Guyver: Out of Control
Mild-mannered high school kid Sho Fukamachi and his sweetheart Mizuki Segawa accidentally come upon a strange object that suddenly bonds itself to Sho. It's a bio-booster unit known as a Guyver ... and the Chronos Corporation is willing to kill to get it back. They kidnap Mizuki in an attempt to blackmail Sho. Furthermore, Chronos has trained one of its own agents, the athletic Supervisor Valkyria, as Guyver II, and they are set on a collision course that is bound to get ... out of control.
It is a dark and stormy night™. Enka blares on the radio as a trucker takes on a mysterious hitchhiker ... then tries to rob him, only to find out his would-be quarry has turned into a superpowered deathly avenger. WAAAAAUUUUGH!
And sorry, folks, but it's all downhill from here, as Guyver: Out of Control is not a suspense thriller, but rather, one of the goofiest, stupidest, campiest pieces of ultraviolent superhero action to cross my screen in eons.
Considering that this has been remade no less than three separate times, Guyver has clearly proven to be a rather difficult franchise to get right. This single-shot OVA was the first attempt, and unfortunately the creator seems to have let this production get, ahem, out of control.
For starters, a cursory comparison to the corresponding manga reveals that the original user of Guyver II was a male antagonist named Oswald Lisker. Instead, for the anime, we get a spandex-clad aerobics instructor, kind of like Jane Fonda, only red-headed and evil, and, we find out, very loudly turned on by her assimilation with the Guyver suit in what must be one of the most embarrassing scenes of 1986 in anime (and yes, that's counting five episodes of Cream Lemon). Yes, folks, "Supervisor Valkyria" is the Big Bad ... all those other ugly mutants are glorified mooks.
Not that this means much, because the action, while super violent, is laughably simplistic. When you see the good mutant rip off a bad mutant's arms (get it? DISARMED!), causing blood to fountain into several adjacent prefectures, before subsequently decapitating the baddie for good measure, that's mildly amusing. But Guyver proceeds to repeat this exact step-by-step procedure at least four times in less than an hour, which speaks volumes to the amount of creativity displayed by this animation team. I guess Sho took his "How to Kill Zoanoids Manual" pretty seriously in the three off-screen seconds he obviously spent reading it. It would actually have been even better if Sho had taken the extra step of beating these Zoanoids to death with their own severed arms, but much to my utter disappointment, the creative team has neither the sense of humor nor presence of mind to pull this off.
But wait, how about the characters? Well, Sho is about as mild-mannered and wimpy as they get in 80s Japan, unless, of course, someone were to make the mistake of kidnapping his girlfriend and murdering his annoying comic relief buddies (in the middle of class, natch - in what is ironically the most satisfying scene of the entire OVA) which, come to think of it, is probably just about the worst way to try to convince a nascent superhero to surrender, especially after you've just watched the kid dismember an entire squad of your operatives. If only he would turn into Sho'nuff - the Shogun of Harlem - when he gets mad (a character far better than anything we get in this film) ... but alas, all we get to see is the protagonist get wrapped in a bio-booster suit that looks less like a horribly painful bio-experiment and more like poorly fitting rubber-suit cosplay that is chafing the poor guy in all the wrong places.
Clearly, Chronos is an entire corporation that is Too Stupid to Live. Even after Sho has his Broody McAngsterson moment wandering through cornfields and deserts in his sorrow (um, where the hell did he find a desert in JAPAN?) and finally has a horribly melodramatic childhood flashback that zaps him back to reality, a Chronos redshirt instantaneously appears to helpfully inform him of Mizuki's survival, just seconds before Sho-Guyver blows him to smithereens for his trouble. Seriously, all it takes to snap you out of your Body Horror meltdown is to remember nuzzling your mom's boobs as a kid, then project that onto your high school sweetheart: now that's Anime Psychology 101 in action!
