What the hell did I just watch?
What DID you just watch?
I'm still trying to process it, but this movie, Violence Voyager, made with what they call "geki-mation," is one of the most bizarre, disturbing, hilarious, and insane things I have ever seen, and that includes a few fever dreams that I've had in my life, and that one time Tammi with an "i" slipped me some LSD-laced pot brownies and I watched the sunrise on Jupiter with the cast of Cheers and SpongeBob.
It felt like the ramblings of someone who loves gore and creepy-looking mutants, but who also hates children more than Mr. Wilson and Freddy Krueger combined.
Wait, back up. What is "geki-mation"?
It’s weird is what it is, but weird in a good way. Geki-mation is like a mix of anime and manga. The way this movie is made is with hand-painted backgrounds and hand-painted paper dolls that the animator moves in real-time, changing up the paper dolls whenever the characters need to perform a new action, like say pick up a gun or vomit gratuitously (both of which occur with regularity in this flick). I got used to the odd style relatively quickly, but I never got used to the really fucked up visuals even by the end of its hour and a twenty-minute runtime.
So, what is Violence Voyager about?
Do you want a plot rundown or a substance rundown?
Violence Voyager is about two stupid kids living in some dinky rural town in Japan: American ginger, Bobby, and magnificently-deformed Akkun. Bobby and Akkun are social pariah’s at their school, but they have a third friend in their group (who recently moved to a new town on the other side of the mountain) who they plan to go see in order to tell him how much they get made fun of in school and how much their lives still suck.
During their trek to see their amigo, Bobby and Akkun meet the creepiest chimpanzee you’ve ever seen, as well the ape's owner, Old Man Lucky-Monkey. I did not just make that name up. That’s apparently his proper name. But I digress... There’s a WHOLE LOT more silliness in this otherwise horrific tale than just one old geezer's handle and the fact that he owns a super-intelligent chimp who he lets roam freely just a few hundred yards from a housing development.
Mr. Funny-Monkey warns the boys to avoid any shortcuts to the next town over due to some mysterious child disappearances in the area, but the two boys being who they are (i.e. moronic simpletons who never heed any good advice), they say "fuck him," and continue on the path that Akkun says he discovered which'll save them oodles of time. Goddamn that Akkun!
They’re both going to die terrible, painful deaths, aren’t they?
Shhh! Just let me continue. So the boys take their shortcut and come across a sign that points to what appears to be an abandoned amusement park, Violence Voyager. When they approach the ticket booth of said park they meet a cranky, pedo-looking, bald dude who lets them in for free just because. The amusement park revolves around a really lame water-gun game wherein the guests put on rain coats and then pathetically shoot pop-up robots and things that shoot water back at them.
During this pitiful preteen rumpus, the two boys come across a girl who's been hiding in the park for a few days. She doesn't know where her boyfriend is, but she thinks he’s dead, and she warns our protags that there are horrible secrets hidden in this entertainment center of doom.
Then Bobby and Akkun find out that the bridge they crossed to get to Violence Voyager has vanished and the girl gets captured after they run into a super psychotic rottweiler and what appears to be a weird-looking midget robot. Bobby and Wafflehead Akkun then follow the midget robot's trail to one of the more omninous buildings in the park, and there they meet a bunch of other kids who are hiding out from the craziness outside in some enormous underground lair. These kids are then PROMPTLY HORRIBLY MURDERED by that sadistic midget robot who can squirt acid out of its hands.
Then more people die, Bobby finds out what's really going on with Violence Voyager, a few more people die (grotesquely), a cat named Derek, a giant bat, and that chimp from before get involved, and then out pops a giant robot (it’s a Japanese anime, of course there’s a giant robot) which kills more things.
Then it ends. Violently, of course.
That sounds... like something. So, what is it about, in like its substance?
Violence Voyager is actually about body horror and gross-out violence. Ever see a Cronenberg movie and think, "Gee, that was a swell idea, but what I really needed was more children getting dreadfully melted by acid, or turned into mightily disgusting, eye-bulging, veiny, nightmare brutes"? Well then, this is definitely the movie for you.
It’s quirky-weird from the beginning, and that almost-goofiness is used to throw you off its scent, but this movie’s number one goal is to gross you out. And it succeeds. Greatly.
It's not bad at what it does, and in fact by embracing its insanity and straight-out running with it until the very end, it succeeds in keeping its tone and sense of doom for its entire runtime without getting old. Very few movies actually achieve this.
Well, did you like it or not?
I did, well enough. I honestly have never seen anything like this thing before in my life. It’s story, geki-mation, and its overall tone were pretty goddamn unique. It is far from perfect, but with all the winks and nudges that it gives the viewer, it is perfectly clear that the writer/director (one Ujicha) put a whole lot of love into this thing. If this wasn't the final product that he wanted, then I'd be curious to see what the studio made him cut out... Well, on second thought, maybe I wouldn't.
What didn't you like about it?
Not much, really. As I said, this movie had really specific goals and it nailed them for the most part. There were a few times when Ujicha went for a gross-out moment that simply felt forced, but most of the gore and puke were keeping with the overall tone.
There are a few things that I wanted to bring up in case someone online has an answer for me. Number one: Does Ujicha just like to draw people "in shock"? Whenever a character is talking they always look like someone surprised them by cupping their balls. It's weird.
Number two: Why do Akkun and his bro have such fucked-up heads? As far as I can remember this has never been explained, but just looking at ol' waffle-head Akkun throughout this flick I just want to know if his dad beat him in the face with a tennis racquet or tortured him by slamming his giant forehead on a 1950s typewriter keyboard whenever he disappointed him... Which was probably daily.
Number three: If so many children were going missing in these tiny mountain towns, how the FUCK didn't the prefectural police find this amusement park of terrors? It was apparently around 50 acres of old, haunted-looking buildings built smack-dab in between two rural villages, which were only a good hour's walk apart. I'd say the cops were probably bribed by Creepy McCreeperson, the creator and owner of Violence Voyager, but that dude had to be flat broke, what with barely anyone ever visiting his rundown facility, and no repeat customers.
And number four: Just who hurt Ujicha so badly to make him create such a goofy/terrible child-torture movie like this? If it was someone who looked like the demented Violence Voyager creator, then it had to have been Jared Kushner. Weird.
Is that all you got?
God. Fucking. Damn it.
The next time the Rossman catches me making out with my hand after I painted a face on it to look like my boss, and he gives me the option of power-washing his house or watching a movie with him, I'm going to make the right choice and just murder him and dump his body in Jimmy Jammer's basement and then burn the whole place down.
I will never get the visual of a naked, mutated, bug-eyed, genital-free, freak of nature shitting some white goo on the floor, and then having a monkey play with it... I think that monkey played with it... Fuck it, I refuse to watch it again to see if the monkey played with it! But that mutant boy DID shit white goo on the floor, and that is seared into my brain.
I don't know who came up with the plot of this movie, or how sick they may be in real life, or why someone actually funded it, but I thank all the individuals involved for making this thing a reality.
I thought that nothing would top that one death in Bone Tomahawk, but goddamn it if this movie didn't do its overall best to try and turn itself into an entire hour and a half of deaths that tried to top that single mutilation in Bone Tomahawk!