Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ghost Sweeper Mikami – review

Director: Atsutoshi Umezawa

Release date: 1994

Contains spoilers

This is a review of the 60 minute animated film called Ghost Sweeper Mikami, rather than the anime series of the same name.

It starts in the midst of a battle between Mitsuhide Akechi – an exorcist – and Nobunaga Oda – a shogun. However Oda is not what he seems and is, in fact, Nosferatu – a powerful vampire. The exorcist stabs the vampire with a divine lance but the vampire suggests that he will resurrect in the future. The exorcist throws the lance into the future to find the one that will come after him.

spirits attack
Tadao Yokoshima (Ryou Horikawa) is tied to a lamppost as a lure for ghosts by Reiko Mikami (Hiromi Tsuru), a ghost sweeper. They begin to emerge from a fountain and, as she fights them, a friendly ghost Kinu Himuro (Mariko Koda) keeps the entities off Yokoshima. Eventually Mikami captures them in an exorcists scroll and burns it, destroying them. She notes that the spirits seem to be becoming stronger.

The next day Mikami is counting her money, having paid Yokoshima a pittance. Mikami is entirely motivated by profit, something that disturbs the priest Father Karasu (Kazuyuki Sogabe) and his disciple Pietro (Toshiyuki Morikawa). Pietro is, incidentally, a 700 yeard old vampire who fights on the side of the ghost sweepers. Suddenly a portal appears and the lance embeds itself in Mikami’s desk.

suck energy
She takes the lance and realises that it is tipped with a divine stone – immediately calculating its worth. However the spirit of Akechi appears and says that she is the one who must destroy Nosferatu before he awakens. Pietro explains that Nosferatu is more powerful than both Count Dracula and his own father Count Bloodeau. He says that as well as sucking blood the vampire sucks the energy of his victim (be it human, animal or ghost) and turns them into a zombie.

The lance leads them to a forest (hidden behind supernatural barriers in the Government buildings in downtown Tokyo). And they find themselves beset by zombie dogs. Leaving them to the others, Mikami heads to a crypt but a spider leaps out at her, cutting her face and splashing a drop of blood on the funeral urn. It is her blood that resurrects the vampire. The spider is a vampire called Ranmaru, the servant of Nosferatu.

The vampire is loose in the world and it is not long before a plague of zombies are shambling across Tokyo, craving blood (as an aside, the actions of the zombies reminded me a little of the zombies in the film Lifeforce - though it was blood as well as, one assumes, energy that these craved.) Nosferatu also has a secret – whilst he must be killed by putting a divine stone through his heart, he actually has two hearts. He also starts devouring the blood of exorcists for the power it contains.

true form of Nosferatu
We discover that feeding his victims different foods will change the flavour of the blood. There is some backstory about the Vatican exiling the vampire in the 16th century, which is when he came to Japan, murdered the shogun and took his form. His true form is rather demon like with bat wings.

The animation has not aged too well but the actual film was good fun. I liked the fact that Mikami is absolutely mercenary – one reason for destroying the vampire is to ensure her money doesn’t become worthless, another is to collect the $50 million reward that the Pope has offered for slaying the vampire. 6 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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