This is NOT worthy of the Takaashi Miike film that everyone loves. Avoid this anime for bad art, reused cells, boring plot development and confusing situations that are supposedly revealing details about Ichi's backstory. The shock level of the film is rather tame, despite the overtones of marital sexual abuse and of course violent sexual frustration. Watching this leaves you feeling dirty, and not the refreshing enjoyable dirty like watching the real movie. Go see a Miike film instead.
Man oh man. If you like twisted, violent, psychopathic and demented killers, YOU WILL LOVE this OVA. I laughed alot during this insanely twisted mindfuck of an anime. I watched it twice in a row, the second was to show my wife cause she got home about 10 minutes after I finished the first viewing. She thought it was stupid and sick. But she likes the anime Red Garden, so she don't know nothing. Animation was excellent and sound was great. The opening theme is a psychotic, energy filled kill song that may give you a siezure or at least the urge to laugh or
be violent. This is a twisted story of how to make a psycho killer. Watch and you'll see.
Since I reviewed a children's film last time, I decided to change things up and review something a bit more "edgy". Ichi Episode 0 is a prequel to the cult film Ichi the Killer directed by Takashi Miike. While the film I believe deserves its cult status in the world of gory exploitation movies, this anime...kind of sucks.
While the manga came before both this anime and the film, the anime was ONLY made due to the film's massive success. Takashi Miike started out in the 1990s in Japanese "V-Cinema" which are mostly direct to video porno films and violent exploitation movies. I think the
V stands for Violence and Vagina. However, Miike quickly proved himself to be a capable director and rocketed to international stardom with the disturbing horror film Audition in 1999. Ichi the Killer was Miike's 2nd international success in 2001.
So what made the film so much better than this anime? Firstly, the film is very well made on a technical level while this anime looks like shit. Secondly, the film follows the masochistic gangster Kakihara and realized that he is a MUCH better character to build the story around than Ichi. Kakihara is a depraved man who lives only to inflict and receive pain. However, he is sane and fully realizes the results of his actions. He believes everyone has a sadistic and a masochistic side, but most people hide it while he chooses to fully embrace it. If you are sitting there watching a Miike film, you can't deny you must have a sadistic or masochistic side to some extent. Kakihara may be sick, but the audience can still somewhat relate to him. When he finds out about this ruthless assassin named Ichi, we the audience share his excitement and long for their coming battle. When Ichi turns out to be very different than Kakihara imagined, we share Kakihara's sense of disappointment. The audience can always understand what Kakihara is thinking. Ichi on the other hand, is a mentally disabled man with the mind of a child who gets a raging boner by murdering people. The movie uses Ichi very sparingly because he's more of a plot device than a fully realized character. I can't begin to understand or relate to Ichi, so I can't really invest in him as a character.
Ichi would be a disturbing and somewhat effective origin tale of a young serial killer...if it wasn't so fucking stupid. You'll see what I mean. The main character is Hajime Shiroishi AKA "Ichi" as he is later known in the movie. Hajime is a mentally disabled high school student who is said to have the mental capacity of a 6 year old. He is constantly bullied in school and lives with a bratty younger brother and abusive parents who actually encourage him to be a bully rather than a victim. Hajime often watches his parents engage in violent BDSM sex and learns to associate violence with sexual release. After dissecting a frog and getting a massive erection, he learns that he REALLY likes killing things. Hajime then curb stomps a cat and the school bunnies, which he finds deeply arousing. A classmate catches him and tries to blackmail him, but Hajime murders his classmate and his family later that night.
Hajime was sent to a mental institution instead of prison because he lacked the mental capacity to be held legally responsible for his crimes. Now is when things start getting stupid. One day Hajime watches a Kung Fu movie and practices in his cell until he becomes a Kung Fu master capable of literally kicking people's heads off. One of the psychiatrists it turns out is a Yakuza boss wearing a disguise, by which I mean he actually has a fake wig and Groucho Marx glasses. He somehow manages to convince the institute to release Ichi and plans to manipulate the simple minded killer into being his #1 assassin thus the name Ichi (One). Yakuza psychiatrist sends Hajime to take karate classes and there he meets another patient of the good doctor. This other patient is a masochist girl who can only orgasm by being kicked repeatedly in the face, which seems to fully heal between scenes. Maybe she's related to Wolverine?! Masochist chick manages to manipulate Hajime into brutally Kung Fu murdering 3 random thugs and Hajime uses their blood as hand lotion to masturbate as our shitty anime ends.
Not a single character in this anime is recognizably human. Every character is either a 1 dimensional bully, incomprehensibly insane, or a sadistic mentally disabled man who gets murder boners. Even fucking GENOCYBER had more humanistic characters than this piece of shit. At least Genocyber had that orphan boy who showed kindness to our protagonist before getting murdered. Actually Genocyber had multiple characters show at least 1 act of kindness or basic empathy, while Ichi has ZERO such actions in all 45 minutes. This is easily the single most fucked up view of humanity I have ever seen in an anime. I think even the director was a bit disturbed by this abortion of a show, because he spent the rest of his career working on Shonen and never again venturing into Ichi territory. He would later direct Fairy Tail. No, I'm not kidding.
