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Holy Trinity of Suck: Mad Bull 34

Count Zero's part one of a three part rant

Previous guides on Anime Vice have covered the series and franchises that we all come to know and love – Dragonball Z, Patlabor, Love Hina, Code Geass, and so on. This guide is not for series like those. Here, in the spirit of Tom's recent review of Street Fighter Alpha, I'm going to take a brief glance at three OVA series by creators and directors of much better series, who failed in their outings:

These three works make up what is known as the Manga Video Holy Trinity Of Suck – so named by Daryl Surat of the Anime World Order podcast.  Follow Daryl Surat on twitter: @DarylSurat

Mad Bull 34    


  Art this bad is not a harbinger of good things
  Art this bad is not a harbinger of good things

Mad Bull 34 was born out of a manga created by Kazuo Koike, who not only created the series Lone Wolf and Cub, but also was one of the most successful artists to come out of the Gekiga movement in the '70s and '80s. At the time Koike started Mad Bull 34, he had come off of a string of successes with Samurai Executioner , and Lone Wolf and Cub , as well as other period pieces (along with the script for the film Lady Snowblood ). This was not, however, Koike's first attempt at a modern series – his extremely obscure (and currently impossible to find) manga adapting The Incredible Hulk for Japanese readers came out earlier, but did poorly enough that it was not collected into a Tankobon.

The Story

Mad Bull 34 is set in New York's “toughest precinct”, the 34 precinct (for those unfamiliar with New York, it's the precinct right next to Harlem), and follows Japanese-American rookie cop Daizaburo "Eddie" Ban on his first tour out of the academy, working with John “Sleepy” Estes, aka Mad Bull.

The Characters




 From Left - Eddie, Mad Bull
From Left - Eddie, Mad Bull

John “Sleepy/Mad Bull” Estes could be summarized as a combination of “Popeye” Doyle from The French Connection and Dirty Harry, cranked up to 11, and interpreted by a writer who could watched both films, didn't quite grasp their plots, but did understand the action of the films. Estes is an out-and-out pimp, but it's okay because he runs a free STD clinic and a battered woman's shelter. Estes and his fellow police officers regularly gun down criminals with a regularity that even Harry Callahan would be taken aback by.

Daizaburo "Eddie" Ban fits something of the archtype of the young, inexperienced rookie cop who rankles under his new partner's “creative” methods – which wouldn't be that bad, but instead of warming up to Harry Callahan, he's warming up to Mad Bull.

Why It's Bad


 Hysterical and traumatized women abound
 Hysterical and traumatized women abound

Aside from the absurd violence, the misogynistic portrayal of women (just about every female character in the film either has been raped, will be raped, is saved from getting raped, or is a whore), the work manages to spoil some of the potential of an amped up loose-cannon cop series. Internal Affairs makes no appearances to attempt to investigate Estes corruption. We don't even get a “Your Badge and Your Gun” moment. I'd compare this to a more bizarrely violent and misogynist Out for Justice. Mad Bull has plot immunity from any real repercussions for his actions. While Harry Callahan occasionally has to turn in his badge and gun, and even James Bond occasionally gets his licensed revoked and has to fend for himself.

The fact that the series was only released dubbed in English doesn't help. The actors doing the voice acting were, reportedly, from the UK, and simply weren't able to consistently maintain even a generic New York accent, much less Brooklyn, The Bronx, or elsewhere.

Whatever Happened To...

Kazuo Koike – The advantage to anime adaptations of your stuff that you're not too involved in, is that if it sucks, the failure isn't left hanging around your neck. Koike would follow Mad Bull 34 up with what is quite possibly an even more gonzo modern action manga – Crying Freeman . Currently he's working on a second Mad Bull series, titled Mad Bull 2000 .

Satoshi Dezaki – From what information is available, Dezaki didn't direct any other significant series after this. He came in the director of They Were Eleven, several episodes of Rose of Versailles, but his career suffered after this.

The License – The series was originally released on VHS by Manga Video, and they apparently considered doing a DVD release, but ultimately chose to let the license lapse. Presumably the VHS tapes can be found online and at conventions, if you're really looking for a train wreck. 

 
Come back tomorrow for, Violence Jack!  

