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What makes anime that is “so bad it’s good” so fun to watch? Maybe the show tries too hard to be serious that it ends up being comical as a result. Maybe the show has an a terrible, over-the-top English dub that’s so inept that it’s charming, instead of grating. Regardless of why the show is seen this way, anime of this nature is an acquired taste. One of the poster children for “so bad it’s good” anime is Mad Bull 34, an OVA that gleefully tramples the boundaries of good taste.
Daizaburo “Eddie” Ban is a rookie cop that was recently assigned to the NYPD’s 34th Precinct. Seasoned cops know that the 34th is the roughest beat in the city. . Shortly after his arrival, Ban is assigned to be the partner of John “Sleepy” Estes, better known as “Mad Bull” due to his violent brand of street justice . Together, they set out to clean up the mean streets of New York” or something.
The story sounds simple enough: a buddy cop story about two police officers cleaning up the streets of New York. New York City is portrayed as a crime ridden city full of drug dealers, ladies of the evening, and assassins. One the surface this does not sound very impressive, but the stories and the content within the stories that makes Mad Bull 34 infamous. While it is not uncommon for anime or even Western media to get the United States or parts of the United States incorrect, the way NYC is shown here in Mad Bull 34 is both groan-worthy and hilarious at the same time.
Over the years, the series gained a degree of notoriety for its portrayal of women. Most females are shown to be prostitutes that purely exist as a source of T&A . The few females who are not prostitutes in this series end up having stories revolve around being rescued by Daizaburo and Sleepy from an attempted rape. That isn’t to say that there are not strong females in the series, though. For example, Perrine is a lieutenant in the police force who helps Daizaburo and Sleepy during their cases, as well as the antagonist in the last episode.
The animation is bad even for the standards of the early nineties. It is cheap and has not aged very well. The character designs range from decent to downright ugly. While there is some fanservice in Mad Bull 34, it is a small aspect of the series that pales in comparison to what modern shows usually dish out. The real attraction comes from the series’s extreme levels of violence. After all, the show is set in America, and what American city does not have gruesome acts of violence on a daily basis? The gore levels don’t measure up to shows like Blood –C, but it is enough that the displays could upset some audiences.
Discotek’s release features both the original Japanese dub and the Manga Entertainment dub. The Manga dub was recorded in UK using British voice actors. What makes it unique is the fact that the voice actors make an attempt to sound more “American” by performing with American accents. While it is not impossible for non-Americans to pull off an American accent (for example, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Dr. Stranglelove pulled this off), Manga’s attempt does not come anywhere close to convincing. The accents for the majority of the cast are forced and sound fake. On top the hammy performance, the script for the English dub is laced with more profanity than in the Japanese script. In comparison, the Japanese dub is better, but still not great. While this reviewer prefers the Japanese audio, the English dub simply must be heard to see how hysterical it can get.
Mad Bull 34 has a lot going against it. The art style is unattractive and ugly, the English dub is bad, it’s sexist, and the violence would put a modern Hollywood action film to shame. Despite the negatives, though, the series has some charm to it. If the show took itself seriously, it would just be offensive. However, the over-the-top nature of Mad Bull 34 takes things from offensive to something so cheesy that it almost becomes a comedy. Because of this, it’s easy to see exactly why Mad Bull 34 is the poster child for “so bad it’s good” shows everywhere.