Guest Review – Wild 7
Hey there! My name’s Don “Kangol” Jones. I run a blog called the Check-in Station where I talk about anime, manga, animation and pervy stuff. Feel free to stop by anytime. I’m here helping out my buddy Prede (that’s right, I just gave you a nickname) talk about the wonders of old school anime. Or at least anime that isn’t of this century.
It’s been quite a long time since I’ve indulged in the good old ultra violence. It’s been almost as long since I’d partaken in a viewing of something “old school”. I wouldn’t say I’d outgrown the former or lost interest in the latter, but I’d outgrown the former and lost interest in the latter. There are exceptions, like the mecha genre (I desperately need to finish VOTOMS and someone needs to go to jail for not fansubbing Dragonar), and some Gainax and Studio Ghibli material. So I always felt like that kinda stuff was always better left to specialists and experts who wallow in that sort of material to their endless joy. I must be a real stick in the mud because boy have I missed out!
I’m gonna try to drop a recently picked up habit of trying to paraphrase the entire story to help get my point across. This will be more of a review. This isn’t my blog, so “when in Rome”…
The titular Wild 7 are a group of misfit delinquents – actually, that’s not strong enough, nor accurate enough description. The Wild 7 is a group of psychotic assassins that would make the A-Team sh*t their pants! A group of badasses cobbled together by one of the city’s most stubborn and professional police officers to clean up a town so mired in corruption and blood that it would give Gotham, Detroit and the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah a run for their money for worst place to live. And let me tell you, if you think this is a stupid idea then give yourself a pat on the back. You’re a normal well adjusted human being with a shred of sense left in your body. If you think it’s a good idea, then I hope to God that you’re never put in a position of power, nor are you in one now. Seriously, deploying these guys to a location should be an act of war, in their own country! But I’m getting ahead of myself, I have to properly vet these psychos first.
The first part of this two-part OVA starts by letting you know just how rebellious this group is and how crime-ridden the city has become to make them a necessity. Especially at the beginning I counted several instances of Intense Animated Over-Violence (I.A.O.V.), by this I mean the stuff like seeing bullets going through heads and exploding eye balls, pieces of skull being blown off, or human beings just being blown to bits and the animators making sure that you at least get a glimpse of how the victims were torn apart. And we’re introduced to the backstories of the Wild 7 one by one as they make their initial appearances. I found it a bit funny how they would list some crimes and their number of convictions and then just go “etc.” and move on. It almost made me feel like they were trying to hide the fact that maybe along with murder, racketeering, fraud and terrorist activities, perhaps they didn’t want to list the time one of the Wild 7 stole a candy bar or didn’t pay for gas. And of all the backstories, I found the one most hilarious and entertaining was the hippie dude (who is huge) who bombed military installations! Dude! How he still alive?! Just in that one clip they showed he blew up a plane and set people on fire! How was he not shot to death?! Matter of fact, how are these guys even capable of being cops?!
Despite there being seven members in this group of various ages, sizes and specialties, the leader seems to be the youngest of the bunch. A brash, highly skilled and tenacious punk named Hiba, and played by some guy named Adam Paul. For some reason his voice is super familiar to me, but I can’t place it. He’s probably had a lot of small parts in other dubbed anime that he doesn’t get much credit for. The voice cast all in all does a decent job. Nothing even close to above par, but good enough that I think the voice actors grew into their roles and I could adapt to the performances as they did. ( The dub on this was produced by Sky Quest Entertainment in Los Angeles. Urban Vision used them to dub all their titles that didn’t already have an old Streamline dub. Sky Quest did the top notch dub on BioHunter that I mentioned in my review, along with their so-so dub on Pet Shop of Horrors. - Prede)
Much of the first part of the OVA doesn’t feel like setup, but it is. Still, I can’t complain when I get to see high speed chases that end in explosions, and seem to be inspired by Hollywood action movie directing. The whole production is ridiculous and over the top, and one part where I thought they threatened to go overboard was when we get introduced to a thug hideout that isn’t just headquarters for a bunch of goons, it’s a freaking transforming fortress, complete with steel barriers and bulletproof glass. Hell, it even had a giant mechanized fly swatter on the roof that completely destroyed a helicopter. Dude!
