Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan Anime Review
Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan
Death-by-club Angel Skull-chan
US Release By
Extreme Love Comedy Parody
4 25-minute double episodes
2005-03-12 - 2005-09-22
What's In It
- Angelic Assassins
- Baka-hammer violence made real
- Innuendo so blunt it's not innuendo any more
- Mohawked Bondage Angels
- S&M Jokes
- Violence: 4 (heavy)
- Nudity: 2 (moderate)
- Sex: 4 (heavy)
- Language: 2 (moderate)
Sakura is an entirely average junior high student by anime standards: His parents aren't around much, he's sweet on schoolmate Shizuka, and he lives with an angel named Dokuro. Ok, not quite average. Dokuro, an assassin sent from the future by God to stop Sakura from unintentionally creating eternal life, wields the huge spiked bat Excaliborg, and has a habit of killing Sakura in fits of rage, then bringing him back to life with the magical incantation "Pi-pirupirupiru-pi-piru-pi." Then even more angels from the future start showing up. Unlike most anime guys, however, he actually has reason to lament his predicament.
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The endgame in the arms race of ever-more-extreme parodies of the "normal kid stuck with crazy supergirl" genre, Dokuro-chan is equal parts schoolyard comedy, South Park, Fist of the North Star, and "My eyes!" In addition to the graphic answer to the rhetorical question "What would happen if comic violence actually did as much damage as it should?" it also features a wide range of dirty jokes and innuendo so blunt it's not really innuendo at all. On the down side, the unsympathetic characters, jerky humor (it periodically tries for something more "subtle," meaning sort-of-straight "drama"), and outright offensive material makes it as easy to cringe at as laugh. The American cartoon-style exaggerated visuals are also thoroughly unpleasant, and the decision to do a South Park-style "paste a photo on a hand-drawn-body" running gag doesn't help, either.
Whether you'll find it hilarious or just be left wishing you could bleach the horror from your eyes is going to depend a lot on taste. At best, probably both.
Full ReviewSwitch to Quick Review
Equal parts schoolyard comedy, South Park, Fist of the North Star, and "My eyes!", Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan is the endgame in the arms race of ever-more-extreme parodies of the "normal kid stuck with crazy supergirl" genre. It's also a graphic answer to the rhetorical question "What would happen if comic violence actually did as much damage as it should?" As for whether you'll find it hilarious or just be left wishing you could bleach the horror from your mind, that's going to depend a lot on taste. At best, probably both.
The concept, to be sure, is good stuff. Baka-hammer-made-real violence aside, the idea of someone who accidentally creates eternal life in an attempt to produce a pedo-paradise ranks among the better excuses for an angelic assassin that I can think of. Nor does it waste any time getting going--the story takes up midstream, around what would be the third or fourth episode of the sort of series it parodies. Good call, since you already know exactly how that sort of thing always plays out, and there's little continuity or logic to it anyway. If only the rest of the execution (pun intended) had been as good.
Dokuro-chan distinguishes itself thusly: It is spectacular in the level of offensiveness (and not just gore), ranks high among anime in gross-out humor, and has one of the most unsympathetic title characters in recent memory. Dokuro herself is a parody of the hotheaded cutie taken to the limit, which in this case is interpreted to be incredibly violent both by accident and quite intentionally, fiercely annoying, and frankly devoid of any redeeming qualities whatsoever. There's nowhere near enough substance in the series to pay attention to motivation, but if you did it seems pretty clear her reason for not killing Sakura (er, not killing him permanently) is so she can continue to brutalize him for fun. That is, I suppose, somewhat amusing.
Generic nice-guy Sakura is, for his part, pragmatically afraid of her most of the time, but also lecherous on occasion. This keeps him remarkably likable, until he abruptly gets sympathetic toward a vicious sociopath. This is, I assume, supposed to be a parody of guys soft on girls with no redeeming qualities, but frankly just seemed a little weird since she has nothing going for her. Speaking of which, the more subtle parody segments--meaning relatively straight "drama" not intended to be taken seriously--are somewhat less horrifying than the rest, but so much lower-energy in comparison that it felt like a letdown. They also just aren't that funny.
The other significant characters are Sabato, the unapologetically murderous "backup angel" who turns into a conglomerate of woe, and Sakura's "regular" girlfriend, the serene Shizuka. The former is almost as fiercely annoying as Dokuro (though ironically ends up the most sympathetic character in the series), and the latter is pleasantly demure but has almost no personality at all. The rest of the supporting cast are pretty much just jokes with a face.
Or, in some cases, a pasted-on animal head. In a rather weird artistic decision, when some classmates get permanently transformed into animals, the animators just slap a South Park-esque cut-out photo of the appropriate animal head onto the regular animated body. Not that the series had any continuity anyway, but that broke things up visually without much apparent benefit--I ended up going "huh?" instead of laughing at where they went with the joke. Then again, maybe the jokes were so lame they figured that'd take some of the pressure off.
