R2 DVD Reviews
Thursday, 26 November 2009 00:00
When a series promises 'ultraviolence', as Guyver does, it raises two thoughts with me: one, that it's probably going to sell well - the UK seems to like that sort of thing - and two, it's probably not going to be very good. I'm not sales guru, though, so I can't say much else about the first of those. The second, on the other hand... let's see...
1 - The Wondrous Bioboosted Armor
When two policemen stop at the scene of an apparent accident, the last thing they expect is for the driver of the car to attack them - but far from being human, something seems to be wrong with the driver, who turns into a blood-crazed beast and kills them both. This doesn't seem to hold a lot of relevance to the life of high-schooler Sho Fukamachi, who has more mundane things on his mind - school council affairs, and helping his friends. Until, that is, until he comes across a small device that the killer had been carrying. Having no idea what it is, Sho picks it up - a decision that will change his life for ever...
2 - The Secret Society of Chronos
With the strange armour having separated from Sho and lowered itself into a nearby lake, Sho hopes that his strange experience has come to an end. He should be so lucky. The organisation responsible for the armour's development, Chronos, wants its toy back - it also knows that Sho has come into contact with it, and plans to deal with that little detail, too. Sho's also been feeling unwell since the incident, something that's worrying Tetsuro and Mizuki. Tetsuro believes that only a big organisation could have created the thing that Sho found - and his suspicions are soon proved to be correct...
3 - Inspector Risker
Sho's beginning to withdraw into himself - no surprise, given what he's been going through lately - but he's not about to get a break just yet. He may have defeated the first group to come after him, but Chronos aren't done with him yet, and their lead investigator, Inspector Risker, is about to take a personal interest in his case. Tetsuro, meanwhile, has decided that it may be best for both he and Sho if they stay away from each other for a while, for their own safety - an idea that Sho doesn't agree with at all, as it's now that he needs his friend's support the most. Mizuki, meanwhile, is beginning to wonder why Sho and her brother have been acting so strangely...
4 - The Visitor at Dusk
Inspector Risker has finally revealed himself, encased in a full Guyver armour that appears identical to Sho's - meaning that at the very least Sho's going to find himself evenly-matched with his opponent this time around. The Inspector has to withdraw, though, when he begins to suffer problems with his suit, leaving their battle to wait for another day. Meanwhile, Chronos' commander-in-chief, Guyot, has arrived in Japan, unhappy at the failure of his local branch to secure the return of the missing Zoanoid units. To make sure of success this time around, he's brought with him the most powerful Zoanoid developed so far - a hyper-zoanoid - and immediately gives orders for its deployment to Sho's school...
Bit of a strange history in the UK, this one - the single volumes were originally released by ADV UK, and can still be found at knock-down prices if you look hard enough. ADV lost the license during the Great Sojitz Fall-out of 2008, though - in the US, it went the way of FUNimation, while in the UK Manga are now releasing it as a complete collection. Being something of a completist I'm reviewing it as single volumes first, but bear in mind that you'll more than likely be wanting Manga's complete collection if you feel the need to buy it.
With all that out of the way, let's see what we've got. The first thing to notice is that, if you bought into the 'ultraviolence' hype, then on the basis of the four episodes here you're going to be disappointed. The key perhaps is in the realisation that this is the Guyver TV series, and that it's had to keep the violence toned down to the levels you would expect to be found on TV. That's no bad thing, though - I've always found that shows (OVAs, usually) that get too carried away with the gore factor tend to be lacking something on the story front, but so far at least Guyver isn't too bad in that department.
The plot is typical enough - average schoolboy accidentally gains possession of high-tech combat armour, and has to fight off the repeated attempts of the villainous company that owns it, Chronos, to get its property back. Straightforward enough, and so far it's playing out in simple opponent-of-the-week fashion. Sho Fukamachi, our unwilling 'hero', is as bland as his sort of male lead tends to be - he starts the series with pretty much no personality, and it'll fall to the adventures he has over the coming episodes to build him into something more than a blank page. That process is only starting, so for now he's not the most likeable of characters.
He's assisted by overweight best friend Tetsuro Segawa, who can't seem to make up his mind whether he wants to get as far away from Sho & his problems as possible or whether he should tag along for the ride - although with Chronos regularly using him as bait for Sho I'd say the latter is more likely. There's also a little potential love interest in the form of Tetsuro's sister Mizuki, who for the moment is unaware of what Sho and Tetsuro are caught up in but will no doubt get dragged into the adventure sooner rather than later.
The darkside is represented by Inspector Risker, Chronos' lead investigator and bearer of a Guyver suit himself; Guyot, Chronos' commander-in-chief and one mean mother; and, if I was a betting man, one other character who is held in high regard by both Sho and Mizuki but who seems to be hiding a few secrets - although it seems I'm going to have to wait a while to prove my suspicions on that front. It's the classic battle of good against evil, then, and so far seems to be decent enough.
Plenty of time for it all to go a bit wrong, though, and I'll be watching for is getting stuck in a "villain-of-the-week" rut, or starting to throw new baddies in there from surprising angles that make no sense. (Cynical, moi? Never!) As starter volumes go, though, this is a good start, though. Hopefully subsequent volumes keep up the good work.