Dream (Level 21)

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I guess I can say Happy Valentine’s Day in light of my “love” for today. I had this planned out for the past month considering I wanted to kill some time since I’ve been in a pit of a rut lately with finding good anime to watch. But does this mean I will return to doing Ani-Crap on a regular basis? I’ll let you folks decide on that. Pepper me on my Wall or with PMs and there’s a chance Ani-Crap may come back from the dead if I get enough support. In the mean time, on with the review.

Mad Bull 34 was a four-episode crime action OVA that was released from December 21, 1990 to August 21, 1992. It was based on a manga series written by Lone Wolf and Cub creator Kazuo Koike and illustrated by Noriyoshi Inoue for the seinen magazine, Weekly Young Jump, from 1986 to 1990. The series was animated by Magic Bus, who outsourced much of the animated work for Mad Bull 34 to be handled by studios in China and Korea.

Mad Bull 34 was released dubbed on VHS in the 1990s by Manga Entertainment, who lost their licensing rights to the series years later. Discotek acquired licensing rights to the series last year and plan to release it on DVD with both the original Japanese audio and Manga Entertainment’s English dub later this month on February 26.

The Plot


Daizaburo Ban is the newest recruit in the New York Police Force’s toughest precinct, the thirty-fourth. He becomes the partner of John “Sleepy” Estes, a cop with no regard for the rules as he violently dispatches criminals (even for minor crimes) and runs his own prostitution ring. While Daizaburo hates the reckless conduct of his partner, he comes to learn of Sleepy’s good side as the money earned from his prostitution ring is used to benefit a home for victims of rape and battered homes, as well as a clinic curing STDs. The two team up to tackle the crime-infested streets of their precinct.

Notable Characters (from left to right)

  • John Estes- Known as “Sleepy” by his friends and “Mad Bull” by his enemies, John is a giant of a cop known for going above the law in his fight against crime in the 34th precinct with his violent execution of criminals and running a prostitution ring. Despite this, he has good intentions with his actions as his “creative” methods of fighting crime help to greatly reduce criminal activity in his precinct.
  • Daizaburo Ban- Nicknamed “Eddie”, Daizaburo is a Japanese American who is the newest recruit to the 34th precinct and becomes Sleepy’s partner. While at first disgusted with Sleepy’s lack of regard for police protocol, seeing his partner’s good intentions lead Eddie to warm to Sleepy’s methods of fighting crime.
  • Perrine Valley- A lieutenant for the precinct introduced in the title’s second episode who helps Eddie and Sleepy with their missions. Becomes a love interest to Eddie.

Why It Sucks

Mad Bull 34 is rather infamous among anime fans for its graphic content and unflattering depiction of 1980s era New York City.

Criminals killed off throughout the series are all offed in some over-the-top graphic detail as gun shots are shown to blow off limbs and make heads explode. It is also rather misogynist as nearly every woman in the series is either a prostitute or winds up being a victim of rape.

Another overkill moment brought to you by Mad Bull.
Another overkill moment brought to you by Mad Bull.

The creators of the OVA also didn’t seem to be well versed in knowing of life in New York City or didn’t seem to care at all. The criminals seen throughout Mad Bull 34 are rather bizarre and over-the-top or strongly stereotypical. Examples of criminals you can expect in the series include a cyborg Mafia boss; two armed robbers decked in Jason masks, tight jean shorts and roller skates; and a gang of Chinese assassins prone to committing kamikaze attacks on their targets.

Yes, they're dressed as nuns. And no one one bothers to ask about Sleepy sticking out so much.
Yes, they're dressed as nuns. And no one one bothers to ask about Sleepy sticking out so much.

The show’s efforts to paint Sleepy as some sort of Dirty Harry-esque character are also rather ridiculous. The guy pulls off stuff that Harry Callahan wouldn’t dare to pull in his movies as Sleepy is regularly seen screwing the prostitutes of his ring and commits enough ridiculous acts such as blowing up a gang of Mafia thugs with grenades attached to his pubic hairs and instructing Eddie to comfort a traumatized female victim by literally sticking a finger up her ass. Worst of all, Sleepy never gets any kind of repercussions for his actions as being presented photo evidence of his actions isn’t enough for his seemingly inept superiors to punish him in any way.

Manga’s English dub for Mad Bull 34 is also worth mention for the title’s infamy. Dubbed at the company’s UK branch, the voice actors are quite inconsistent in the delivery of their lines as they go in and out of delivering horrible New Yorker accents and usually get quite deadpan in the speaking of lines. Not to mention that you can expect regular use of graphic language that wasn’t found in the original Japanese version of the series, another instance of Manga trying to make a horrible anime more edgy to Western audiences with regular use of cuss words.

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