A historical fantasy novel published from 1985-1987, and written by Hiroshi Aramata, Teito Monogatari (literally "Tale of the Imperial Capital") is a retelling of the history of Tokyo from an occultist perspective, beginning with the Meiji Era and going up to the end of the 20th century. Upon his death, the samurai Taira no Masakado cursed the new city and its inhabitants. Over the course of the next hundred years, numerous characters, both fictional and historical, come into conflict with Yasunori Kato, an immortal villain out to harness Masakado's spirit to destroy the city.The novel won the Nihon Science Fiction Taisho Award in 1987, has sold around some 4 million copies in Japan alone, and is widely considered the first major work to popularize Onmyodo (Yin Yang) magic and Feng Shui in its native country. Of course its immense success has resulted in several visual adaptations. In Japan, the most well known adaptation is the 1988 live action special effects film Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis. However because western audiences aren't as inviting to Japanese live action SPFX films (Godzilla excluded), the most known adaptation in the west is the heavily stylized, Darker and Edgier 1991 anime adaptation known as Doomed Megalopolis. Both adaptations are (very) abridged adaptations of only the first 1/3rd of the novel.Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis would later receive a sequel in 1989 called Tokyo: The Last War. It was very loosely based on a later novel in the series and set during World War II. However, it was much lighter on the special effects and magic due to a much smaller budget. The series also received three spin-off movies. The first was Teito Monogatari Gaiden in 1995, which was even Darker and Edgier than Doomed Megalopolis. The second was Tokyo Dragon in 1997, an independent made-for-TV film based off Aramata's Sim Fu-Sui series which features the grandson of Shigemaru Kuroda (the Feng Shui expert from Teito Monogatari) in a starring role. The final one was The Great Yokai War in 2005, a family film by Takashi Miike that's decidedly the most lighthearted entry in the series.The original novel was never published in English, but there is currently a campaign to get it translated.
Teito Monogatari provides examples of the following tropes:
All There in the Manual: The films and the anime leave you with more questions than answers if you have not read the book. You'd have better luck sticking a camel through the eye of a needle than you would have understanding the entire Teito Monogatari story purely through its cinematic adaptations.
Blob Monster: In Doomed Megalopolis, some of Kato's shikigami seem to be made of a black tar-like substance.
Blood Magic: In The Last Megalopolis, after Kato flees with Yukari, Hirai uses his own blood to power one of his shikigami to find them. The spirit is shown possessing a random bird which had flown through the paper before reaching its destination.
Cane Fu: In the anime, Hirai impales a shikigami with his cane.
Chainsaw Good: The goho doji in Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis has a built-in chainsaw that it tries to attack Keiko with. This is a reference to old goho doji depictions, where they are drawn wearing a collar of swords.
The Last War features Yukiko's nightmare in which a clone of Kato bursts from her boyfriend's chest. At the end, Kato's soul bursts from his own chest after being DePowered.
The fukuchu-mushi inside of the nurse breaks out from her back when is summoned by Kato. It's unknown whether the nurse had been possessed by the spirit or instead she was a disguised spirit all along.
Clothing Damage: Specially in the anime. In the third episode, Yukiko is stripped naked before she is served to the underground dragon as a sacrifice. In the final episode, Keiko steadily loses her clothing while fighting Kato and his creatures. She's completely naked at the end, while channeling Kannon.note Mind you, this is due to nakedness symbolizing purity, and not simply Fanservice
Cool Horse: Masakado sends one to Keiko at the fourth episode of Doomed Megalopolis. It appears as a furry, equine mystic being.
Court Mage: Yasumasa Hirai. He is the leader of the Tsuchimikado Family, an onmyodo clan that serves the Emperor.
Cross Over: Quiz Daisousa Sen Part 2 crosses over the Teito Monogatari series with Neo Geo's quiz game series. In one of the scenarios, the main characters travel back in time and befriend Yukiko. And then Kato steals their time machine.
