One of the hardest types of anime I find are ones about anti-heroes, about bad guys as stars opposed to the good guys. I’ve only come across 2 shows that have used this idea in my lifetime of anime watching and despite the fact selling (or writing for that matter) a good anti-hero show is insanely difficult, Punk has everything you thought would be in it, and everything you never thought would be in it.
In the great Kanto desert, death and despair are the only things to look forward to in this war torn, criminal ridden landscape. Survival comes to those desperate enough to stab each other in the back for it, and treachery and thievery are the only profitable jobs around. Enter Desert Punk, a greedy, smart mouthed, boob crazy little jack ass whose God like gun skills have earned him the title “Demon of the desert”. It’s life through the sand stained eyes of Punk as he battles crazed mercenaries, handles insanely dangerous jobs, and does every dirty deed in the book all to make a cheap buck.
People say villains are the ones you love to hate, not so often do we get the chance to watch those villains for very long before the pure hearted hero comes to knock them off their evil empires. But in Desert Punk’s case, the villain IS the hero. Punk is a rare breed of an anime show that straps you down and pries your eyes wide open to a world of despicable ruthlessness, and reveals the darkest most depraved sides of humankind in more ways then one. Punk may be our main character, but he is by no means a role model as he is a liar, a thief, a killer, and has goo, goo eyes and gaa, gaa lips for large breasted sand babes.
desert punkVery few animes feature a back stabbing little prick as the main star, which is a shame because as my friend so accurately put it “Yeah he’s a scumbag but he’s likable”. Which is true, and he’s also funny, which is where Punk shines. The fact Punk and the people in this show are constantly seen doing dirty deeds that make you clutch your bibles just a little bit tighter, are almost always nullified by the hilarious uproar of crass humor and smart mouthed remarks. Punk makes swearing funny like you never though and the dialog is crisp, sharp, and witty enough to hear what next dirty little lippy remark is about to crawl out of this guy’s mask.
Characters like the sexy but dangerous vixen Junko, and Punk’s undeniably cute would-be sidekick Kasuno round out a very likable cast for a bunch of bad guys. The show mixes action and humor brilliantly, with a superbly accurate description and detailing of all weapons in the show down to the most minute detail. The action and humor are mixed as well as separately used in wise amounts during each episode. The fight scenes are surprisingly inventive despite relying little on more sci-fi aged weaponry like in “Trigun” (of which is VERY similar to the setting here). The opening/ending sequences are a riot to listen to every time.
The English dub truly shines with great actors who delivery smart, smarmy attitudes to each role, particularly Punk’s VA Eric Vale (Trunks of DBZ). The lines are no where near as funny without the well acted pacing and timing the actors matched whenever a new joke was coming up. They sound and act just as sincere and devious as their characters and its a welcomed pleasure.
Probably one of the reasons people don’t often use rotten scoundrels as the leads for their shows, is because we find ourselves becoming attached to these characters and when the true colors are revealed, as with Punk’s case, you realized the snake you’ve allowed to bit you has venom. Half way through the show the opening and ending songs change as revealed by the director to indicate a “change in mood”. The show becomes more serious (but keeps the humor) halfway into the show, and its here where we find the problem with Punk. First off, obviously people who don’t find raunchy, sexist perverts with morals similar to Charles Manson and mouths like Andrew Dice Clay will not enjoy this.
The show is very mature with its language, there’s even one episode where Punk is protecting a cargo truck full of human crap and ends up getting bathed in it. The problem is not that Punk is a bad guy, but how this realization effects us in the ending. I felt the ending to this was much too damaging to the viewers sense of attachment. The dark “this world sucks” tone is always apparent in the show, but its the ending that really nails it deep into our hearts and well I strongly admit this totally makes sense for the show, unfortunately as viewers are concerned, I did not feel this ending was a wise decision. It left a bitter taste in my mouth and switched one too many gears at the half way point.
desert punk It’s like my friend said about the ending to Silent Hill the movie, “I get it, I understand it…..but I don’t like it”. Which I feel the same way here. Punk’s departure into a darker climatic finish may have worked story faithful wise, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt any less or makes you feel any dirtier then Punk himself. The ending half tips the shows humor/serious mix into a more one sided see saw which is a shame because its humor was so enjoyable, fan wise this ended up hurting our relationships to these characters, even if they are despicable criminals.
Desert Punk is a raunchy, rowdy, down and dirty hilarious show that brings Trigun’s world of wild, wild west and high tech guns into a whole new level of story telling and humor. Like “Tremors” and “Gremlins”, the bad guys know how to make the show fun and maintain a consistently dark/serious storyline based message at the same time. Its a truly rare and difficult thing to accomplish. The humor and characters are accurate and comically entertaining in a world filled with such spite, and the action sequences truly are diverse and delightful in their creativity. Unfortunately as I said the ending makes you choke on its sour taste, and it hurts your enjoyable experience with the characters. By all means, this is an anime I really, really loved and gladly recommend to those interested, just be prepared for a faithfully accurate ending buzz kill at the end of the ride.
Voice Acting: 9/10
Visuals & Animation: 8/10
Music & Sound: 6/10