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:
Mad Bull 34
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.
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.
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
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)