Tokyo: The Last War started this trend. Despite the first film's box office success, the producers felt that it was still too confusing for mainstream audiences, so they decided to streamline the sequel down into a more conventional horror movie inspired from thrillers like A Nightmare on Elm Street. Likewise the sequel is more violent and Bloodier and Gorier than the first film, and takes place in a much darker, grittier setting. Some of this is justified, since it does take place during the end of World War II.
Doomed Megalopolis expanded on the horror elements of Tokyo: The Last War to the point of being a Grossout Show. It contains more graphic violence and gore and boosts it up with added sexual imagerynote for example, the fukuchu-mushi did not have penis-heads in any other adaptation than any of the previous adaptations. It also adds some disturbing, onscreen rape scenes to show that Yoichiro and Yukari's incestuous relationship is not consensual.
Teito Monogatari Gaiden is this to even Doomed Megalopolis. It contains so much gratuitous sex and violence, that it's pretty much an Exploitation Film. Fans despised it so much that there were several walk outs during its limited theatrical run.
Demoted to Extra: The classic Meiji era writer Koda Rohan had a much more active role in the novel and live action film. But in Doomed Megalopolis, most of his actions are given to Kamo, a fictional onmyoji. Ogai Mori (another famous Meiji era writer), who was also a major supporting character in the book, is just relegated to a cameo in the cinematic adaptations.
Drill Tank: Gakutensoku is equipped with drills in the anime and crushes some shikigami with them.
Driving Question: What great power is fueling Kato? Who is he, and why does he want to destroy the city so bad?
The End... Or Is It?: At the end of The Last Megalopolis, we briefly get a glimpse of Keiko walking down the street when she was presumed dead...and Kato, too.
Epic Movie: At the time, the first film was one of the most expensive Japanese films ever made, almost matching Ran.
Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: In the anime, Kato and his kodoku-controlled nurse use this to introduce a fukuchu-mushi (worm spirit) in Yukari. The spirit takes the form of a eyeball and is introduced via mouth-to-mouth.
In Doomed Megalopolis, Kato has vampire-like fangs that he bears whenever angry or shouting. The cover of the OVA gives him a mouth full of shark-like teeth. The Last Megalopolis emphasizes his canines sometimes, too.
Also from Doomed Megaloolis, Kato tortures Keiko in a vision in an attempt to get her to hate him. Just as she's giving in to the dark side and breaks free, she suddenly grows fangs.
Feng Shui: Along with onmyodo magic, it was the first modern fictional work to popularize Feng Shui in the Japanese media. This popular interest would serve as a lead up to the academic feng shui "boom" in 1990's, where many Japanese scholars started studying the practice's influence in the history of their country.
It's believed that Baku Yumemakura's incredibly popular Onmyoji series (also made into a film of the same name) was written in response to the success of this novel (the first Onmyoji short story emerged 3 years after Teito Monogatari started being published).
Within the franchise itself, the disgusting imagery in Doomed Megalopolis was most likely inspired by the commercial success of hyper violent, perverse "adult" anime like Legend of the Overfiend. Also, the excessive perverse horror elements in Teito Monogatari Gaiden were most likely inspired by the commercial success of Doomed Megalopolis.
Full-Frontal Assault: In the climactic battle at the end of the anime, Keiko ends completely naked due to Clothing Damage. In this case, her nudity symbolizes her newfound spiritual purity as a Bodhisattva which is how she defeats Kato.
Genre-Busting: Although Western distributors have insisted upon classifying its adaptations as horror, the original novel constantly gets classified as science fiction by the Japanese. However, it can't be just science fiction because it also has heavy elements of magic and folklore in it, placing it closer to fantasy. In fact, the author first described the novel to an English audience as a "fantasy romance". Also all the historical infodumping in the novel brings it closer to historical fiction.
The Ghost: Taira no Masakado. Subverted in the anime, in which he appears under the form of a ghostly samurai.
Giant Flyer: In the anime, Kato summons a gigantic, flying manta ray-like spirit to besiege the Tatsumiya house.
