Mad Bull 34
Another "dust collector" sample. By that I mean another aged video tape that has spent the last several months lurking in the dark corners of dodgy video libraries. The sort of tape that will be thrown away when the place closes down or they actually realise they still own something like this.
The story is set in the far off exotic lands known as America. A land of freedom and wealth, and also a land of crime caused by those who like the freedom but want a lot more wealth. And the worst, most crime riddled area, is the infamous 34th precinct. Sex, violence, drugs and gangsters are rife in this area, and the cops seem able to do little more than hold the line. Although the cops do have Mad Bull, a walking mountain of a man who's rough and tough enough to stand up to any crim. With his diminutive side-kick diazaburo he's out to kick some lawbreaking ass.
Normally the synopsis goes for two paragraphs, but this one doesn't. Part of the reason is that I've only seen one of the 4 OAV episodes since I've only ever found one tape. A more relevant reason is that the story is about that simple. This show is no dramatic masterpiece, it's much more about some Japanese writer thinking how cool it would be to do an American cops and robbers anime. Exploring the whole brutal and violent aspect of American culture that no doubt fascinates some segments of the Japanese population.
The most immediate failing of the show is that the author obviously didn't have many other ideas to exploit. The characters are just entirely ridiculous. Mad Bull looks like some sort of malformed village people reject. His partner Diazaburo, a very young guy with a Japanese heritage, is a weak character who ends up being comedy relief or the whiny voice of normality. Neither of them feel even remotely like cops, there's no suggestion of law, of logic, of discovery, it's all just an excuse for car chases and gun fights. It's precisely the sort of cops and robbers story a hyper-active 12 year old comes up with.
Childish impulses continue down darker avenues. Violence, sex and depravity are all here. Partly it's because these things are also fascinating to the immature mind. However I also got the feeling they're here because the basic story and character work is so damn boring. I expected this to be low-brow and perverted, I didn't honestly expect it to be so simplistic, slow moving, and dull. You really get the feeling that they added the "adult" content as much out of desperation and lack of imagination than anything else. I even suspect the dub plays up the foul language, either that or the original script is really weird, in an attempt to make the title seem more mature and racy than it really is.
Ultimately the lack of skill, depth and conviction renders even this material more annoying than upsetting. If they'd wanted to do a "nasty" video it has to be backed up by the story and character to give power to the adult content. The most this can manage is a sort of mundane yuckiness. For example in episode 2 we get to meet an attractive female detective. She never really gets to exist as a real character because it's obvious she's just a requirement for other things things only females can do. In other words she's solely there to be raped, abused, groped, lusted after, threatened, rescued and married. The immense artificiality of it all, her entire absence of character and the way the story is more an excuse for the writers feeble imagination rather than something of value in its own right, means the whole experience is just empty, grubby and desperate.
Any possibility of interest in the title, which in all honestly is pretty hard to imagine, is then dealt with by the action. The animation is bad, which I'll mention later, but the design is worse. In one scene Mad-bull takes 6 bullets to the ass, which seems only to annoy him and cause him to spout little "mini-geysers" of blood. Shouldn't 6 bullets sort of incapacitate him? What weird sort of human anatomy bleeds like a blood balloon with a hole in it? and why does he carry grenades attached to his pubic hair? And then after a short stay in the hospital with a bandage he's fine again? The action is just downright stupid. It has no energy, no logic, no sense of reality and absolutely no imagination.
The production is also distinctly average. The character design is simplistic and derivative. Linework is reasonably complex but the coloring is drab and the motion is far from smooth. It's most unimpressive when it comes to depicting action though with the frame count rapidly dropping to single frames being jerked around in front of the camera. The weird "physics" of this world comes out again, tables and grenades performing neat but strangely bloodless decapitations? It's not such much a technical failure of the animation, it is watchable, as a lack of care or originality in the design and direction. The voices are massively unsubtle, but only actually bad for the lesser characters. I didn't really notice any music to speak of.
A title with much better animation than the idiotic concept, terrible writing and shallow characters deserve. The essence is a rather odd Japanese vision of the "mean streets" of lawless America. But because that was boring, or because they're not very imaginative, it ends up being stupid violence or sexual perversion. We follow the physically imposing Mad Bull who has no respect for the law, decency any sort of reality normal people might recognise as he battles the baddies.