|The Plot: In the first movie Harem Bomber, a man known as Slum King controls the lands and doesn’t take kindly to Violence Jack stepping into his territory. Jack does battle with some of Slum King’s men and they are separated, but Violence Jack has his eye on the Slum King. At the same time as this is happening, a young girl named Mari is kidnapped by the Slum King’s men and is sent to a sex camp to live her life as a slave. Her boyfriend Ken however, who she hasn’t seen since the great earthquake that destroyed Japan, is now a member of the Slum King’s army and will look to rescue Mari from this horrible situation. In the second entry in the series Evil Town we are introduced to an underground civilization that has been split into three sections. In one group there are the respectable men from older Japan who want to establish order, in the second there is a violent biker gang lead by the psychotic Mad Saurus and in the third section all of the women have separated themselves from the other groups due to their being raped. When the respectable men discover Violence Jack amidst all of the rubble, it creates a new tension between the three groups as to who will control Violence Jack. In the final movie Hell’s Wind Hin we see a small village in the desert wastelands who are being tormented and tortured by the psychotic biker gang The Hell’s Wind. Violence Jack, always looking for a challenge, introduces himself to the bikers but is gunned down. However, bullets are not enough to actually kill Jack. He just needs time to recuperate. Along the way he’ll seek the aid of a young boy who simply wants to hide from the villains, as well as a young woman who had everything she has ever loved ripped away by these evil men. Will the forces of good prevail?|
In the field of Japanese anime I am still very much a ‘noob’. At this point in time, I still have not seen anything from director Hayao Miyazaki who is the undisputed king of the Japanese animation market. My brain, when it comes to anime, is still very much stuck in my past. A past that was shrouded in a bizarre fascination with violence and insanity. As a younger man I finished off the classics, such as Vampire Hunter D, Akira and Ninja Scroll. However, the world of Japanese animation is an impenetrable force for me as it is simply so huge! There are animated series to wander through, tons of OVA (original video animation, straight to video anime) releases and so forth! It is a difficult and vast genre to try and wrap your head around. So, the anime titles that ultimately end up drawing my attention may not be the very best that the genre has to offer, but they are usually pretty fun! In the case of Violence Jack, ‘fun’ may not be the best description!
The brain child of controversial manga artist Go Nagai, Violence Jack is just another one of his violent, subversive and cruel creations. There are three separate OVA titles that I will be reviewing here and they are some of the most disturbing anime titles I have ever seen. These mini-movies almost make the Legend of the Overfiend series look normal in comparison! And that is a series about demons raping humans! Violence Jack takes you into a world that is dark and pessimistic, where ignoring common morality ends with the wholesale slaughter of any person on screen. Set in a desolate wasteland that used to be Japan (as is so often the case with anime titles), these titles absolutely wreak havoc on your brain as you watch them one after the other. Regardless of the possible depression or disgust you may feel afterward, there’s no getting past the fact that the Violence Jack has power behind it. It’s an absolutely brutal piece of animation and today I plan to take a look at all three titles. All three films being reviewed are from their uncut form.
VIOLENCE JACK 1: HAREM BOMBER
The first entry into the series establishes the world in which our stories take place and it also introduces us to Violence Jack himself. The funny thing is that with each successive feature, Violence Jack changes as much as the scenery does. Truthfully not a single entry in the series is connected to any of the other titles. Each time Violence Jack simply wanders into a situation and with him, violence comes to pass and destroy everything around him. This first entry in the series is ultimately the tamest by comparison in terms of exploitation and gore, but it certainly has its moments of bloody violence. Jack slashes and hacks through his enemies with his gigantic blade, making his way to take on the Slum King himself! The love story that blossoms throughout is interesting and we are given our first look at the interesting moral dynamic of the Violence Jack series.
Each feature in the series has its own moral guideline and message that it delivers by using some pretty extreme parables. Ultimately this first film is about doing what is right and being considerate towards others, a theme that pops up throughout the OVA’s and likely the original manga as well. Each film shows us the sins of our characters and ultimately shows us that their crimes will not be forgiven and their repentance comes in the form of a ten foot tall giant who kills them in brutal fashion. It is hard to detail the exact scene that justifies the moral judgment that the film makes, but I will say it comes near the end of the movie and a lead character refuses to repay Violence Jack’s kindness and instead chooses cowardice. This ultimately leads to this character’s death and brings about the end of our first foray into the world of Violence Jack.
Overall Harem Bomber is likely the most ‘fun’ you will have in the series, since the gore and rape is scaled back to only minimal levels. Well, keep in mind that when I say ‘minimal’ that still means we get graphic lesbian rape and various women being beaten with whips. I give this entry a three out of five, as it truthfully lacks the intrigue that later episodes bring about. Instead we’re given a rather generic post-apocalyptic adventure story that is pretty common in the world of Japanese animation.