Lame, and dirty. Oh, there are a couple of actually clever bits of humor, and a few more bits of the backhanded sort that register after a moment or two. But for the most part the mode of operation is blood-spraying slapstick first, gross-out bodily function humor second, completely random deviant sexual behavior third, and fill in whatever's left with offensive free-association and "Huh?!" Among other things, it gives Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei a run for its money in the "most random Admiral Perry reference ever" competition, as well as some out-of-nowhere (and oh-so-dirty) Kafka references. Pretty well-read for something so abjectly idiotic. (On the note of unexpected references, it also has a few jabs at Kim Jong Il and even a brief potshot at the Bush bulge of all things.)
The best bits are probably Sakura frantically describing (in graphic detail) either what Dokuro is about to do to him, or is in the process of doing to him on- and/or off-screen. Usually while something else is going on, totally ignoring his predicament. (In fact, the closest thing the series has to clever humor is the ongoing joke that nobody but Sakura cares about Dokuro's horrifying behavior, and the universal lack of sympathy for his situation.)
The rest is more like playing Google Seppuku--eventually, something will have you wishing you'd never started. On that note, I'd warn you to avert your eyes every time the pervy teacher or punk angel-dude Zansu are onscreen, but by the time you realize it's usually too late. I will also note that in the space of 30 seconds it managed to permanently ruin The Dog of Flanders for me.
Even setting aside the animal photos, I didn't care for the visual design. In particular, the exaggerated character animation is very American-cartoon-style, which is to say extreme and rather unpleasant-looking. When it's not being intentionally ugly, it has an appropriately bland, pleasant look that works much better for the humor to play off of, and the production values are on the right side of average. There's certainly no shortage of gore, though a lot of the time it's so exaggerated that it takes some of the punch out of the violence. Ironically, had it been more toned down it probably would have been funnier, if even more horrifying.
The intro, incidentally, is the best part. A saccharine song full of badly-sung nonsense performed by Saeko Chiba as Dokuro, it's exactly what you'd expect in a generic comedy. Until, that is, the lyrics start waxing increasingly violent, and the visuals in the background get increasingly more disturbing. Bonus points for the sequence of Dokuro dancing around cheerfully and doing the splits while twirling her massive, spiked bat. Aside from that intro and the disappointing, mournful outro (also sung by Chiba, this time not in character), the remainder of the background music is mostly just functional. There is one weird, wailing vocal theme that gives a nice surrealist air to some of the more bizarre non-sequiturs, though.
The Japanese voice acting is... well, just about right. Saeko Chiba as Dokuro sounds sickeningly cheerful at all times, while Sakura, voiced by Reiko Takagi, is the standout--a broad range of pleasant everyguy, drooling, hormone-blinded everyguy, and impressively high-speed freak-outs. The supporting cast is nondescript but similarly appropriate (if cursed with some annoying vocal tics). AnimeWorks' subtitles, however, are rather weak; there are a few translation errors, some cultural stuff goes unexplained, and they're marred by typos. Worse, they're all in one color, which can get very confusing when there are two people talking over each other (something that happens frequently).
In all, Dokuro-chan is a spectacle of a parody: Incredibly violent, almost as dirty, and absolutely horrifying. If your sense of humor is warped enough, you may well get some laughs out of it. The unpleasant cartoon visuals and scattershot gags let some of the air out for me, and I found myself wishing I had never turned it on just as often as I was laughing. On the bright side, the sequel is significantly better, if even worse.
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Fans of the most disturbing and offensive segments of Family Guy would feel right at home here. In terms of anime, Excel Saga--particularly the "no holds barred" 26th episode--is the only other parody on the same scale of violence and dirty jokes, though Excel Saga is more scattered and hyperactive. The Ping-Pong Club, while a somewhat different kind of humor, is similarly horrifying. There are, of course, countless examples of comedies of the sort that this parodies, of varying levels of quality and humor balance.
Notes and Trivia
Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan is based on a series of light novels by Masaki Okayu, with illustrations by Torishimo. In addition to the two short anime adaptations, there are also a couple of short manga versions, and a visual-novel-style game for the PS2. The anime adaptation was written and directed by Tsutomu Mizushima, who's mostly known for directing; his most notable directing credits are probably Genshiken and its unrelated spin-off the Kujibiki Unbalance TV series.
The series consists of four episodes, each of which is made up of two mostly-unrelated sub-episodes, a la early Urusei Yatsura.
The series was, somewhat surprisingly, shown on TV, with some of the most offensive material (both violent and sexual) replaced by a censor screen. The US DVD release is sans-censorship.
Dokuro means "skull," particularly in the sense of "skull and crossbones." Obviously an appropriate name for the title character, and also explains the skull mark in the series' logo (and on her underwear). Sakura's name is probably something of a joke as well, since it's usually a girl's name, and he isn't exactly the most manly guy. For her part, Shizuka's name roughly translates as the appropriate "quiet flower."
