Violence Jack, originally published as a manga in 1973, was shonen back when shonen included the likes of demons, torture, rape, mass murder, cannibalism, and gore. Stuff that would be classified outright adult only in today’s age of anime and comics. Originally created by Go Nagai, considered by many as the “king of shonen,” the Violence Jack franchise was ported into anime form in the form of three movies. The first movie Slum Kings aired in 1986 with the subsequent titles Evil Town and Hell’s Wind being released two years later.
As far as the movie trilogy is concerned, there really is no over-arching story. The premise takes place in a post apocalyptic world, the cause of which is not really delved into. What matters is that the world as we know it is now in a state of absolute chaos and anarchy. Biker gangs and slum lords rule the wastelands. Many people are forced to live underground. Villages and communities scattered throughout the Earth live in constant fear of kidnappers and criminals.
As always, from Itano’s directorial history, we can expect distinct character designs with a terrible scripting and plot. Violence Jack himself looks very much like Marvel’s Sabertooth from the X-Men. He uses a jack knife to rip people to shreds, barely speaks, and has little depth to his character. We are led to believe that Jack is supposedly on the “good” side of things, a hard sell considering his raw brutality when disposing of his victims.
An interesting literary development is the evolution of the old western setting to the post-apocalyptic. The western novels and films of old are characterized by a lack of authority, law-enforcement, and the general freedom to roam the land. In such an environment, strength is the only determining factor. The western has very much lost its place in the modern age of film and television. However, the disappearance of the western has given rise to the emergence of the “post-apocalypse,” a fascinating correlation to say the least. Violence Jack, for its time, employed an idea and premise that was quite new for a shonen manga series. It wasn’t revolutionary by any means, but it is still a historical point in Go Nagai’s career. Too bad the anime is utter failure.
Final Thoughts: 3/10
Those looking for a grim-dark violent packed series that happens to take place in a post-apocalyptic setting, Violence Jack definitely fits the bill. It doesn’t get more violent than getting one’s intestines torn through the pelvis then eaten while being raped. Despite all the negative aspects mentioned hitherto, what really destroys Violent Jack in the end is the extreme nihilism. Nothing good ever happens to any of the characters. There is no one to root for, not even Jack, who is supposedly the “hero.” Overall, the movie trilogy is simply too little entertainment for too much time spent.