As I am sure you all know by now, I am a huge fan of “a bit of the ol’ ultraviolence“. Genocyber stands out as one of the more violent ones, but also as one of the more hateful ones. This is an anime that makes you a little afraid that the minds behind it roam the streets freely. There is so much hate, disgust at the world, and violence bubbling up in this OVA series that it merits mention. But more then that buried down a little deeper is a good story, if a confusing one at that. Genocyber is a five part OVA series from 1993 directed by Koichi Ohata (the director of the dreadful MD Geist, another anime filled with hate towards everything) . It has three main story arcs, the first story arc takes up the 50 minute first OVA, the second story arc is made up of the second and third episodes, and the final story arc is the last two episodes. The first story arc is the strongest, although the second arc has it’s moments. Sadly the third story arc is painfully uninteresting and not really worth a watch. But the lengths of depravity the first three episodes go to makes this entirely worth watching. Sure there’s anime that goes further, but few anime that seem to hate the world and everyone in it in a way a moody 16 year old does (Legend of the Overfiend seemed to enjoy life in a hedonistic sort of way, Gantz felt the world was too meaningless to feel one way or another, Vampire Wars was too dumb to have feelings…). And that has to count for something! Genocyber is one of those titles that gets tossed around a lot as being “terribad”, and its association with the horrible MD Geist makes that assertion understandable. But Genocyber is honestly good some of the time, and pretty stupid at other times. And although the name is thrown around often enough, I don’t think it’s something people actually watch. But perhaps they should.
Episode one, the first story arc, details the story of two sisters who have psychic powers. These powers were studied, strengthened, and abused by a shady government-backed corporation in Hong Kong until the younger sister manages to escape. The older sister is then used by the corporation to retrieve the younger one in a timely fashion. There are many other psychic children being used in unethical experiments at the shady corporation, many with the ability to portray to people around them the darkest essence of humanity and horror. Although none of these kids are as powerful as the two sisters. These scenes of horror and disgust are shown to us as well. The OVA uses claymation and other stop motion techniques intercut into the traditional animation and this works to the anime’s advantage making those scenes of horror all the more gruesome. The older sister, Diana, doesn’t have use of her body and so cybernetic parts are surgically added to her body prior to the series beginning. Elaine, the younger of the two sisters, is a feral child with a very powerful mental telekinesis ability. Elaine takes a liking to a little street urchin who is being bullied by a gang of kids. Eventually Elaine is taken in and protected by a wise cracking police detective with his own motives, all the while a mysterious trio are trying to kidnap her. These three mysterious outsiders (two men and a women) kill and torture many to get closer to Elaine. And let’s not forget Diana is out there trying to get her sister back too (and also not above using some extreme measures of her own). But there is no future for this poor girl, whether she stays with the detective (who is just trying to figure out what the hell is going on along with trying to investigate the evil corporation and doesn’t care much for the kid), is kidnapped by these mysterious outsiders who only want her for their own experiments, or if she goes back with her sister to the corporation to be experimented on more. There is no hope for poor Elaine, there is no hope for her little friend, there is no hope for Diana, and in fact there is no hope for anyone at all. It’s all quite pessimistic. Eventually the plot comes to a head when Elaine merges with Diana and they become “Genocyber”, an ugly mechanical reptilian beast/psychic with the combined strength and powers of the girls only multiplied. As Justin Sevakis rightly points out in his review, the Genocyber becomes the main attraction of the show. And it is a marvelous and disgusting sight to behold. It is wonderfully designed and really captures the imagination of animation, something maybe you didn’t think an anime like this would be capable of doing. It shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise that the Genocyber goes on a murderous rampage though.
The anime seems to have a disdain for all things human and the way it lets out its frustration is entirely unapologetic. The OVA is mean spirited in nature. Its storytelling style is jumbled and muddled. It is confusing and dumb at times, but so cool and so mean spirited you can’t help but watch. It doesn’t all make complete sense but that’s part of its appeal. The anime is disgusting, violent, bloody, gory, and very strange. It has a hatred for all things in this world and wants you to hate everything too. It is very cynical about the world, but very cool. I’m still taken aback by how something so very mean is so very cool, but well here it is. It enjoys killing people in very brutal ways, and makes you cheer for their gruesome deaths. You begin to eagerly await the next act of ultraviolence. Its ability to create the sensation of wanting to see people killed within the viewer is perhaps its greatest strength. It often uses lazy exposition to reveal its plot (in the second and third episodes more), and yes sometimes things just happen for no reason really fast. The second and third episodes are not as well written as the first, but they have their strong points, like the slow adaptation of Elaine to human life. She slowly becomes more like a person and less like an animal due to the help of a navy nurse who instantly connects with the little girl. In addition Eliane and the nurse bond and form a close relationship. This bonding is handled quite well and goes down interesting unexpected routes. Re-naming a little mute girl you found after your recently deceased daughter isn’t crazy. No, nope, not in the least. These episodes also feature children being mercilessly chopped down by machine-gun fire and it is very disturbing (as are the many flashbacks of this scene).
