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Christopher Corey Smith
In the future, Japan is a wasteland. In the Great Kanto Desert, scattered humans eke out a living in the hot sand. Among them, a short-statured man they call "Sunabozu" makes a living as a bounty hunter. Like a demon of the sand, he seems unbeatable. Yet, like all men, he has a particular weakness for the opposite sex...
First off, if you buy the DVD's, switch the voices over to Japanese and put the subtitles on as you would with most imports. Occasionally, you stumble across a reasonably good dub, but this one just isn't close enough to be quite as enjoyable as the original, IMHO. The original Japanese voice actors did a remarkable job giving the characters quite a bit of depth, and the English VAs just came across as flat. The title translation to "Desert Punk" is an odd translation of the original title as well (Sunabozu meaning, roughly, "Sand Monk".) Masked by silly, decidedly adult humor is a reasonably original story and plot. The setting has a bit of a Trigun-like feel to it, but probably more of a Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic basis.
However, the real strength of the show is the hero, Sunabozu. Mizuna Kanta/Sunabozu is probably one of the most interesting antihero-type characters I've seen in anime. Unlike the typical "powerful hero rising up to fight evil overlord" types that dominate Japanese animation, you have a character that is the quintessential survivor. He is a true rogue. He's egotistical, cunning, virtually amoral, and incredibly selfish. A thoroughly disgusting person. However, he's also incredibly insightful, quick-witted, and a remarkably entertaining character through and through. The comparisons with Lupin The Third are shallow, and mainly based solely on both characters' similar woman preferences. Lupin was mainly motivated by money and large-breasted women, and while on the surface that seems to be the same case with Mizuna Kanta, there's a lot more to it than that, and his character is unraveled throughout the course of the series.
The character designs are very different than your typical Japanese fare...instead of everyone looking very pretty in the typical anime way, you have real diversity here. There are a smattering of highly attractive people mixed in with generally plain to ugly folks everywhere. In a lot of ways, this gives it a greater sense of realism, while defining characters a lot more clearly (you can immediately sense who the suckers are, who the pretty boys are, who the bad guys are, and which women Sunabozu will attempt to bribe into having sex with him right off the bat). For those who are bored with the typical eye candy, the artwork and character designs are very refreshing.
The opening and ending music initially seem like very odd choices, but they fit the series. There's a lot about Sunabozu that just works, if you question it, then you probably just don't get it yet. It's a series that balances humor with a deeper message of individuality and freedom in an incredibly adroit way...unlike the aforementioned Trigun, which just shifted gears halfway through from humor to maudlin mode. You can't go into this one thinking that it's chauvinistic as well...as you will see, the humor applies to men as well.
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