Alexander Case (Count_Zero) writes about science fiction for Bureau42.com when he isn't writing stuff here, and he can also be found on Twitter (@Count_ZeroOR)
EquitasInvictuson March 28, 2011 at 3:44 p.m.
Reading this, I realized that "Mad Bull" is the name of one of the drinks in a Persona 3 FES vending machine (I've been very recently playing through it). I wonder if they were referencing this? I wouldn't be able to tell if the actual producers or the people localizing it named it, though.  
 
Interesting article - it's always nice and interesting to "embrace the suck" this extensively!
Vinceborgon March 28, 2011 at 3:54 p.m.
@EquitasInvictus:
Persona 4 references a lot of weird stuff. Like one of the shadows is named "Rash Panzer", what I presume to be a reference to a totally forgettable 80's metal band of the same name.
 
I like the concept of this. I'm always interested in learning about the worst of anything.
EquitasInvictuson March 28, 2011 at 3:56 p.m.
@Vinceborg: Do you think those references are a result of actual Japanese Atlus producers or the localization teams they employ to translate things having a sense of humor? I was never sure of the names of shadows/items were always English from conception. 
Vinceborgon March 28, 2011 at 4:10 p.m.
@EquitasInvictus: 
Its hard to say. Bizarre sounding stuff like Autonomic Basalt make me think translation. But then items with puns like "Goho-m" make me think they made it up from scratch. I'm not sure.
Kuma_From_Argentinaon March 28, 2011 at 5:29 p.m.
I throwed up after watching Violence Jack, Really I did, the OVA were the bandits are terrorizing people underground made me puke my lunch and breakfast, anybody that saw it is going to give me the reason, is the most awful piece of animation ever made...
DocHauson March 28, 2011 at 6:44 p.m.
Wasn't Mad Bull a boxer you fought in Punch-Out? Or was that his cousin? I can't remember.
Count_Zeroon March 28, 2011 at 8:40 p.m.
@DocHaus said:
" Wasn't Mad Bull a boxer you fought in Punch-Out? Or was that his cousin? I can't remember. "
That was Bald Bull and he was meant to be, IIRC, a Turkish Stereotype. Mad Bull, on the other hand, is meant to be Popeye Doyle as played by Gene Hackman, as interpreted by someone with no comprehension of English* watching The French Connection, and then cranked up to 11.
 
*Not saying that Koike has no comprehension of English, but this is my best guess on how this character could come about. All the bits that make up your standard loose cannon cop are in the character, but amped up (running a prostitution ring instead of sexually harassing prostitutes, etc.) and with odd twists.
Shadoestaron March 28, 2011 at 9:15 p.m.
This was a show I watched in my early days of anime fandom. It was featured prominently in a trailer for other Manga Video titles at the beginning of my Ghost In the Shell VHS (The first anime I ever bought back in 1996). I thought it looked pretty cool, so I bought the first volume of Mad Bull 34. I still consider it a miracle that it didn't scare me away from anime permanently.
zaldaron March 28, 2011 at 9:54 p.m.
I don't know this is bad...but is it really worse than puni puni poemi?  I don't know haveing never seen any of these.  The fact that even here (where there seems to be at least one person that likes everything) no one has come out to defend it though is telling...
teekomeekoon March 29, 2011 at 12:10 a.m.
I remember hearing about Mad Bull, specifically that it was god-awful, a long time ago when I was just starting to watch anime on the regular. From this article I can tell it was no real loss to my new hobby that I went with Cowboy Bebop to nurture my current tastes. 
 
Also, no offense to the writer, but maybe he/she should send his work to a copy editor, or maybe ask Pinchuk to look it over, because there are a lot of small errors. I make similar mistakes when I write because I'm in a hurry to get all my ideas down, so I'm not trying to be a dick, just offering a little friendly advice.
Mechanical_Apeon March 29, 2011 at 3:08 a.m.
@EquitasInvictus:  I'm pretty sure Mad Bull in P3 was a reference to the drink Red Bull. All of the drinks in the game are modified version of real world drinks, like Nastea (Nestea) and Moonkist (Sunkist).
Godoton March 29, 2011 at 3:57 a.m.
@Mechanical_Ape said:
" @EquitasInvictus:  I'm pretty sure Mad Bull in P3 was a reference to the drink Red Bull. All of the drinks in the game are modified version of real world drinks, like Nastea (Nestea) and Moonkist (Sunkist). "
Don't forget Starvicks. I think it's described as a mix between coffee and cold medicine.
Karkarovon March 29, 2011 at 4:41 a.m.
Haha I have seen this series and like alot of anime that made it over stateside at that time it is most definitely crap.  That said plenty of others are worse.  I can think of a couple off the top of my head in fact such as "Judge" and "Venus Wars" (pretty sure that was the name) which make Mad Bull 34 look almost good.
 
