While I would not consider myself the biggest fan, I do enjoy anime and manga from time to time. From the more mainstream anime series such as My Hero Academia to even the more obscure manga like that of Ikigami you can say I certainly have an appreciation for the two forms of media. One of my favorite manga creators to date is that of Junji Ito who is responsible for some of the most fascinating and horrific stories to ever cross the ocean, exploring dark themes that are downright nightmarish. When I first encountered Violence Voyager, I thought that my broad view of Anime and Manga would prepare me for my first experience with Ujicha’s incredible work, I am not sure anything could have. Violence Voyager is, hands down,one of the most disturbing and fascinating stories I have ever seen.
A young american boy named Bobby and his Japanese friend Akkun venture into the mountains of Japan hoping to meet up with their old friend school friend while also looking for a place for their ‘secret base’. After ignoring a warning from their elderly friend ‘Old Man Lucky Monkey’ the two face the horrors of the mountain forest and experience events that will change their lives forever. I mean that literally.
Written and Directed by Ujicha Violence Voyager (Baiorensu boijâ) is presented in a unique animation style known as Gekimation making use of fully painted cardboard cutouts and various liquid elements to tell his nightmarish story.
As I watched Violence Voyager I immediately thought of the dark works of Junji Ito, but Ujicha takes that style of storytelling to a whole new level. What starts out as a simple adventure takes a turn for the bizarre as Bobby and his friend Akkun are exposed to the evil machinations of a mad scientist who is not only kidnapping children but altering their bodies in grotesque and absurd ways. The reasons behind these experiments is even more bizarre and never really fully explained despite discovering the motivation for the scientist’s efforts.
This itself film is modern fairy tale serving as a warning against trusting strangers that blends elements from Doctor Moreau, Frankenstein and even bits of The Theater of the Absurd, and then distorts and changes these things into an abomination that mimics the creatures in it’s very story. To say that this film comes from out of left field is certainly an understatement and, while I wish I could explain the plot in full, even the brief description above fails to fully capture the jarring insanity this film provides.
One of the most disturbing aspects, and there are many, is Ujicha’s use of fluids in his animation. Throughout the film the incredible cardboard art is coupled with actual liquids and substances that may or may not be the real things. From water to what looks like actual blood, this element gives the film an almost too real quality that only succeeds in making it all that more bizarre.
I want to say I recommend this film but I am honestly not sure who I would recommend it to. It is by far the most disturbing piece of art I have ever witnessed and that in itself makes it worth the watch. Just the shear effort that went into this film is an achievement in itself. Ujicha is an incredible animator and artist coupled with the ability to present a truly absurd and bat shit crazy story. Combined with an extremely talented voice cast, this film is as incredibly stunning as it is disturbing. Although he is extremely talented, the story itself begs to ask if his art is an extension of some dark recesses in his mind that harbors some serious demons. I have to wonder what kind of mind such a story could come from but I would honestly be afraid to ask. That being said, I would love to see Ujicha’s adaptation of Ito’s Uzimaki using the same Gekimation style.
I have seen some really weird shit in my life but Violence Voyager really takes the cake. It is both visually stunning and sickening all at the same time giving it a very unique place in Asian animated cinema. If you enjoy the works of David Kronenberg, the writing of Junji Ito, or even the absurdity of David Lynch, this might be something you would enjoy. It is certainly not for everyone and, frankly, I am not sure who this film is intended for except the artist himself. Needless to say, this film will stick in your mind for some time after so be sure to have a palate cleanser soon after to clear out some of the more disturbing images. Fair warning, while this may be animated, it is certainly not for the kids.
DarkCoast will release the film onto digital streaming platforms Oct. 21 (Amazon, DirecTV, FlixFling, VImeo on Demand, Vudu, FANDANGO and AT&T) so, if you are brave enough, be there to give it a go.
Till next time,
Late To The Game 10/7/2019
Be sure to check out our other reviews of films from Tricoast Entertainment.
If you would like to read more reviews please check out the rest of the Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday.
For more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here. and, If you dig Music, I have a semi regular series called Stand Out Albums that covers some of my favorite records I have come across in life.
As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these episodes as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!