Violence Jack Anime Review
US Release By
3 approx. 55-min volumes
1986-06, 1988-12, 1990-11
The world has fallen into ruin, and the remnants of humanity fight brutal gangs and the most vicious parts of human nature to survive in this world gone mad. Onto this scene walks Violence Jack--a man with no past and a talent for one thing: Survival.
Violence Jack, other than providing one of the best cheesy dub lines ever ("I'm Violence. Violence Jack."), is an appropriate title for this Go Nagai series. Three short stories following a really beefy guy that got dug up in the ruins of post-apocalypse Tokyo, Violence Jack is thin on plot, thinner on logic, and (surprise, surprise) very, very, VERY violent.
From various forms of torture and rape, to man's inhumanity against man, to a showdown between Jack and another big, bad dude that is so bloody the entire thing is rendered in sketchy line drawings on an entirely red background, this is one series that won't disappoint gore fans. From my point of view, though, it doesn't live up to Nagai's reputation, or even the sadistic fun of your run-of-the-mill splatterfest movie. Most of the violence is brutal and unpleasant, rather than spectacular and gory, aiming entirely for shock value.
Let's also not forget the savage misogynistic streak: Essentially every male in the series makes a hobby of raping and usually also murdering anything female in sight, and a number of the uglier women do as well. The primary exception is, of course, Jack himself, who just kills everybody who isn't pretty. Come to think of it, maybe it's as insulting to men as it is degrading to women. Maybe it's just intended to offend everybody.
Still, although it makes for a terrifically bad plot, the gaping logic holes and downright silly situations could provide some fun to hecklers. Things like, say, the fact that Tokyo was apparently destroyed in a massive earthquake, but everywhere else Jack goes is a Mad Max-esque hell, too. Or, better yet, Jack's combat style, which consists of of standing in one place letting the bad guys shoot him for about fifteen minutes. (If you're wondering, he proceeds to bleed for a while, then comes back a few days later to kill them all instead of act as a target.)
All in all, I find Violence Jack one difficult series to recommend--it's sloppy, silly, willfully offensive, and outright unpleasantly violent. There are gore fans out there (you know who you are) who'll probably get a kick out of it, but this is not among Nagai's best, or even his most enjoyably bad.
Notes and Trivia
Based on a comic series of the same name by Go Nagai.
Was available in the US from Manga Video on subtitled and dubbed VHS (in both uncut and edited forms), all of which are now out of print. Manga released a DVD version in the UK, but has not done so in the US as of this writing.