Note: This review is part of an event called "The Nine Hells". This is Day VII (The Circle of Violence) and contains mild spoilers. While this doesn't give everything away, your discretion is still advised.
"Violence Jack" is a series of 3 30-60 minute standalone action OVAs about a enormous and rugged man weilding a jacknife that aims only to kill his targets and nothing else. These three tales are also on all of those unfortunate enough to be near him or his targets.
Storylines (In Release Order)
The Harlem Bomber / The Slum King While all of them don't have a set goal or much of any structure to the stories at all, each of these three stories are their own entities. Starting off in order with "The Harlem Bomber", also known as "The Slum King", Jack's lore of being the spirit of death made human is introduced alongside the sub-plot of a tragic tale between one of the sex slaves of The Slum King and a lover that got lost after the disaster that turned part of the Earth into a wasteland. The sub-plot ended up proving to be nothing but fuel to the dark action elements and nothing else of note while the main plot of Jack fighting The Slum King serves it's purpose. The ending to that of course, has ended up spreading a few unanswered questions involving Jack with that very scene. This still goes double for the chronological ordering since this was supposed to be the third and final OVA of said order and makes the ending even more contrived.
Evil Town This is the first OVA in chronological order and the second in release order. Thanks to Jack's return from being buried in rubble, he now has a clear goal to deal with the three districts after the Kanto Earthquake of Hell did unfathomable damage to a city now known as "Evil Town". (And it lives up to it's name.) The overall plot is once again very minimal and adds to the increasingly intense shock factor and action scenes, but Jack ends up being given the clear goal in the process after meeting all three districts. While the ending to the ordeal is more clear and conclusive than The Harlem Bomber after Jack's last battle (which gets shoehorned in alongside some of the more graphic and harrowing events), it still leaves off with some unanswered questions that will be completely ignored at this point like in the previous one.
Hell's Wind The last story in release order and the second story in chronological order. This time, it was set up to be a bit like a revenge story like the Hollywood movie "I Spit On Your Grave", but it only served as a tiny sub-plot for one victim-turned warrior and some of the Hope Town characters as said town gets ran ragged by a biker gang. This story is the most incoherent of the trilogy and it really shows as it's all a setup for Jack to destroy the attackers in crazy, inhuman ways with the revenge aspect being set aside due to one of the most illogical sequel-bait endings any piece of media can offer. (Or so it seems due to the order of the releases.) Just like the other two, this takes itself way too seriously in terms of the setup-heavy content when the selling point was just the action scenes and nothing else. On the bright side, this whole trilogy was a fitting ode to the ultraviolent exploitation films that this work was influenced by in the terms of all three stories.
Characters There are three groups of characters that are about in the universe of Violence Jack: - Group A: The cartoonishly-made villains and thugs (men and women alike) that brutally murder, rape and destroy anything and everything in their path. This includes Violence Jack's final bosses. - Group B: The hapless and helpless victims of Group A. - Group C: The people that decide to fight back against Group A, failures and certain demises be damned. Some Group B members end up joining this group for revenge against Group A while Violence Jack also falls under this from the first appearance on.
Our titular anti-hero, Violence Jack, is actually treated as a side character to all three stories up until his pivotal battles against the thugs of Group A that oppose him. And since lores of him are very minimal as well (other than using violence with a jackknife) in the entire trilogy, he is just an plot-armored anti-hero with one dimension and nothing more than a thirst for the blood of predators, especially to those that have not read the manga counterpart that these OVAs are based on. The other characters that were focused on for the time allotted until Jack's meddling are developed very poorly and ends up serving very little purpose or memorability as they end up falling into either of the three groups with the majority of the ones on Jack's side falling into either Groups B or C.
Pros and Cons Yes, this is a section of mostly cons here. In the neutral side, this has plenty of brutal action scenes to go around for those that are into blood and gore, but those that aren't are already going to have a tough time with the three OVAs anyway. The negatives only pile on here for the squemish because this whole shebang has some of grotesque imagery, high amount of graphic rape scenes (which go triple for the case of "Evil Town") and one scene where cannibalism takes place in detail. Speaking of visuals, the art style is very rough and fitting for a dark action series thanks for it retaining the style for Go Negai's manga version, but although it looks good on mostly everyone except for some select characters (one child from Hell's Wind has the face of a man in his mid-thirties), it has not aged well, even when the footage got remastered.
The animation is below-average looking for the non-action scenes and is quite static at times while the action scenes do have enough movement and effects to only get bumped up to the average area in the case of Evil Town and Hell's Wind. Harlem Bomber however, still has a lot of static moments within the OVA's action scenes. The music on all three OVAs are nothing special either since they sound very generic even for music from the late 1980's. Lastly, there is an interesting alternate way to view all three stories (as pointed out earlier) in a chronological order that is used in the home video releases on most countries outside of Japan, whom used a release date order for the OVAs instead in their case. Although the direction makes it way more consistent, it doesn't fix everything else wrong with it all.
English Dub and Sub Comparison/Evaluation Although both have quite the amount of flaws, the English dubbed version prevails over the subbed version, which has a myriad of grammatical errors and choppy translation even though it is the more authentic translation thanks to the localization of the English dub. The dub omits the name of the "Kanto Earthquake of Hell" and the other Japanese locations of note and throws in a lone movie star reference or two in the case of "Hell's Wind". And while there is at least some bad language about for the subbed version, the English dub's localization extensively uses the practice of "fifteening" (when a English dub for an anime uses a lot of hard cuss words to bump up the age rating) to be more fitting to the show's exploitation movie vibe while already being quite cheesy. While all of the voices for the Japanese dub fit the characters, the same does not go for the English version as many characters, especially Violence Jack sound off while some still maintain fitting voices in case of the many thugs in the show.
Final Verdict After checking out all three stories and realizing that my attempt to sound less like a monster in the character analyses since The Circle of Limbo onwards fell apart (It was still a good idea for a list of characters that I despise (or are just bad in general)), Violence Jack manages to do it's job of providing mindless entertainment. However, said entertainment is very harrowing, especially for those with not-as-strong stomachs and it's enough for me not to recommend this to anyone, goremonger or otherwise. This gets the fitting Absolutely Apocalyptic rating and now that The Circle of Violence has broken up, even more crushing pain awaits in the next circle where those that have ruined people's lives with lies and bubblegum pop music are awaiting my descent into their putrid realm.
Current Situation: I wanted another excuse to use Enterprise as an avatar again.
Old Man Dream: I'll keep that in mind, then, especially when another event or a special day. I seriously couldn't pass the opportunity to have Violence Jack represent The Circle of Violence at all and I'm actually glad that I did due to how it turned out when I wrote this.
Current Situation: I wanted another excuse to use Enterprise as an avatar again.
Taka: I see. A global release will benefit it. Gundam did pretty good. The only few franchises that are only popular in Japan but not popular in the west - Yokai Watch comes to mind.
Apr 10, 2021 1:55:16 GMT
Master Menos: F for Respects. DMX did all his work while suffering from a drug addiction, and I almost never knew until a point. I hope his next life treats him far better.
Apr 10, 2021 15:30:45 GMT
HungryWorld: Sorry for taking so long for the things i have to do, have been suffering from some health issues (including mental health deterioration). Anyways hope i can be a bit more active here soon enough once i am properly patched up again.
Apr 27, 2021 17:45:38 GMT
Taka: No worries, health, family, school, and work take priorities first.
Apr 28, 2021 7:41:52 GMT