a.k.a. Koroshiya Ichi the Animation: Episode 0
Ichi wasn’t always a psychotic killer. Once upon a time he was Shiroishi, just another pushover for bullies that no one spent a second thought on. Yet every person has their breaking point, and Shiroishi’s will be a violent and brutal one indeed. His dark and disturbing fall to one of the underworld’s most feared killers is about to begin.
summary by Mugs
Highs: Psychological study; might appease violence junkies
Let me preface with that while I’ve never seen the Ichi the Killer movie, I know enough of the story to understand how this prequel plays into it. That being said, you really don’t have to have any familiarity with the movie to watch this OVA. What you do need, however, is a strong stomach for both the brutal, explicit violence and sexual content. The main character is a sadist, after all. How bad are we talking? It’s not quite Amon: The Apocalypse of Devilman, but the psychological effect of a mere teenager brutally murdering is definitely more profound than demons ripping each other apart.
This OVA is about 50 minutes and covers the events leading up to Ichi killing the mob boss that sets the movie’s plot rolling. The OVA is split into essentially two distinct time periods in Ichi’s life, interwoven together: his early teenage years, which culminate in a series of brutal acts that leave him in a juvenile facility, and after he subsequently is released and turns into a true killer. Both halves almost mirror each other in a way as the viewer is left waiting for that moment when he finally snaps, something that we all know is coming. All in all, he’s a rather tragic figure that you both pity and yet most decidedly fear. A good idea of this is the fact that whenever Ichi kills, he’s also at the same time crying.
Made in 2002, this OVA contains high quality in the visual and audio departments. The seiyuu are not the same as the actors from the movie, although since he’s much younger for a majority of the OVA, which makes sense. As far as character design, things mostly have a grim feel to them with plenty of black to go around. I can’t say how true to the movie it is as none of the film’s publicity material actually contains Ichi in it.
Is it worth watching? Well, if you can stomach brutality of all kinds and like watching psychological pieces, you might get something out of Ichi the Killer: Episode 0. It plays out a lot like a car crash; you don’t really want to watch, but something draws you to it anyway.
Ichi the Killer: Episode 0 can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.