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The Fine Print
All text is © copyright VIZ, LLC. No reproduction without written permission. All images are © copyright their respective copyright holders as noted. No reproduction without written permission. All images for Peach Girl © 2002 Miwa Ueda/Kodansha
Tokyo: AD 2024. A woman's scream emanates from a dingy Akihabara alleyway, interrupting above the din Tokyo's usual late-night traffic and crowds. The skies weren't kind to her tonight and, as she stands alone under the dim lights of the city's impossibly high skyscrapers, a pH 3.2 level acid rain soaks her to the core. But that's the least of her worries now; she's more concerned with the 12-foot tall creature in front of her. Is it a demon? Mutant? Perhaps a dreaded "Lucifer Hawk" she had heard about in urban legends?
Then, in a heartbeat, the alleyway is bathed in light as an energy blast from somewhere in the shadows knocks the creature off its balance, followed by a surge of wind and a furious heat that burns like a firestorm. Injured and caught off guard, the monster tries to stagger off the battlefield, but it doesn't make it more than 20 feet before an invisible barrier spits crackling energy into the night air creating a wall and cutting off any hope of escape. The creature turns around looking for another route only to be met by the receiving end of an ornate spear, slicing it clean in half. The battle is over, but the innocent woman will never forget what she saw in that alley. For her saviors however, it's all in a night's work when you're a member of the all-female Attacked Mystification Police Department, also known as A.M.P.!
Yes, I know: I come off as more of a bad L. Ron Hubbard than a William Gibson with my feeble stab at pulp sci-fi writing. Still, despite being cheesy and melodramatic, I hope that I was able to drive home some of the energy and excitement that pulses through the cyberpunk world of the Silent Möbius television series. It would be easy at first to dismiss this series as another "girls with guns fight monsters" kind of show, but nothing could be further from the truth--this show has major story depth and genuinely impressive characterization for those willing to watch for the not-so-long haul (you can handle 26 episodes, right?). And hey, if you like the girls-with-guns thing too, there's plenty of that to go around too.
The story of Silent Möbius began its life as a manga created by industry superstar artist/writer Kia Asamiya, whose credits include (among others) Dark Angel, Steam Detectives and more recently, his own rendition of Batman for DC Comics. The Silent Möbius series ran for 8 years in the Japanese anthology Monthly Comic Dragon, finally totalling 12 compiled volumes, and enjoyed a reasonable amount of success for its stylish, highly detailed art style and fresh spin on the sci-fi/horror genre. Fans of the comic series will be happy to know that the anime television series (in U.S. release through Bandai) follows relatively close to Asamiya's original storyline, only straying occasionally for dramatic purposes.
To some extent, the plot of the Silent Möbius television series revolves around the activities of the A.M.P. as they slog their way knee-deep through the dirtier parts of Tokyo hunting invading Lucifer Hawks, but more specifically, it's about the experiences of sorceress Katsumi Liqueur and her time inside and outside the ranks of the A.M.P. As the daughter of world-famous sorcerer Gigelf Liqueur (more on him later) Katsumi has a ton of baggage to carry concerning her father's reputation as well as her importance to the agents of Nemesis in fulfilling their plans.
Events in the first half of the 21st century have been harsh to Tokyo, and for that matter, the rest of the world. Air and ground pollution run rampant around the planet, making most land uninhabitable and constantly blanketing the surface in rain of the acid variety--the official "Rain of the Future," you know. As a result, most of humanity is clustered into several "super-cities" (à la Judge Dredd) around the globe that have populations well into the hundreds of millions each; Tokyo and Hong Kong are two examples.
Aesthetically, the appearance of Tokyo is simultaneously technologically marvelous and frighteningly harsh. Basically, anything that is not a tree or person has been wrapped in glass and alloy, giving the city a cold, sanitized feel. A quick look skyward and one would see office and government buildings erected impossibly high into the air, and the ever present automated announcement balloons that drone throughout the city dispensing weather warnings crisscrossing between the crystal and steel towers. The hum and glow of thousands upon thousands of neon signs doesn't keep anyone up at night anymore--it's just part of the background noise in a city too large for anyone to really keep tabs on anymore.
