Seven anime Christmas favorites to watch with a cup of hot cocoa.
Reviewby Mike Crandol, Jun 12th 2003
The Guyver: Bio-Booster Armor
In their latest attempt to defeat the Guyver, Dr. Balcus and the Chronos Organization kidnap Sho's father and Mizuki. Sho becomes the Guyver once again and with the help of Guyver III and a renegade reporter manages to come to their rescue. But Sho's father has fallen victim to Chronos' evil machinations and is transformed in to a Zoaniod. Meanwhile, Guyver III shows his hand at last and double-crosses both Sho and Chronos for his own ends. The Guyver enters into the final battle to protect Mizuki and all of humanity.
"The Guyver" is one of those old shows that you look back on and remember as being so good. Then you watch it today and say to yourself, "What the hell was I thinking?" One of the earlier anime to become commercially available in the states following the post-Akira boom, The Guyver arrived before America had a real notion of just how good an anime series could be. It wouldn't last long in today's market, but ten years ago this hokey sci-fi beat-em-up was at the cutting edge of alternative animation.
It's not a terrible series. The story is populated with some fairly interesting characters and moves along at a good pace. Forced to transform into The Guyver whenever danger threatens, Sho is a tortured soul who only wants to live a peaceful life. This second half of Guyver's adventures sees our hero discover the secrets behind the Zoaniods, the Chronos Organization, and the true agenda of his mysterious ally Guyver III. It's a predictable tale, but the uneasy alliance of Guyver I and Guyver III and the tragic fate of Sho's father manage to hold the audience's attention throughout the paint-by-numbers plot developments.
But "Guyver's" weird mix of juvenile Ultraman sensibilities and gory violence make it too silly for grownups and too bloody for children. Let's face it, The Guyver is downright goofy-lookin', and his campy, anything-goes battles with the...ahem, "Zoanoids" could be taken straight from the pages of a Power Rangers script. It's the sort of thing kids would eat right up, however. But when The Guyver defeats his enemies they don't explode in a shower of sparks--our hero usually rips off a few of their limbs before he disembowels them in a shower of blood and guts. The series is clearly not intended for children, yet only a child would likely be impressed by its kiddie-show aesthetics.
There's not a whole lot to "Guyver" technically, either. The animation is of average quality for its time, but there is much to be desired in the show's art design. As noted, The Guyver himself is somewhat less than awe-inspiring. The various Zoaniods are an unsightly mishmash of random animals and insects with little or no thought given to any kind of plausible anatomy or visual style. Minor characters look like rejects from a 1970s Hanna-Barbera cartoon. Combine it all with a tinny musical score that sounds like it was composed for an old NES game and you've got one of the more painful examples of late-80s anime style.
With twelve episodes split into just two volumes, Manga's DVD release of the series is economical, but the presentation is lacking. There are several chapter stops within each episode, but they are not directly accessible from the DVD menu, which only allows access to the beginning of each episode. Superimposed English-language credits obscure much of the animation during the show's opening sequence. The music for the opening and closing credits has been changed for the dubbed version--though this is not necessarily a bad thing given the original horrendous theme songs. The English dub is a very mixed bag, featuring some top voice talent such as David Lucas and Melissa Charles alongside some of the most wonderfully atrocious vocal performances in history. Keep an ear out for the Chronos Crony with the fake Scottish accent--it's priceless.
The biggest mystery of this disc is the edited episode twelve. The original version features a sequence in which a Zoaniod strips Sho's love interest Mizuki buck-naked. Given the show's uberviolent nature, a little T&A seems like a drop in the bucket, but someone apparently took issue with it. The result is a horribly sloppy attempt to remove all nudity from the episode without any regard to continuity. Mizuki appears fully-dressed one minute only to be suddenly and inexplicably missing half of her clothes the next. Later scenes suggest the editor realized the futility of his endeavor and gave up, and Mizuki is sitting around in her birthday suit for all to see. To their credit Manga has included the unedited, subtitled-only episode twelve in the bonus features, but dub fans will feel sorely cheated by the hack-job done to the English version.
"The Guyver" can best be enjoyed at a small gathering where everyone is prepared to mock its conventions in the Mystery Science Theater tradition. Fans of camp and/or mindless, bloody action should consider renting this one the next time they have nothing else to do. But The Guyver is definitely not a keeper.
Overall (dub) : D+
Overall (sub) : C-
Story : C
Animation : C+
Art : D
Music : D-
+ keeps up the pace despite a tired storyline
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