While the legends of King Arthur and the Arabian Nights are often cited as examples of fantastic literature, some of the most up-to-the-minute examples can be discovered in the backstreets of Tokyo. These urban fantasies have seen a meteoric rise in popularity over the last two decades around the globe, appearing in everything from literature and film to our most beloved anime, like Jujutsu Kaisen and the highly anticipated Chainsaw Man.
The amazing aspects in these works range widely depending on the author, yet they all have the common thread of being set in modern metropolitan environments. When you watch these three anime, you will see that magic can emerge from the most ordinary of situations.
Kaneki Ken, a student at Tokyo Ghoul College, would do everything for a regular, stress-free date with the lovely lady he has his eye on. However, this ‘lovely girl’ has a catch —Kamishiro Rize discloses that she’s a flesh devouring ghoul and wants to make Ken her future victim. Following this, Rize and Ken were trapped and wounded by falling construction debris, and Rize’s ghoul parts are implanted into Ken, essentially converting him into a half ghoul. This accident might be seen as a blessing or a curse.
Being both a part and separate from both human and ghoul worlds makes Ken an easy target as he finds the mysteries of ghouls that have been buried under his nose for his whole life. Ghoul groups are warring, and the Japanese government is anxious to intervene, all of which threatens to upset the delicate racial balance. Tokyo Ghoul is a visual and visceral feast, full of eeriness and complexity, and a must-see for lovers of Jujutsu Kaisen.
But when Mikado comes to Ikebukuro, things become even crazier, as those who do not often put the benefit of the public above their own amusement start to move stealthily behind the scenes. If nothing is done, momentum will lead the district into all-out violence, and regrettably, there are those who desire nothing more.
A large part of what makes Durarara!! so interesting is its ensemble of offbeat characters. The bizarre cast of individuals brings this low-fantasy Ikebukuro to life and immerses the reader or viewer in the secrets that lie around every corner.
Darker Than Black
Studio BONES’s Darker Than Black explores the possibilities of urban transformation via its depiction of a future in which a “Heaven’s Gate” emerged in South America and a “Hell’s Gate” opened in Tokyo shortly afterwards, altering the natural environment and permitting the emergence of Contractors. Countries all throughout the globe use these people with extraordinary abilities to carry out cold-blooded murders behind closed doors.
The Syndicate takes control the United States after a war caused by the Contractors. In the years after World War II, a man called Hei becomes a Contractor for the Syndicate, taking on assignments in Tokyo while posing as a Chinese student named Li Shenshun. His story is told in the film Darker Than Black.
While looking for his missing sister, Bai, Hei keeps busy by interacting with his own team and clashing with the Japanese Public Security Bureau. It’s a surprise Hei has time for his weekly tasks from the Syndicate between dealing with his sister, the Public Safety Bureau, and other factions who want to control or eliminate Heaven’s and Hell’s Gates. With so many characters and a world drastically changed by the emergence of the gates and the subsequent conflict, Darker Than Black is well worth unearthing from the dusty shelves of history.