Nope, the future didn't do away with crime as we all hoped it would and, if anything, it's only gotten worse. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department does its best to fight crime, but for various reasons, their effectiveness is limited. One of the reasons for their neutered responses is that the TMPD is no longer a government agency, but rather a private entity sponsored almost entirely by many of the larger corporations based in the city. It goes without saying that in a system like this, corruption is a daily fact of life and many times cases are dropped to cover up corporate misconduct throughout the city. Perhaps to cut costs or perhaps because they just don't give a rip, an entire section of Tokyo known as "Heaven's Hell" exists without any police protection at all. Here, in what was once the shopping districts of downtown Tokyo, the ko-gals are more likely to knife you than let you take their picture, and the only people wearing loose socks are the homeless who can't afford the correct size. You live by your wits or you don't live at all.
Even more menacing than any criminal is the presence of the Lucifer Hawks. A Lucifer Hawk is any variety of creatures hailing from the dimension opposite our own known as Nemesis. These creatures feed on humans like cattle and think little of life outside their home dimension. Their appearance is creepy to say the least, with misshapen bodies that are almost never symmetrical and always covered in sharp edges. Lucifer Hawks come in four varieties, each with different levels of intelligence and power, with type-one being the dumbest and weakest and type-four being the strongest and smartest. Type-one Lucifer Hawks are weak enough to be handled by the Mobile Police (think SWAT team), but the truly supernatural powers demonstrated by the other types call for the special services of the A.M.P.
THE GAIA PROJECT
Hope for a better Tokyo has faded over the years, but it wasn't always that way. Before the turn of the century, humans and Lucifer Hawks alike had been negotiating on a plan to exchange the dirty atmosphere of Earth for Nemesis' clean one by constructing a giant cyclotron that would open a gate between the two worlds. A joint team of scientists and members of the mysterious Magicians Guild undertook this task. Though their cause was just and their hearts in the right place. The same could not be said for the inhabitants of Nemesis and their minions.
One of the main proponents of the Gaia Project, as it would come to be known, was renowned Earth sorcerer Gigelf Liqueur. Gigelf was an immensely powerful magic-user and had great visions for the future, but upon activation of the cyclotron his hopes were dashed when his former assistant, Ganossa Maximillian, betrayed him and all humanity by opening the gate wider than intended thus causing the "Silent Crisis" that ravaged the planet. In the following years, Lucifer Hawks killed many members of the Magicians Guild, Gigelf included, as they fought to contain them. Things had been quiet for a while, but twenty years later the Lucifer Hawks are getting rowdy again.
HIGH-HEELS, A BADGE, AND A GUN
The A.M.P. department was formed in the early 2020s by Rally Cheyenne to contain the Lucifer Hawk threat in Tokyo. To these ends the department is given an incredible amount of resources and authority by the controlling corporations. When the series begins, there are five team members besides Rally: Commander Mana Isozaki; computer adept Lebia Maverick; cyborg Kiddy Phenil; priestess Nami Yamigumo; and psychic Yuki Saiko. Sorceress Katsumi Liqueur joins early in the series, and Lum Cheng, a sorceress from China, comes onto the scene towards the middle, bringing the team total up to eight. Working together, these ladies kick some serious Lucifer Hawk butt.
Remember, though, that the A.M.P. is part of the police force as well, and in times of peace is subject to the many of the same grueling, anxiety-riddled duties as normal officers. To these ladies, free time is a resource that is sometimes more precious than the air they breathe. In one episode, A.M.P officers Katsumi and Lum Cheng even call in a fake Lucifer Hawk attack just to sneak off to a resort outside the city!
As the ladies of A.M.P. battle the invaders, the storyline of Silent Möbius weaves in and out of the personal lives of each member, giving them all a great amount of personality that jumps off the screen. Plot twists are abundant as the secret, often traumatic pasts of each member are revealed and layered onto the overall story. Over time, the women become more potent fighters together than when apart and function like a family when off duty--a family that slays demonic creatures that is.
With the release of Silent Möbius on DVD from Bandai this summer there's no better time to get into this series. If monster-busting in a futuristic, Blade Runner-esque cityscape and action of seriously Earth-shattering proportions is your cup of tea, you certainly won't want to miss Silent Möbius.