This anime was made by the rather inconsistent Studio Shogakuken, who has done good work with anime like Monster but has also made some crappy looking anime like Hamtaro. Ichi is drawn to look like your basic 1990s ultra violent OVA only crappier. However, since this is an anime about a retarded guy curb stomping cats, I'm actually glad it wasn't better animated. Ichi is disturbing and cringy enough already.
The music consists of bizarre techno and can actually be strangely effective at times. I'll give it some credit. The dub was brought over by Central Park Media and it actually has 2 English dubs with one American dub and a British dub. The American dub seems to directly follow the subtitles, but the British dub strays quite a bit. This really isn't surprising if you are aware of Manga UK and England's history of "liberal" translations. See: Mad Bull 34, Angel Cop, Cyber City, Violence Jack etc.
Ichi the movie was violent exploitation film, but it was fascinating. You wanted to re-watch it and share it with other people. Hey man, you HAVE to check out this fucked up movie! Ichi the anime...just makes you feel dirty. I don't want to share this anime with my friends. I'm writing this review to tell lovers of old, bad anime that this one isn't worth it. If I had to come up with one simple word to describe this anime it would be "vile". If you are interested in watching this, go watch the movie instead. If you've already seen the movie, go read the manga. Under no circumstances should you watch this piece of shit.
It's no secret that sometimes I'm a masochist when it comes to anime, or film, for that matter. There's something about subjecting yourself to the blinding agony of something that's so terribly made that it makes you question your existence. There's something pure about the awfulness.
And that brings me to Ichi the Killer. Ichi is awful.
But it's the kind of awful that I can get a kick out of.
Ichi also gets kicks out of kicking people and being awful. But not for the same reason I... you know what? Just never mind.
Ichi has got some weird, wannabe arthouse stuff going on. Lots of
single colored frames- red, yellow, blue, purple with action panels shot onto them, then flashing red backgrounds. Near epileptic seizure inducing flashing included, the rest of the animation looks pretty crappy for a 2002 anime. All around rough around the edges. It's almost like they were going for the 'ultraviolent 80s OVA' look... but failed.
Conversely- they did get the ultraviolence right. Some brutal beatings, knockouts, and eviscerations give it the edge, but then Ichi puts a touch of nasty on it. I imagine most people have seen the movie who are reading this, and yes. Ichi gets off to killing. A literal murder boner.
For those unfamiliar, Ichi the Killer is a film to which this OVA serves as a quick and dirty prequel to. The film is a fairly well received cult classic horror/torture porn flick, and this OVA tries to capture the feel, but just comes up way short on delivery.
It's supposed to serve as a prequel, showing how the unfeeling psychotic sadist Ichi got his start- from dissecting frogs to bludgeoning animals and then moving up into goretastic murders, but instead is really just a psychosis filled violence romp, with some sex thrown in for good measure.
Overall, not a great watch by any means, but if things like Violence Jack, Wicked City, Mad Bull, etc appeal to you for their ultraviolence- Ichi the Killer is much in the same vein, same low expectations.
Extreme violence and sadism are things that really shoud be handled with care in animation, otherwise you end up with something like Ichi The Killer.
The OVA is only 45 minutes long, but by 30 minutes in you start having to endure it instead of simply watching and not because it's disturbing, but because it is awful. The OVA shows the MC's past, prior to his transformation as the frenzied hopeless psychopath Ichi The Killer, so possibly the only good aspect of the show is when we delve into Ichi's psyche, witnessing when the line between violence and sex blurred in his mind, specially
in what is by far the most interesting sequence of the short film when we see something involving BDSM and the dissecting of a frog.
The pacing is terrible, we have no sense of plot development whatsoever, and the animation starts half decent before gradually becoming horrendous. And aside from the remix song containing Ichi's screams that plays in the beggining, middle and ending of the OVA there's nothing awfully interesting about the sound design and the voice acting.
Honestly, I would recomend Takashi Miike's live action adaptation instead of this one, because even if it suffers from the same issues from the OVA regarding plot and pacing it stills benefits from the incredible Tadanobu Asano's perfomance as Kakihara (the most interesting character of the movie that unfortunately is almost absent in the OVA) and Miike's trademark black humor, something that can make the gore a little more bearable for the squeamish.
Since any kind of humour is lacking in the OVA we have nothing left but extremely unrealistic evil characters (seriously, everyone in japan is freaking jerk apparently) and unintentional comedy due to the over the top Ichi's face expressions.
