Review by: Kiki Van De Kamp
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
Running Time: 600 minutes
Rating: TV MA
Release Date: November 4, 2008
The Bioboosted Armor is back and better than ever!
Guyver: The Bioboosted Armor’s history is a lengthy one that spans a long running manga series, a classic anime series and a 1991 live-action movie that starred Mark Hamill. Say what you will about the series but it inspired a number of similar shows that go as far as Ultraman, the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and even the most recent Cartoon Network show, Ben 10 Alien Force. Having been a fan of the manga, I was slightly disappointed with past DVD releases of the anime series … up until the newly released Guyver, The Complete Box Set brought to us by FUNimation.
Released with an improved voice acting cast, Guyver’s complete 26-episode run is packaged in four DVDs with the fifth DVD dedicated to the extras. It tells the tale of Sho Fukamachi and his high school chum Tetsuro Segawa who encounter a strange case (known as a Guyver unit) that was blasted in their general direction after an encounter with monstrous creature and a group of armed security officers. Sho somehow triggers something in the unusual cast that envelops him in an almost organic suit of armor. Unfortunately for them, they’re discovered by similar guards that transform into bio-creatures. Unleashing his new power given to him by the Guyver armor, he slays his monstrous attacker. Thus begins Sho’s battle to save his friends and the world.
If you’re familiar with the manga, you’ll clearly see that this Sho is definitely a lot moodier and way cooler than the dork that turns to a hero that the manga depicts. This Sho is slightly distant from his father who worries about his son ever since Sho’s mother passed away. On top of a different hair color, though, Sho’s crush on Tetsuro’s younger sister, Mizuki, remains the same as the manga. Together with Tetsuro, Sho manages to evade capture from other similar creatures he comes to learn are called Zoanoids that were sent by a mysterious organization called the Chronos Corporation.
The first few episodes of the series are similar in theme: a Zoanoid appears, Sho is enveloped in the Guyver’s armor and he kills said Zoanoid while Tetsuro watches in the background. However, things change not too long in the series as the Chronos Corporation focuses its attention of Sho who is considered Guyver I while Chronos honchos believe there’s a Guyver II and Guyver III out there. Suddenly, Mizuki becomes involved when she witnesses Sho transform into the Guyver form.
Meanwhile, Sho comes to realize that the girl he has had a crush on only has eyes for the President of the Student Council named Agito Makishima who has a huge secret of his own and a connection to the Chronos Corporation. It comes to Makishima’s attention that his foster father, the commander of the Japanese Chronos branch, means to do more than just recover the missing Guyver units but also harness the power for his own agenda. The truth is that there’s more to Makishima than meets the eye and in the coming episodes he becomes a key player in the fight to bring down the Chronos Corporation.
The plot thickens when Tetsuro, Mizuki and Sho’s father are kidnapped by Chronos thugs. The three come to meet Makishima’s foster parent, Richard Giyot, who wishes to use them as pawns to get Sho to come to their rescue. Yet it’s another Guyver that rescues them and his identity shocks Tetsura and – most of all – Mizuki. Meanwhile, a new ally presents himself in the form of an ex-journalist that had been looking into the affairs of the Chronos Corporation until he was discovered by the organization and experimented on like a lab rat. The result, however, wasn’t what the real masterminds behind Chronos has expected. A tragedy in Sho’s life pushes him and his new allies – that include Guyver III – to destroy Chronos from the inside and a major battle is staged that is actually the highlight of the series.
I’d be spoiling things if I went into the events that lead up to the finale but the final battle in the last episode actually isn’t as satisfying as it should have been since the final part of the story is the best part of the series. Still, having watched past DVDs of the series, I thoroughly enjoyed this “improved” version of the series. The third disc on the set includes a bonus feature that compares the anime with the manga version and we can see that this series retained many of the scenes faithfully. There are many notable changes that go beyond the change in Sho’s hair color but overall the feel of the manga is present. Even the dismemberments and gore are found in this series.
Another difference is that the voice work has been updated with the voice talents of some excellent voice actors. The problem, however, is that the voices come off as distant at times or sound as if they’re speaking in a tunnel at other times. This isn’t often the case, thankfully, seeing as this series does have an excellent score. The four discs contain good audio commentary as well that’s actually insightful and fun to hear. The animation is a bit on the rough side sometimes but it does look good in motion and the action sequences are great.
Overall, Guyver: The Complete Series box set is just what a boosted fan has been waiting for since the last DVDs failed to do justice to the series. It’s a neat package with a lots of goodies that should satisfy Guyver fans and the presentation is good enough to make this the absolute complete box set you will want to have if you love the material presented here.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
It’s boy versus a big evil corporation and while it starts getting a wee bit repetitive when it comes to the battles in the earlier episodes, it picks up the pace nicely later. This Sho is so much cooler than the manga version of the character and it’s good to see the gore hasn’t been cut.
VIDEO QUALITY: A
Visually, the animation still holds up nicely and it’s great to see that the transfer is far better than past releases. As I mentioned, this is a gory series but it’s never done to make the series seem cooler.
AUDIO QUALITY: C-
I don’t think there’s one Guyver fan out there that really appreciated the English dub that just doesn’t do the characters justice. The score is actually gorgeous throughout and despite the fact that the sound effects drown out the voices, it‘s handled with much detail. Plus, I still can’t get the horrible “Cotton Candy” end theme out of my head.
The four main discs come with audio commentary for key episodes and they’re actually insightful and fun to listen to while watching the episodes. The third disc is dedicated to the extras including production art, clean versions of the opening and closing theme songs and trailers. The highlight of the third disc, however, are the plentiful manga-to-anime comparisons that show that the series didn’t stray too far from the manga.
This is – bar none – the best complete version of the Guyver series and an overall great package fans of the series have been hoping for since its introduction long ago. While the story still holds up despite some dated themes, part of what made Guyver fun to watch (and inspire a number of similar shows like Power Rangers) was the fact that it’s good fun that never takes itself seriously.