In 1992, Tokyo Babylon was adapted into a two-part original video animation series directed by Koichi Chigira, with characters designs by Kumiko Takahashi. A live-action feature film sequel, Tokyo Babylon 1999, was released on August 21 1993. The English language version of the manga is distributed by Tokyopop. The OVAs are distributed by U.S. Manga Corps and Manga Entertainment for Australia, UK and France. Tokyo Babylon was only released on VHS in Australia and the UK.
Sixteen-year-old Subaru Sumeragi, the main character, is a very powerful magician, the thirteenth head of the foremost family of onmyōji in Japan, which has served the Emperor for centuries. As such, he is called upon to solve various occult mysteries, or stumbles himself on people whom his kind nature compels him to help. These occurrences form the main plot of most chapters. He lives in Tokyo with his twin sister Hokuto, an exuberant girl whose chief occupations are to design eccentric clothing for herself and her brother, and to egg on their mutual friend Seishirō Sakurazuka, a kindly, 25-year-old veterinarian, when he declares his love for Subaru.
There are early hints that Seishirō may not be all that he appears. Hokuto jokes about him being a member of the family of Sakurazukamori, a clan of assassins who use onmyōjitsu to kill, and are pronounced to be the Sumeragis' opposite. Also, Subaru has dreams about having met someone under a cherry tree blooming out of season when he was but a small child, but he cannot quite recall what was being said. This person was actually Seishirō, upon whom Subaru stumbled when he had just performed a kill. According to the rules of the Sakurazukamori, Seishirō should have killed him, but impressed with the child's purity, he made a bet with him instead: He would meet Subaru again, and would then spend one year with him, protecting him and trying to love him. If, at the end of that year, he felt something for Subaru which distinguished him from a thing he could easily destroy, as he could not with any other person, then he would not kill him. To recognize him, he marked him with inverted pentagrams on both hands, the sign of the Sakurazukamori's prey. These marks are for most of the story hidden beneath the gloves Subaru continually wears on the direction of his grandmother, the previous family head, who recognized the marks and so hopes to conceal them with her magic.
Things come to a head when Seishirō loses an eye protecting Subaru, and Subaru realizes that he is in love with Seishirō. But the year is over, and Seishirō declares himself the winner of the bet. He breaks Subaru's arm and tortures him, but does not succeed in killing him, as Subaru's grandmother breaks his spell - an action which leaves her crippled. Subaru's shock and heartbreak leave him catatonic. Hokuto, feeling guilty for her promotion of Seishirō, whom she knew to be dangerous, but also believed to be the only one who might touch Subaru's heart, leaves to find Seishirō and confronts him, asking to be killed by him and casting a spell with her death. Subaru, seeing her in a dream, is shocked out of his catatonia by her action. He vows to find Seishirō and take revenge for his sister's death.
Subaru and Seishirō return in Clamp's apocalyptic manga X. The story, set nine years after the end of Tokyo Babylon, has the two onmyōji on opposite sides during the final battle for humanity's future.
Subaru Sumeragi is the 13th Head of the Sumeragi clan, a family of onmyoji. He tends to be rather shy, but is extremely kindhearted. He constantly wears gloves over his hands for reasons known only to his grandmother. A shadowy childhood moment may provide the answer. is Subaru's eccentric twin sister. She is quick-witted, bold and impulsive, the polar opposite of Subaru. While she lacks most of Subaru's strong spiritualistic abilities, she is still able to cast spells unique to her. She always means well and acts in Subaru's best interests. Hokuto is the designer of the outrageous outfits she and Subaru often don. She affectionately refers to Seishiro as "Sei-chan".
Subaru Sumeragi is investigating the death of a former enemy of the Sumeragi clan, Kaneyama. Before his death, Kaneyama had undertaken a new project: teaching a group of seven teenage girls how to use dark magic to take revenge on those they deem "guilty," beginning with an abusive teacher. One of the girls, Kurumi, starts to feel remorse; however, she is convinced by the others to continue with their plans. When Subaru attempts to stop them, they declare him to be their enemy and attack him. Subaru learns that his former friend-turned-enemy, assassin Seishirō Sakurazuka, was the one who killed Kaneyama, and he has now turned his sights on the girls.
The girls grow increasing sick as a result of using the spells and Subaru tries once more to save them. Seishirō appears, claiming that none of the girls can be saved. Subaru and Seishirō fight, only to ultimately be stopped by the appearance of the ghost of Hokuto Sumeragi, who asks them to stop for her sake. Seishirō leaves, and the fight is unresolved.
At the end, Kurumi says that, hopefully, all the other girls will be able to give up their vengeful plans and become good again. Subaru adds finally that he wishes for the same thing.
There are some differences between the movie and the original manga. Subaru seems "angrier and less restrained" in his movie incarnation, and his insistent smoking is never shown. He also seems hypocritical, calling on the girls to stop their vengeance while obsessing over his own vengeful desires against Seishirō. Neither Subaru nor Seishirō are shown using ofuda, shikigami or drawing pentacles for spells.
Seishirō's signature hand-through-the-chest style of killing is dropped in favor of magically strangling his victims, and no references to his characteristic cherry blossoms appear.