Watched Bio Hunter. This was one of the many anime VHS tapes we had years and years ago (the batch of tapes that made my brother and I major fans of Ultimate Teacher and Cyber City Oedo 808, and also exposed us to the incredibly corny English dub of Laughing Target), but I’d never watched it properly until now. I caught the first scene when ripping it from VHS before I got rid of it, and it’s hardly something you forget – a chick and a dude are having sex, and then the woman gets the munchies, so her breasts turn into mouths and chew his arm off. It’s the very first scene you see, so you know it’s gonna leave an impact.
University professors Koshigaya and Komada, in their off-time, are Biohunters – dudes who romp around finding people who are infected with the “demon virus,” and then destroy the virus. Since people infected with the demon virus turn into supernatural monstrosities with horns and tentacles and mini-faces growing out of every orifice, this wouldn’t be easy… if it weren’t for Komada also being infected with it, and he’s got the willpower to keep it under control. Komada happen upon a girl who’s being harassed by goons, and the three of them stumble into a mystery surrounding the girl’s fortune teller grandfather and the mayor-to-be who’s infected with the demon virus. I say it’s a mystery but I’ve basically spoiled the entire plot for you by saying that. Sorry about that.
I was kinda worried that the OVA would be a total sleaze-fest bursting with rape-carnage or something, but mercifully it’s not too bad. There’s plenty of implied rape, I’m afraid, and every female character who isn’t the fortune teller’s granddaughter end up brutalised to death by demons (which I guess is fortunate when there’s only one other female in the story), and even she gets a tentacle shoved down her gob before the good guys save the day. Tasteful, this is not.
It starts as an intriguing little plot, and it has some entertaining interaction between the two professors to keep things going, but it eventually runs a little dry. The mystery over why the grandfather disappeared and why the goons are after the girl fills the first half, and then once they find the grandfather both riddles are solved, leaving the plot to hang around there for a while before the grandfather and granddaughter are kidnapped, kicking off the final action segment. But since it’s had so little time to get a set-up, it feels pretty worthless until the monster mayor and Komada face off, and even that isn’t exactly riveting action.Yeah, it’s only got 55 minutes to fill, and while you’re watching it it isn’t that bad, but in hindsight you kinda realise that a lot of the running time feels like a waste. Once the professors have less time to interact and are more AW SNAP THE MAYOR’S A DEMON it’s actually less interesting. Huh. Mind you, this might just be because the two have good voice actors. Koshigaya’s English voice actor has a really familiar voice, and it turns out he’s the voice of Tenchi from the Tenchi Muyo! franchise! This was… rather surprising, mostly because I’ve only seen like three episodes of the original series years and years ago and could barely remember that. Guy’s got a good voice, though, so I’m not complaining.
I admit in the end, the OVA is pretty forgettable. The plot is very thin and the concept of the Biohunters is an interesting one, but feels unexplored – Komada only fights two monsters, for chrissakes! And one of them is in flashback! Koshigaya is relatively light-hearted in comparison to his stoic-as-a-seashell partner, but the whole thing is played very straight. Admittedly, yeah, this stuff can be done serious competently, but the mayor’s henchman is a tall ginger-haired guy who intimidates people in the stupidest ways – on his first encounter, he crushes a handful of coins into mush. In his second, he takes a bite out of a crystal ball. He sadly makes no attempt to top this on his next encounter, but unless he ate a whole payphone I don’t think anything would have surprised me (he does crush a walkie-talkie with his bare hand, but pffft, everyone learns that in villain school).
There’s also a hilarious scene where Komada gets a bomb dropped on him, and rather than being a horribly mangled mess, he’s perfectly fine, except for his left hand getting blown clean off. Not a fuckin’ scratch on it! In fact, it’s blown off so literally that it flies off and grabs onto the landing struts of the bad guys’ helicopter. Yeah, it’s revealed that he can remotely control his hand with demon powers, and it is an important plot element because it frees the girl and then gets inside her (by kind of melting into her flesh – nothing sexual), and later bursts through her chests and into the bad guy’s heart, crushing it. But, seriously, the script writers couldn’t think of a better way of getting the hand cut off and into the enemy base besides dropping a fucking bomb on it? (I actually thought the opening scene where the guy has his hand munched off by barbaric boobs was the origins of Komada getting infected and foreshadowing to his easy hand removal, but I checked again and it’s a completely different guy. Wasted opportunity, fellas!)
What impressed me was how good looking the OVA was. It’s animated by Madhouse, the Black Lagoon fellas, and it’s really high-quality stuff. The character designs are clean and concise while the monsters are totally alien and barbaric, full of strange, twitching movements. There’s some great human-to-monster transformations, and even scenes like a guy reaching for a gun just out of reach are animated beautifully. There’s a real sense of style and atmosphere to the scenes, and the music really helps add to that. There’s not enough plot, action or even unintentionally hilarious antics to really recommend watching the movie, but if anything, watch it for the animation.
In unrelated news, I was thinking that if I ever get around to covering the Bomberman Jetters anime, rather than just whining the dudes who fan-subbed it into handing over the original unaltered video, I should just buy the ludicrously expensive DVDs. Why? Because I’m just that dedicated.
Then I realised that the second boxset is being sold on Amazon Japan for 85,000¥. Which is approximately EIGHT HUNDRED FUCKING POUNDS.
Well, I’d best brush up on my nagging skills.
Today’s observation: Life would be so much easier if Japan just reissued things once in a while.