The mohawked angel Zansu's name is also a joke related to a particular speech pattern that ends sentences with the unusual "to be" verb "zansu." He of course speaks this way, leading to particularly weird-sounding sentences when he introduces himself. He also uses English pronouns, a common trait of incredibly annoying characters of the sort.
Sabato's name is also a joke--that's the Japanese word for the Witches' Sabbath, a theoretical Satanic ritual.
Sakura's track suit on the camping trip says "loli" and "kon," of course meaning "Lolita" and "Complex" (or, more accurately in spirit, "pedo" and "phile").
Some of the various anime references include: In the first episode Dokuro pulls out a manga that notes some of the most obvious series of which the show itself is a parody--Urusei Yatsura (supergirl, normal girl, and dirty guy), Doraemon (character from the future living with a normal boy, like Dokuro), and one in-between that I don't recognize. Later, there's a horrifying reinterpretation of The Dog of Flanders (the famed French tragedy is quite well-known in Japan, in part because of a very popular classic anime adaptation). A variety of anime references pop up in the dark woods--a rather evil-looking Doraemon again (he also shows up in the 2nd series' ending), Miyazaki's Moving Castle, as well as folks from One Piece and Nurse Witch Komugi-chan.
Non-anime references include Gregor Samsa from Kafka's "The Metamorphosis," the Bush Bulge from the 2004 election debates (still reasonably topical at the time the series was released), a potshot at the sort of wacky trivia the Japanese news tended to report on related to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, a brief appearance by Michael Jackson, and of course the ever-present Admiral Perry. Their school, the St. Guernica Academy, is a reference to the famous painting by Picasso, symbolically depicting the horrors of war. Oh, and Dokuro's pillow is illustrated with what appear to be positions from the Kama Sutra.
I could be mistaken, but the random insertion of Admiral Matthew Perry in this series (and others) was probably inspired by a not-really-animated Japanese-language Flash short that made the rounds a few years ago featuring "Perry" whining in humorous, English-accented monologue about opening Japan to the outside world. It was followed by an even more random sequel of him berating a girl he's trying to teach piano; I expect this latter short is to blame for the references.
Perry, if you're unfamiliar and don't want to bother with Wikipedia, was sent in the mid-1800s by the US government with a small naval armada to essentially threaten Japan into re-opening relations with the outside world after two centuries of extreme self-imposed isolation. One of the original examples of literal gunboat diplomacy, his exploits in part lead to the Meiji Restoration and the transformation of Japan from a feudal society into a modern industrial nation. He is well known in Japan for obvious reasons, and his popular image is one of both a brutish outsider and sort-of-savior. None of this, of course, has anything to do with his appearance in this series, other than (I think) those classic Flash shorts sticking his barely-animated image into incongruent situations.
US DVD Review
AnimeWorks' 2-disc DVD set is cheap, functional, and that's about it. It includes this series in its entirety on the first disc and the short sequel series (reviewed separately) on the second disc. Each has Japanese stereo audio, a soft English subtitle track of below-average quality as mentioned in the review, and acceptably clean video. Interestingly, the video on this series is interlaced, while the second disc, with the sequel, has no visible interlacing at all (although the video itself doesn't appear to be encoded progressive).
There's no dub (the amusingly minimal Setup screen consists of a single button, for the subtitles--"on"), and the only extra is clean opening and ending animations (they're on the second disc). On the plus side, the case is single-sized so it's easy on shelf space (the printing on the discs themselves is also unusually nice-looking--very cel-like).
The box's claim of "12 episodes total" based on the sub-episode count of eight in this series and four in the sequel; in terms of "chunks with opening and end credits" there are only six.
There is also a more recent "Special Edition" version, which adds an English dub and nothing else that I can discern.
Leaving aside the unsettling fact that all of the characters are only in junior high, the combination of graphic violence, explicitly lewd behavior, and dirty jokes easily qualify for the 16-up AnimeWorks tags it with.
Violence: 4 - Fountains of blood and gory chunks abound, although it's so exaggerated it takes some of the punch out.
Nudity: 2 - It technically doesn't show anything detailed, but that's not saying much.
Sex/Mature Themes: 4 - Everything from blatant groping to graphic dirty jokes involving both genders and a variety of perversions.
Language: 2 - There isn't much swearing, though the descriptions can get relatively graphic.
Available in North America from AnimeWorks on a subtitled-only DVD set or a bilingual "Special Edition" DVD set, both of which include the sequel series as well.
At last check RightStuf carried both, at the same price (a pretty steep discount): Sub-only, Hybrid Special Edition. As usual Amazon lists it new and used as well, though it was more expensive than RightStuf at last check: Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-Chan (sub-only), Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan Special Dubbed Edition.