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Desert Punk: Box Set

FUNimation // Unrated // July 1, 2008
List Price: $49.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Michael Zupan | posted August 26, 2008 | E-mail the Author
I wouldn't exactly say I'm an anime connoisseur but I've dabbled with the likes of Dragonball Z/GT, Cowboy Bebop, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Hellsing, Tenshi Muyo (the original short series), and Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. I've seen enough to be a part of the majority that usually prefers the original japanese dialogue with subtitles (as long as they're done right) over the english dub tracks. The entire tone of a series can dramatically be altered once script writers try their hand at translating.

What I've found as of late with a lot of anime on American television is that they're usually way too serious or just completely off the wall with obnoxiously over the top comedy. Cowboy Bebop was an exception with very subtle laughs. Dragonball Z and Tenshi Muyo had their moments of some of that eye rolling comedy that never provides a laugh but it served to break up some of the tension that was created from the story. I had seen some videos online of Desert Punk which showed me two different sides of the show and I wasn't sure how each tone would contribute to the overall feel of the series. I found myself to be pleasantly surprised and highly entertained with the variety it had.

Desert Punk is an unforgiving mercenary in a world that's just as unforgiving. Japan had been reduced to a desert wasteland long ago from a nuclear catastrophe and only skilled opportunists such as the Desert Punk can find fortune. Tangible goods are hard to come by so the name of the game is doing odd jobs that pull in large sums of money.

The name Desert Punk has become synonymous with 'demon of the desert' and he often self advertises himself as a man who always gets the job done no matter what the cost. Living up to his reputation is almost easy for him as he's highly skilled at combat and prop trickery. Even the toughest adversaries find themselves in a confused daze when a cloud of smoke clears to reveal dozens of Desert Punk copies surrounding them. Those copies are nothing but mere balloons but the numerous tricks Punk has up his sleeve provide him with more than enough time to make an effective attack.

Although he's a legend in the desert of the 'once was' of Japan, he's only seventeen years old. With an ample set of raging hormones he only gets caught off guard by his own short temper, and wonderful, glorious breasts! For such a marksman and magician, Desert Punk is incredibly horny and can't help but let his hand, or his mouth wander from time to time. Without a weathered sense of wisdom his temper can get the best of him at his young age and end up causing larger problems than he needs. He can be downright suicidal without a care in the world when it comes to seeking revenge on whatever crossed him.

To give it to you straight, Desert Punk isn't a glorified hero that's been designed in the story to be perfect. He has flaws which get him into trouble and his filthy mind constantly onslaughts the audience with sexual innuendos and every other perverted thought a seventeen year old is capable of having. He's a man (boy?) that's characterized through the shows context as a hero without having the usual qualities a hero will possess. The only glory Desert Punk seeks is the kind that's going to spread his name to potential bidders who are willing to hire him for a job. Its cold hard cash the Punk wants... and breasts. He's an accurate representation of what a seventeen year old mercenary for hire would be and nothing more.

For a hero he sounds downright despicable, sure. He's certainly not as heartless as some of the other opportunists in the desert though and we see this early on in the series. Being the household name that he is, he even takes in a young apprentice throughout the course of the series and makes her quite capable of being able to follow in his footsteps. His apprentice is a young girl and on the surface of what I've told you so far, it sounds like he may have wanted to teach her the ways of the Kama Sutra instead of survival in the desert. This isn't the case as she's younger than he is as well as flat-chested. I'm not trying to be sexist here mind you, this is something that he points out and throws in her face constantly.

The sexually driven humor as well as some of the one-liners that Punk has in battle creates a very diverse and entertaining program. We're treated to a lot of action which is leveled out by the kind of comedy in Japanese animation that usually drives me nuts.

There's a reason why the show never crosses the line of becoming stale. Despite the humor that provides such a light-hearted and fun tone for the first half of the series in way of sexual perversion, the latter half is driven to be very dark and serious. A lot of the humor gets stripped away and we're left hanging on the edge of our seats just dying to know what happens next. You're almost smacked upside the head with the sudden change, as the intro is remade to reflect the new tone. Kudos goes to the creators of this program. Rather than letting the show fizzle out by continuing to slowly kill the audience with a breast obsession that's excessive even for an adolescent, we're treated to an almost completely different show that keeps you hooked until the very end.

If you're like me and not a know-it-all when it comes to anime and you've been searching for something new, Desert Punk is it. If you want an interesting 'could be' hero that doesn't follow most of the rules in the hero instruction manual, and can appreciate some very wide diversification in tone throughout the series, you're going to be in for quite a ride.


