Devil Hunter Yohko
Yohko Mano is your typical, ditzy teenager. Well, then again, there's her mother, who's always sleeping around, and there is the fact that her grandmother insists that she perform all these strange ceremonies. You see - Yohko is actually the latest in a line of Devil Hunters, the 108th, to be precise. But there's a hitch - to become a Devil Hunter, you must remain a virgin until you have completed all the sacred rituals proclaiming you to be one. Keeping her virginity is precisely the last thing Yohko wants to do, and she's found the perfect guy. Unfortunately, so have the devils she's meant to hunt, and she soon has much more to save than her chastity, as those around her turn out to be demons from the underworld.
So sue me. I like this show.
Mind you, this is chock-full of almost everything that gives anime a bad name. You've got the gratuitous nudity and fan service sequences, the violence, the sexual innuendoes, all focused on a cute little high-schooler who's definitely a blonde underneath all that braided brown hair. There's even tentacles on some of those demons she has to fight- but, no, this show, despite the borderline ecchi first episode, doesn't go there.
What Devil Hunter Yohko does do is entertain. The characters are likable and funny, with Aya Hisakawa at the top of her form as Yohko herself. Konami Yoshida as her sidekick Azusa is also super-cute. (Don't watch the English dub, though, if you know what's good for you.) The action sequences are topnotch (I'm apparently not the only one who thought the swordfight at the end of the first episode was really cool) and at times, the plot can actually venture into the realm of genuine cleverness, especially in the fifth OAV.
The animation in the first few episodes has suffered quite a bit with time, as the first OAV was made in 1991 (which predates both Sailor Moon and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, two series this is often compared to). However, the plotlines and writing remain more than adequate, and the music for the whole series, mostly J-Pop, is quite good if you're into that style. (The ending song to the second OAV, "Not So Fast Sexy Girl", has to be one of the funniest anime songs ever written.) It was certainly popular enough to merit an entire episode of music videos (OAV 4), which I don't count at all as being part of the storyline (and neither should any other sentient being, for that matter).
What didn't I like about Devil Hunter Yohko? Well, the first OAV is borderline porn, and while it's obviously taking a crack at the whole cliche of the helpless female victim a la Iczer or Urotsukidoji, it just doesn't seem enough of a parody. I didn't know whether to laugh or not, at least until the second OAV, when we pretty much figured that, okay, it's supposed to be a comedy series. By the fifth OAV, we were alternately laughing our guts out (check out Chi-chan, who becomes Yohko's "agent"!) and cheering on the heroes - err, heroines. (Guys do NOT last long in this series.) Watch for the villains though, who, while pretty much on the we've-seen-it-before demonic side, actually get very creepy. The atmosphere's a good deal darker than most comedy shows, that's for sure.
There is a bit of a caveat to the "magical girl" tag - Devil Hunter Yohko is NOT a shoujo title in the least, and though eventually the whole title ends up being a very positive "girls rule!" sort of series, there's way too much fan service for it to be truly aimed at a purely female audience. Of course, plenty of female fans will probably appreciate the later episodes of this series. I personally found the final OAV, which was meant as a launch for a second series, extremely contrived (even more so than all the rest combined, and that's saying a lot!) and not nearly as good as its predecessors, but as a whole, despite the extreme inconsistency of episodes, Devil Hunter Yohko is a heck of a lot of fun, and frankly, I'm surprised more people don't know about it.
Besides, not many characters fill out a Chinese battle-dress quite like Yohko does. I'll drink to that!
Overall, a solidly entertaining series that starts out and ends just a tad off. Action fans should probably add one star, because it's a lot slicker than the art style would clue you in on. (Actually, most viewers with a Y chromosome would probably tag that extra star on just on sheer principle. ^_^) — Carlos/Giancarla Ross
Recommended Audience: The first OAV is absolutely, definitely NOT for children. Yohko loses her clothes, and just about everything else that's not integral to the plot. (She's also object of one of the classic nudie transformation sequences of all anime. Woo hoo for you fanboys.) There's also a goodly deal of violence as Yohko and her sidekick Azusa fight off demons and miscellaneous fiends. Love interests generally do not survive a single episode. The rest of the series after the first episode is much tamer and slapstickier, but generally, this is for teenagers and up due to innuendo, violence, and obviously non-casual nudity.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (6/6)
Devil Hunter Yohko © 1990 NCS / Toho
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