This week Henshin! Anime takes a look at Guyver: Out of Control.
Guyver: Out of Control
Guyver is the story of an alien creation that bonds itself to a host, drastically changing their internal structure and allowing them to don powerful, organic suits to head into battle. You might be familiar with the title thanks to the 1991 film The Guyver, which featured Mark Hamill. Over the years, there have been a plethora of screen adaptations of the 1985 manga that is still running today – an OVA series, two live-action movies, a TV series and, what we’re looking at today, the first OVA, a single episode feature covering the first four chapters of the manga’s story.
The story is pretty simple – the Guyver suits give people amazing powers, a group is out to stop them from getting into the hands of humans, and also that group can turn themselves into monsters.
Because it is such a short feature, less than an hour in length, and has a considerable amount of material to cover, things tend to happen at a brisk pace. Within the first ten minutes, you have two fights and our lead character, Sho, bonding to the Guyver armor. This section was a little fast and I think I would have enjoyed it more had it not been for some odd direction that we’ll get to later.
This OVA suffers from its length, making it very difficult to care about the characters. A major catalyst for our hero is the murder of two of his friends and the capture of his friend, Mizuki. Normally, this is great since it serves as your typical inspiration for someone to get up and do what must be done. Here? It falls pretty flat. Because this is so short, you don’t actually have time to get to know Sho’s friends before they’re killed. Mizuki herself is perhaps one of three characters with a discernible personality, but she isn’t given enough screen time to make her someone worth caring about.
Our lead, Sho, gets a fair bit of focus, going from a typical teenager to a stoic hero by the end of the production. The final moments brought various Showa-era Kamen Rider endings to mind, specifically V3’s as he heads off into the distance, leaving the girl behind. Unfortunately, these changes come very fast. Within 15 minutes, Sho goes from being in school to taking on a thug who transforms into a monster, to wandering aimlessly in the desert. I chose this version of Guyver to watch because I was interested in it from a historical perspective, but now I’m a little more curious in giving the 2005 TV series a run.
I haven’t read the manga myself, but from what I’ve been told there are changes made to accommodate the run time. Because of those changes, I think we end up in this territory of the staff not quite knowing how to pace this thing. One moment we’re having a reflective moment of pain and anguish and the next we’re watching a battle take place all while a bangin’ 80s song plays. I do want to let issues I had with this one pass because it is a victim of its own circumstances, I feel there could have been more efficient ways to recreate the story.
I’m no expert, but it struck me that many of the problems here definitely came from the direction. There are moments where people sort of just standing around, wasting time. Normally, yeah, this is fine, but we’re in a time crunch here. In addition, a lot of those standoff moments are played in the most awkward of manners. Music will come to a stop, there will be very little ambient noise, and there are even moments in which you would expect a character to speak due to, y’know, his moving around and mannerisms, where all he does is sort of grunt.
The battles themselves aren’t particularly spectacular either. A lot of what we see looks kind of cool things to quick cuts and a really stylish laser beam, but there isn’t much else to go with here. The climax comes when two Guyer hosts, Sho and a female enemy, battle each other. I was a little disappointed here, the suits feel much bulkier than they need to, but it was a passable battle and I do wish the story had been able to do more with the female enemy. But, again, this thing likes to waste time. We’re treated to a pretty intricate sequence in which the female bonds to her Guyver unit…which plays out as nothing short of a tentacle rape scene.
As a snapshot of the time, this is worth a watch, but if you’re not interested in that sort of thing, I can’t actually recommend the 1985 Guyver feature. I haven’t seen the others, but one imagines that the extended length of each (13 episodes for the OVA, 26 for the TV series) allows the story to flow a little smoother and gives us time to actually become attached to the characters before anything major happens to them. Personally, I’m going to try out a few of the other incarnations from this manga. While this thing didn’t leave the best impression, I have always loved the various Guyver suit designs.
Join us next time when we take a look at Karas.
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