A Retelling of the prison arc of the manga RIKI-OH!
The story follows Saiga Riki-Oh, a young man blessed with inhuman strength. After taking revenge against a yakuza boss who was responsible for the death of his girlfriend, he ends up in a maximum security prison owned by a private organization.
The prison is divided into four blocks, each run by a member of prisoners known as the Gang of Four. The first member is a tattooed knife wielder known as Hai that runs his block in a mafia style family system. The second member is a giant man (known as Tarzan in the live action) with incredible strength. The third member is a effeminate fighter named Huang Chaun that is growing Opium in the prison. The final member is a small man that use sewing needles as his weapons.
Today we are looking at a fairly obscure 1980s anime that is only remembered thanks to an awesomely terrible Chinese movie adaptation. This adaptation from the 1990s is one of the only Chinese adaptations of a Japanese manga/anime to ever exist and it was BAD, coming across as more of a spoof than an honest adaptation. However, the spoof was actually far superior because unlike this piece of shit, it didn't take itself seriously!
Story and characters: 2/10
Riki is a superhuman kung fu master that was sentenced to jail after killing some Yakuza thugs with his fists to avenge his girlfriend's murder. Riki takes place in
a future were prisons have become privatized and corrupt, handing out extra long sentences in order to use the inmates for unpaid labor. I would laugh at this plot if this wasn't actually a real problem in the US thanks to the powerful prison corporations such as the Corrections Corporation of America and their filthy lobby propagating the war on drugs and bribing judges to hand out extra long sentences as seen in the famous "cash for kids" scandal. However, the point of Riki Oh isn't to attack private prisons or bring up a problem that Japanese people in the 1980s were not aware would exist in the US in the 1990s and 2000s. Instead the point is to be a gritty, generic 80s shonen that desperately wants to be Hokuto no Ken and fails miserably. Riki Oh is all about action, but comes across as very cheesy and stupid. The problem is that unlike the Chinese adaptation, the anime is not self aware and is not laughing along with the audience. Riki has no real personality and is as bland and vanilla a protagonist as you can get for someone that punches people's heads off! The Warden is the stereotypical corrupt prison warden, who unfortunately does NOT randomly transform into The Hulk as seen in the Chinese movie version. This isn't an anime you would watch for the plot anyways, so how is the action? It kind of...sucks. Unlike the hilarious Chinese film, you will be quickly bored rather than rolling on the floor with laughter.
I'm going a little easy on the art taking age into consideration, but it wasn't good looking even for the 80s and looks like absolute shit to a modern audience.
The music is very bland and forgettable. I don't really have much to say about it.
If you love the Chinese film and wish to see what the anime was like, don't bother with this one! It is a waste of time that will bore you to tears. If you haven't seen the Chinese adaptation/spoof, go see it on youtube immediately! It is fucking hilarious! Bonus points for the genuinely awful English dub, which adds extra comedic value to the mix.
1 minute clip from Riki Oh the movie. If this doesn't make you smile, you don't have a soul!
Saiga Riki-oh is a man with a strong sense of justice and a knack for brutally killing people (understatement). He can be distinguished by his supernatural strength and the "Six Pointed Star" (Star of David) on his right hand. He has been sent to prison charged with assault. Shortly after entering the prison he has already made a name for himself as someone you don't want to mess with. Riki-oh punishes and helps those who deserve it, which catches the attention of the higher authority figures of the prison.
"Riki-Oh: Toukatsu Jigoku" covers the first arc of the manga, the "Prison Arc". The original manga which
was published in 1989 is a relatively unknown diamond in the ruff. It is a brutally violent series riddled with scientific impossibilities, that being said, it's a great time killer!
Story - 8/10
This OVA covers most of the plot from the manga, with some minor changes. If the OVA had been around an hour long, it could've been much better.
Art - 7/10
Considering that this was released in 1989, it's art is pretty good. They pay very good attention to detail (especially in the faces), but there are some things that could look better. Some of the animation sequences could also be smoother, but for the most part they did a pretty good job.
