Reviewby Jon Hayward, Sep 21st 2006
V1 - Enter the Desert
Sunabozu is a bounty hunter, a dirty womanising money grubbing dirtbag who has the amazing ability to win when the odds are stacked against him. He lives in a post apoloclytic world where japan has been reduced to desert and makes his living off those less fortunate than himself, only blow it when a pretty face comes along.
Production Company: Gonzo
There's a certain something that comes with being able to hold a confident opinion about a show, about knowing firmly where you stand. In terms of writing it doesn't matter too much if it's love or hate: both cases allow for a passionate review thanks to strong feelings behind it. When Desert Punk arrived at my door I was hoping to either hate it with vile passion, or to find it a rather indulgent guilty pleasure. To say that I was disappointed, therefore, is hardly to say that the show is terrible.
As implied, Desert Punk is decent enough entertainment, although it isn't anything much more than that. It's a series, at the most basic level, about guns, sand, and boobs. It's about these things on such a level that you can't actually hold it against the show. Yes, it's loaded with monster tits, but it makes a special effort not to mislead in this regard. Not that this approach is terribly original, but the utter lack of subtly is still welcome as it's at least not playing at trying to be something that it's clearly not. It knows it's immature, and it makes the most of it since, after all, if a show is recognised as being largely about breasts then it's hard to label any such fan service as being gratuitous.
The opening episode's set up is fairly standard: an unfortunate family are chased through the show's desert setting by a group of thugs out to pillage, plunger, and have their way with the lady until they realise that she's attractive on a level that could only possibly appeal to a British prince; and even then you'd still be pushing it. This encapsulates Desert Punk's sense of humour, sadly, by which I refer to this ‘shocking revelation’ of an attempted humorous sort followed by lots of yelling - lots and lots of yelling. It gets painful after a couple of episodes and doesn't really let up, in English or in Japanese, and it's hard not to wish for a little more wit from the scripting. Even a show so shamelessly obsessed with the chest-region could still benefit from just a little more sophistication.
As the logical progression of the set up mentioned above, the show's hero, Sunabozu (or the Desert Punk, if you're watching the dub), shows up to save the day. Since he's billed as fighting for “less-than-noble causes” by the DVD case's blurb, he of course takes them for a huge sum of money for saving their lives. Seconds later and the milk-mounds make their appearance as Sunabozu quickly goes on from his swindling to show that not only is he a little cocky and incompetent, but also prone to bouts of raging hormones whenever a pretty face (and whatever else goes with it) comes his way. Checking to see who has apparently collapsed on the sand in front of him, he meets up with the extremely well endowed Junko, who will later prove to be another bounty hunter and his rival, as she herself puts it. At this point Sunabozu goes nuts, showing a key difference between the two language tracks. The English version of Desert Punk is actually quite well done overall, and even gets away with dubbing over the opening and closing songs, but there are still some shortcomings. The Japanese Sunabozu sounds cocky, goofy, and perhaps a little inept. His English counterpart really only nails the cocky bit, and when forced to take on the perverted aspect of the persona comes across as a little too bipolar.
Moving on from this, as a favour for his latest object of lust Sunabozu takes up the task of dealing with the Kawazu gang, headed by a pudding-obsessed man who is clearly offended by the suggestion that his mother's bellybutton is an ‘outie’ (the English dub doesn't even bother with a euphemism and just calls her a dirty whore), and transforms into a monster as a part of the fit of rage that follows. This is mildly amusing, as it is when Sunabozu realises that Junko has played him at the end of it all. However, this is the just first episode and it becomes progressively less entertaining when the same general structure is repeated again and again afterwards. Novelty bad guys and having the lead character getting manipulated by women won't be enough to sustain interest for a full series.
That said, these are only the initial episodes, and the show may yet branch out to be more varied. The design is certainly solid, with bright skies overlooking faded terrain giving a good feel for the desert without getting gritty enough to undermine the series' comic tone. Action scenes are quite good, although they never seem to quite reach their full potential. The picture and sound quality is great, but that's prerequisite in these days of DVD being the standard, although it's worth mentioning that the soundtrack does fit in quite well and is less obnoxious than all the yelling characters. Disc extras include the (full Japanese) reversible cover and clean opening and closing that you'd expect from a television series release, as well as an interview with the singer, Takatori Hideaki, a ‘making of’ for the show's live-action intro sequence, and English cast auditions to top it all off. The auditions are simultaneously great and disappointing, as they only play clips from those who actually got parts. Also included is an ‘original broadcast’ cut of the first episode complete with cute censorship, which is, for whatever reason, only available in English.
In true school-taught manner, I'm going to close this by saying largely what I've said already. Desert Punk is a decent ride: it's basic and fun for what it is, the animation is quite good, and the action scenes are fairly impressive and feature some nifty gadgets that I'd like to see some more of. Despite this, however, it's let down by some off-mark comedy and none of the characters are hugely original or even particularly likable. Still, it's worth a look if you have the cash and want a straight up piece of dumb fun to serve as a side for whatever your main dish may presently be. Just note that the future potential of the series could swing either way.
Overall : C
Story : C-
Animation : C+
+ Well produced; solid action; potential to improve; boobs.
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