A series of natural disasters has reduced the world to rubble, with the survivors doing whatever they must to survive in a world gone mad. But one young boy, Kakugo, gifted with amazing martial arts and a superpowerful suit of armor by his late father, has been charged with making the world (or at least his school) a safer place. But his sister has a matching set of skills and equipment, and she`s on a mission to bring peace to the world... by wiping out humanity!
Apocalypse Zero is an anime that lives up to its name. Zero merits, zero reasons to watch it, zero out of ten.
The rating system thing doesn't allow me to assign zeroes and I don't like numerical rating in general because I don't believe that a complex opinion such as a review can be properly simplified with math. However, I will talk about numbers and reviews here. Numerical ratings of anime are approximately earned with merits. Everything the show does to advance its entertainment purpose raises its number. That is why my real overall rating for Apocalypse Zero is zero. This show literally goes nowhere. I
gained nothing but despair in watching this, and I would have better spent my time looking at a blank monitor, which would have earned the same score (so shouldn't the rating really be -1/10?)
Apocalypse Zero is an anime without a purpose. Every show ever made, no matter how poorly, should at least have a purpose, a direction that the show explores into. Some way of entertaining its viewers. Make them laugh, cry, scare them, tell a story, give them suspense, have them relax, something cathartic so that people want to watch. The only purpose that I can even guess at for Apocalypse Zero is to make the viewer close his or her media player.
I will be able to give more insight into the show if I cover everything that the show is deficient in. First, Apocalypse Zero is without reason. There is some kind of plot, involving two siblings and the premise that the world has ended and people have to survive. The lack of elaboration about why or how the world has ended intends to add some mystery into the show. The biggest mystery, however, is how they managed to get the likes of Yamadera Kouichi (Spike Spiegel) and Ogata Megumi (Shinji from Neon Genesis Evangelion) to star in this show. This already shallow plot is poorly developed because of paper-thin characters that do not possess a shred of believability. It's hard to care about plot or themes or things dying when you literally do not give a scrap about anybody that appears in the show. Apocalypse Zero is also without mercy. Have you noticed that when you watch really good anime, the episodes feel like they are 5 minutes long? Apocalypse Zero is the longest hour of my life. I swear, dentist appointments just breeze right by compared to watching this anime, which manages to start absolutely putrid and somehow become astronomically worse. Why? Because most importantly, Apocalypse Zero is an anime without shame. Pointless gore for the sake or pointless gore. Ugly, eye-killing vulgar nudity for the sake of, what I suspect, making the viewer suicidal. It becomes quite evident after the first episode, and mindblowingly obvious by the end, that Apocalypse Zero's directing lacks discipline in any form. Elfen Lied was gory but it contributes to the anime. You can even say the same for things like Dokuro-chan (it adds to the silliness and humor, I guess). Apocalypse Zero screams terrible choices when it comes to design, directing, storyboards, plot, pacing, and art. This anime is far beyond terrible. This anime is insulting.
Let me take a brief tangent and talk about an anime called Mars of Destruction, the lowest ranked anime on MAL. I appreciate it much more now. It's fun to watch. It's fun to point out the cliches and mediocrity. It's funny to laugh at the near comical miscues in directing. Clowns are funny because they act silly. They splash pies on themselves and fall off unicycles, a la Mars of Destruction. Clowns are not fun when they attack you with a sledge hammer and try to rape you, a la Apocalypse Zero. Mars of Destruction is the lowest ranked anime on MAL because it doesn't do anything right. In comparison, Apocalypse Zero not only doesn't do anything right, it seems to go out of its way to make sure everything it does has to be so overboard, so nonsensically inane, that one would suspect making terrible anime is a competitive art. You know what? Apocalypse Zero wins.
Apocalypse Zero is a completely insane, surreal and over the top Kamen Rider-esque OVA based on a manga by Takayuki Yamaguchi, the artist of hyper-violent yet wonderfully drawn Chanbara manga Shigurui: Death Frenzy. It is also one of the most absurdly loathed pieces of Japanese animation of all time, especially among English-speaking anime fans - there is something about this OVA that has a very special effect on anime reviewers and manages to send them on indignant nerd rage frenzies like no other work. To most viewers, it is to anime what The room is to cinema, or more accurately, what the pixely rape simulator
Custer's Revenge is to video games - a work that is not only devoid of any talent, skill or effort but also, in the eyes of many people, a disgusting and irredeemably vile story that anyone with a hint of taste and common sense should deride and vilify to no end.
