Psycho Diver -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: D-

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  • Audio Rating: C-
  • Video Rating: C
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: C
  • Extras Rating: D
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: MVM Entertainment
  • MSRP: £15.99
  • Running time: 48
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Psycho Diver

Psycho Diver

By Dani Moure     July 26, 2004
Release Date: July 05, 2004

Psycho Diver
© MVM Entertainment

What They Say
In a dark world of private terror Yuki, a beautiful pop star, is haunted by violent memories and discovers psychic powers she cannot control. It is up to Bosujima, a Pscho Diver with exceptional talents to descend into her turbulent soul and set things right before the inner demon triumphs. What he doesn't know is that there are other who will stop at nothing to control Yuki's fate and that he is stepping into a power struggle he will probably not survive...

A mind-bendingly original and thrilling anime, violent horror story of troubled souls and inner demons: the stuff of nightmares!

The Review!
Sometimes short OVAs just completely miss the mark. Psycho Diver is a prime example.

I listened to the English track, since it's the only one available. The stereo mix itself is decent enough, with a bit of directionality during certain scenes, though there's nothing particularly outstanding about it. The lack of a Japanese language track is disappointing, but understandable. Psycho Diver has never been released on DVD in the US, and the only real reason we're seeing it here is that it was licensed as a package deal with a few other one-shot OVAs to get hold of Ninja Scroll: The Series.

With only seemingly VHS masters to fall back on, the video quality of this disc is certainly lacking. Colours are quite washed out, there's some pixellation in places and there's a little bit of a blur, for want of a better term on the lines in some scenes. Add in some cross-colouration and it's certainly nothing to write home about. On the plus side, I didn't notice any aliasing during playback, and it's not the worst transfer I've ever seen.

No packaging was included as this was a check disc.

The menus are as simple as the disc. The main menu has the show's logo, with an image of Yuki inside the letters of logo on the right, and the three selections - Play feature, scene selection and extras - on the left, and an instrumental piece of music playing over it. The two sub-menus are static with different images, but have no music playing. While they're not particularly good, that fits with the show itself.

The "original trailer". 37 seconds long, and it's not even very good. And once again it (and the other MVM trailers) suffer from terrible transfers, with all sorts of artifacting present.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Sometimes you'll watch a show and absolutely love it. Other times, you'll watch a show and, by the end of it, wonder why you'd even bothered. With Psycho Diver, I definitely felt the latter.

The story opens with an introduction to Bosujima, a "psycho diver"; the apt name for people who use their mental abilities to dive into people's minds. He seems to find his job somewhat humorous, but it makes him money. We then switch to a sequence featuring a singer called Yuki, with an absolutely laughable song. Seriously, no offence intended to the singer, but the lyrics are just hilarious, with lines like "they lock you up, and throw out the key". Nice. Anyhow, she runs away from her manager when she's done singing, and the focus switches back to Bosujima, who basically narrates the story.

He has been receiving messages from some woman who has been following him, but she is being followed herself. Bosujima confronts the follower and wins out in the end. Anyhow, he is told by Yuki's management that since she joined a cult, she's been going into a trance state while singing so she stops singing. The management company wants Bosujima to see Yuki to help her through it, since he's the top diver around. When he eventually agrees (after some persuasion), he finds out that she's being manipulated by someone and she has to be sedated as her inner self goes after him.

It turns out that Yuki has amazing destructive mental powers, the likes of which have rarely been seen. Yuki's parents, who run the cult she's joined, are out to harness her powers.

That's Psycho Diver in a nutshell, and it doesn't really play out well at all. The story is pretty disjointed, and it comes back to the same problem a lot of short, one-shot OVAs have: a lack of time. Psycho Diver has 48 minutes to present the story, pull you in and provide a gripping conclusion. And for me, it failed pretty miserably on all counts. While a lack of character depth is acceptable in a shorter show like this, and is somewhat expected given its length, when there's virtually none its pretty inexcusable. There is something of an effort to develop Yuki, and through the narration, Bosujima, but it just doesn't work well at all.

Not to mention that the plot is not gripping at all, but more along the lines of a snore-fest. At times the show plods along just reinforcing the point that they need to help Yuki, blah blah, fighting, blah blah, nuditm blah blah, argument, blah blah, help Yuki... and repeat until the time is up. And it's not helped in the slightest by the poor dialogue.

Psycho Diver is an old show with an old dub, so there are certain things that, while inexcusable nowadays, I'm willing to let go because the thinking when dubbing anime in the 90s was different to nowadays. But even by those standards, this dub isn't particularly good. The performances are pretty flat, in particular Michael Scott Ryan as Bosujima. While I did get the impression he was trying to inject some semblance of character into the performance, it seems that the poor writing was too much of a hindrance. And who can blame him when the script is littered with pointless comments and gratuitous swearing. At one point, he randomly says "Thank you and fuck you". Okay, I thought to myself, where on earth did that come from. And the script never really improves. Even some of the decent performances are clearly held back by the poor scripting. Even the best actors can't save a bad script at times, and this is one of them. That's not to say that had the script been better, the dub would've been better, though, as oftentimes you can really tell the actors seem uninterested and are just reading their lines. In fact, the best bit was recognising that Angelica, the evil cult leader woman, was voiced by Iona Morris, the same woman that voiced Storm in the 90s X-Men cartoon. Perhaps if she'd started screaming about commanding the wind or something it would've been more interesting.

And I've touched upon it, but I may as well dig into the characters as well. They're uninteresting. They're boring. They're not captivating to watch at all. Bosujima could be just about any random detective-style man and you wouldn't notice. He's just the stereotypical embodiment of the story by being the best psycho diver around. And Yuki is a bit of a whiney singer split between doing what her parents want and what she wants. The cult are all typically evil, though despite that her mother has the usual redeeming qualities like loving her child in the end.

Then, once past the randomly inserted scenes of nudity and violence (well, I'm sure their insertion wasn't intentionally random, but in terms of narrative they just as well have been) we arrive at the "exciting" and "gripping" finale. Bleh. It's got some violence, and tries it's hardest to be tragic with the events that transpire between Yuki's mother and father, but it doesn't exactly work. And Yuki's part in it just amused me no end. Then when the dust has settled there, we get some flashbacks and explanation of Yuki's past. Oh the excitement. By this point in the show I couldn't really have cared less. And of course, it would be incomplete without the final "showdown" between Yuki and Bosujima. Excellent; more blood and violence. That'll really grab my attention.

If Psycho Diver has any redeeming features at all, it's that it can have a decent atmosphere at times. The only other one, and I'm not sure whether I'd call it that or not, is that I found it unintentionally hilarious at times. Especially when things like the narration from Bosujima tried to get all sentimental. For what it's worth, the animation isn't terrible, and I quite liked some of the character designs.

In Summary:
Psycho Diver is a huge disappointment from studio Madhouse. The story is based on a novel, and it shows since the story that's compressed into 48 minutes ends up being a choppy mess that failed to hold my interest for more than a few minutes at the start. Sadly, it just didn't get better and led to a laughable climax that was both predictable and poorly executed. In honesty, I'd find it hard to recommend the show to anyone. It may have been better without the ridiculous English script, but that's something I couldn't really say since the only soundtrack included is English. While I understand that the barebones nature of the disc isn't down to MVM, it's still a disappointing release. Psycho Diver is the kind of show that exemplified the mid-90s anime market ? it has nudity, violence, a poor script and a disappointing story. It's definitely something I'd recommend steering clear of.

English Language (2.0)

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.


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