The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Violence Jack

Title: Violence Jack
Genre: Action/Horror
Company: Dynamic Planning
Format: 3 OVA
Dates: 9 Jun 1986 – 9 Nov 1990

Synopsis: Civilization has been brought to its knees by a catastrophic event, and in the aftermath of said event, roaming biker gangs control the world through fear and violence. Those unfortunate enough to be neither among the dead nor the bikers hide in tiny communities underground. One day, while attempting to dig their way out of the rubble, one of the aforementioned communities digs up a huge monstrosity of a man, our hero, Jack. A man with the strength to overthrow the bikers, and protect those who cling to civility and the idea of society.

The Highlights
Art: For the most part ugly, but it portrays the setting well and isn’t the worst thing to come out of the eighties.
Gore: Rampant, over-the-top, and largely pointless.
Setting: Unoriginal, uninspiring, and as hopeless as the rest of the show.
Political correctness: Refreshingly lacking.

I often dip into the great abyss of those shows that are so bad, they’ve been forgotten for the good of all who knew of them. The reason I do this is because the contrast it provides with better series makes them more enjoyable to me. I thought this would be the case with Violence Jack, but I have reason to believe it may have destroyed my ability to feel happiness or enjoyment. This is perhaps the worst anime I’ve ever seen, one of the only pieces of media I’ve ever seen with no redeeming factors of any kind. It is dull, offensive, cliché, poorly executed, and outright atrocious.

The series centers around three short stories with only two things in common: Jack is one, and the other is pointless dismemberment. This is a prominent problem with the series. It happens early in the series, and over and over again throughout the remainder of Violence Jack. An episode will open with a chase sequence culminating in the graphic execution of a man by way of a chainsaw. Another episode will have ten full minutes dedicated to a city of people of all walks of life being executed in various ways. Why? What purpose do these scenes serve? What were they meant to accomplish? One has to wonder what the writer thought this would add to the series.

Yet another issue is the stiff animation. Although the art isn’t awful for an older series, the animation is subpar even by the standards of the mid-late eighties. Fights are slow, lumbering, and dull. Chase scenes manage to produce no suspense whatsoever on account of the stiff, lifeless movement. Strange motions and awkward expressions mar the ”emotional” moments, although even if the animation were perfect they’d still be pointless. Drama serves no real purpose but to fill screen time, when used in a series with such hopelessly dull and underdeveloped characters. At no point did this show manage to elicit a single scrap of emotion from its audience, nor should it have attempted to.

But perhaps good pacing and an imaginative story can make up for the negatives of Violence Jack? Unfortunately, the disgrace of a story this abomination is supported by is as rickety as its series. It’s an uninspired attempt at the all-too common post-apocalyptic plot. It offers little in the way of creativity and originality, and its pacing doesn’t help either. The pacing is among the worst I’ve seen, at times it was simply torturous waiting for the plot to progress, at other times it went so fast with so little explanation I couldn’t understand how we’d gotten from one part of the story to another. Perhaps there would have been time for a better, more coherent story if so much screen time weren’t used for the execution scenes.

Maybe there’s some greater meaning to it all, some clever underlying theme, some kind of bold social commentary. Somehow I feel I’m missing something, but it’s more likely that Violence Jack is as terrible as I think it is, and I just don’t want to realize it. But whichever one it may be, there isn’t a doubt in my mind that Go Nagai considers this series to be his greatest regret. It’s uninspiring, offensive, pointless, and utterly without merit.

The Rating: 1

Reviewed by: CNile

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