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Jason Thompson's House of 1000 Manga - Apocalypse Zero


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DoktorZetsubou



Joined: 15 Sep 2009
Posts: 61
Location: Washington state, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 11:14 pm Reply with quote
The anime of this is actually one of my all-time favorites (not that I think it's 'good', I just have a deep love of bad, over-the-top old anime), but I haven't read the manga yet. Glad to hear that it seems like more of the same!
Makes me super happy to even see this getting reviewed, haha.


Last edited by DoktorZetsubou on Thu Jul 28, 2011 1:30 am; edited 1 time in total
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JuicyB



Joined: 08 Mar 2010
Posts: 278

PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 11:19 pm Reply with quote
Judging by the description, this may very well be the best manga I've never read.
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phoenixphire24



Joined: 13 Apr 2007
Posts: 259

PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 12:43 am Reply with quote
Every time I read this column, I find something new to read. This just sounds like something I need to pick up simply for the weirdness of it all.
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Captain Crotchspike



Joined: 23 Mar 2005
Posts: 355
Location: Phoenix, AZ

PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 2:30 am Reply with quote
Here's my requisite appearance!

Finding out about this involved some weird timing - I was heavy into discovering as many older anime titles as I could for a while in high school, and I started going through old issues of Animerica I bought when I was a kid to see if I could find any of those series I would always read about and of course at the time could almost never buy. Two stood out to me, one being Karakuri no Kimi, which was reviewed as an import (as I found out it was later picked up by, guess who, Media Blasters, and released as Puppet Princess). The other was Apocalypse Zero (new at Best Buy!) and the errr glowing commentary that went with it.

This was 2004. Of course, the anime ends with our boy Kakugo walking away from the sunset, the story having found no real resolution (ha! ha ha...ha...). I knew this meant "GO BUY THE MANGA", so I looked it up online, figuring I'd probably only find some tidbits and artwork and...lo and behold, it was just licensed by Media Blasters not long ago and would be released early 2005.

I loyally bought each volume new until its early, heroic demise.

I also noticed there was new merchandise trickling out in the years following, including a fantastic trading figure series (which I managed to buy a whole box of on sale!). I was wondering if it was undergoing some kind of revival, and...there you go, Exoskel Zero.

It clearly had its fans during its time though, as evidenced by the OVA and short lived multimedia blitz and...well, read this, then go play Marvel vs Capcom and pick Jin Saotome. Or play Street Fighter III and pick Urien.
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Lord Geo



Joined: 18 Sep 2005
Posts: 1084

PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 7:03 am Reply with quote
I don't think Apocalypse Zero is a parody, exactly, but rather it's just the creator taking the ideals of "manly" shounen battle manga in the 80s, mixing it with a little tokusatsu style, and putting them against the most disgusting creations he could think of. A parody has to make fun of something in some fashion, and Apocalypse Zero doesn't really do that. Instead, a lot of people want to claim parody simply because they it's the easy way to "explain" something that they can't, or somtimes don't want to, wrap their heads around.

The biggest proof of this, and shame on you for not bringing it up Jason, are the two fights in those first six volumes where Kakugo fights against Harara's best warriors, who are both completely human. Coincedentally, those two fights are actually the best fights in the manga at the point Volume 6 leaves off at and both feel more like something Shonen Jump would have had back in the 80s. The monsters are representing some of the worst kinds of people there are in the world (lecherous old men, women who are fixated on beauty, etc.) while the battles against humans are more about battles of ideology, in this case Kakugo wanting to protect whatever humanity and true beauty there is versus the vision Harara has of ruling the world in his own image.
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Spark That Bled



Joined: 12 Mar 2010
Posts: 17
Location: Worcester, UK

PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 7:05 am Reply with quote
Interesting thing I note: apparently Shiro Hagakure is based on Shiro Ishii, the real life General at the head of Unit 731, one of the worst wartime atrocities perpetrated by the Imperial Japanese Army. So Hagakure, like Ishii and Unit 731, experimented on and killed countless people in WWII, especially in the creation of Kakugo's Kamen Rider-like armour.