In the end I really don't know the reason why this even exists. Does it want to expand Ichi's character? Does it want to add to the overall universe? Beucase if the answer is yes it failed miserably. It's boring, dumb and pointless and I don't think it's possible to recommend it to anyone. Not to fans of the movie or the manga (which I haven't read by the way) and neither to ultraviolence junkies. If you want just some silly, fun bloody horror/action anime, trust me, look elsewhere.
Are you interested in the psychology of serial killers and perverse psychopaths? Do you like gore that will make you cringe in slight discomfort? Well then, this is probably the OVA for you, because I can't really see why it would appeal to anyone other than you and me.
This is the first anime I have seen that has delved into the psychology of what society sees as the ultimate in perversion and depravity - ie, brutal murder or torture giving the perpetrator sadistic sexual pleasure. That's essentially what happens in Ichi the Killer: Episode 0. If it had been nothing more than torture porn,
I'd probably still have watched it all the way through, but I'd've given it a 4/10 at most. What caught my attention was essentially the parallels it draws with a great deal of serial killer cases. It vaguely covers the MC's 'descent into madness' in an artistically gritty dementia style punctuated with a jarring soundtrack that incorporates his screams. It portrays the figure of a great deal of serial killers - a pushover, a target for bullies who is manipulated and made fun of by his peers whose parents are more okay with the idea of him being a bully himself than the thought that he is the target, and who nobody could imagine would be capable of killing. The way this was delivered was pretty excellent in my books, and that's the reason why I have rated it a 7/10 - because of my interest in the topic and the fact that it didn't let me down in that respect.
What makes this 45 minute long OVA lose points for me is essentially everything other than that. Since it's something of a prologue, it basically just chronicles the leadup to the manga and thus Ichi's backstory. The plot elements external to that which are supposed to lead into the 'main plot' as it were seem totally unrealistic, almost annoyingly so.
In a nutshell, this is a jarring, psychological mess that most might find simultaneously disgusting, confusing and boring. If it sounds up your alley, give it a go - it's not like you'll be spending weeks on end watching an endless series. Why the fuck not, right?
I want to preface this review by saying I watched this anime thinking that it was a merely an episode zero for a longer anime series and not a prequel to a live action movie and because of that I don’t really hold a bias for it being good or bad depending on how I felt about the movie. So I can only judge the OVA and nothing else. Let’s begin, shall we?
In the terms of the characters, Shiroishi(MC) is the only one that kinda stands out. All the other characters were pretty one dimensional and stayed that way throughout the entirety of the OVA.
The bullies were dicks, his friend betrayed him, his parents didn’t seem to care that much about him, his parole officer and love interest(I don’t know what else to call her) just wanted to use him, essentially everyone in the OVA is pretty much a dick to Shiroishi. Shiroishi is the only character that seems to have any development whatsoever when he snaps and turns into a sadistic murder machine who gets off on killing people. So the characters were pretty bland, but Shiroishi does redeem it partially because of his interesting transition and his internal battle with his feelings.
The story is nothing to write home about. If you want to know what it is about, you can go read the synopsis. The story didn’t take any surprising turns and pretty much followed how I thought it was going to play out after I got a read on the mood. From the little research I did on the movie, it looks like the stories do connect with the mobster that Shiroishi is sent to kill. The story was alright at best, didn’t really make me feel anything. Felt like the did some things just for the shock, but I guess that is a major reason why you would watch this OVA though.
The animation seemed pretty normal for the time. It really hasn’t aged that well and the parts where Shiroishi has machine punches or kicks is kind of a disconnect. The art is much worse. All the character designs seem just plain ugly, especially some of the faces that they make. Some the characters in the dojo scene looked like children with the faces of adults, which made for a good laugh. Still, the art is pretty bad. The gore isn’t shown that much and when it is, it’s not that great. If you want to watch an anime for the gore porn, there are better choices than this.
I actually liked the music in this OVA. The use of Shiroishi’s vocal clips in the opening/ending reminded me of the This Is Sparta remixes. The background music did it’s job and added to the scene, it might of been a little overbearing at times.
I would pass this OVA up unless you watched the movie and wanted some backstory or you wanted to see how it compared to the manga. It was bad and just felt like a waste of time. While I didn’t really like the OVA, I am kinda interested in what the movie is like, so it is good in that respect. If you came for gore, you should go elsewhere.
I found this animated adaption of the manga hard to watch at times. Not because of the blood and violence, which I enjoyed, but because, in comparison to the manga, it lacked many of the qualities that made it so wonderful in the first place. Much of the story was lost as well as the development of the characters such as most of the main lead's past and why he behaves the way he does. Another flaw in this adaption is the animation. It could've been smother and faster to match the fight scenes but I digress. It hurts to
say these things because not only am I one who prefers anime to manga often times, but I'm in love with Ichi the Killer series, but I'd be lying if I this episode did the manga any justice.