Sometime you look at a mirror, stare at your own reflection, with Michael Jackson “Man in the Mirror” track playing in the background, and contemplate the meaning of existence itself. Very few anime will ever make you think on a deep, and philosophical level. Encouraging a change in your that you might have never expected. Wounded Man, is not that anime. It’s from the glorious era of the 80s which seems to be littered with endless amount of bonker OVAs. As usual, much like the coherency of Wounded Man, it’s all just a scattershot post of thoughts.
Before I continue, I should establish one of my two (the other is Ashita no Joe if you’re curious) favorite manga of all time is Lone Wolf & Cub by writer Kazuo Koike. The man who also wrote the Lady Snowblood manga, and wrote the film adaptation which inspired Quentin Tarantino Kill Bill series. With these two manga alone, Kazuo Koike could have simply retired, and be widely remembered as one of the great storytellers in manga. Obviously he continued given his success, especially from the world wide acclaim for Lone Wolf & Cub. Yet, somewhere in his career he found a fascination with American culture, and created some idiotic manga which eventually got made into OVAs. One of these is the schlocky, and very, very dumb Mad Bull 34 enjoyable for all the wrong reasons, and also today’s OVA is just as dumb. Just with the entertainment factor, and a giant guy flipping over a tank missing from its insane plot. Oh yeah, it’s manga also got licensed by Comicone, and yes, you can officially buy the manga in English. Baffling considering, from the images I quickly looked over online of the Japanese version, seems to be a faithful adaptation of the same terrible content. With less sex presumably because one of the random volume I clicked on had just panels, after panels of what I could only interpret as tragic sex. Sometimes the world doesn’t make any sense.
Wounded Man attempts to tell the classic tale of the Vanguard of Soccer (who actually plays football), Rio Baraki, seeking vengeance on a porno company that took the life of his girlfriend. If that sounds too ridiculous to take seriously, don’t worry because the anime will make sure you take it seriously in all the wrong the ways. For starter, the first appearance of our Vanguard of Soccer is during his random encounter with news reporter Yuko Kusaka who goes to Brazil for a news story about gold in a village. Now how would one go about introducing our lead character in the first episode? By obviously attacking the news reporter, raping her, and later claiming after he’s done raping her that he did it for her own good! To paraphrase, the rape he gave her is only a small fraction of the dangers she could experience in the amazon of Brazil. This happened in the first six minutes of episode 1, which might actually be the quickest an anime I’ve seen getting to a rape scene.
Once it introduces Rio Baraki in this manner it’s impossible to eliminate the bad taste it leaves in your mouth. This wouldn’t be an issue if he wasn’t the main character! Not only that, but the story clearly wants you to root for Rio Baraki as he conquers many challenges until the day he finally gets vengeance. Providing a sob story about how the woman he loved got killed after a series of stupid events. One of them including in episode 1, Rio swimming in Piranha infested water as a form of apology for raping the news reporter. He comes out unscathe, and the news reporter forgives him! Revenge is solid motivation for the story, except for the fact Rio Baraki rapes another woman in episode 4, and in the span of five episodes falls in love with three other women. So he’s unable to differentiate love, and lust much in the same way he’s incapable of keeping his dick in his pants. How am I supposed to sympathize with Rio when every time he fucks a woman he later falls in love with them. Everytime! I’m suppose to feel sorry for this guy? Yeah, that ain’t happening.
What story Wounded Man does offer is purely nonsensical going from point A, skipping a couple of steps, and finally end up at the ending credits. It’s simply one stupid event after another. One moment you’ll Rio self inserting himself into a young woman who he tied up to a wooden boat steering wheel in order to get her on his side (don’t ask), and next thing you know you have a hysterical woman laughing while the boat is on fire. My mere description of this moment does it no justice. It’s something else entirely to witness it, and just be in awe someone thought this was something that should have been animated.
