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Welcome to the dark side, faithful Vicers!
This week, we’re plumbing the depths of depravity to bring you the finest in blood-spurting, entrails-spilling and eyeball-gouging. Those of you with weak stomachs may want to opt out, right now. For the rest of you sick puppies? Strap yourself in for a stomach-churning ride!
NUMBER FIVE == BERSERK
We’ve talked about BERSERK on the TOP 5 before, but no list of ultra-violence would be complete without this love letter to blood-geysers.
Things get over-the-top, sure, but believe it or not, the violence is actually in service of the story here. BERSERK’s story is one of intrigue and betrayal, full of complexity and subtle character relations... but also a ton of dudes getting chopped into pieces, stabbed, crushed, and eaten.
C'mon - - the hero of this show is named Guts! That pretty much says it all.
NUMBER FOUR == KITE
Be careful with this one - - the uncensored version is pretty vile.
I happen to think the version without graphic sexual sequences and tricky-ness is preferable, but I don’t know what you guys are into.
KITE is full of great action sequences, and some pretty shocking twists. The basic premise is a pretty standard: kids enlisted as assassins get into mischief and shoot a bunch of guys with special exploding bullets. This just happens to be one of the best examples of this age-old trope, though!
The colors, movement and crazy sequence of events are all top notch. In one particularly intense assassination-gone-wrong-in-a-bathroom, Sawa winds up pushing a man out a window and riding him all the way down to absorb some of the shock. Pretty awesome stuff.
NOTE: Fans of No Doubt may recognize this stunt from their “Ex Girlfriend” video, which fairly accurately recreates much of the scene (READ: rips it off entirely, right down to that stupid yellow suit).
NUMBER THREE == GENOCYBER
Another entry from the "wildman" days of the OVA, GENOCYBER is straight-up crazy bullshit from the creator of the one and only M.D. GEIST. Shockingly, the first GENOCYBER OVA is actually kind of okay - - somewhat concerned with emotional motivations and even telling a story. Who'd have thought it, right?
From there? Well, things kind of go to hell.
Another way of looking at it - - the creators of the show stopped lying to themselves and started embracing what they were really passionate about. Namely, insane-o violence. After freeing themselves from the shackles of “engaging storytelling” and “ coherence,” things really come into their own.
GENOCYBER is almost an art experiment seeking to push the boundaries of good taste and what an audience can stand. I mean, this show includes an uncomfortably long shot of some kids getting blasted apart - - it is some messed-up shit!
NUMBER TWO == 3X3 EYES
There may be a bit of a bias here, as 3X3 EYES was one of my first forays into the weird world of anime in the ‘90s, but it’s also a standout. The ultra-violence is built into the story this time, though - - I swear!
Our protagonist Yakumo has become stricken with immortality and, much like how detectives always seem to stumble across a murder case, he's always ambling into a horrible, blood-curdling accident.
3X3 EYES encompasses a pretty fun manga series and a nicely-adapted couple of OVAs. The latter has nice production values and a cast of likable characters. It feels a bit like "RANMA + monsters + gore." There’s plenty of adventure and traveling to mysterious foreign locals, as well as a bunch of demons and magic and... well... more eyes than usual.
There is tons of blood, but it’s actually often played for comic effect. There’s perhaps something a bit disturbing about this relaxed attitude to blood and guts, but it certainly lessons the impact. It’s somehow a pleasant story, despite everything, and I think that’s due in no small part to the strength of its characters.
Or maybe it's due to me a sick and desensitized? You decide.
NUMBER ONE == DEVILMAN
Once again, DEVILMAN comes out on top. This guy is the shit. He's at least 50% pure evil, and while he seems to be dominated by the heroic spirit of Akira Fudo, he definitely delights in death and destruction.
DEVILMAN has been around since the early '70s, with a wide variety of tones (the TV show is hilariously cleaned up and, for some reason, makes him green?). The OVA's from the ‘90s are pretty true to the spirit and events of the crazy Go Nagai comics, and they also happen to be entertaining as shit.
Sadly, this particular OVA is only two parts, leaving out the bonkers "Apocalypse of depression" at the final chapter. Part One's animation is dated, at times, but mostly quite strong; and its noticeably improves in Part Two, rendering all the gore so much competently. In fact, some animators from Studio Ghibli worked on it, so maybe there's even a hint of magical whimsy to the ultra-violence.
And yeah, there’s blood. And demon parts everywhere There are also some images you’ll never forget - - like boob-mouth, for instance!
DEVILMANis pretty shockingly violent at times. I wince about it, even now, in my crusty, old, desensitized state. It does actually support the story and general feel of the universe, though.
Bonus points for the horrible/wonderful dub, with mispronunciations galore, including Dante of Dante’s Inferno pronounced “Dan-tee,” and Miki pronounced “Mickey.” Come on, guys. Come on.
Then there’s AMON: APOCALYPSE OF DEVILMAN, A.K.A. "Akira Fudo Visits Bummersville, Population: Everybody Dies." This shit. This shit, man! Brutal and shocking. Not nearly as good as the earlier OVA's, but surprisingly true to the ending of the comics!
Still, I would have loved to see how the ‘90s team handled this subject matter...
In conclusion, Go Nagai is a real piece of work.
So, there they are! Five, excellent cartoons to satisfy your lust for blood, you sick little freaks.
Now, go ahead and let me know what your favorite blood and guts anime are. Feel free to get mad about the absence of ELFEN LIED, and write about it in the comments section below (you won't change my mind, though).
Alex Eckman-Lawn is an illustrator and comic artists from Philadelphia. Check out his site - - alexeckmanlawn.com - - rumble with his Tumblr - -dudenukem.tumblr.com - - and hit up his Twitter: @alexeckmanlawn