The cast and the action isn’t overshadowed by these theatrics though, as we see the other six members of the Wild 7 show some of their stuff, and even show that they have a deep bond between them. Hints are also given into what will be going on soon, as we see glimpses of the Motorcycle Knights. Yes, that’s their name. And the narrative gets pointed in the direction of a powerful and overarching mastermind that you would imagine the Wild 7 would have to deal with soon enough. I had to say that I was pretty excited going into the second and final part of this OVA How would they top this nonsense?
The second part of the OVA starts off on a sour note as the chemistry among the Wild 7 may be good, but the trust between them and their superior is at an all time low. To make matters worse, one of their team gets ambushed and put in the hospital. One thing leads to another, and the plot is peeled away layer by layer. There’s some crap involving politics, a criminal syndicate wanting to use mass media to control the country, partially with idols. And they even throw in an Amazon for good measure (man that lady was scary). I don’t understand how in the world the bad guys came up with this ridiculous plot, but apparently they think people are idiots, or at least a bunch of pot heads with terrible memories. A large part of their plan involves using personalities that they’d already used to bomb a subway and kill dozens of people. The goons are never given a change of appearance to hide that fact, and are even featured in an upcoming TV show. How does this information not get out?! I thought my American news organizations were bad. How do you get away with using your goons in a terrorist act when you definitely need to use them with a squeaky clean image?! Arrgh! This isn’t a plot hole, this is a black hole that plots can’t escape. Then again, when you find yourself watching a show where death row criminals are hired by cops to become assassins to kill high ranking criminals, you have to admit that you’re watching something that’s already in a bit of a preposterous universe.
My difficulty trying to leap the canyon that is my suspense of disbelief aside, this second half had a decent conclusion, with one awesome closing shot. And most importantly, the action is always great! The penultimate moment is the battle between the Motorcycle Knights (ugh) and the Wild 7. It’s part Mad Max like vehicle battle in the subway, and part absolutely ridiculous high speed chase. And it concludes in a showdown on foot, on a moving train, on a bridge! And yes, people die all over the place. The whole production ends on a great, though easily guessed and cliche note, wrapping up everything quite neatly. What a ride!
Overall I found the whole production surprisingly aesthetically pleasing in the visual and auditory sense. Animation wise, what I liked about the show wasn’t so much the animation, but the directing of it. I loved the pacing and intensity of the chase sequences. They were fast without being hastily chopped up, therefore making them easy enough to follow. I also loved the technique of showing Hiba’s view from the bike as he raced through crowded streets or a subway that could have a train coming up in front or behind him at any moment. The only thing I really didn’t like visually was perhaps the color palette and some of the character designs. Both of these issues were very minor. Speaking of minor, this is a small attention to detail, but I found it a nice touch that the Wild 7 for the most part actually held their guns like they knew what they were doing! It’s a small pet peeve, but whenever I see someone holding a gun sideways or crooked, and it’s not for comedic effect, then I get a little angry inside.
The surprise star of this presentation was the music. The hard driving rock music really, really fit this production and got me hyped for the upcoming scene every time it came on. Sometimes the music would come on so hard it would be funny, like one time when part of the Wild 7 was trying to figure out if they were going to disobey orders (as if we didn’t know how that was gonna go). The guitar riff came on so hard and lasted so long that I burst out into laughter. I just thought, “really, they’re gonna let the guitarist do a whole solo? Yes. Yes they are.” But I don’t think that music was ever inappropriately used, or tastelessly handled. One of the best points regarding that is that there are plenty of scenes without any background music what so ever. Music is never used to just fill space. I’d dare go and say that it’s almost too subdued, since I there were some scenes with action where I wished that that awesome music would have kicked in sooner.
I could easily recommend this production to most anyone who likes action and is old enough and mature enough to handle it. Wild 7 is unabashed in how dumb and ridiculous it is. But that is the best thing it has going for it. It fits right in with those big silly, action packed summer movies that draw you out of the heat and into an air conditioned movie theater, with only the simplest expectations of fantasy and entertainment. If you want to surprise someone with a good time and anime they haven’t heard of before, try Wild 7. If you look hard enough you can still find the VHS online; it was released on VHS by Urban Vision but unfortunately is has never been given the digital disc treatment. And there’s no reason why something like Wild 7, something of its era, can’t be more popular. There’s no reason that it can’t show up on Adult Swim or some premium anime channel on cable or satellite TV and knock someone’s socks off. Because it’s not about animation, big names or gimmicks, but an entertaining product. I sincerely hope that in some way this post and any others like it can bring a wider, younger audience to hidden gems like this one. That is the point of this blog after all, isn’t it?