So the subtext of this seems to be that Kakugo is fighting to atone for the sins of his family, and to seek forgiveness from the people who died because of his father back in WWII...

Interesting that this manga would engage with something like that.
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Sepherest



Joined: 06 May 2007
Posts: 558
Location: The Labyrinth of Amala

PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 8:17 am Reply with quote
I don't think the Apocalypse Zero anime did the manga's artwork justice, but it managed to be just as shocking to most of the people that watched it. It got a lot of heat on all the sites it was reviewed on (even on here I think it got something like an F grade) but I thought it was still pretty entertaining. The monsters were pretty funny and even though Kakugo was kind of nerdy looking he had a really cool suit and even got to beat up mutated nuclear radiation bears Twisted Evil

Takayuki Yamaguchi also made a couple other series that slightly resemble AZ before he moved on with Shiguru, so it seems like he had a really good time messing around with the whole "boy dons super-suit and beats up phallic monsters and people with odd fetishes" idea before then.
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ptolemy18
Manga Reviewer/Creator/Taster


Joined: 07 May 2005
Posts: 339
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 9:49 am Reply with quote
Lord Geo wrote:
I don't think Apocalypse Zero is a parody, exactly, but rather it's just the creator taking the ideals of "manly" shounen battle manga in the 80s, mixing it with a little tokusatsu style, and putting them against the most disgusting creations he could think of. A parody has to make fun of something in some fashion, and Apocalypse Zero doesn't really do that. Instead, a lot of people want to claim parody simply because they it's the easy way to "explain" something that they can't, or somtimes don't want to, wrap their heads around.

The biggest proof of this, and shame on you for not bringing it up Jason, are the two fights in those first six volumes where Kakugo fights against Harara's best warriors, who are both completely human. Coincedentally, those two fights are actually the best fights in the manga at the point Volume 6 leaves off at and both feel more like something Shonen Jump would have had back in the 80s. The monsters are representing some of the worst kinds of people there are in the world (lecherous old men, women who are fixated on beauty, etc.) while the battles against humans are more about battles of ideology, in this case Kakugo wanting to protect whatever humanity and true beauty there is versus the vision Harara has of ruling the world in his own image.


That's true, I didn't mention the fights with the human servants. I have to admit, though, that although the mechanics of the Bolt fight are pretty cool, it's the monster battles that stick in my head, not the fights with the humans.

You have a good point, just because it's so over-the-top doesn't mean it's a parody in the "making fun of shonen manga" sense. It's obvious Yamaguchi loves shonen manga, or he wouldn't be able to do one this good (anyone doing a manga based on something they didn't truly love would run out of steam and start to suck long before 11 volumes). Maybe I need to use some other word to describe the mixture of heartwarming sentiment and nasty gore to this extreme level. Like in the scene (shown in the images) where Hamuko regurgitates the skinless, dying guy, and Horie's first reaction is to run up into the acidic slime and embrace him as his body falls to pieces, telling him "It's gonna be ok!" There's a definite splatter-movie sense of humor going on here... but it's also true that just because a story winks at the audience a few times doesn't mean it can't also be serious the rest of the time.
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ridiculus



Joined: 16 Jul 2010
Posts: 72

PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 4:42 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
There's plenty of artists like Aida doing gallery shows of work that's calculated to be "transgressive" and shocking, but grossing out a few people in an art gallery or with some expensive collection of prints seems almost pointless in a world where something like Apocalypse Zero is available in bookstores.


