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A comet strikes Earth and causes a chain reaction of other cataclysms. In Japan, the fault line gives way in the mother of all earthquakes, while the long-dormant volcano Mount Fuji erupts in a spectacular cloud of ash and lava. Survivors trapped in the Tokyo subway system turn into savage tunnel tribes. Gangs of motorcycle bandits roam the land in search of resources. And through the midst of it all walks Violence Jack, a mountain of a man with superhuman strength, inhuman fangs, and absolutely no scruples. Jack is an elemental force, wandering the desolate land like hell's own lawman, coming to the rescue of the assaulted, raped, and injured survivors, but not before the camera has permitted us a long, lingering look at their torments. These include stabbings, shootings, eviscerations, chainsaw decapitation, and someone eating his dead lover.
Often thought to be an inferior remake of Fist of the North Star, VJ actually predates it, starting as a 1973 manga in Goraku magazine, as the sequel to Go Nagai's Devilman. The video necessarily condensed much of the epic original (Nagai's longest) into a broader, more basic, and much less shocking package, though it remains extremely violent and nasty even when censored-the U.K. running time is considerably shorter than the original. The lead character, with "the strength of a gorilla and teeth of a wolf, blood boiling with the fire of prehistory," is named for the huge jackknife he carries, and the anime focuses on his volcanic nature rather than the tangle of subplots and reincarnations of the manga. The basic postapocalyptic plots of the video version (with knowing winks to Mad Max) were originally intended to have some internal coherence but were released in the wrong order outside Japan. The first episode, showing the comet hitting Earth and explaining that Jack is the personification of the Grim Reaper, born from a mound of skulls, is actually Slumking, which was inexplicably the last episode to be released in the English version. To be fair, the muddled running order hardly makes any difference. The then boss of U.K.'s Manga Entertainment, Mike Preece, coined the term "beer-and-curry movie" for those anime destined to be watched by a group of inebriated teenage boys in search of sex and violence, and VJ is exactly what he meant. Those with higher hopes for the anime industry find the show embarrassingly infantile, including the English-language voice cast, who all appear to be using pseudonyms. LNV