Would you believe me in episode 5 there’s a random tangent about Helicopters leading in to a pointless fight between two war veteran because one of them shot down a Helicopter. Aside from being completely stupid, it’s also lacking in a sense of fun. It’s takes itself way too seriously despite the fact it’s filled to the brim with stupid writing. For example, in episode 2 Rio is able to pick up an entire tree with ease, and throw it as Indian tribe! Not convince it’s stupid enough? Well, the news reporter Rio raped in episode 1 falls in love with him despite her stating she hates his guts for what he did, and will be apart from him until she gets revenge before confessing her love for him! In episode 4, he thinks the way to get Misty, a young assassin, on his side is by tying her up on a boat wooden steering wheel, and yes, self insert himself into Misty. In case you’re wondering, yes Misty too also falls in love with Rio!
Now before the plot twist in episode 5 which makes the whole series feels utterly pointless in viewing because everything beforehand has to be taken at face value. Think about it, before the plot twist you’re meant to believe there’s a evil porno company going around kidnapping famous people, and forcing them to into porn for large amount of profits. Watching episode, after episode thinking about the fact we have former football player going up against evil porno company for killing his girlfriend. This is the kind of stuff you wouldn’t expect a sane person to come up with, except for the fact someone did, and nutcase at Comicone thought it was perfect to license, translate the manga, and officially sell it! Once there’s more revealed about the porno company it gets dumber since it eventually takes Rio to the good old US, and by the last episode has a quick word with the president of the US. After you get the plot twist, it doesn’t make any sense since it just opens a bigger can of worms.
The twist is worthless since there’s so little to Rio as a character, and wholly unlikable through his action that nothing felt gained in his journey. He’s a single minded character with no depth. If that was the point of Wounded Man that would be one thing, except for the fact it was not. This could have been remedied with interesting characters, except for the fact there aren’t much to the other characters besides the bizarre assortment of situations they get into.
With everything I’ve described you would also be misled into thinking this is an entertaining series to watch. When the bonker events aren’t happening there’s plenty of more dead air to fill the space. Most of it feels pointless. Talking about things I’ve already forgot about. Except for the odd insert of possibly moving away from revenge who you know could lead to some kind of development, but doesn’t since Rio is single minded, and there’s no insight provided into his mind. Well scratch that, he does love to fuck a lot, regardless if the woman wants it, or not. What a man!
One thing that would have improved the experience, though not by much, would have been watching this with better English subtitles. At the time I chose to watch Wounded Man I saw it terrible fansubs. Allegedly, the version I saw was from a Chinese knock off DVD, and simply use Google translate to for the subtitles. They are of poor quality. Not poor enough to prevent you from the gritty details of the story, but poor enough where it’ll feel like it’s different langue to you. On the rare occasion, the bad subtitles add some fun to the OVA for how confusing it is. My favorite example is Rio saying “There’s a Japanese saying. Shower, or woman. It doesn’t matter”. What is that suppose to mean! There’s also another moment where bullets clearly hit Rio multiple times, you’ll get shown the doctors removing the bullets from Rio body, and the doctor comes out to say “It’s okay. Bullets always miss the target”. No, I have idea what the people, person were smoking when translating this, because I’m pretty sure they weren’t smart enough to know how to smoke.
To further add insult to injury, after I finished the OVA I quickly discovered on YouTube someone provided better subtitles for Wounded Man. So naturally I went back to see what the Japanese saying in episode 1 was, and again, I still have no clue what the heck it means. This time, the saying is “Rain in buckets, or a woman. Neither one, or the other, doesn’t matter”. At this point, the only way to truly find out what Rio meant is either I learn Japanese, or buy the manga. Obviously, I would prefer the former because ain’t no way I’m obtaining the Wounded Man manga…at least this moment. It can easily be found on YouTube, and with a better comprehensible translation than the version I saw. However, I recommend going with the worse subtitles since you’ll get some unintentional laughs.
Now with everything I’ve said about Wounded Man, you’ll be wrong to assume I’ll tell you to skip this. No, quite the opposite because I suffered through this trash of an OVA, and I might as well encourage you to seek this out to share in my suffering. See everything it has to offer from cheap animation, overly dramatic music, and over the top voice acting. Experience it in Wounded Man!
If I were to give this a rating I would say a 1 out of 10, which still seems to high!