Monday, November 28, 2011

Violence Jack: Hell's Wind: Old Jack vs. New Jack... Fight!

Violence Jack: Evil Town was a definitive improvement over the previous OVA, Harlem Bomber.  But, admittedly, one thing Evil Town had a minimum of was action. Sure, the last third of the OVA definitely delivered the action, but the rest was slower-paced story. For those who want mostly action, though, the last Violence Jack OVA, Hell's Wind from 1990, definitely delivers on that and then some.

From the ruins of Kanto a small village formed, and it's residents called it Hope Town. There, children go to school and try to plant flowers, a small trader business exists that allows commerce to thrive, and all is well. One day, though, an infamous motorcycle gang called Hell's Wind comes to Hope Town, creating havoc. Men are ripped in half in sadistic games of motorcycle tug-of-war, women are raped, and it isn't until Violence Jack and a battle-hardened woman named Jun come in to save what's left of Hope Town. Hell's Wind escapes, gunning Jack down with a torrent of bullets in the process, and kidnaps schoolteacher Miss Keiko. Jun wants nothing but the destruction of Hell's Wind after her boyfriend Tetsuya was ripped to shreds by a chainsaw and she was raped by their leader Dante, and the determination a young boy named Saburo Tenma has towards saving Miss Keiko prompts Jack to help take out the gang.

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...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Violence Jack: Harlem Bomber: Not the Best Start, But It'll Do

Out of Go Nagai's list of creations, Violence Jack is more than likely his most controversial one. Debuting back in 1973 in the pages of Weekly Shonen Magazine, the original manga jumped to Monthly Shonen Magazine and then Weekly Manga Goraku before finally ending in 1990. Violence Jack portrayed a post-apocalyptic world, possibly one of the very first in manga, and in Nagai's usual fashion he was unflinching in showing off the most primal things that can come about from a world like this. Things like grotesque violence, rape, and other taboo things of the time were shown commonly in the manga, but even with all of the controversy behind it Violence Jack ended up becoming Go Nagai's longest work ever, totaling 45 volumes across the three magazines it ran in. And, in fact, the manga kept on going after its end with multiple short stories about Jack being published in magazines like Bessatsu Young Jump and Weekly Comic Bunch, but these short stories are considered separate works and aren't counted towards the original manga's total volume count. Naturally, a work this popular and controversial resulted in an anime adaptation, but Violence Jack is an interesting beast in this sense. There are three OVAs made based on three different story arcs from the manga, but these OVAs are considered separate works and not related episodes. With that in mind, let's take a look at the first OVA, which is subtitled as Harlem Bomber.

In the near future the Earth is hit with a meteor storm of apocalyptic strength. The Kanto region of Japan is hit especially hard, resulting in earthquakes so strong & destructive that the moment was called the Kanto Hell Quake. In the remains of Kanto now exists a lawless world, with one man aiming to rule over it: The Slum King. But there is a legendary being in that same area: One with the muscles of a gorilla, the fangs of a wolf, and eyes that burn with primordial fire yet also shine with the light of intelligence. He is called Violence Jack and with his giant jackknife death and violence always follows in his wake. After his fight with Jack is interrupted by a tidal wave, the Slum King realizes how strong Jack is and orders that his men make it a focus to kill Jack so that no one can stand in the way of his rule. King's right-hand man, the Harlem Bomber, runs a place where young women are tortured and turned into sex-driven slaves who are then sold. When a truck carrying a new shipment of women crashes after running into a vision of Jack, two women, Mari & Yumi, escape. Mari is on a journey to find her lover Kenichi, who she has heard survived the apocalypse, but after getting re-captured by Rose, Bomber's slave warden, the two women will be drawn into a meeting with Kenichi as well as the eventual fight between Jack and Bomber.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I Have Now Reviewed All Ring ni Kakero Video Productions... But Could More Be On the Way?

