Orient City is made up of four islands that stretch vertically. The islands are connected by cable cars that crisscross the sky, powered by steam engines. At sea level, buildings are jammed together in favela-like neighborhoods carved into the rock walls. Traditional western haunts such as saloons, brothels and barbershops are crammed around these cable car stations… with designs having traditional Japanese, Chinese and Thai characteristics. In a time and place when gunpowder has just been invented, people solve their conflicts the old fashion way... with blades and fists.
With all of the lumber now harvested and gone, coal is the only source of energy. So the man who controls the coal also controls city; this is the Shogun of Shi-Iwa. He also keeps a tenuous balance between the people of Orient City, the City Guard and the gangs that occupy each island.
We enter all of this through the eyes of Jun-Fan, an opium-addicted kung fu monk. Down and out, he is hired by Rooster, an old friend and brother-in-arms, to protect Gil Landao - a banker that leads a secret group on the cusp of bringing electricity to Orient City. This, of course, is a great threat to the Shogun and the reason the Landao’s need protection…
Although Jun-Fan is reluctant at first, the banker’s precocious daughter, Nessa, reminds him of the son he tragically lost… The little girl dreams of becoming a kung fu monk and it is her belief in him that leads to Jun-Fan’s recovery.
When the Landao’s are attacked by the Dead Eels, a gang fluent in ninjitsu, Jun-Fan manages to save Nessa, but her parents are killed. The Shogun then unleashes a hit squad of Muskrats led by the vicious Khan the Butcher after them. The only way Jun-Fan can keep the girl safe is by learning who is after her and exacting revenge. This sets Jun-Fan and Nessa off on an amazing adventure as they fight their way to the top of the city – discovering her place in the invention of electricity along the way.
Although full of white-knuckle action, Orient City is as a cautionary tale about overconsumption, and the eventual unsustainability of human life. As in the real world, winners of an environmental outcome are able to inflate their benefits by increasing costs to the losers. With man-made problems such as deforestation, global warming, and pollution negatively impacting the environment, the series subtly invites viewers to take a step back and examine these problems.