Apocalypse Zero, also known as Kakugo no Susume, is a manga by Takayuki Yamaguchi and two-part OVA from The '90s. It revolves around two siblings, Kakugo and Harara, who are given Kamen Rider-esque suits of Powered Armor that let them defend post-apocalyptic Tokyo from demons and mutants. After Harara succumbs to the evil within the armor, it is up to Kakugo to defeat his sibling.
This is basically the entire plot. The series' appeal comes from the ridiculous array of baddies it features, starting with a gigantic, nearly-naked woman who likes to call herself "Beauty," a building-sized homosexual leprechaun Idol Singer, and more. Oh yeah, and it's violent. Really violent. We're talking "guts spewing, blood gushing, skin melting, bones-sticking-out-limbs" violent.
This manga, officially described as a "self-indulgent work", was Yamaguchi's first long series, and it was published from July 1994 to August 1996.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: The manga mentions (a lot) that Tsumiko is overweight, while the OVA does not although it retains her insecure throughts in front of the mirror. Not that this changes much her character design (see Informed Flaw below).
- Adaptational Jerkass: In the OVA, Kakugo slaps Megumi (whom he believes to be a recent rape victim!) in midst of her seduction attempt because he considers it an indecorous behavior. In the manga, he pushes her away instead, and he does it because she was placing her bare ass in his kitchen sink and he was already suspicious of her.
- After the End: The series is set in and around Tokyo, which seems to have been hit hard by a powerful earthquake. However, some places are still functioning pretty well such as Kakugo's high school.
- A Father to His Men: Compared to most villains, Harara has an unusual love and appreciation for his minions, being forgiving of their mistakes and grateful for their sacrifices. He genuinely cares for the lives and wellbeing of the monsters under his command. He's not quite Affably Evil to people in general, but a homicidal mutant horror couldn't possibly ask for a better boss.
- Applied Phlebotinum: The Steel Balls.
- Art Evolution: Most notably with Haoka, whose face looks grotesque at the beginning of the manga but much more humanlike later on.
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: Kakugo doesn't show any... equipment when he fights nude with the Steel Balls technique (No Pun Intended, probably). Totally averted with some monsters, though.
- Bears Are Bad News: In the beginning of the anime (and Chapter 11 of the manga), Kakugo and Harara have to fight a mutated, radioactive bear with caustic blood... which has several pairs of giant breasts, for some reason.
- Big Bad: Harara, or rather the grudge of Mei Inukai that lived in the Kasumi armor.
- Cain and Abel: Kakugo and Harara.
- Camp Gay: Dogumakuro, the giant blue leprechaun who dresses like a member of the Village People.
- Camp Straight: In the OVA, Haoka is a rather flamboyant dude and speaks with a girl's voice despite his delinquent status. This is only hinted in the manga, where he occasionally yells in a girly manner when scared.
- Dastardly Whiplash: Chidokuro, complete with the iconic moustache.
- Fan Disservice: Almost any time someone appears naked, it'll be Squicky.
- Full-Frontal Assault: Kakugo and Rai do it a lot due to their Steel Balls technique, which renders his body metallic while their clothes remain completely vulnerable to Clothing Damage. Also, for unrelated reasons, the mind-controlled Tsumiko fight Kakugo in the nude after having been groped by Chidokuro.
- Gag Penis: Some of the "Tactical Fiends/Evils" have mutated attack genitals. This is shown best by Eikechi, whose groin is an entirely different creature, the dragon-like 'Weenie'.
- Gorn: Apocalypse Zero has been called the most vile anime ever made, and not without very good reason. The very first bit after the titles has a woman being killed via being squeezed to death and vomiting her guts all over her boyfriend. And the kicker? The anime is actually tamer than the manga.
- Grossout Show: It features a constant stream of Ludicrous Gibs and heavily sexualized yet seriously monstrous villains.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Harara meets his end in the Anime as a result of his own lack of forward planning. Just as in the Manga, Harara decides to merge his life-force with that of the last Tactical Evil he sent out, being Eikichi. However, Eikichi is already slowly dying from blood loss after being beaten almost to a pulp by Kakugo. This strategy works reasonably well for a time, but Harara ignores the fact that any injury Eikichi's body sustains will ultimately affect him as well. Once Eikichi's body dies and begins undergoing rigor mortis, Harara is left severely weakened by his host's ruined body, and quickly dies after Kakugo gets the upper hand and destroys the corpse of Eikichi.
- Humans Are Ugly: Hamuko considers human girls ugly and wants to kill them all.
- Idiot Ball: Harara, right after Kakugo beats all the demons that are thrown at him. Instead of going out and fighting Kakugo himself, Harara decides to possess the body of the last demon that he sent via a machine. The problem is that 1) Harara was told that any damage the demon's body takes will be transferred onto him, 2) the demon's body is stiffening due to rigor mortis, limiting Harara's movements, and 3) It was established that Harara was a better fighter then Kakugo and could more then enough take him in a full match. But no, Harara decides this is the best option. End result, Kakugo beats the demon's body silly and finishes by punching its head off, sending Harara to a series-long coma. Yeah.
- Informed Flaw: In the manga, Tsumiko is constantly referred as being overweight and not very beautiful, despite she has pretty much the same character design as just every other female her age (she does has somewhat thicker arms and legs, but it is hard to notice whenever she's dressed) and is actually drawn more detailed than most of them. Tellingly, the OVA doesn't even bother to mention it.
- Japanese Delinquents: Haoka wears the classic attire, cap included.
- Mood Whiplash: Kakugo is such a boy scout that he's in shocking contrast to his enemies, which are disgusting mutants with terrible puffy Gonk faces and oozing with Fan Disservice. His heroic speeches are better than anything you'd hear out of a standard superhero show... It's just weird.
- Naginatas Are Feminine: When Tsumiko jokes about wishing to know Karate to be as badass as Kakugo, he comments that hand-to-hand fighting is unfit for women and that naginata training would be better for them, presumably because women have usually less muscle strength and would benefit more of a weapon than bare hands.
- Named After Somebody Famous: Takayuki Yamaguchi is a huge fan of the legendary anime and tokusatsu singer (and occasional voice actress) Mitsuko Horie, so much that he named Tsumiko Horie after her note , and naturally Mitsuko Horie ended up voicing her in the anime version. You can note it in the times Horie starts singing for no reason other than to showcase her seiyu's talent.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: The OVA series alters the order of appearance of the Tactical Fiends in order to create a climax with Eikichi in the second episode.
- Pronoun Trouble: Harara has a female body after merging with his armor, Kasumi, but is still referred to by male pronouns.
- Puppeteer Parasite: What happens to Tsumiko in the manga when Chidokuro kidnaps her.
- Shout-Out: Enough to have its own page.
- Tear Off Your Face: The end result for the poor schmuck who gets a smooch from Hamuko.
- Transfer Student Uniforms: As he just moved to Reverse Cross High, Kakugo still wears the uniform of his previous school, which looks oddly like a Japanese Imperial Navy uniform.