more about anti Japanese sentiments during the 80's. I'm sure there are other ways of finding out, I'm just more familiar with that book.
I'm not thinking too hard about it so don't rail on me if you disagree with anything political or possibly even factual that is coming out of my keyboard. I'm getting out of my specialty but it is ambiguous enough that I'm sure anyone with some high school liberal arts can spin some kind of theme about feelings and society. I'm sure if we look hard enough, we could find Christ figures aplenty, and a few characters seem to have little or no plot importance and exist only to be icons or symbols of something or other.
Because this media comes from overseas, there are probably references and parallels to Japanese pop culture, history, or old stories that I will never know, contributing to my inability to understand what is going on, but this is a risk that comes with anything that has to be translated to be understood.
Anyways, I watched it to see people struggling to survive in a bleak future possibly full of badarse people. While there was some of that, I can only say I was disappointed and unfulfilled by the plot. If I wanted something thought provoking I would watch something else. "Akira" is the closest thing that I can think of off the top of my head and it probably beats this title on every level so go watch that before you resort to watching this.
Review by calvim-1 from the Internet Movie Database.