Many cities on the Earth are destroyed when a gigantic meteor breaks up into smaller devastating pieces. The impacts across the globe spawn a series of earthquakes and millions die. In the aftermath, several factions begin to surface and the world has quickly fallen into the "survival of the fittest" mindset. In the Kanto region, a man by the name of the Slum King has set his sight on domination. One man stands in his way... Violence Jack. -summary
After 20 years I am still trying to learn what is so great about this short anime OVA. Based on Go Nagai's manga, Violence Jack is a three part OVA that takes place in a post apocalyptic setting where the strong are abusing the weak. Representing justice is the muscular giant Violence Jack. Violence because he's violent, and Jack because, well, he carries a big jackknife in his coat pocket.... clever huh? He runs around the city horribly knifing everyone he thinks deserves it.
Now for starters, this is actually volume one called the Harem Bomber, for some reason in the states it was aired out of order and released as volume three The Slum King. I don't know why but it sucks all the same. This volume needs to be seen first though, so you can understand why the planet is in the shape it's in.
I've never read the original source material, because up to this day I haven't been able to acquire it in English. However, based upon what I researched it sounds like an intricate story, and this anime OVA directed by Osamu Kamijo sounds like a very bad adaptation of it. Violence Jack embodies that 80's anime feel that gave it such a notorious reputation for being all blood and sex. If you know someone who was put off by the anime genre for those reasons, Violence Jack could have been one of the titles they had seen.
The story is poorly handled, as it follows a group of Slum King's henchmen as they search for Jack, or kidnap helpless virgins with intentions on satisfying their sexual desires. Women are chained, whipped, and raped, for reasons I still do not see relevant to the story, fortunately it's not in completely graphic detail. Jack himself has the personality of flat pop. I couldn't find a single reason to cheer for him. The rest of the cast are walking plot devices and nothing more, with one of them dying a dramatic death despite receiving barely two minutes worth of screen time.
I guess the anime was trying to evaluate the evil side of man during a time of crisis. This is fine and all, but I would've found it easier to buy in to if the setting was better used and examined. The entire story feels like an excuse for gratuitous sex and violence, and the only thing it has going for it is the consistent tone. There's nothing cheery about this at all, not even the ending.
Visually, this OVA really doesn't look all that good either. The excuse this was made back in 1986 is just that, an excuse. I've seen OVA's from the 80's time period that still hold up, with Neo Tokyo and Vampire Princess Miyu OVA coming to mind. The action scenes are terrible, with Jack running by his enemies and either bodies or their pieces hitting the floor. In regards to choreography, there's just none to speak of and the gore doesn't make up for this. Plus there are stills and reused cels in good supply. The backgrounds are actually done well giving off this end of the world feel. Unfortunately they're all wasted on this poorly executed story. The subtitles are pretty uneven because some times they can be read, and on other occasions they shoot by rapidly. There's no English dub so you're stuck with this.
This first volume of Violence Jack is indeed skip material. I know of several people to like this, but I think it's the nostalgia deodorant being rolled on thick here, like so many other older titles. I recommend not even bothering with this, especially since it doesn't get much better later on.
Pros: -Some decent backgrounds, maintains a serious tone
Cons: -Makes you appreciate better anime
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