Desert Punk

At some point in the 21st century, an implied nuclear holocaust reduces Japan to a vast desert. While civilisation clings on at various scattered oases and “recovery towns” (the locations of water drilling operations), the badlands in between these outposts is the domain of brigands and mercenaries. The worst of these hellish regions is the Great Kanto Desert; and its most fearsome inhabitant is a juvenile mercenary known to his few friends as Kanta Mizuno – and to everyone else as Desert Punk or The Demon of the Desert. Despite being only seventeen and possessed by a breast fetish and the raging teenage hormones to go with it, Desert Punk is also a fearsome warrior, having learned his formidable survival and combat skills in the harsh terrain of his post-apocalyptic world. But Kanta is also a sucker for a pretty face and a well-stacked blouse, and so inevitably finds himself involved in various misadventures as his quest to realise his sexual fantasies – as well as his numerous pressing debts – cause him to accept the kinds of commissions no self-respecting mercenary would bother considering. But Desert Punk has no self-respect – or respect for anyone else – and, accompanied by his sidekick Kosuna (who dreams of one day becoming the Great Kanto Desert’s most feared “power babe” mercenary), he cuts an anarchic swathe across the wastelands of the future in his pursuit of money, fame, and the off-chance that one day some well-endowed gal will relieve him of the burden of his virginity…

Based on the hugely successful and long-lived manga by Masatoshi Usune and produced by renowned anime studio Gonzo, “Desert Punk” originally aired on Japanese television between October 2004 and March 2005. Animated in a spare hand-drawn style that captures the desolate setting of its post-apocalyptic world, “Desert Punk” is replete with the kind of violence, inter-personal conflict, and out-of-control situations that makes it a species of satire on “Mad Max” and every other post-apocalyptic movie ever produced by the B-grade film industry. Throw in a pile of sexual innuendo and constant shouting (along with the over-the-top reaction tropes that go with it), and “Desert Punk” becomes a hugely in-your-face experience in which thoughtfulness is entirely absent and the only traits people display are negative ones. And yet despite – or perhaps because of – this, there is something oddly realistic and true about “Desert Punk”; beyond the fetishism and the screaming, this is a world and a context in which the question of human survival is stripped to its most fundamental. Perhaps that’s why the figure of Kosuna eventually grows to become someone greater than her lecherous master: he represents everything that is base about humanity; while she is the metaphorical promise of tomorrow. Be that as it may, “Desert Punk” has gone down as an edgy, out-there and not-everyone’s-cup-of-tea anime classic of the early noughties.

Text © Copyright Brendan E Byrne 2021. All rights reserved.