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[BioHunter]
AKA: バイオ・ハンター
Genre: Psychological horror / mystery / action
Length: OAV, 60 minutes
Distributor: Previously licensed in North America by Urban Vision
Content Rating: 17+ (violence, gore, rape)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Gungrave, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, Wicked City
Notes: Based on the manga by Fujihiko Hosono serialized in Comic Burger.
Rating: Two StarsTwo Stars
 

BioHunter

Synopsis

Two scientists named Koshigaya and Komada face off against humans who have been infected with viruses that turn them into demonic killing machines. Ironically, one of them is himself infected, and must find a way to deal with the evil within.


Review

BioHunter is one of those titles where your expectations won't be too far off from reality: despite a promising start, it becomes little more than a quick and dirty excuse for some ultraviolence.

Part of the problem with reviewing something like this is that much of it, apart from seeing monsters with fangs menacing and slaughtering people, is really unmemorable, whether the viewer is ten minutes or ten years removed from initial viewing. It's weird to think of this as an initial release for any would-be distribution company, because it's so unremarkable, but this was actually Urban Vision's first foray into North American anime licensing, largely because of the name-brand talent behind this OVA: scenarist Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust) and animation studio Madhouse (an institution even casual anime fans should recognize by this point).

Unfortunately, none of the names behind this could really do much to save it from mediocrity: this content clearly relied on animation quality to impress its viewers back in the 90s, and it honestly wasn't that impressive back then because it's just too derivative. There's only so many mutated humans you can throw at an audience before it begins to feel old, and BioHunter simply does too little (in fact, practically nothing) to innovate the concept, apart from the sort of "police procedural" feel of the opening chapter. Even the whole subplot with one of the protagonists dealing with his own viral infection seems like it's been done before in half a dozen other series, and with far more interesting characters - these characters are so unremarkable, in fact, that the R1 DVD doesn't even bother to credit the cast!

At least there does seem to be at least some attempt to do something with the story thanks to Kawajiri's writing; it is nice to see scientists (in this case, molecular biologists) being portrayed sympathetically, rather than as stock villains, and there is a clear attempt to root the storytelling in the real world (as opposed to everyone being superpowered for no good reason). It's clear that this is just part of a bigger story, but the pacing is at times rather clunky, with lots of deadly dull moments in the middle, right when you're supposed to be building up to the denouement. Honestly, I was more relieved the show was over than jazzed about the climax, which I hardly even remember ... a common symptom of a show where the action is more gory than exciting.

And, seriously, tentacles? AGAIN? When are they ever necessary?

Ironically, fans of ultraviolence may be disappointed that there isn't enough violent content, because it's spaced out and portrayed in a way that indicates it was intended to be suspenseful. If there's any compliment I can give, it's that Kawajiri and director Yuzo Sato do set the mood well ... it's just too bad they do so little with it afterwards! In any case, this is pretty dark material, and not particularly skilled compared to Kawajiri's own Twilight of the Dark Master and Wicked City.

While it's not a complete wreck, BioHunter is something I'd be hard-pressed to recommend to anyone except people addicted to the darkest and basest content in Japanese animation. It does little to elevate the medium and shows no great skill at anything but being violent and nasty, and that's simply not something I'm willing to commend a franchise for doing. This is exactly the kind of stuff anime was hyped up for in the 90s, and therefore, a massive setback in terms of the storytelling and character development that *I* personally enjoy as an anime fan.

BioHunter is clearly more interested in being edgy than truly mature; ironically, it is when Kawajiri's penchant for storytelling peeks through that this is at its best, and that's what saves this from the one-star abyss.Carlos Ross

Recommended Audience: ABSOLUTELY NOT FOR CHILDREN. There's a fair amount of sex and violence, plus the combination of the two (including naughty tentacles), so I simply can't recommend this for anyone under eighteen. Not that I'd recommend this to anyone anyway.



Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD from Urban Vision
Review Status: Full (1/1)
BioHunter © 1995 Fujihiko Hosono / Media Factory / Toei Video / Good Hill Vision
 
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