Also this most definitely was not getting referenced in persona.  I somehow think it is more likely to be a spoof of "red bull", what with that actually being an energy drink and all.  Also at Atlus I can just about guarantee it was the localization team that came up with it.
SilverZeoon March 29, 2011 at 7:39 a.m.
I remember seeing clips for this, swearing every 10 seconds and putting South Park to shame...
Count_Zeroon March 29, 2011 at 4:08 p.m.
@Karkarov: I don't disagree that there are other series that are also incredibly bad. The thing with the Manga Video Holy Trinity Of Suck is the pedigree of the work.
 
Mad Bull 34 is by the guy who created Lone Wolf and Cub, Samurai Executioner, and who wrote the screenplay for Lady Snowblood, some absolutely fantastic manga, an equally fantastic film, and (in the case of Lone Wolf And Cub) both. After this he'd create Crying Freeman, which while it's still bizarre, is also better then Golgo 13, by one of Koike's contemporaries.
 
Violence Jack, on the other hand, is by Go Nagai, who practically re-invented the Super Robot and Magical Girl shows with Mazinger Z and Cutey Honey (respectively).
 
The next series, Angel Cop, is from a who's who of top animation talent.
 
Oh, and also, the Manga Video Holy Trinity Of Suck was also all licensed by Manga Video. The three series you listed were by Central Park Media, which I could probably get a whole other series out of with the two series you listed (Venus Wars, Judge), plus The Humanoid, M.D. Geist, and... a fifth series or movie.
bybeachon March 30, 2011 at 8:47 a.m.
I enjoy readung about things i will never search out on my own. to be honest I do not follow Anime really, i'vesimply seen Akira and some rather interesting Dice and Slice heavily plotted movie once. 
 
It seems obvious to me,and I think the writer of this that someone outside our culture..and the reverse would be true also and has happened, would miss the true drive and direction of many potrayed 'bad cops'  They go to their extremes because ultimately they are uncorruptable.. Futhormore they may be working under some kind of serious personal defect, The Heroin Smuggler in the French Connection was simply  more intelligent than POpeye.. For Dirty Harry, it was that only Evil seemed to work in his desperate attempt to protect ppl. from a supremily evil Serial Killer. But neither remotely did evil as a means to benefiting themselves, and in fact it was obvious how it hurt them. But both were so motivated that they were willing to do whatever it took, whatever it f***ing took!  Corruption as an accepted profitable sideline in and of itself was furthest from their minds. Though as a means to an end..... thus the mythos at least.
Karkarovon March 30, 2011 at 9:29 a.m.
@Count_Zero said:
" @Karkarov: I don't disagree that there are other series that are also incredibly bad. The thing with the Manga Video Holy Trinity Of Suck is the pedigree of the work.  Mad Bull 34 is by the guy who created Lone Wolf and Cub, Samurai Executioner, and who wrote the screenplay for Lady Snowblood, some absolutely fantastic manga, an equally fantastic film, and (in the case of Lone Wolf And Cub) both. After this he'd create Crying Freeman, which while it's still bizarre, is also better then Golgo 13, by one of Koike's contemporaries.  Violence Jack, on the other hand, is by Go Nagai, who practically re-invented the Super Robot and Magical Girl shows with Mazinger Z and Cutey Honey (respectively).  The next series, Angel Cop, is from a who's who of top animation talent.  Oh, and also, the Manga Video Holy Trinity Of Suck was also all licensed by Manga Video. The three series you listed were by Central Park Media, which I could probably get a whole other series out of with the two series you listed (Venus Wars, Judge), plus The Humanoid, M.D. Geist, and... a fifth series or movie. "
Oh god no, please do not review MD Giest!!!!  That said I always found it odd that all the people I knew who liked anime told me to watch it and how great it was.  Standards were not very high back then ;p.  Coincidentally I also know a guy who loves Violence Jack and thinks it is great.  Stressing the word "thinks" in that sentence. 
inkwolfon March 30, 2011 at 7:41 p.m.

Also, this: http://www.giantbomb.com/edi-e/94-259/    
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