Guyver: The Bioboosted Armor Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • 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

Guyver: The Bioboosted Armor Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     October 20, 2006
Release Date: November 14, 2006


Guyver: The Bioboosted Armor Vol. #1
© ADV Films


What They Say
Lurking under the facade of everyday life lies a dark world of pain and destruction. The world is controlled by a sinister brotherhood that hides their fangs behind masks of humanity. They are the Chronos Corporation. While investigating a mysterious explosion near his school, Sho Fukamachi happens upon the Chronos Corporation's greatest weapon: a techno organic suit of bio armor known as the "Guyver." But Chronos is determined to conceal their secrets at any cost. Sho soon finds himself relentlessly pursued by an army of horrific bio-monsters. With nowhere to run, Sho is forced to call upon the fearsome power of the Guyver, and rip his opponents limb from limb in a desperate struggle for survival. Experience this all new production of this sci-fi anime legend in the most complete rendition of Guyver ever animated. Dare to discover the horror that lies beneath!

The Review!
Accidentally discovering a device that turns into a suit of armor that fuses with his body, Sho finds himself caught up in a web of international corporate evil.

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. With this being the first new series I've watched on my Panasonic Blu-ray player, I had to do quite a bit of double checking with it because it looked so stunning when upconverted to 1080i. 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. The scrolling credits have looked poor in the past but on this release they look absolutely atrocious " the kind that really makes you wonder if someone should be ashamed to have put out a product with their name on it. I don't know the reason they continue to use scrolling credits but it's an area that weakens most releases but really stands out badly on this one.

Packaging:
The cover art for this is rather good with a stark feeling and little color overall that will draw the eye to it. With black along the top and bottom and a bright white background, the central image of the Guyver with half of it shadowed looks great and not quite as cartoonish as it could. The red background of the actual unit mixed with white designs of the Zoanoids works well and the cover has a good menacing feeling to it. 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. A new inclusion " and a very welcome one " is listing the volume number and how many volumes total.

The booklet for this also deserves a bit of special note as it's a 32 page full glossy piece that has a lot of great material to it. They do warn you right on the front page though that it may contain spoilers, which is obvious even if you skim it as towards the back there are synopsis' from the Japanese release for episodes one through eight. There is a mix of character designs and discussions, a look at the settings, words from the director and a bit more that really fleshes it out nicely and will be appealing to even the most die-hard Guyver fan.

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 flahes 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:
This volume has an interesting selection of extras associated with it. The first and always welcome ones are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences. The next is that there is a commentary track with "Guyver fans" Rod Peters and Jack Glauser. Both of them are in the marketing department of ADV Films and both are big Guyver fans so they provide some insights and knowledge about the overall franchise in their single episode commentary. The extra I liked the best though is the manga to anime comparison piece. Done for segments of episodes 1, 2 and 4, it shows how the sequences were originally done in the manga and then the anime form. Some of it is nicely shot for the shot at times but there's plenty of variance as well.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Guyver is a franchise that's probably more well known than a lot of other big anime series, but a lot of that is for better or worse attributed to the awful live action movie from the nineties. Guyver has had its fans over the years, from those of us who bought the monthly comic releases and pined for the once a year if we were lucky graphic novel, to those that got into it from the few episodes of the TV series that were released or the one-shot OVA that was more violent than most other shows at the time. In the early nineties when violence and blood ruled, Guyver fit right into what everyone was watching and enjoying, myself included. I'm still hoping that the manga will be brought again in a proper format.

After being off the radar for basically a decade or so, a new series was launched in 2005 and has finally made its way over here. It's not a sequel or a prequel or a strange offshoot or even a re-imagining. It's gone back to the source material and has adapted it anew in order to tell the whole story. While I doubt this adapts the twenty-four volumes that are out, it'll certainly do more than the few episodes that were released the first time and potentially more than the seven translated volumes of the manga. This new updated version manages to retain a good deal of the designs and general nature of the original but it does tweak things slightly so that it doesn't have an eighties feel to it outside of the Guyver design itself. And even that isn't too terribly indicative of when it was made.

The series revolves primarily around high school student Sho Fukamachi, something of your average but good student who doesn't have any real problems. He lives with his father, his mother having passed away some time ago, and he's best friends with Tetsuro who heads the schools science fiction club. He's also got some feelings for Tetsuro's sister Mizuki but she's completely oblivious to this and far more interested in the student body president, Agito. He's the epitome of the cool student with both the looks and smarts to capture the position and woo most of the students. He also happens to be the foster son of a man named Genzo who is the president of Max Pharmaceuticals. There's some interesting history that is slowly being revealed about their relationship and that of the company, but where it stands now is that Genzo is in charge of the Japanese branch of a company called Chronos. This is the epitome of a malevolent corporation that's seeking only power and will use its wealth to get what it wants.

Genzo's feeling pressure from the higher-ups of the Chronos organization after two of its highly classified top secret units are stolen and lost in the wild. One of them literally lands in the woods where Tetsuro and Sho are enjoying some quiet time and the two have a bit of fun about who gets to hold it until its owner shows up. But this bit of fooling around ends up leading to the unit being activated and suddenly Sho finds the things wrapping its tendrils around and into him, fusing itself with him into what we know as the Guyver. Sho's freaked out by it and unsure of what's going on but he finds himself in a really precarious position now. The Chronos people who are after it come across him quickly and they've got some very ugly looking but powerful humanoid beasts with them called Zoanoids, genetic creations made by Chronos that are simply brutal.

This sets the stage for the series as Sho now finds himself being the only thing that can stand in the way of Chronos and its plans. His having the Guyver unit puts him and all his friends and family at risk and it's an element that Chronos has no problem playing. But there are power struggles going on within Chronos as well so they aren't constantly attacking and tracking down Sho and Tetsuro, which gives the two young men a chance to try and figure out what to do on their own. In a nice change of pace, both of them are very concerned about how this will impact others and Tetsuro even goes so far as to suggest changing schools and going underground. They also update things nicely by having Tetsuro be somewhat online savvy and using that particular tool to try and figure out what's going on, something that keeps the show in the here and now and not just the past.

Being based on older material and having been adapted before, there isn't anything that is terribly new per se about the series, so I don't expect anything to stand out strongly or have it go in a radical direction. What it does do is execute the original concept in animation form and it does that beautifully. This is a very glossy and solid production, the kind where you can watch it and say that it's finally getting the adaptation that it has long deserved. This is the kind of show that is able to adapt to new scientific discoveries and technologies and not come across as antiquated or outdated. If anything, it feels far more possible now than it did fifteen or twenty years ago. The updated character designs are also a plus in that they don't toss out their basic designs but tweak them just right so that they work well with todays basics. They don't feel like they came from an eighties manga.

In Summary:
I wasn't exactly eager about heading back into the world of Guyver since it's had such a mixed bag of a history. There is definitely some amount of nostalgia here since it was one of my early introductions for both manga and anime but that's been tempered by the live action movie. This new adaptation of the original source is one that has been a long time in coming and much deserved as it really shines on just about every level. It may be somewhat predictable and obvious at times, but it's so well executed and done with such solid animation that it really shines. Visually, this is a real treat and looked stunning on our 50" set when upconverted to 1080i but it also looked wonderfully solid on our smaller set at 480p. There's a lot to like about this show and this release in general is solid across the board.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Manga to anime comparisons for episodes 1/2/4, Commentary on episode 1 with Guyver fans Rod Peters and Jack Glauser,The Bioboosted Armor Guyver Master File 32 page booklet,Clean opening 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.

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