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Goin’ Japanesque!

Shisha no Teikoku “The Empire of Corpses”: The Dead Rise to Fight in Sci Fi Anime Movie

This time I am introducing an anime work produced as a movie, not an anime broadcasted on TV.

It is “Shisha no Teikoku (The Empire of Corpses)”, a work that has a completely new world setting in the genre of science fiction.



This story unfolds in a world that is a little bit different from ours.

At the end of the 19th century Dr. Frankenstein invents a new technology to resurrect corpses.

This technology made it possible to manipulate the dead like robots without self-consciousness, and it was accepted as a way to obtain new power source for the human race.

Along with the steam engine developed around the same time, the corpse resurrection technology preads to countries of the world and establishes its position as a technology to support industries and human civilization.

The main character Watson is a college student living in the United Kingdom. He is skilled at the corpse resurrection technology and revives his best friend Friday who died young.

However, it is an experiment aiming to resurrect Friday not as a corpse but as a living person with self-consciousness.

As Watson’s experiment is illegal without authorization of the government, he gets arrested and detained.

But a man called “M” helps free Watson from imprisonment and he turns out to be the head of Walsingham Institution, a British secret service.

“M” offers Watson a certain request as a trade-off.

It is to track and investigate a man called Karamazov who has fled to Afghanistan with notes left by Dr. Frankenstein, the authority of the corpse resurrection technology.

The note contains the production method of “The One”, the first dead person with high intelligence and clear will that Dr. Frankenstein created.

Watson heads for Afghanistan with the hope to revive his best friend Friday as a living person.



This work has the original novel written by Keikaku Itoh (Project Itoh).

The biggest appeal of this work is probably its new setting of a world that utilizes corpses.

Stories depicting a world where man and machine are fused are called cyberpunk, and worlds with advanced steam engines are written in steampunk stories.

Then the genre of this work can be called zombie-punk, as it depicts a world that has radically changed with the corpse resurrection technology, which appeared in the famous horror movie, “Frankenstein”.

Brains of corpses perform calculations instead of computers. Corpses work as a tool to transport goods, and fight in combat against corpses as a weapon of war.

This work has brought such an unusual world into visual image.

This work is a hard core science fiction piece, unlike many anime that Japanese otaku geeks are fond of.

In my personal opinion its mood is a blend of gothic image and modern atmosphere seen in “Sherlock Homes” starring Robert Downey Jr., and the story features adventures going around the world like in the movie, “Indiana Jones”.

In this anime, some parts appear to be directly derived from the original novel while other part of settings and episodes are omitted. Thus it is desirable to have read the original novel in order to fully understand the story.

But even when you have not read the novel, this movie alone will let you enjoy the unique world view and the story.

I had not read the novel and felt a strong desire to read the original after watching it.

The movie release in Japan took place in 2015.

There are two anime works currently in planning to be released in 2017 or later, based on other novels written by the same author, Keikaku Itoh.

I would love to see a sequel or new work with this particular world setting, but there is no announcement to that effect at the present.

That’s very disappointing.

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Berial the Demon

About the author

It has been over 40 years of reading manga in the deep world of manga. Japan’s manga has an endlessly wide variety of genres. I will be recommending special manga for you to read from such infinite amount of works.

View all articles by Berial the Demon