Just HOW bad could this OVA's content be if a viewerbase normally accustomed to shameless, gratuitous sexuality and strange fetishism being passed off as thought-provoking means of storytelling, very young children being sexualized and even such tropes as *justified rape* is left completely repulsed by it? I'm... not entirely sure, but I'll try my best to figure it out.
This post-apocalyptic tale focuses on two young martial artist siblings: the calm and determined Kakugo and the feminine, elegant and frankly crazy Harara. They inherit two all-powerful armors containing the souls of the many, many people who have given their lives for their creation. Although the armors were initially intended to be weapons of mass destruction designed for World War 2, they were passed down to the two brothers by their father slash mentor as a means of taking out evil, grotesque mutants and defending the innocent. Harara, being generally batshit insane, eventually grows up to become a psychotic rebellious misanthrope and comes to the conclusion that erasing humanity from existence and preventing it from harming our pure, beautiful Mother Earth any further would be a far better course of action. After going through a seemingly random body and gender change that is only explained in the manga, Harara hijacks one of the suits of armor before their training is complete, takes out his/her father and has a quick one-on-one fight with Kakugo, which the latter instantly loses in a very odd and disturbing way that no normal human could ever survive. But naturally he does, and it's up to him to defend innocent bystanders from crazy monsters and his insane transgendered sibling while also dealing with the standard day-to-day anime high school life (yeah, they all live in a hyper-violent post apocalyptic world... but why should that get in the way of education?).
OVA-wise, that's... pretty much all there is to the backstory. While the manga contains many lengthy flashbacks to explain the history of the armors and further solidify the characters as being crazily awesome, the anime simply uses the main premise to deliver plentiful amounts of crazy violence, sexual humor, mindless surrealism and pure, unadulterated badassitude. The entire two-episode OVA is simply a series of silly high school segments, followed by a scene of the Monster of the Now preying on the innocent in excessively violent ways (an infamous scene involves a massive, fat dominatrix mutant squeezing a young girl to death with very graphic results, taking her boyfriend back to her place and quite literally KISSING HIS FACE OFF), only to eventually have to face the righteous ass-kicking of our obscenely powerful hero in increasingly strange, hilarious, and dare I say it *freaking awesome* one-on-one battles.
I'll try my besy to not spoil the rest, but please note that this is not a show for the faint of heart - if you can't deal with gallons of graphic cartoon gore, this OVA is not for you. Even then, if your inner 13 year old who still laughs at immature sexual humor is long-dead, this OVA is not for you. If you think a pointless scene of a 10 year old female character taking a leak all over the floor or masturbating in the shower counts as valid character development and yet find the idea of a monster attempting to take out the main character using an attack named "Double Tit Bomb" inherently insulting to your intelligence as an anime connoisseur, this OVA is not for you. If you view anime as a refined artistic medium and the mature, thought provoking equivalent to Western cartoons (which are nothing but insipid children's entertainment in comparison) your pretentiousness and sheer nerdiness have reached critical levels to the point where you will surely never feel the touch of a lover's hand (and also, this OVA is not for you).
Another unfairly bashed aspect of this OVA lies in its visuals. While it's pretty far from being a mind-blowing sakuga anime, there is really nothing bad about the way it looks and moves. Harara's monsters have a hideous, grotesque look to them... but that's kind of the point. Similarly, the human characters have a very charming, well-stylized and cartoony look. They might seem ugly to some people, but technically there is absolutely nothing wrong with the way they're all drawn and I honestly think they are far more expressive than most anime characters out there. One particular visual aspect that I can't help but love is Kakugo's Zero Armor, which has a very stylish and cool design to it. If I ever broke down and started paying for useless pieces of plastic, I wouldn't mind owning a figure of this thing at all; in fact, it almost makes sense that Kakugo has a strange, bordeline fetishistic obsession with it. Almost.
Most of the music is pretty standard action anime stuff, but it certainly gets the job done. At times the epic heroic music clashes hilariously with the crazy psycho-violence and sheer absurdity of the fight scenes presented, and that simply adds to the ridiculous over the top nature of it all. Another interesting note is that the ED was sung by Hironobu Kageyama, also known as the guy behind the Dragon Ball Z opening and a ton of equally hot-blooded, heroic-sounding theme songs. It's really about as fun and catchy as you'd imagine, and my only beef with it is that IT WASN'T USED DURING THE SHOW ITSELF AT ANY POINT. If you have a great theme song on your hands, shouldn't you use it at least once during a particularly cool scene? WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?