Grew Beyond Their Programming: At the end of the live action version, the robot Gakutensoku momentarily becomes sentient to defend his master (the historical character Dr. Makoto Nishimura, who is played by his real life son Ko Nishimura) from the last of Kato's shikigami. This is never explained, although it somehow fits with the mysticism around Gakutensoku.
Hand Seals: Most of the magic users in the series do these, as Onmyodo and other spiritual powers in the series require it.
Heroes Prefer Swords: Both heroes and villains use swords in Teito Monogatari. Koda and Kamo fight with wakizashis, and Kato use a katana at some point.
Gakutensoku was reformatted into an excavation robot to drill through a rock wall in an Eldritch Location when the human miners kept getting attacked by shikigami or started hallucinating. Yes,it was a real robot.
Koda Rohan not only challenges Kato several times, but also manages to cut his hand off!
Homage: Practically ALL the supernatural/mythological subject matter is taken from the classic Japanese or Chinese folklore, from the medieval tale collections Uji Shui Monogatarishu and Konjaku Monogatarishu to classic Chinese literature such as epics like Romance of the Three Kingdoms. For example, Kato's magical impregnation of Yukari is based on obscure folktales about the exploits of King Wen of Zhou, one of China's ancient Emperors. Also, the character of Yasumasa Hirai is a direct descendant of the great onmyoji Abe no Seimei, and many of Hirai's actions in the story are directly based on those of Abe no Seimei from those old folktales. And the scene where Koda Rohan chops off Kato's hand is inspired directly from the legend of Watanabe no Tsuna, the proud warrior who chopped off the arm of an oni at Modoribashi Bridge. In fact, the story of Teito Monogatari could be seen as a speculative continuation of all these old stories set in modern history.
Hot-Blooded: Koda Rohan, who doesn't care about the risks if he has his reliable sword.
Hypothetical Casting: Realized in the form of actor Ko Nishimura, who got to play his real life father Dr. Makoto Nishimura in the live action film. Also legendary Kabuki actor Tamasaburo Bando V was allowed to portray his favorite author Kyoka Izumi in the live action film as well.
I Have the High Ground: Kato does this a lot. The box art of The Last War even features him standing around on a high metal tower. In the anime, he stands on poles, roofs, treetops, etc.
Instant Sedation: In the live action film, Kato knocks out a chamber full of onmyoji using a spiderweb-like sedative spell.
The most obvious example is Kato since in the original novel, he's proficient with a katana and wielded a magical sword.
Koda Rohan is a skilled swordsman, and later on in the novel he learns magic.
Kamo, the minor onmyoji, is also skilled with the short sword.
In the anime, Yasumasa Hirai uses a daikyū or longbow to fire a magic arrow against Kato.
Also Keiko qualifies, as she fights with a naginata.
Light Is Not Good: Played with in the anime. Yasumasa Hirai, the good sorcerer dressed in bright white, is beaten by the dark and evil Kato because in fact he is not morally better than Yasunori; they share the same magic. However the power of the curse fueling Yasunori is far older and stronger than anything Hirai or his ancestors have encountered, giving Kato the advantage.
Living Statue: In the film, Kato deploys a large, multi-armed statue to defend his house. In the anime, the ruined temple in which he retreats have some statues guarding it.
Making a Splash: The fukuchu-mushi inside of the nurse creates a water explosion as a last resort attack, flooding the Tsuchimikado temple. In fact, the liquid itself doesn't happen to be water, but some sort of non-lethal poison.
Market-Based Title: In Japan most of the adaptations are simply titled Teito Monogatari like their source material. But in the west, the OVA adaptation is called Doomed Megalopolis and the live-action adaptation is called Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis and both were marketed purely as horror titles. Apparently Tale of the Imperial Capital doesn't sound ominous enough.
Mauve Shirt: Kamo. He's a powerful onmyoji in his own right, but he ends up being gruesomely killed by Kato.
