Be Sure To Get Some Rest And Hydrate Before Watching “Aachi & Ssipak”

4 min readFeb 11, 2024

Jo Beom-jin’s 2006 anime Aachi & Ssipak has enough action squeezed into its 90-minute runtime to make ten films. It’s about as fast-paced as a movie can be without short-circuiting your visual cortex.

It doesn’t really matter what it’s about, it’s just a tornado of blood, speed, and bullets, but I will relay the premise anyway. Far in the future, the world has run out of energy sources, and all that is left to use is human excrement. Each time someone poops, the government takes the waste and converts it into fuel. In return, the donor gets a blue thing called a “juicybar.” I can’t tell if it’s a candy, or a drug, or a popsicle, or what, but everyone is addicted to it. After continued use, it turns you into a brainless, demented, little blue person called a “diaper baby.” Whoever controls the juicybars controls the world, so there are different gangs, and various low-lives vying to run the juicybar black market.

The speed at which this is all thrown at you smears everything together, so you don’t have time to think about what is slamming into your eyeholes. It’s hard to appreciate the impressive amount of work that went into the film when it hurtles by at such a rapid pace. About halfway through, I noticed a myriad of references to other films. They started to pile up in my head, so I began jotting them down. The ones I managed to catch during the second half were: Alien, The Matrix, Battleship Potemkin, Starship Troopers, RoboCop, Blade Runner, Dr. Strangelove, Brazil, Predator, Easy Rider, Se7en, Mad Max, Star Wars, Dune, Mickey Mouse, Tron, Raiders of The Lost Ark, Misery, Basic Instinct, Superman, Batman, Goonies, and Terminator. These are not subtle easter eggs for cinephiles, these are full-on references, at least the ones that I caught in my first viewing. From what I can tell, it also looks like there are references to a variety of video games, but I have no background in that culture, so I can’t place any of those.

Underneath all the madness is an in-your-face dubstep soundtrack. It’s a thumping, intense engine that keeps everything moving. The “camera” itself never rests. It tumbles through the action using bizarre angles that create extreme distortions and foreshortening.

Aachi & Ssipak is similar to Hiroyuki Imaishi’s Dead Leaves. They both embrace a kind of nihilistic insanity where morality and purpose are trampled under a hedonistic appetite for action and depravity. It all seems like a pretty good idea to me. Why not turn up all the knobs to eleven?

Aachi & Ssipak was made in South Korea and, as such, is part of what has been dubbed the “Hallyu” or “Korean Wave.” There are quite a lot of political and economic machinations tangled up in Hallyu. In the 1990s, its influence mostly remained in Asia. China, Japan, and North Korea all tried to regulate each other’s influence by legislating who could see what, or who could export to whom. The relationships got so tangled between them all that South Korea turned to the West. Movies like Oldboy and Parasite, along with musical groups like BTS and PSY, as well as television shows like Jewel In The Palace and Squid Game, all came across the Pacific and became outrageously popular in America.

Aachi & Ssipak had no such luck. It was largely ignored upon release. Perhaps without a manga and a weekly TV show, it hadn’t built an audience base, or maybe the frantic storm of shit and blood was a little too much. Either way, movies like this seem like an inevitable outgrowth of the trend toward speed that began with the Industrial Revolution. From Morse code to TikTok, the signal only gets faster, broader, and more jam-packed with content. Some day soon, 2 hours worth of content will be compressed into 2 seconds of run time, and transmitted directly into our optic nerve. We’ll be able to watch twenty movies in one sitting while sucking down cherry-flavored dopamine mixed with caffeine and corn syrup.

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I have an MFA in painting and I’m an art professor but I managed to convince my school to let me teach film. My website