Kakugo and Harara are siblings trained to fight the monsters roaming in post-apocalyptic 21st-century Tokyo. To aid them, Kakugo and Harara were entrusted with "Zero armors", exoskeletons forged from the souls of deceased warriors. After Harara succumbs to the evil within the armor, it is up to Kakugo to defeat his sibling.
Now, when we talk about the "worst anime of all time", we usually talk about productions with terrible plots, but at least stuff like 6 Angels and Voltage Fighter Gowcaizer is fun to mock and laugh at and inflict on our unsuspecting friends. This is not the case with Apocalypse Zero, a show so heinous and so irredeemably terrible that anyone involved with this show really ought to be ashamed of themselves for putting their name on it. There are so many things wrong with this show that it's really hard to figure out where to begin. I'll try anyway, because I have to.
For one, this show features what must surely be the ugliest, most distorted character designs I've seen in over twenty years watching this medium, and that's the good guys. The art, by and large, is absolutely horrible, and the animation does it no favors, either. Even for the mid-1990s, this stuff looks subpar even during the most detailed action scenes.
This may indeed be a blessing in disguise, because those action scenes are only rivaled by hentai in their wretchedness in content. What we get is Kakugo putting on his ugly blue Guyver / Baoh-wannabe power suit to fight a barrage of the most bizarre, unattractive, and outright sexually offensive "mutants" ever to grace the screen.
To give you an idea, we have Hamuko, a giant, grossly obese woman in clown makeup and bondage gear that leaves literally nothing to the imagination. We see her attack a high-school couple by taking the girlfriend and literally squeezing her to death by forcing her innards out her mouth while delivering what must surely be the worst line in anime history: "It's what's on the inside that counts!" She then proceeds to kiss the face off the boyfriend before eating him alive. This *should* end it all for the poor guy, but nope: he gets regurgitated later, half-digested and yet still alive. Another enemy is Eikichi, a naked old man with a cane and wearing nothing but bandages on places no old man should be showing in public. His attacks? Freezing spittle, and then sprays of something else, and yes, this involves those bandages coming off. Don't even get me started on the femme fatale nurse and her "Double Big Tit Bomb". (Yes, that's the actual attack name.)
I'm not entirely sure if Go Nagai would be green with envy, or blush in embarrassment, but it's safe to say that Apocalypse Zero outdoes every one of his works combined in violence and crassness.
Further compounding the sheer dearth of quality in this anime is the writing. Post-apocalyptic Tokyo is clearly shown as being largely uninhabitable, and yet this show's characters are still compelled to attend school and go to class in full uniform, as if drawn by some Pavlovian urge to go through the motions of a normal series. This, of course despite the constant depredations of mutants, giant cockroaches, and whatever else is out there. How any of these morons manage to survive fifteen minutes in this barren wasteland is one of the great unsolved mysteries of Japanese animation. I imagine there must be some sort of student factory somewhere in this future Tokyo, made specifically to put out bait for the bad guys. That explanation would certainly make more sense than anything else in this series.
Then there's the plot, where Kakugo is supposed to fight his sister Harara, who has (rather understandably) given up on mankind and "fallen to the evil in her armor", saving humanity by killing it, one schoolkid at a time. Never mind that armor forged specifically to save mankind really shouldn't be evil, but hey, it's not as if the writers were smart enough to have this make any damn sense. In fact, half the time, Harara is referred to as being Kakugo's brother, something infinitely that would be more believable if she didn't have breasts. I don't even want to think that this was Yamaguchi's attempt at depicting a transgendered character, considering that Harara's characterization and personality constitute a rather severe insult to all the actual transgendered people out there. Maybe she's secretly Marilyn Manson. Or maybe it's Maybelline. Maybe we don't really even give a damn. You certainly won't, even when Kakugo very predictably beats her and saves the world for ugly, poorly drawn high school kids everywhere.
Honestly, if you can even get through the utterly obscene mutants and actually follow the plot, you are either far more forgiving than I could ever hope to be, or smoking a lot of questionably legal substances. That may indeed be the only way to handle Apocalypse Zero without losing your lunch, your appreciation of anime or even film as a medium, and possibly your hope in humanity. Neither masochism nor schadenfreude is a valid excuse to be caught watching this embarrassing, poorly crafted, relentlessly offensive series.
Stay the hell away from this hopeless Apocalypse.
The number of stars this title truly deserves is right there in the title: Zero.
Recommended Audience: Due to extreme violence, nudity, and sexual themes, I can recommend this to absolutely no one except those with the hardiest of constitutions. Okay, no, not even then: you shouldn't waste your constitution on this thing.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (2/2)
Apocalypse Zero © 1996 Takayuki Yamaguchi / Akita Shoten / Big West
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