Based on the hit novel series by Mado Nozaki, Babylon is a political thriller about Prosecutor Zen Seizaki’s pursuit of justice. Seeing how a doctored medical trial is connected to a scandal that could affect the Shiniki district that is independent of Tokyo, he sets out to get to the bottom of the mystery! As he begins to pursue his leads, Atsuhiko Fumio, his assistant, is found hanging in his apartment in an alleged suicide. Unconvinced it’s a suicide, Seizaki knows that Fumio’s timely death proves they were onto something and that one of his leading suspects is a woman connected to the anime equivalent of the Clintons. So, what is it about this recently debuted anime that makes you want to watch it? Allow us to tell you why you NEED to watch Babylon!
Anime is full of action, sci-fi, romance, and almost everything you can (and can’t) think of, and that includes hentai! However, very few are political thrillers prominent in the creative world of anime. Considering that most young Japanese people, anime’s core domestic audience, are reportedly not interested in politics, we can understand why the genre is almost non-existent within anime and manga.
Yes, some recent anime have been vocally political in recent times through other genres such as in Carole & Tuesday and Cop Craft, but Babylon is one of the very few to be political in nature both internally and externally. The unique setting of Shiniki, which has the equivalent status to that of a city-state like Singapore, provides the series something distinguishing with how it wants to show and engage the audience in a realistic manner.
A Realistic Hero
Yes, heroes from Goku in Dragon Ball to Izuku/Deku in My Hero Academia in action titles are really cool. As a prosecutor who genuinely wants justice, Seizaki is a hero whose profession has little to no representation in anime. Granted, there is Ace Attorney where the defense is the hero, but like in the classic NBC drama Law & Order, the audience gets to see the prosecution as the hero as well. Granted, prosecutors are portrayed in realistic and fictional media as people seeking a conviction no matter what the cost, but through Seizaki, audiences of all backgrounds can see that prosecutors are about wanting justice and care about protecting the public.
All-Star Seiyuu Cast
In addition to its distinguishing genre, Babylon has a strong seiyuu cast. Voicing Seizaki is Yuuichi Nakamura. You likely know him as the voice of Hodr in the Break Blade series, Shishio Tsukasa in Dr. Stone, Greed in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and as Shigure in the 2019 remake of Fruits Baskets. He can do comedy, action, and drama so his well-rounded background gives him the credentials to make Seizaki someone who is a different kind of hero, one who is more relatable and realistic.
Playing Ai, one of Seizaki’s rivals, is veteran Satsuki Yukino. You likely know her as the voice of Tina from Ai Yori Aoshi, Miho from the Free! Series, Chidori from Full Metal Panic!, and Tae from Gintama. Other big names include Kensho Ono, Takahiro Sakurai, Mao Ichimichi, Ryoutarou Okiayu, and Kenryuu Horiuchi.
We’re Getting the Series as a Whole
Unlike other anime based on light novel series that are still on-going, the original Babylon series is only three volumes and ended back in 2017. So, we don’t have to worry about the anime ending somewhere somewhat ambiguously and wonder if we’re getting a second season by the time it ends. Since the original novel series is only three volumes, we’re guaranteed not just an average length series but a series that can tell its story as a whole within the confines of an anime!
It’s (Probably) Educational For Non-Japanese Viewers
Considering that a good part of the series focuses on a mayoral election, it can give non-Japanese audiences a look at how elections are conducted in Japan. Despite Shiniki’s distinguishing status, many of the customs and practices are still Japanese in nature since the population residing there is Japanese and is still on Japanese land. With the 2020 Democrat primaries underway in the US, when you watch Babylon, you get an (almost) realistic idea as to how Japanese politics operate.
Corruption, lobbyism, and favoritism exist in just about every political system, and Babylon could be a possible indicator to international viewers of how they’re operated in Japan. In addition, the series also does a great job of portraying how party politics are conducted in Japan. If you’re used to two-party systems like in the US, or a one-party system like in China or North Korea, this series can provide audiences an idea of how political parties operate over in the Land of the Rising Sun.
If you’re the type of person that likes to root for the underdog who fights the power, then without a doubt, Babylon is the anime for you. Beyond having a more grounded story, the character and setting designs are relatively more “realistic” than what you would see in your typical anime. Nobody has exaggerated hairstyles like in DBZ, outrageous clothing like in Naruto, etc. When you look at the people of this series, they look like someone you could meet at a grocery store or on the train. The environments look like something you’d see in a real-life urban metropolis such as Tokyo, and if you’re from a small city or the country, it does feel overwhelming.
So, if you’re looking to take a break from the more “imaginative” qualities that anime are known for and want something realistic, then Babylon is the anime you mustn’t miss!