So with all that out of the way the only remaining issue would be, "do I think that this is a good OVA?" ...well, in all honesty, I would say without a hint of irony or self distance that it truly deserves to be labeled as such. Not a GREAT OVA, no - this brand of over the top vulgarity can certainly be done in a better, cleverer way - Dead Leaves this ain't. But for what it is, it's a perfectly fine waste of 60 minutes. Anyone who can get past the initial shock factor caused by the over-the-top blood and guts portrayed should instantly realize that this is, at its core, a very silly and ridiculous OVA. What many people seem to miss, for some reason that I can't quite comprehend, is that IT WAS CLEARLY MEANT TO BE VIEWED THIS WAY. If you're not messed up enough to find this stuff equal parts cool and hilarious, then this OVA was clearly not designed for you... but that's not really a reason to claim that it's an irredeemable pile of trash with no positive qualities to it, or even watch it to begin with. After all, a simple Google search should instantly warn you about the graphic content, and I doubt many people watched this expecting a family-friendly experience without a single cock joke or drop of blood. Similarly, people who found it hilarious and fun in a "so bad it's good" kind of way should realize that it was created with ridiculous over-the-top camp in mind to begin with. If it made you laugh and you had fun watching it, mission fucking accomplished. Above all else anime is meant to be fun, and to its admittedly niche audience, Apocalypse Zero delivers this in spades.
Apocalypse Zero is one of, if not THE most over-hated anime title in history. This little OVA containing a piece of a much bigger manga story has been hammered and spat-on by countless “oh-so-smart-and-civilized” types. Usually I can ignore differences in opinion, even if its from all-round ass-hats, but this series is one I cannot just look over because frainkly it doesn’t deserve such negative vitriol, especially when you take into consideration the stupefying criticisms. Oh yeah, and even though this is a post-apocalyptic Fist of the North Star-esque series, many seem to be outraged that it is gory. Yes, you heard me, with
that kind of mindset I might as well rent a kung-fu movie and bitch about there being too much corny fighting.
This is a post-apocalyptic action-oriented work influenced by Fist of the North Star with mecha elements in the vein of The Guyver. While it certainly shows no desire to hide these said influences, the series manages to have its own distinct style and atmosphere. The overall story is about two siblings, who mastered an incredible martial arts style, that eventually turns them against each other in that one succumbs to evil desires with their new-found power while the other strives to use it the right way. While the plot certainly is extraordinarily simple, it works just fine when you take into consideration that stories involving all-out fighting themes don’t necessarily require complex plots. These sorts of shows just need to be a pleasurable experience to watch.
The world this takes place in really draws you in with its cloudy skylines and interesting use of colors. It is also allot more interesting and varied than your typical apocalyptic world, since you’d generally expect the planet to be made up of desert, so you can expect some imagination put to test here. The main location for this show is the ruins of Tokyo. Within it, it seems that there is still a functioning school system where kids normally attend school, which if you ask me, is a fairly unique concept.
The cast of characters manage to be very intriguing. The main hero Kakugo is very similar to Kenshiro, particularly with his mature, stoic personality. My favorite would have to be the antagonist and main character’s sibling named Harara. While not the most original villain, there is something about her evil nature that is so effective overall, and her whole personality is hard to really find the word to describe, but it is highly “badass” if you know what I mean. The rest of the cast mainly consists of Kakugo’s school friends and Harara’s slew of villainous mutant freaks, all are very quirky and make the show what it is.
The content of Apocalypse Zero, such as the violence and sexual imagery is the main aspect here that has gotten people foaming at the mouth the most. Like any title of this sub-genre, it contains numerous sequences of exaggerated gore, and is generally what one would call a “splatterfest”. The vast majority of it is very entertaining (keeping in mind you’re actually a fan of this genre). A good example of it would be a scene where Harara completely annihilates a bunch of super macho men with their blood and guts splattering everywhere bringing out some great old Fist of the North Star-style fun. Sadly not all of it is great, as there is also a scene where a teenage girl is nastily squished by a giant mutant. It would have been awesome if it was just another dimwitted oversized goon with a mohawk, but I don’t think anyone, even Fist of the North Star fans would want to see some cute girl meet such a gory fate. This is one of the only things that bothered me about this series, and it is a flaw, although a rather insignificant, overlook-able one at that. The sexual aspects mainly have to do with the villainous mutants Kakugo has to open a can of whoop-ass on, and trust me they are absolutely hilarious. Not one but TWO of these four mutants use their penis as weapons!