Sound - 6/10
The sound is pretty decent for the most part, but there are somethings that make sounds that are not very realistic. For example, one of the key habits of Riki-oh is to play a tune on a blade of grass. It should have the sound of a light whistle, but instead has the sound of a deeper wind instrument. It sounds good, but it's just completely unrealistic. The music for the series is pretty good but who only get to hear a little of the ones with vocals and when they do play, the volume is very low.
Character - 9/10
Riki-oh is definitely the highlight of this series. He is the epitome of badass and has a well honed practice of killing people in the most outrageous ways (Despite being the hero). One instance from this OVA is a scene in which Riki-Oh literally punches a guy in the abdomen and all the contents of his torso explode out of his back! Even if you find yourself not liking the OVA or manga, you will still like Riki-Oh as a character!
Enjoyment - 7/10
I enjoyed being able to see the manga I enjoyed animated. I mean who wouldn't enjoy watching an over powered beast of a man with a scar of the Star of David kill people with his bare hands?
Overall - 7/10
Overall it was a good OVA that did the manga a fair amount of justice. I had wished that they had used for violence considering Riki-Oh is called the "Violence Hero". But for the time they really were able to produce something that stuck very close to the original manga. I highly recommend the manga itself, not for it's plot, but for it's sheer amounts of excessive science defying violence (seriously, it's laughable!)
I watched a very low quality sub. The res had likely been truncated/adulterated even further down to 480x360 to create a small file size. (appropriate low quality badness. this aint no rolls royce OVA) no idea where i got it or who made it.
The story and realism is farfetched and over the top but it's stylish and everything is presented in a way that communicates a cause/explanation. (It's kinda like American wrestling actually...) It's one of those things that might not 'make sense' because its over-exagerrated but it does an excllent job fooling you into going along with it and being believable because of it's
presentation. I've watched a lot of 'great' stuff that was very hard to interpret and left me scratching my head wondering WHAT THE F~! and as rediculous as this gets, it never left me with that reaction.
Visually this is a mixed bag but overall i thought it was good. While a few things are well drawn some things are a bit sloppy and lazy, however the whole thing is done at really good angles or 'directed' well. There's a whole lot very sensationalist type visual violence and motifs and more than makes up for the weak bits. It has a very lurid feel and seems proper with themes and subject matter, so feels cohesive with what you are seeing. this is older style animation so its not as clean or smooth, and there is less detail.
Music is sparse but it's not bad. like the rest of it thematically on point. voice acting was pretty nice however. I enjoyed this as a sub (though a few spelling and grammar errors)
Characters are perfect designs and concepts but the runtime here is a bit short to really dig into them. The protagonist alone is an A+ idea as he feels like an inspiration of all kinds of american action heros as well as jesus christ! there's lots of various bad guys, thugs and villains who resemble james bond type criminals/dick tracy type oddjobs, not just in appearance but slightly in behavior or their stylization. there's a lot to like. the sunglasses of the prison director. the charles bronson harmonia man kinda leaf the antihero plays, the various outfits and clothes people are wearing. it seems all the major characters have some kind of signature to them.
the story idea, characters and presentation of this feel like a mix of anime and american 80s crime movie type thing. it communicates a lot of stuff rather well (such as backstory).
Hard to critcize as its better than I had expected. I went in blind and had no idea where this would go in the first 15 minutes but expected something likely awful. The art itself is medicore and story is almost a stretch to call good but its all well presented and was quite entertaining to watch. The anime is very good at suspending one's belief but it almost takes the licesnse a bit far (such as these fight scenes for instance) you simply dont know what will happen next and at times the results are a bit jarring: a fist fight could result in a gruesome and outrageous death, or our hero might just jump out of prison in a single bound and move on to greener pastures whenever he feels like it and the gaurds might not even stop him.
In many ways this feels like a bunch of american action movie from the dirty 1980s Which was inspired some guys into making this anime who were probably fans of the manga themselves, fits the bill just perfectly of exactly the kind of thing I often look for. Hardly a masterpiece but very much a guilty pleasure and fun time. Even though it's nothing special I am genuinely curious as to the source material after watching this. I'd not seen anything in this style or theme and will likely look for more "Street youth warrior dramas' now. XD