VIOLENCE JACK 2: EVIL TOWN
And oh buddy, this is where the audience really decides whether or not Violence Jack is for them or not. This is where the series takes its audience directly into the mouth of hell. Ironically it does so while showcasing a group of underground dwellers! Evil Town is easily the most vile of the series and the most well known due to its extremely graphic nature. In terms of violence and sex, it is nearly pornographic in its display of both. In fact, in the sex that is shown you might as well call it pornographic since the sex is as explicit as you could possibly make it in Japan. With mosaic blurs placed over all of the crotches, of course! There is a fairly infamous sequence during the middle of the feature where we finally discover that the seemingly normal males of this underground society actually gang raped all of the women after putting them to sleep. The rape sequence is of course shown in graphic detail with various sexual positions run on various women, while they shout and scream in agony. It is at this point that we are truly welcomed to the world of Violence Jack.
Keeping in tune with the mythos that was detailed in the first movie the film sets itself up with a relatively simple formula. When Jack comes to any town and his violent ways are flared up ultimately all involved will die or destroy themselves. He is essentially a walking curse and in this underground society that means the three classes fighting with one another will ultimately destroy one another as you might have guessed. However, once the violence starts to roll you’ll be surprised at the amount of atrocities you will witness. A room full of children is turned into a slaughter house as they are stabbed and slashed to death right before our eyes. Another rape sequence pops up that is even more graphic than the first and the infamous cannibal sequence may just turn your stomach. Evil Town is as nihilist as the series could possibly get and it may be the most shocking anime feature you will ever get your hands on.
However, while it is most certainly a gory and sadistic entry into the series, it continues that same bizarre moralistic approach to the material. This time the story deals with man’s intolerance and the responsibility of those who are stronger. Where these men should be minding over the women, protecting them from wrong, they instead give into their base emotions and ultimately pay the price for their sins. Had the three groups been able to peaceably live with one another and had Jack there to help them escape, all would have survived but instead they sealed their own fate. This very simple morality tale once again leads to a slaughter unlike you have ever seen. I think the extreme parable works well however and the levels of depravity that the feature takes on may hide its moral compass, but I like that and think it makes the movie all the stronger for it. Easily the best of the series, I give it a four out of five.
VIOLENCE JACK 3: HELL’S WIND HIN
In the final installment of the series, we start things off with an extremely brutal bit of gory violence in order to let the viewer know exactly what they are in for. Showing a young man and his wife being chased down by a biker gang known as Hell’s Wind, we see as he runs over a member of the gang in his pursuit to outrun them but he is soon forced out of the vehicle and is brutally murdered. How is it done? With a chainsaw of course. This bit of chainsaw carnage takes the intensity of the scene from Scarface but amplifies it by adding this extremely gory violence. While this happens though, it shows the world in which Go Nagai crafts for his audience. There is no escape, there is no hope for a hero to show his face and stop this atrocity. We are simply forced to endure the cruelty of man.
When the story takes on its Seven Samurai inspired plot, things slow down a bit but without the complication of too many characters (as was displayed in Harem Bomber) the story remains interesting enough to keep our attention. The violence of course doesn’t stop during this period, as we see the Hell’s Wind break into this town and begin their extreme torture and brutality on the innocent civilians of this community. Humans are decapitated, bodies split in half and intestines are thrown around like confetti. It’s a pretty brutal sequence, but after the chainsaw scene and the immense brutality of Evil Town it is hard to feel much of anything. Yet, with all of this extreme cruelty, overall Hell’s Wind Hin certainly feels like the most positive feature in all of the series. It also dissolves the myth of Jack being a cursed being who brings nothing but death to the lands, as the ending to this feature is slightly more positive in its outcome than the previous features. However, with the amount of antagonism that was on display in Harem Bomber and Evil Town that can mean just about anything.
The bad guys are literally bad in this entry and the decent people truly are decent, which is certainly a turn around from Nagai’s previous two films which essentially showed the better part of humanity as pond scum. Despite its twists in the format of the episode, it still retains the morality tale as we see that man’s indifference towards evil ultimately proves to be an evil all to itself. As the little boy in the story seems to learn, we must all find the courage within us to fight off whatever evils we may confront in life. When we ignore those evils, we pave our own road to hell in essence. While this may not prove to have the power that Evil Town proved to have, I still think it’s the second best of the series due to its change of pace. It’s a nice way to end the series and takes away some of the depressing sting that the other two films had. I give it another four out of five, although if I did half-stars I think it would be in the 3.5 range.
This series won’t prove to be for everyone. It’s a dark and morbid curiosity for those looking to see the darker side of Japanese animation, but at the same time I think it proves to be an interesting assortment of ideas that could prove to be a more intelligent output than some would give it credit for. However, I could just be crazy and I’m rationalizing my enjoyment for a series of films so disturbing and horrifying. I have no shame though, so you should know better. If after reading all of this you still hold some interest, then perhaps you are the type of person who can handle Violence Jack. If you’re feeling a little queasy after reading about the various atrocities though, then maybe not! I have no doubts that his films are certainly better pieces of artistry. If you’re looking for sleaze instead, this is the place to find it!