We couldn't agree more on this, Jason! That was the surprise of my manga life when I found out this was actually a shonen manga! Do you know it was a finalist for the first Tezuka Cultural Prize?
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Running Wild



Joined: 23 Sep 2010
Posts: 201
Location: Upstate NY

PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 9:26 pm Reply with quote
I still have Apocalypse Zero on VHS. I wish I could find a dvd, or even the manga...
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Kakugo



Joined: 29 Nov 2007
Posts: 162

PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2011 12:14 am Reply with quote
I've honestly never been able to fathom how people couldn't interpret Kakugo no Susume: Apocalypse Zero as a work of satire; there's hardly a shred of overt humor within the context of the original story, just increasingly outrageous visuals and asininely trumped up situations that literally use decadence to assault the heroes and solve every problem in the most absurdly horrible way possible. (Your foe regenerates lost secondary sex organs? There's clearly just one solution: Road rash that grinning femonster into hamburger.) It's not a blatant parody of manga tropes the way Gintama or Excel Saga or whatever is, but it certainly takes those tropes to such extremes that they become overblown spectacles that no longer carry with them the shred of dignity or believability any prior incarnation of the genre once might have had. It clearly revels in that stoic manliness and almost naive concept of edginess found in manga like Fist of the North Star, Violence Jack and The Guyver, but pairs it with more extreme gore or sexualized horror than anything outside the realm of blatant ero-guro material can ever present... and it still delivers it on the level one would expect from the latest chapter of Saint Seiya or Dragon Ball, too.

The thought that a man who's produced something as refined and methodical (but just as sadistic and gross) as Shigurui: Death Frenzy not snickering over something as absurd as Kakugo no Susume seems all but impossible - but I snicker at the absurdity in horror and action films all the time without assuming they're satire so much as they are just... well, ridiculous. If it isn't satire, is there a word for titles like this? What the hell are we supposed to classify something as ridiculous as Kakugo no Susume, Cat Shit One and Riki-Oh?

From the moment I saw the two OVAs I thought it was an absolutely gloriously absurd piece of violence-entertainment, and just as savagely funny as it was utterly grotesque. Here we are a decade and change later and I... don't feel much different. Wither that means it holds up to scrutiny or I'm just stuck with the puerile mind of an adolescent, I'm perfectly happy either way. What with Borders and the like having washed their hands of the manga, it took me forever to actually find the first two books several years ago, and once I actually did start picking them up Media Blasters announced its cancellation soon after. I really should pick up the remainder of it while it's still (somewhat) readily available, but knowing that I'd not ever be able to hold the second half in English put a considerable damper on the drive to pick them up... a pity. To be honest I thought Yamaguchi's art was hit or miss for the first several chapters, with some scenes (Horie clutching her melted classmate) looking obscenely gorgeous, while others (Harara dealing with some non-believers) looked like they were plucked out of an especially gruesome Cracked magazine parody. While he was never totally without talent, I feel like Yamaguchi's polish improved dramatically over time.

Food for thought: while I never gave the connection to Lt. Geneneral Shiro ISHII much thought, the scene where the punk "loses" his hand (mentioned up front in the article) is almost surely a homage from a puke-worthy sequence from the 1987 WWII drama Men Behind the Sun (Hei Tai Yang 731), in which Ishii is shown pulling the dead skin from a frostbite victim's hands, leaving gory stumps t.hat look almost identical to the kid's hand
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Anime World Order



Joined: 05 May 2006
Posts: 354
Location: Florida

PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2011 2:00 am Reply with quote
Oh sure, it's 3 AM and I have a Satoshi Kon panel to present at Otakon in roughly 8 hours, so I really should get some sleep, but I'll have you know good sir that the mutant rock star Tactical Evil was in fact using his penis as a karaoke microphone, making him a genital-based adversary like the rest!

Apocalypse Zero is one of the craziest goddamn titles ever made. I wish I could read the final volumes of it in English so that I could truly know how the saga ends. For now though, we have the 6 volumes of manga and the two-part anime OAV. This weekend I intend to make hundreds of people aware of that OAV's majesty. It'll be at an 18+ panel, sure, but as was the case with Fist of the North Star, what truly makes Apocalypse Zero such an astonishing series is the fact that it's meant for the same age of kids who'd be reading Naruto.
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simside



Joined: 07 May 2010
Posts: 29

PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2011 10:38 pm Reply with quote
I love Apocalypse Zero with all the power of my girly bad-manga-loving little black heart. I was in complete awe, that every three pages something insane would pass without comment. As if a world full of obese blonde mutants with faces stitched over their nipples that regurgitate dessicated corpses that beg to be killed is not all that interesting. My roommate and I pass volumes of this back and forth in disbelief to this day. I'm not sure we would be able to handle it if any more volumes were published in English.

