Ai City opens with a bizarre display of blood vessels, DNA strands, and various bolts of electricity; I don't know about you, but to me this pretty much screams "oh man, am I in for a hilariously-bad ride!"
It did not disappoint.
Ai City has it all - giant floating heads, random explosions of gore, psychic powers, massive eyeball and tentacle creatures, and an ass-kicking bunnygirl who constantly, for no apparent reason, ends up naked on-screen; really, what's not to like?!
Seriously though, the story is interesting enough on its own. I can't say too much without spoiling (and writing the synopsis in itself was tricky), but in general it revolves around genetics and people with superpowers; most importantly, the main character, Kei, is trying to protect a young girl named Ai. Joining him are an extremely motley crew, including the always-drunk 34-year-old ex-cop Raiden Yoshioka, who has a flair for the younger ladies; his raccoon-like sidekick; the always-naked K2; and a few others. The bulk of the movie involves Kei and his buddies fighting the current henchman sent to retrieve Ai, though near the end of the movie a more intense villain emerges and the stakes are raised quite a bit.
Does it work? Yeah, to an extent. At first, the bizarre storyline and strange characters make for an entertaining watch - especially when random and completely unnecessary gore is thrown in for good measure. Though after about an hour, once the nature of the world is explained in detail, the novelty starts to wear off and it becomes more difficult to complete. It doesn't help that Ai City also has an extremely confusing and unsatisfying ending.
If you are into 80s cyberpunk-style anime and are ok with watching something mindlessly outrageous (similar to watching such self-proclaimed classics as Baoh and Psychic Wars), then Ai City's conglomerated story would work for you.
There's nothing inherently bad about Ai City's animation, but there's nothing inherently good either. If you've seen one anime from the 80s, you've seen them all - the character designs, dystopic scenery and overall look are very similar to a number of other same-era cyberpunk anime. The tentacle-type creatures look, of course, like an eviscerated belly, and the gore in general is hilariously bad. The animation fits the age and tone, but overall doesn't deserve more than a slightly-above-average score.
Ai City's soundtrack is undoubtedly produced in the 80s, being dominated by glorious synth-heavy tracks with equally as entertaining lyrics. For example, during a psychokinetic battle between K, J and two Tuned Men, an English-voiced track about men with psychic powers wails in the background. Though generally I find 80s music in anime to be cheesy, in Ai City it seems perfectly matched for the overall production and tone. Many scenes are also devoid of music, instead choosing to showcase various sound effects such as explosions.
I wish I could rate this section higher for sheer awesomeness, but will instead stick with a more traditional review score based on how well the characters work. Ai City has such a random selection of characters. Kei works fairly well as being a concerned father who wants nothing more than to protect his daughter; Ai is fairly useless and one-dimensional - plus she tends to scream "PAPA!" a bit too much for my liking; Raiden is probably the most entertaining character in the movie, though his brazen drunkenness goes away quickly, to his detriment; and K2 bizarrely changes from a killing machine to a coy and sexually suggestive woman. Oh, and let's not forget that Mr. Lee is essentially a clone of Shredder (that's right, TMNT nostalgia!) with bionic eyes. This odd mix of characters made me reminiscent of Crystal Triangle.
The one thing I didn't enjoy about the character development was the sudden and unexplainable "falling in love" that K2 and Raiden experienced with each other at the beginning of the movie; though I understand why this development helped a bit with the plot, it seemed too rushed and forced to be realistic.
Ai City is a perfectly watchable cyberpunk anime, with a few reservations: you have to enjoy watching bad anime, and you have to appreciate an 80s soundtrack. Ai City would also be a good choice for fans of cyberpunk and genetics - but you still have to enjoy watching bad anime! In my opinion, the bizarre combination of characters and monsters make it an entertaining viewing - at least once.
In a dystopic and futuristic Tokyo, humanity’s genetic code has gone awry. At the forefront of the technology is Fraud, an organization conducting experiments on people such as Kei and Ai – two escaped “headmeters” with hefty psychokinetic powers. The sinister Mr. Lee wants nothing more to retrieve Ai back to his clutches, as she seemingly holds the key to immense power; Kei wants simply to keep Ai safe; and the evil Lai Lo Ching has his own master plan. Along with the help of the amnesiac headmeter K2 and a trusty sidekick, Kei must fight to protect Ai from the evils of Mr. Lee, Lai Lo Ching, and the state of the world itself!
My fav genres include sci fi and horror, but you'll find a lot of obscure reviews from me too, given I watch a ton to add to the database. My new reviews are written a lot better than my old ones, so when in doubt, sort by date! ^_^ Enjoy, and I welcome any and all feedback.