This is an anime that starts off like so many others, with a boob eating a man’s hand. The boob literally grew teeth and started chomping on this man’s hand. How cliche. Ok I lied. This scene will stay with you years after you’ve forgotten the rest of the film. Dennis Paoli, the writer of Re-Animator once said “Any good film should show you something you’ve never seen before” and Biohunter sure does that. It’s a scene that you just have to see for yourself to fully enjoy. And like any self-respecting 90’s OVA, Biohunter has to have a sex scene, so it get’s it out of the way in the first 30 seconds. And on to the plot…
Biohunter is a 1995 OVA that was a joint effort between Madhouse and Toei. The anime is about two professors in Japan that they are currently moonlighting as supernatural investigators. They are focusing on a new virus that turns people into monsters. The virus seems to change people into monsters permanently, unless it’s stopped early enough by a vacine the two professors have concocted. One of the professors, Komada, was infected with the virus but for some reason it didn’t permanently change him. Instead he has the ability to change at will, and thus uses his monster form to aid in their quest of defeating monsters and studying the virus. Koshigaya on the other hand is the professor who first discovered the virus, and started this whole operation in the first place. The professors are paid handsomely for helping others who have nowhere else to go, but manage to keep knowledge of the virus from the mainstream. Some of the movie deals with these two going around trying to save people infected with the virus, as well as study it and learn as much about it as possible. Komada is walking home one night and he sees a beautiful girl run by him, in real terror. We learn she;s running from some thugs that want to rough her up. Komada ends up helping her out, and of course falls in love with her. She needs some help and protection and he’s the professor to give it to her. Komada even gets his partner in on the deal, and they decide to look for her grandfather. You see the thugs want this girl, Sayaka, because they want to get to her famous grandfather who’s a fortune teller. But I won’t bother going into all the details here.
Biohunter is an horror anime through and through. Sure there’s some action, but it’s more about the horror then anything else. The action that’s here is alright, the fight scenes between Komada and the other monsters or the thugs chasing Sayaka are entertaining. But again the horror is the main aspect of this OVA, and it’s quite good. There are some really creepy imagery here that gives you goosebumps, like a severed hand-turn monster morphing into someone’s back! Creepy! It also has great transformation scenes that look both horrifying and painful. This reminded me of An American Werewolf in London.
I really like the concept here, it’s pretty unique and works well. The idea of two professors, who don’t really know how to work in the black market, trying to both study this virus and help people/fight monsters is very interesting. It helps that the characters are really likable, intriguing, realistic people. Throughout the anime Komada struggles with his humanity. He wonders if he’s really still a person or not. He contemplates if he should even allow himself to date women because of the dangers and because he may not really even be human anymore. In addition to this he slowly starts to lose control over the ability to transform back and forth, and both professors worry he may end up stuck as a monster for good. This struggle to control his inner beast is one of the better aspects of the show for sure. In fact it is the two main characters and their struggles and personalities that make this OVA so good. Koshigaya on the other hand has no qualms about dating girls, even his own students. He may be a bit of a creep, but he’s a very likable creep at that. I found the token love interest girl, Sayaka to be sort of boring. Her grandfather however was more interesting. But the story is about the two professors much more then it is about anyone else. One of the thugs is kind of funny, he crushes things with his bare hands when he gets angry. An incomplete list of things he crushes follows: people, Komada, coins, and a crystal ball. And did I mention he takes a nice bite out of a crystal ball? Who he and the other thugs are working for isn’t really a twist, but I won’t spoil it or the reasons their boss want to desperately see a fortune teller. Another aspect of the film that works very well is the comedy. While it’s far from an comedy movie, it does have a good sense of humor. There’s some lighthearted jokes that counter the horror and gore and prevents the show from becoming too dark. And again the humor is character based, pretty much most of the laughs come from the two professors bouncing off each other’s personalities, rather then the hyperactive anime comedy tropes we’re all used to. Biohunter is well written, which makes sense when you notice the scriptwriter, Yoshiaki Kawajiri. A good example of the top notch writing is the final scene, it’s well aware of how to handle the suspense and drama in the air, and uses the characters wonderfully. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been on an old OVA binge lately or what, but I’m so tired of cliche endings where a character comes out of nowhere and deals the final blow, or the main character struggles and finally defeats the big bad. I’m very glad this instead ends the show in a less boring way. The final scene uses all of it’s characters to their full potential.
The character designs are amazingly well detailed. No one is cluttered and all the characters look really good. This isn’t exactly a series with character designs that you’ll particularly remember, but they do look really good. It has that Madhouse style I really love. Characters also change clothing multiple times, and really dress in style. In fact the artwork in general impresses. It has a good attention to detail. The color palette is very earthly. It all looks realistic, but avoids becoming boring or dreary. The animation here too is really good. The music on the other hand is very generic. It has a boring horror score that you heard ten times before running throughout the film. It neither impresses nor damages the work, although at times it seems a tad corny. I did like the ending theme though.
Urban Vision put this anime out on VHS in 1997 (one of their first releases) if I’m not mistaken. It has sense been released on DVD by them in 2001, and this is how I own it. The DVD while out of print, is still easy to find and quite cheap. Back in the day Urban Vision released a large amount of seinen anime, usually of the ultraviolent, dark, gory, bloody, and/or violent kind. And this title doesn’t stray far from their tastes. Today Urban Vision’s daily tasks consist of keeping Vampire Hunter D – Bloodlust in print and somehow finding the money to stay in business. Their website recently went down, which I hope is not a sign of their plans to leave the market or anything. I would like to see them make a comeback. We could always use more of their type of anime over here. But this is neither here nor there I suppose. They had the dub for this produced at Sky Quest Entertainment like much of their titles. It’s a professional sounding dub, with no real standouts or problems. It’s a realistic and subdued sounding dub, quite good for it’s time period I might add. The dub is definitely worth a listen. My one complaint if I had to have one is that Matt McKenzie, who plays Komada in the dub, sounds a litte wooden. But considering that character’s personality it’s fitting. Matthew K. Miller (known for playing Tenchi in the Tenchi Muyo series) plays Koshigaya and he does a great job. I really liked him here, as I liked everyone in this dub. The dub sounds a tad different then other dubs, and I liked that.
The best scene in this anime is of course the opening scene with the hungry hungry boobies. The rest of it is quite good however, especially the character interactions between the professors. Sure the first time I saw this I was a tad annoyed the OVA peaked so early, but really how can you ever top a boob that has teeth and eats a guys hand? You can’t. Overall this is has a good concept, some interesting characters and great animation. And did I mention a guys hand gets eaten by a girls boobs during a sex scene? I Didn’t??? Well you see in the middle of a sex scene all of sudden there’s munch munch munch from a girl’s boob and now the guy has to learn how to write with his left hand. God I love this.
Something No One Will Care About
One odd note I noticed, in both the dub and sub the characters refer to the Liberal Republican Party. Since this all takes place in Japan I am sure they are referring to the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (commonly known as the LDP), the party that has been in control (more or less) of the country from 1955 – 2009. I am unsure if this is a sly poke at the LDP by the creators, or a mistranslation by Urban Vision. Either way I was amused.
3.5/ 5 Stars
Positives: A boob eats a guys hand, a guy eats a crystal ball, good character interaction, well done horror concept, art/animation, very well written
Negatives: Only one scene where a boob eats a guys hand, never quite as good as the first scene, not entirely engaging, boring girl, music is generic.