Guyver: The Bioboosted Armor Vol. #4 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, May 18, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, May 08, 2007



What They Say
Narrowly escaping his last hyper-Zoanoid encounter, Sho is forced to retreat, leaving his father in Chronos' clutches. Determined to rescue him at all costs, he once again dives into the heart of Relic's Point, braving its Zoanoid defenses. However, he soon finds himself neck-deep in another one of Chronos' traps. With Sho escaping with his father and Makishima holding off a gang of adversaries, it's up to Murakami to protect Sho's friends. Fortunately, the mysterious journalist has a few tricks up his sleeve. But why does he know so much about Chronos, and what is his connection to Guyot? Before any questions can be answered, things go from bad to worse for Sho, as a tragic encounter results not only in the death of someone dear to him, but the loss of his ability to transform into the Guyver. Left defenseless, he is faced with a fearsome strike from both Commander Guyot and the Lost Number, Aptom. With his friends defeated, his powers lost and his hope dwindling, he must face his inner demons to rise again from the ashes of defeat.

The Review!
On the run from Chronos, new discoveries are made and Sho finds himself subjected to intense cruelty.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series has a rather good stereo mix to it with a good balance of directionality during both the action sequences and the general dialogue areas. The show isn't all out action so the balance is definitely appreciated and it works well here. There are a lot of quiet discussion scenes and some big action pieces and the mix handles it all quite well. The English 5.1 mix also does quite a good job as it gives it all a bit more clarity and precision in placement. We didn't have any issues with either language track during normal playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The backgrounds in particular for this release look amazing, maintaining a very solid feel to them. Typically there's some amount of noise or posterization to most shows that's simply inherent in how MPEG2 seems to come across at the compression levels required for DVD, but this one reminded me a lot of some of the HD transfers I've been watching lately. There are occasionally a few areas where some of the digital animation has its quirks, such as very mild jaggies along Tetsuro's eyeglass frames or occasionally around the edges of someone's mouth. Beyond that, this is a very solid looking transfer and one of the best to come out of ADV in recent months. If there's anything that is bad, it's the absolutely horrible looking end credits sequence.

Packaging:
The design layout for the artwork is similar to the earlier volumes with black along the top and bottom. The artwork for this installment is pretty neat as it centers around the Guyver with both chest plates blazing while Makishima is in the background as well as some other old friends. The back cover is a bit more standard with a pair of rows of shots from the show along the left and right while the summary starts at the top and compresses a bit down the middle. The background is fairly dark and works well as it uses a fleshed out illustration of the Guyver unit in compact form. The bottom section is fairly well packed but the combination of the text color and the size makes it still very readable, which has the list of the features, the episode numbers and titles as well as the usual array of production and technical information. Also included in this release is another of the beautiful booklets that provides interview material, character artwork and design descriptions and lots of detail. This is a really rich little booklet that Guyver fans will be quite happy to have..

Menu:
Though twisting it a bit from the control unit design, the menu is one of the more nicely designed ones to come out recently that uses the central piece of the unit as its focus with flashes of animation playing through it as the bio/tentacle pieces shift about underneath in clockwise fashion, all set to a brief piece of the vocals. It fits very well for the theme of the show and just looks great all around. Access times are nice and fast and we had no problems with the disc picking up our players' presets and playing accordingly.

Extras:
The extras are in a predictable mode but I'm certainly not complaining once again. In addition to the clean opening and closing, a new commentary track is included with Tetsuro's voice actor and the ADR director for the series. My favorite extra by far though continues to be the manga to anime comparisons in seeing just how faithfully certain key scenes have been kept to the manga.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In its fourth installment as it moves past the halfway mark of the series, Guyver only continues to ratchet up the intensity of the situation. Nobody makes out easy here as there is plenty of violence and bloodshed to go around. There is also the growing psychological level as not only Sho tormented but others are finding out the true gravity of the situation.

Seeing who is getting the worst of it during these episodes is hard to see. Mizuki finds herself in the position of really understanding what Sho is going through and how its affecting him but she can't help but be afraid of everything. The entire situation has her in a panic and she's barely holding it together. Makishima seems to be holding up well as his safe house has been discovered and those who work for him are now in danger. Of course, he has to go up against the hyper-Zoanoids as well as Guyot and suffer handily by their viciousness.

The worse is sort of a toss up between Sho and his father though. This volume kicks off with Sho and Makishima heading off to where Sho's father is and rescuing him. To both their surprise, it goes over pretty easily and they're able to get away. That sets off all kinds of alarms for Makishima but Sho is just focused on getting his father to safety. Naturally, it is a trap set by Barcas and Guyot as they're keeping track of every movement the group has been making. While a trap is set up back at the house to take care of the others, the one for Sho and Makishima is a hair worse for them. For Makishima, it has him being pitted against some hyper-Zoanoids and eventually Guyot himself which gives him a run for his money.

For Sho however, it's far worse as the Chronos masterminds have worked over his father and turned him into an Enzyme II. The brutality of what happens is just staggering for a young man like Sho, so much so that it dramatically affects him psychologically to the point where he can't even call out the Guyver anymore. This turns into a plot point throughout these episodes where it puts him in a great deal of danger after the numerous hyper-Zoanoids sent after him. One really nice little tweak brought into this is that one of the first people that Sho fought against, Aptom, is brought back with a great twist that makes him a far more interesting combatant. It does kind of go over the top with his ability but in the pseudo-science used here it manages to work pretty well.

What was probably the most interesting aspect of these episodes in terms of forward moving plot elements though revolve around Murakami. He's certainly been enigmatic since his early appearances but he's managed to fall in nicely with everyone. With the trap that's set in these episodes, which essentially runs all four of them, Murakami has to step things up a bit since his gun isn't quite so effective on the hyper-Zoanoids. This has him bringing out some of his bigger weapons which in turns leads us to getting a good deal of fascinating background on the people behind the entire Zoanoid project. Even more interesting is that we get a real grasp around the whole Zoalord concept and see them in action and just what they've been up to all this time.

In Summary:
Though it's rooted in something that you could call a simpler time in terms of plotting, Guyver has a lot of meat to it that is being dealt with. Easily classified as a monster series with a lot of fighting it also has a good deal of psychological and emotional points to ratchet up the drama. While the fight sequences and action is key to the shows general enjoyment and a good deal of its focus, it's not without the underpinnings that let you really connect with it. This set of episodes ups the ante in general and proved to be exciting throughout.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Commentary for episode 13 with Lowell Bartholomee (Tetsuro) and Charles Campbell (ADR Director),Manga to anime comparison for all four episodes,Booklet insert,Clean closing animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: TV MA
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Guyver