This show is presented in a full screen format that's faithful to the original airing of the program. It's not the best looking anime I've ever seen but overall it looks pretty good. The series takes place mostly in a desert wasteland so it's only natural that the colors don't get a chance to 'pop' very often. In the scenes that intentionally look a little dry, there's great contrast thanks to decent black levels. This contrast also lets the color truly shine when it makes its appearances during large breast filled fantasies and action scenes. There was some minor macro-blocking to speak of and a little bit of grain that pops up when there's a lot of movement with sand. I'm not sure if this was done intentionally to add to the look of the sand, but I doubt it. The rest of the show looks very nice and the sand is usually very fine in the picture so it's probably noise. Not a bad transfer overall though.


If only I could mix and match my favorite parts of the Japanese and English audio! As I said at the beginning of my review, I usually prefer the Japanese speech with subtitles. Although the voice acting itself seems to be better with the Japanese track, I found myself actually really enjoying the script for the English version. What really killed the Japanese version for me were the subtitles. They're either from a script that wasn't as inspired as what I heard in the English track, or the translation was taken a little too literally. What we're given to read is minimal and dry. The English script gave a little more life to everything going on. The music was different from both versions as well, and I wish I could have used the Japanese score with the English script.

The program is offered in 5.1 Dolby Digital for the English dub and sounds OK. The surround track is never booming or making your rears work for their money, but what can we expect from a track that's been made from a 2.0 source? The original 2.0 Japanese audio is included, as is a 2.0 English dub track as well. Since the stereo soundtrack was the original source, it's definitely the most accurate representation of the show you're going to get. Although the surround track is decent, how often does a surround track from a stereo track sound better?


I wasn't too impressed with the extras offered on this set. I wasn't expecting much so the bar was already set kind of low, so it's sad to find that low expectation not even met. Each of the four discs offers the same trio of extras that I like to call 'fillers'. There are some parody posters for the show, some early animation from the show, and character biographies. It's stuff you might glance at once or twice, but they take no time to view at all and it doesn't take a lot of effort to slap them onto a release for the sake of saying there's bonus content.

Other than that the first disc includes a look at filming the live action intro for the program, and I was really pleasantly surprised to see this. I remember not believing my eyes when I saw the intro for the first time and realized it was live action. It was an incredibly cool touch for the show. Also on the first disc are voice-casting auditions that were rather dull, an interview with Takatori Hideaki, and an edited version of the first episode. I'm not exactly sure why we'd be interested in that.

I will mention on the first disc there is an episode of something called Mr. Stain on Junk Alley, which is a computer animated kids show that's absolutely obnoxious. Want to know the worst part? I couldn't get one of the songs out of my head for almost a week. The tune is catchy and I was just a day away from wanting to perform a lobotomy on myself to try and forget. Stay away from this extra!

The second and third discs offer some behind the scenes shooting of live action promotional material as well as some of the actual recording sessions for the Japanese dialogue.

The fourth and final disc contains even more promotional footage, an excessive chat about boobies, and a commentary for the final episode of the series. I'm disappointed there wasn't more in the way of commentaries for such a diverse series. We have something that's twenty four episodes in length, and completely changes the overall tone of the show to great effect to continue a great story. Why not fill us in on some of the thought processes that went on there?


Desert Punk can walk dangerously close to the line of obnoxious in the first half of the series, but redeems itself with a serious change of pace once the story starts to move forward in full force. It's always pleasant to find characters that are considered heroes despite the fact most of their intentions aren't always for the common good. It's obvious the creators of this anime were intentionally overdoing a silly tone at times to make for better effect later on, and boy did it pay off. Without a doubt, I can say that Desert Punk is exactly the kind of anime I've been looking for. I can definitely recommend you pick this up and give it a shot. Come for the action and bad-ass lead character, stomach the boob lingo for a while, and you won't be disappointed. I'd give a higher recommendation just based on the context of the show itself, but the extras were somewhat disappointing for this release and the video quality could have been just a little better.

-About the Author- Michael Zupan is primarily a film guy, but has a variety of places where you can enjoy his work otherwise. Check for video game op-ed pieces and podcasts, and be sure to check out the sister site, Byte-Size Cinema, linked up top. This writer also contributes significantly to in-print magazines such as Minecraft Explorer and Fortnite Explorer!

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