Technically ... it's just not great. Whether it's a fighting sequence or a shower scene, this film reeks of second-rate straight-to-video animation. Even the infamous "Guyver tentacle scene" is just utterly laughable by today's standards, and was clearly more titillating than talented even back then. The art is naggingly generic, and Indori Goya's irritatingly cutesy character designs for Sho and Mizuki feel utterly out of place compared to the rest of the show, or even the original source material. Furthermore, the heavily synthesized background music is Power Rangers bad, right down to the Engrishy, way too upbeat battle montage song "Fighting Spirit", or, more accurately, "Fido Spearin'", though I'm not exactly sure what a polearm-wielding dog has to do with anything.
Blah blah blah FIDO SPEARIN!
The final fight between Guyver I and Guyver II is rather unimpressive, because much of it is in low-light situations through color filters, which makes it supremely difficult to figure out which Guyver is which - you'd think the boobs would be a hint but alas, not really so because the fight is so wretchedly animated, with the real kicker, as it were, being recycled footage within the same fight sequence. Apart from the disarming and bisecting, much of the combat looks vaguely like that ancient Kung Fu Master game - lots of repetitive punching and kicking with absolutely zero finesse, except with some of the kicking hilariously resulting in decapitation, thanks to Zoanoid flesh having roughly the consistency of silly putty.
Furthermore, there is a third Guyver that appears just long enough to serve as a deus ex machina happy-ending generator, after being only hinted at maybe once about seven seconds before his appearance. Yay?
The lack of quality seeps all the way to the translation work, in which Mizuki is consistently subtitled as "Mizuky" in contravention of every Japanese romanization system known to mankind. Valkyria is "Valcuria". Gregor is "Gregole". And the poor redshirt in the very beginning of the film is "Malmot", which is perhaps a minor improvement from the clearly intended, but insanely unfortunate Marmot. (Alas, poor Marmot. We hardly knew ye.) Overall, this is second perhaps only to the truly wretched subtitling job CQC Films gave to Kizuna, though to be truly fair, it's not like either of these anime are any good to begin with.
The only aspect of this film that has heretofore escaped thrashing is the voice acting, partially because there was no English dub ever made (this was a sub-only release, not that I would envy any ADR director given a job this daunting). The biggest names here are Michie Tomizawa as damsel-in-distress Mizuki (already a veteran of Kimagure Orange Road by this point, with Bubblegum Crisis and Sailor Moon just on the horizon) and Gundam veteran Keiko Toda as Valkyria, just coming off a startlingly similar role as Iczer Two (and probably already getting a little bored with the tentacles by this point). We also have Yuu Mizushima yelling and overemoting quite a bit as Sho. He would not reprise the role in the reset, instead taking the rather more subtle role of Neidhart Müller in Legend of the Galactic Heroes (a wise choice on his part).
It's clear, then, given the resilience of the Guyver franchise that the writing has strayed pretty far from the original work here. Then-journeyman director Hiroshi Watanabe would go on to work on superior material such as Video Girl Ai and You're Under Arrest, so we can't blame him ... so we look at the screenplay credit, given to a certain Ibu Monta, whose sole other anime credit is the universally panned Ultimate Teacher. Yup, that's a red flag you just saw pop up, right there - I think he's a Zoanoid!
Hey Sho! DISARM THAT MAN .... oh, ew, not that way.
It's telling that not a single member of the staff would be invited back to reset Guyver as an OVA series, barely three years after this was released. Takaya has clearly disowned this film, and LA Hero has quietly, long ago, let the US release go out of print ... or should we say ....
out of control!
I was really hoping to say that Guyver: Out of Control is at least better than the vaguely onomatopoeic Baoh, but no, unfortunately, this, too, is vomit. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: ABSOLUTELY NOT FOR CHILDREN. Extremely high body count in this one. Bad guys, whether human or mutant, are dismembered, decapitated, or bisected on screen, with lots of blood streaming everywhere. Not all the casualties are bad guys, however - several other characters are killed, also on screen. There is a shower scene, as well as what must be the most salacious sentai transformation scene filmed in a non-hentai franchise.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD, Japanese, with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Guyver: Out of Control © 1986 Yoshiki Takaya / Tokuma Shoten / G.P.
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