BioHunter Anime Review
US Release By
What's In It
- Blood 'n gore
- Political Intrigue (I use the term very loosely)
- Violence: 4 (heavy)
- Nudity: 4 (heavy)
- Sex: 4 (heavy)
- Language: 2 (moderate)
An unexplained and unpredictable fluke in human evolution has produced the Demon Virus. It's a Virus that attacks the human genetic code, turning any victim into a monster. Koshigaya and Komada are your typical college professors, teaching about DNA. On the side, however, they combat those infected with the Demon Virus by request of their employers. Their goal is to gather research about the virus and find a cure. The results are always inconclusive, yet the main key the puzzle is Komada himself! He has been infected with the virus, yet has suppressed it. However, it grows stronger inside him. Will Koshigaya be able to figure the cure inside his partner's body before it's too late? It'll have to wait for now, as a mysterious string of related murders has the two on the run toward the answer to this mystery. Maybe they'll get an indirect answer to Komada as well!
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BioHunter is another one of those horror deals offered by Urban Vision, but unlike other various anime of the same ilk, BioHunter doesn't seem like it could appeal to very many people. The beginning had some potential and the ending wasn't actually bad at all, but the middle was just flat and boring. The entire production caved in on itself because of that, and the rather uninteresting characters didn't help any. The thing that makes BioHunter worth watching at all is the animation and art, in particular the sharp, moody art and creatively designed demons.
The plot and characters, while there, were thin, and any potential that would've made this watchable was wasted. The comparatively small amount of violence and sex made it seem a little underwhelming even for the target audience, so unless you're an absolute advocate of Yoshiaka Kawajiri, I'd pass on BioHunter if I were you.
Full ReviewSwitch to Quick Review
BioHunter is another one of those horror deals offered by Urban Vision. Apparently, this title was the company's first VHS release. As such, I'm surprised it didn't put them out of business. Unlike some other titles from Urban Vision, and other various anime of the same ilk, BioHunter doesn't seem like it could appeal to very many people. The usual elements are there: violence, sex, demons and innocent victims in the form of cute girls. Right off the bat you're going to alienate a good chunk of customers who don't go for that sort of thing. So you have to appeal to a certain fan base. Not really belonging to said fan base, I can't be completely sure when I say this, but BioHunter doesn't seem like it would really appeal to it's own target audience. There's not very much in the way of sex (a few scenes, but only one went into any particular detail) and while the violence is there, and it's gory, there's not as much as usual.
To be fair, BioHunter had a few elements that glinted slightly with potential. The plot was pretty standard fare for a title such as this. With the 50-60 minute running time, there wasn't much space to flesh out a plot. The background story was basically summed up in an opening narrative. However, the way it was explained was done in a very offhanded sort of way that actually made me able to buy the concept. Any other way and it really wouldn't have worked. After that the plot progression didn't have anything outright wrong with it. Everything was answered, although the ending was left appropriately open-ended. The problem is that nothing there was very interesting. Any potentials that were shown were either not capitalized on properly or not at all. Even the final climatic battle, while it looked kind of cool, hardly kept me on the edge of my seat.
Many of the problems with the plot stemmed from the characters themselves. The plot was more character driven then I would have expected, which is a welcome change. Unfortunately, the actual characters didn't have much drive. Our 'heros' Komada and Koshigaya both had a few interesting traits. The whole concept of Komada having his humanity robbed from him had an air of tragedy, and the theme was fairly consistent throughout. I thought having him cry whenever he sensed the demons was a nice touch, but otherwise he was too deadpan and lifeless, and I wasn't able to really care. Koshigaya, on the other hand, was opposite. He actually started as one of those people you know is perverted, but you couldn't help but like a little. But he was basically shafted for the boring Komada. Sayaka, the token damsel in distress, was totally flat and any of the other characters, including the bad guys, were equally flat and/or unremarkable.
I'd like to say a little more on the plot and characters, but I can't really. I've fished for as many compliments as I could, so anything else would be repetitive criticism, and I don't want to bore any of you. Summed up, the beginning had some potential and the ending wasn't actually bad at all, but the middle was just flat and boring. The entire production caved in on itself because of that.
While there were a few wasted potentials in the plot and characters, the thing that makes BioHunter worth watching at all is the animation and art. The character designs were of the more regular variety (i.e., human eyes, actual noses). They weren't particularly original, but where sharp and attractive on the humans. The demons, however, were a different story. The design on them was complex, creative and very well done. The art was solid and equally sharp, with the majority of the appeal being in the dark and moody scenes, although I felt the day sequences held up well too. The same goes for the backgrounds. The animation was smooth and of rather good quality. The character animation on the humans was fine and nicely done on the demons. The action sequences were very smooth and well choreographed. The gore, what there was of it, was detailed but naturally over the top. It's the same kind of higher quality you'd expect with Yoshiaka Kawajiri mentioned in the credits.
Rounding the corner, we come to the acting which, in the dub, was pretty decent. The writing was passable and I didn't have any particular qualms with the casting, although there weren't really any notable voices. Koshigaya was mostly well done, although his tone sometimes went into Tenchi-mode a few times (yes folks, it's Tenchi Masaki like you're never heard him before!). The slight sleaziness of the character was brought out well via the voice and acting. Dramatically speaking he was okay, but didn't have many scenes to bring it out. My only complaint would be Komada. While his voice was fine, his acting was rather flat and lifeless. Granted, that's how the character is, but I felt the dub took it a little too far. I can't comment on the Japanese version because I honestly didn't feel like watching BioHunter all over again. A sample here and there didn't reveal anything that changed my mind. The music is by my favourite composer, Masamichi Amano. Unfortunately, I'd hardly call this his best work. The main theme was unique and somewhat haunting and there was nothing outright bad about the rest of the score, just nothing remarkable.
I tried to be in the best frame of mind when watching BioHunter, but I wasn't expecting much and that's basically what I got. The plot and characters, while there, were thin, and any potential that would've made this watchable was wasted. Also, there was, comparatively, a small amount of violence and sex, making it seem a little underwhelming for the target audience. Unless you're an absolute advocate of Yoshiaka Kawajiri, I'd pass on BioHunter if I were you.
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You may want to try Twilight of the Dark Master if you actually liked this.
Notes and Trivia
Yoshiaka Kawajiri, credited as the writer of the BioHunter anime, is well known for his dark, usually violent and sexually charged films. Credits as writer and/or director include Ninja Scroll, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, and Wicked City, among others.
US DVD Review
While advertised as a Special Edition DVD, a Special Edition this is not. Unlike the two DVDs by Urban Vision which predate this one, there's not many special features. The only extra included are original storyboard images. They're interesting enough, and very well laid out, but that doesn't garner a Special Edition in my book. Still, this DVD is a fair production. The video did have some rather noticeable shimmering (one room was filled with it) but on the whole the video was sharp with good colours. The audio is offered in 5.1 for the English and the original stereo mix for the Japanese. While I can't take full advantage of 5.1 audio, both tracks appeared to be well done in their own respects. Unfortunately, this disc does not contain Japanese cast credit. On the plus side, I believe this was the last DVD from Urban Vision to omit that. Correcting that mistake after only three DVDs is a feat above CPM at least.
While there wasn't as much sex and gore as I would have expected, this definitely garners a 16-up--put the children to bed.
Violence: 4 - What's there is really there.
Nudity: 4 - See above.
Sex/Mature Themes: 4 - A sex scene at the very beginning and a couple brief rape scenes.
Language: 2 - Actually, it wasn't very bad for swearing.