With Manga DVD Ring ni Kakero reviewed I am now 100% done with reviewing Ring ni Kakero on this blog. I've reviewed all five anime productions (all four TV series & the Pilot), I've reviewed the sole video game based on the series, I've reviewed this not-quite-an-anime production, and I've ever given an overview of the beginning of the manga the anime skips over. Quite honestly, the only other Ring ni Kakero-related production there is is the Image Album that was made back in the early 80s. but it is literally just a vinyl record (& later CD) with a series of songs and that's where I draw the line at reviewing stuff on this blog. OK, there is Ring ni Kakero REAL, a Japanese reality show where hopeful boxers were apparently promised a contract if they won or something like that, but I don't have access to that show, and even if I did I wouldn't watch it. I could talk about Ring ni Kakero 2 as well, but I only have 8 volumes of the manga, so it's useless for me to talk about it. Still, next month will be Jump Festa 2012, which takes place from December 17-18. At the past two Jump Festa's new seasons of the Ring ni Kakero 1 anime series were announced, so there's a possibility that a new season could be announced this year as well.

There are some things going for it: Next year, 2012, will the 35th Anniversary of Ring ni Kakero's 1977 debut in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, so it would only make sense to celebrate that with a new season of the anime. Also, the "Masami Kurumada Project" that was announced at Jump Festa last year seems to be more than just Sekai Taikai-hen and the upcoming Saint Seiya CG-movie, as Kurumada himself said on his personal blog that Saint Seiya Senki, the Musou/Dynasty Warriors-styled PS3 game, is also part of the Kurumada Project,  not to mention the Chinese-developed Saint Seiya Online PC game, the upcoming musical based on the first Saint Seiya movie, the new Seiya Pachinko machine, and the new Cloth Myth EX series of collectible figures. Yeah, Saint Seiya is 99% of this Kurumada Project, but it shows that Kurumada's creations are in overdrive right now, so having a new season of Ring ni Kakero 1, even if its only another six episodes, would be awesome.

Manga DVD Ring ni Kakero: New Cast Sound, Same Series Smell

Anyone who reads this blog should know that I am a giant fan of Masami Kurumada's Ring ni Kakero. Though you can classify it as a sports manga & anime series, specifically boxing, it's over-the-top style also makes it more of a shonen action/fight title, in the vein of Dragon Ball, Fist of the North Star, and One Piece. Understandably, there are people who prefer to have realism in stuff like this, and I do enjoy those kinds of titles as well, but to me Ring ni Kakero is simply 100% concentrated fun and entertaining all the way through. Like I mentioned in the last review, when Shadow Entertainment and Sony Pictures Entertainment teamed up to make the Manga DVD series, Ring ni Kakero was chosen as one of the titles to be used. Coming in at a little over an hour in length, Manga DVD Ring ni Kakero (it uses the logo style RnK2 introduced, but doesn't have the "1", oddly enough) is the shortest of the three productions, and in some ways it does suffer a little because of that. Still, it's definitely an interesting piece that shows off how the series was adapted before Toei started animating it.

There's no real need to go into a full-on synopsis here, as Manga DVD Ring ni Kakero adapts the World Tournament Chapter, much like this year's Ring ni Kakero 1: Sekai Taikai-hen did. Instead, I'll bring up the parts that are the same and the parts that are different. The Manga DVD adapts the fights against Team France, Team Germany, and Team Greece, skipping out entirely on the beginning of the story arc as well as the fight against Team Italy. Since this is only about an hour long, this adaptation is very fast-paced, with fights going from start to finish like lightning when compared to how Sekai Taikai-hen adapted them. Admittedly, I don't really understand why this Manga DVD is only slightly over an hour long, while the other two (Kyoufu Shinbun and Sanctuary) are in the 80-minute range. Having it be this short results in some little portions of story being cut out, making this not as approachable for newcomers, and the fights definitely can go by way too fast, but that was probably the main idea anyway. Outside of the Super Famicom game, this was the first time the manga was adapted into a production with voice work, so they made it for pre-existing fans who simply wanted voices to go with some of their favorite scenes. But even with this shorter time, the Manga DVD does actually adapt two small scenes that the anime would skip over, both involving Team Germany; the first is a scene where Helga meets Team Golden Japan Jr. and then brags about how his country's style of data-based boxing is the future of the sport while the second scene is simply a moment where Scorpion and Ishimatsu trade some trash talk right outside the ring. They're not big scenes, but it was still cool to see that they were adapted in some way.