I badly want an English edition of Shounen Champion. Every series I've read from that publication is a rare treasure, even things as terrible as Gloom Party. I can only imagine the levels of insanity that get passed over for licenses.

Quote:
Or maybe someone needs to invent a new word to describe that mangaka style of producing something totally insane with dead seriousness and not a blink of irony.


They do, because this is just about my favorite genre of comics ever. I find that British comics also do this very well.
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doc-watson42
Encyclopedia Editor


Joined: 10 Feb 2003
Posts: 1604

PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2011 11:09 pm Reply with quote
Jason Thompson wrote:
Toshio Maeda, who invented tentacle porn to circumvent censorship laws by drawing tentacles instead of penises

Actually, while Maeda may have popularized it, the OAVs Cream Lemon episode 3 "SF Chōjigen Densetsu Rall" (SF・超次元伝説ラル) and The Satisfaction (ザ・サティスファクション) both had phallic tentacles, as may Nikkatsu's Lolita Anime episode 1 "Uchiyama Aki no Obyoki Aki-chan" (ロリータアニメVol.1:内山亜紀のおビョーキ亜紀ちゃん; not to be confused with Wonder Kids' earlier Lolita Anime series). All were released in December 1984, while the Urotsukidoji manga was released in 1986.

This isn't say that Maeda did not invent tentacle porn independently, but that he certainly was not the first.

Sepherest wrote:
I don't think the Apocalypse Zero anime did the manga's artwork justice, but it managed to be just as shocking to most of the people that watched it. It got a lot of heat on all the sites it was reviewed on (even on here I think it got something like an F grade)

I searched the site, and while I found the review for volume 1 of the manga (which did get grades of: Overall: F / Story: F / Art : C-), I did not found one for the anime.

Running Wild wrote:
I still have Apocalypse Zero on VHS. I wish I could find a dvd, or even the manga...

Anime (DVD): TRSI has it; DVD Price Search.

Manga (see the individual release pages):

• Volume 1 (ISBN 1586555758): at BookFinder.com
• Volume 2 (ISBN 1586556266): at BookFinder.com
• Volume 3 (ISBN 1586556908): at BookFinder.com
• Volume 4 (ISBN 1586557289): at BookFinder.com
• Volume 5 (ISBN 1586557912): at BookFinder.com
• Volume 6 (ISBN 1586558331): at BookFinder.com
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Nagi21



Joined: 07 Apr 2009
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2011 3:27 am Reply with quote
Heh this article's timing is interesting. I was on on MAL a few days ago just searching around and the anime OAV of this series came up. The description sounded interesting but nearly every review or viewer description of it made to be one of the worst anime productions ever made, that only fueled my curiosity.

I personally enjoyed it even though it was obviously cut off sort before the story got really interesting but it was just so over the top and gory, it was like a some weird, cracked out Mask Rider/Guvyer. It's simply just an entertaining set of episodes (there are only 2, 30min ones).

Also the designs used in the anime were kind of cool, drawn in sort of a way like it was supposed to be an innocent shounen show on the surface, covering up how truly gory it was overall (or at lessen the impact at least unlike Shigurui).

Some scenes I still laugh about when thinking about it and probably won't ever forget for a while, i.e:
spoiler[
Kakugo slapping the demon nurse who tried to seduce him. The way that whole scene played out was just some comedy gold.

The scene in question ridiculous nature is further highlighted by the fact later on Kakugo starts developing feelings for the side main girl character after she simply cleaned his desk for him.
]
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