© 1996 Takayuki Yamaguchi / Akita Shoten / Big West
I'm really not to sure what to make of Apocalypse Zero. At first glance it seems pretty much like a post-apocalyptic gore-fest with a superhero in a funky suit of living armor. Think The Guyver meets Fist of the Northstar. At the same time, the freakish, ill-proportioned character art, utterly ridiculous mutant monsters, and bizarre transvestite villain(ess?) almost turns it towards something comical. That is, if you can withstand the assault against anything even remotely decent.
The plot in Apocalypse Zero makes as little sense as anything else. Apparently the world has suffered some sort of crisis on an apocalyptic scale, leaving everything (well, Tokyo at least) in ruins. Leave it to humanity's ever present will to survive, and here we have a small group of humans trying to make something out of the chaos in which they live. The problem is, that like any post-apocalyptic world, there are an abundance of completely demented mutant creatures willing to kill anything and everything in their path. But rather than organize any sort of armed resistance against these monsters, people just seem to go about their normal routine. In this case, that means kids heading off to school every day. Huh?
Now, I'm not entirely sure why education has suddenly become so vital in a world devoid of any sort of natural resource and fraught with peril, but that's the nature of Apocalypse Zero. It just doesn't make sense. Nor does Harara's unending will to eradicate humanity in an effort to create a utopia all while tucked in his (her?) Dark Crystal-style fortress.
The point of Apocalypse Zero just seems to be an assault on everything sensible or decent. Blood and gore is served up by the gallon, whether it be a girl being squeezed until her intestines pop out her mouth, or a young man having his face ripped off then swallowed whole to be digested (and later regurgitated as a partially-digested, but living skeleton). Then there are the mutants, from the colossal woman in a too-revealing dominatrix outfit with clown makeup, to the giant blue fellow with a large phallus which he uses as a microphone during a rock solo, or the indestructible ecchi-nurse whose weapon is her very own "Double Big Tit Bomb". I couldn't make this stuff up on a good day. And in all of this we have our hero in his Guyver-like armor waging battle and finishing off the mutants with heaps of blood, gore, and internal organs.
The artwork in Apocalypse Zero, like everything else, is very bizarre. Colors are quite vivid and bright, in stark contrast to the supposed bleak world in which everyone lives. The character designs are so stylized they're just plain ugly, with many of the characters sporting grotesquely disproportionate features (even for anime). And I don't even want to know the mind that came up with the designs for the mutant creatures.
Apocalypse Zero tries to be as repulsive as it can be and succeeds quite well on that note. But the lack of originality combined with the vapid plot, ugly artwork, dull characters, and utter lack of humor sucks out any possible enjoyment from this (thankfully) brief series. If you want post-apocalyptic bloody mayhem grab Fist of the Northstar or Battle Angel. Apocalypse Zero deserves to fade into its own mediocrity.
The Verdict: * 1/2 (very poor)
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