Mentor Occupational Hazard: Justified. Hirai sacrifices himself to show his devotion to the Meiji Emperor (who has just passed away). It also happens to divine the year of Tokyo's destruction.
Mr. Exposition: The series is extremely guilty of this. Several of the characters are based on real life intellectuals or scientists and they've got a lot to say. This is partly because the author Hiroshi Aramata's profession was a non-fiction writer, scholar and translator before he wrote this work.
Kyoka Izumi passes as this in the Western dubs of Doomed Megalopolis, as his name wasn't mentioned in the anime and the dubbers probably didn't a clue about who he was. In the credits, he tend to appear as simply "the fortuneteller" or something like it.
Same with Shin Mekata, Keiko's father.
Kato's servant in the film doesn't have a name, or at least, her name is not mentioned. In the original novel though, her name is Hong Feng.
No Periods, Period: Averted in a flashback in Doomed Megalopolis. A very young Yukari begins menstruating in front of a teenaged Yoichiro who then decides it's a good time as any to try out his choking fetish on her.
Not So Different: Kato invokes this in the anime after Hirai calls him a monster. He tells Hirai to stop acting so self-righteous, as they, being onmyoji, both inflict curses on people for a living.
Onmyodo: The first modern fictional novel to popularize onmyodo mysticism in the Japanese media. The whole first portion of the novel is the battle between two rival factions of onmyoji. Only the Tsuchimikado family, the faction that serves the Emperor of Japan, is considered to be the official onmyoji.
Mind Control: Kato can take control of people, either by using kodoku or by brainwashing.
Mind over Matter: Mainly used by Kato and Hirai. More seen in the second movie Tokyo: The Last War.
Rape as Drama: Happens to poor Yukari in Doomed Megalopolis. She is raped by her brother once and also magically raped when Kato forces a curse up her crotch. She is eventually Driven to Madness, and becomes catatonic in the last two episodes.
Sequel Hook: At the end of the credits to Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis there is a tagline that says "Yasunori Kato will return". Also character dialogue at the end implies that the heroine Keiko Tatsumiya would also return. The resulting sequel Tokyo: The Last War only followed one of these promises and turned out to be a disappointment.
Shoot the Dog: Kamo is perfectly willing to sacrifice Yukiko to banish Kato forever. It doesn't work, however.
Squishy Wizard: The anime version of Yasumasa Hirai is a subversion. While not a hand-to-hand fighter, he is incredibly agile and resilient for a man of his age, being able to move faster than a magic blast and survive to an arrow through his torso. On the other hand, his live action film counterpart is never shown in the battlefield.
Stock Scream: For some reason, the English dub of Doomed Megalopolis adds in screams for the spirits as Yukari is being possessed by Masakado. In particular, the Howie scream and the shrill female scream are used.
Super Spit: The kodoku nurse can spit acid to blind Hirai's redshirts.
The Tokyo Fireball: Pretty much the whole series is about the citizens of Tokyo coming to terms with the historical disasters afflicting the city. Remember, it covers 90 years of the 20th century history of Tokyo... A lot of happened to the city during that period.
Trope Maker: Many modern artistic representations of onmyoji in popular culture owe a lot to this series (including the idea of the Black vs. White Onmyoji clans). It also created the "demonic sorcerer wearing an Eastern style military outfit" archetype. M. Bison of Street Fighter fame is undoubtedly the most popular example of this.
The Unfettered: Absolutely nothing will stop Kato from trying to destroy Tokyo, whether it be being turned to stone, stabbed in the neck, getting his eye gouged out, nothing. Although channeling a celestial bodhisattva seems to do the trick in the OVA.
Warrior Writer: Koda Rohan, who is not at all afraid to challenge demonic sorcerers by himself.
Who You Gonna Call?: Kato's occult mishaps are always first noticed by politicians, scientists, or writers; all of whom are completely unprepared to deal with the supernatural. To compensate, they have to call in the real occult experts which include the official onmyoji (the Tsuchimikado Family) and a feng shui master named Shigemaru Kuroda.