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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Violence Jack: Evil Town: Violence & Rape... Yeah, that's Go Nagai.

The first Violence Jack OVA, Harlem Bomber, wasn't a bad anime but at the same time you could tell that there was more to Violence Jack than what the OVA showed. In 1988 a second OVA was made called Violence Jack: Evil Town, based on the manga story arc of the same name. Coming in at barely less than one hour long, Evil Town fixes pretty much all of the problems Harlem Bomber had, resulting in an production that really feels like a 100% Violence Jack anime.

The earthquakes that shook the planet affected people in different ways. One group of people ended up being trapped in a giant mall buried under tons of rubble, and after a incident involving mass-rape the group split up into three sections: A Zone is home to the men, B Zone is home to a gang calling themselves the Mad Riders, and C Zone is home to the women. The people of A and C Zone are digging their way back into the sunlight, and when the men of A Zone come across Violence Jack in an air pocket among the rubble, they see Jack as their way of protecting themselves from the Mad Riders. Mad Saurus, the head of the Mad Riders, sees Jack as a threat to his authority, though, and the women of C Zone want Jack to help them find a way out. Once again, Violence Jack will bring about death and destruction behind his wake...

Probably the best thing about Evil Town is that the basic story isn't anywhere near as complicated as Harlem Bomber's story. It's a story about three groups all wanting to get back to the outside world, but their differing ideals get in the way of them working together, and Jack's appearance doesn't help out one bit. The Mad Riders simply love being the rough, tough people that they are and love bringing about trouble, and the seemingly hopeless situation these people are in resulted in the normal men losing out to their primal instincts and raping the women after putting them to sleep one night, which resulted in the women leaving the men and living on their own. It's a dynamic that has been done before, but it's done very nicely in Evil Town, lending a much easier to follow story than that of Harlem Bomber's. Also, Jack himself is a much more human character in Evil Town than he was in Harlem Bomber. He's a major focus and actually says a whole lot here, not to mention that you really do see the morals Jack follows. Like I mentioned in the last review, Jack will not attack those who are truly innocent, and in Evil Town Jack ends up helping the women, even going to the extent of worrying about them near the end when he can tell that they're in trouble. Though there still is an air of the supernatural around Jack, he really comes off as easier to understand and more human in this OVA, and I actually liked that.

Another improvement Evil Town has is that the production in general is simply better. The animation is much nicer and more fluid, the violence is much harsher and unforgiving (those who feel uncomfortable seeing multiple children killed or seeing guts aplenty better not watch this OVA), and the "sex scenes" (a.k.a. rapes) shown here are so explicit that the version I saw actually mosaic-ed the portions of video where penetration is visible. Also, whereas in Harlem Bomber the one rape scene seemed completely unnecessary, the ones in Evil Town are actually essential, as they really show what could happen if people end up in a situation like this. I'm not encouraging rape in any way, but from a story perspective these scenes actually worked and you really feel sorry for the women, who truly did nothing to deserve the treatment they get. Again, Jack sides with the women because they truly are the innocents in this OVA. Harlem Bomber gave me a base idea of what the world of Violence Jack was like, but Evil Town truly gives you an image of the dark and gritty world that has come about through the apocalypse.

As for negatives about this OVA, I will say that though there is a lot of music in this OVA, none of them are honestly truly memorable; even though Harlem Bomber only had one real song, it was at least a catchy tune. Also, the last ten minutes definitely go into an odd place, involving a scene with Mad Saurus that first starts off somewhat touching before quickly going into disgustingly freaky, followed by full-on cannibalism and then a transformation that turns Saurus into a human-esque demon-spawn. Without any real knowledge of Violence Jack it can come off as completely out of left field and not fitting with this OVA, but when you consider that Violence Jack is the sequel to Go Nagai's Devilman then the scene makes a little more sense. Personally, I don't consider this scene to be a full negative, but I can definitely see it rubbing people the wrong way.

Evil Town was written, storyboarded, character designed, and directed by Takuya Wada, who has also worked on anime such as Macross Frontier and Fist of the North Star. Also, according the ANN's Encyclopedia, Ichiro Itano co-directed this OVA, and with a resume that includes titles like Angel Cop, Gantz, Megazone 23, & the Macross series I'd say that he's a perfect fit for Violence Jack. There's also the fact that the man created the "Itano Circus", a.k.a. the act of firing off all of your missiles to hit one smaller enemy...  Simply because it looks awesome. The end of the OVA, where Jack is just cutting up people with his jackknife, looks to be a melee-based equivalent of the Itano Circus. Like I mentioned for Harlem Bomber, each Violence Jack OVA features a new voice for Jack, and in Evil Town it's Kiyoshi Kobayashi, a.k.a. Daiskue Jigen from Lupin the 3rd, the narrator from GaoGaiGar, and Abdul from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. Though I kind of prefer Tessho Genda's gruffer voice for Jack, Kobayashi's Jack still sounds great and is a big reason as to why Jack himself comes off as more of a human in this OVA. It's honestly though to tell which voice is better, and there's still a third voice to consider! The rest of the cast involves Takeshi Aono (Tarsan in Dangaioh, Kami in Dragon Ball, Mihawk in One Piece) as Mad Saurus, who delivers an equally-great performance, Kenryuu Horiuchi (Jamil in Gundam X, Libra Dohko in Saint Seiya Hades, Balzac in Tekkaman Blade) as Blue Kid, a bisexual who is Saurus' lover, and Arisa Andou (Airi in Fist of the North Star) as Aira Mu, the leader of the C Zone women. It's a well-acted production overall. The English dub was also done by Manga, so even though I haven't seen it, my guess from the last review still stands.

Violence Jack: Evil Town is bloody, gruesome, unrelenting, and even goes into hentai territory for the rape scenes... And I wouldn't have it any other way. Harlem Bomber was enjoyable but still disappointing to an extent, but Evil Town completely delivers on showing what a title called "Violence Jack" should be like. This is a great example of why the original manga was so controversial when it was being serialized and even now it might be too extreme to release via a normal distribution label. Right Stuf had to create a new label when they did their uncut VHS tapes of Violence Jack, and I do wonder if the tape for Evil Town has the rape scenes without the mosaics... Granted, it's not like I honestly care about that kind of stuff, but it certainly would explain the need for a hentai label to release something like this. If you want a good Violence Jack anime to watch, Evil Town will certainly do the trick.

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