The other most controversial aspect present is the artwork. The series features rather unusual “cartoony” character designs that many seem to abhor, but I for one think they’re marvelous. There is just something about their simplicity that strikes me has very innovative. While they’re not exactly attractive, they certainly look a whole lot nicer than numerous 70s through 80s anime titles, and that’s not even mentioning all the atrocious designs characters get in numerous American animation. If the characters of One Piece universally have very odd designs, why can’t this series do the same? The actual animation offered is splendid, in that it has a really “cult” look and style to it. It isn’t crystal-clear and modern at all, which if you ask me is a very good thing, and it is perfect for fans of the more old-school nineties look.
As for the voice acting, both the original Japanese version and the English dub are absolutely flawless. I was particularly surprised with the English version as well, as you generally expect the studios to get lazy on such an underground title, but none-the-less they are all spot-on. The background music is generally nothing amazing, but it does get the job done adequately, and there are a few catchy numbers that pop in from time to time.
Lastly, if there is one major flaw within this OVA, it is the fact that there just isn’t enough of it. These two episodes cover roughly 1/5 of the material contained in the manga, so it is hard dealing with only the beginning of the series getting animated.
All in all, Apocalypse Zero is while being absurdly strange, significantly charming in a way. I’ve watched this countless times, and I just love its quirky characters, utterly insane violence, and outrageously kooky attacks. This series certainly isn’t perfect, as I have said before the scene at the beginning with the squished schoolgirl can really leave an ugly impression and only a portion of this story is animated, but these faults can be overlooked. If your open-minded and don’t quickly dismiss things, than what you have here is a short but high quality title with definite substance. It is easily just as fun as Fist of the North Star, and in a way it is kind of like a more modern upbeat version while still retaining a cult atmosphere, so if you like this sort of thing, don’t hesitate to check it out.
This show is fucking amazing. OK, so basically, there's this guy fighting a mutant tit-bear in the Himalayas or something. His dad is some sort of kung fu master, and also he has an intersex brother or something. His brother has tits. Anyway, something happens, and he ends up with this Kamen Rider robot armor. He enlists in this post-apocalyptic Mad Max high school for some reason and randomly fights giant leather daddy gimp frogs with weaponized dildos, demon nurses with vagina teeth & tit rockets and various other abominations against god. I'm so glad I live in a universe where this show exists. Basically,
Apocalypse Zero should be worshipped and cherished forever. Also, all the characters are weirdly cheerful and nonchalant considering people get their faces ripped off and their guts squeezed out of their mouths by giant mutants like every five seconds.
To anyone who was actually shocked, or scandalized even, when they saw for example a guy's head explode into a bloody mess in Fist of the North Star (some of you had to be born before the new millennium, right?)--Apocalypse Zero should feel like a time capsule back to that exaggerated first adolescent impression of the vaguely pornographic otherness of the most pulpy, trashy 80s japanimation (that's what it was called back then). It's so cartoonishly morbid that it finds sort of an uncanny valley-esque middle ground where the ghoulishness is strangely uncomfortable and oppressive. If this OVA was just a little more ridiculous, or just a little less, the effect would be lost; but as it is, it has all the decrepit contours and mystique of some made up show you and your friends (whose dads all worked at Nintendo or Sega, somehow) might've whispered rumors about during recess in gradeschool. When an anime captures something so fleeting and abstract about the pre-internet era, well, that's magical! Apocalypse Zero may actually contain the meaning of life.
There's this great scene where this giant fat mutant lady jealously kills some guy's girlfriend, and then she drags him back to her fat lady lair where she does indecent things to him before eating him. Anyway, later on the main character slays the fat lady, and she pukes up the bones of all her victims--as well as the still-digesting skinless body of the guy she just ate, and he's still alive! He has this "oh god I have no skin! Please kill me and end my suffering!" look on his face (his skull, anyway), and you expect the characters to put him out of his misery, right! NO! The main girl character painfully hugs the guy and goes "hang in there! You'll be okay!" It took horse tranquilizers to get me to stop laughing. As an accidental black comedy, it doesn't get much better than this.
It comes off almost like a parody of anime, but it's not! It's blissfully unaware. You'd think this would turn into a cult classic in the post-The Room world, but in a weird way anime is like the last frontier of naive schlock where hipster irony (and by extension, an unspoken sense of political correctness) cannot penetrate--that's exactly why the conditions are perfect for weird shit like this, and why it languishes in disapproval instead of being celebrated for its absurdity. For B movie appeal, it gets all my recommendation! See it!