In the last two episodes the killings cease, gore stops being showcased, and we stop caring. There’s plenty going on in these episodes but we just don’t care anymore. When the violence does pick up it is too little too late. It certainly doesn’t help that the premise of these episodes is ridiculous. Not to mention these episodes shamelessly rip-off Beneath the Planet of the Apes, and they don’t even do a good job ripping that off. Beneath the Planet of the Apes never sat well with me anyway, outdone by its predecessor and sequels. If you’re going to rip off a sequel of Planet of the Apes at least make it a better one then Beneath. The one saving grace of these episodes is it features a dictator that looks a lot like President Bill Clinton *, only always wearing colorful suits straight out of Dumb and Dumber. Can you tell this was made in the 90’s yet? I wish he played saxophone though.
Most of the artwork is simplistic in nature, but has that “manime” look that I do enjoy. Still it feels all too cheap and dated. And then you have the cheap animation that just shows the budget for this series wasn’t all to high. The animation uses shortcuts and is sloppy all too often. It has decently designed characters, but they’re just all a little too plain. And as I said the Genocyber itself is wonderfully designed, perhaps most of the budget went to making sure that looked as good as possible. The other monsters look convincingly scary as well. The horror scenes do manage to look quite scary, the gore is disgusting, the blood is bloody, but you can still tell this was made on a shoestring budget. That being said the first episode uses some innovative techniques. I already mentioned the excellent and gruesome claymation and stop-motion used, but they also incorporated CGI into this OVA (that came out in 1994 mind you) that looks quite good. And finally they used real photographs and overlaid certain characters on them at times (at other times just plain photographs were shown). The photographs inserted into the animation may have been a sly way to save some more money on the animation budget, but it still looks really nice and worked out quite well. Sadly only the first episode uses these innovative techniques. When it is all said and done however, despite being a cheaper OVA the anime leaves you with some images that can only be described as nightmare fuel. There is some really hauntingly creepy imagery in Genocyber.
The dub was produced in London, England in by Manga Video, and it is another one of their “punched up” dubs. It was directed by the one and only Michael Bakewell, and uses a few familiar actors. I consider myself a superfan of Bakewell, and Manga Video dubs in general, but this one sort of bothered me. It had excellent acting at times, but some of the background characters were either poorly cast or the actor playing them were not giving it their all. The main cast is spot on, but the background voices are so bad at some points it really detracts from the whole. Vincent “Sengoku” Marzello plays the police detective and he gives another stellar performance. He makes the detective sound hard edged, gruff, and anti-hero-ish which is entirely fitting and I loved it! Rosemary Elliot (Justin Sevakis notes this is possibly a pseudonym) gives a convincing performance as Diana. Anna Mckay plays Elaine and her grunts and animalistic sounds do not come off as corny and fit quite well. William Roberts (of Appleseed fame) plays the lead villain/scientist quite well. The last two episodes were never released in the UK, and so not dubbed by Manga Video. When Central Park Media got around to putting out the last two episodes they gave the dub for them to Kip Kaplan in New York City. If there is anything you need to know about Kip Kaplan it is that he is the worst ADR director in the history humanity (and allegedly doesn’t pay people their salaries or money owed to them). I found his casting of the “annoying guy who yells a lot” (no I’m not going to learn his name) in Garzey’s Wing as Dictator Bill Clinton quite humorous. To put it lightly the dub is a complete and utter disaster on the last two episodes.
The music throughout all 5 episodes is fantastic. While it sounds very dated by today’s standards, the electronic cyberpunk score is still a major strength of the series. The ending theme is exceptionally catchy and incredibly cool and should be required listening for all old school anime fans (Central Park Media liked it so much they used the instrumental version as one of the songs in their trailer reels). The soundtrack is just so entirely neat and amazing to listen to! Central Park Media thankfully licensed and released the soundtrack, and it is included in the Mecha Masters Box Set (which is how I own this and how I suggest you buy it). The Mecha Masters boxset is infamous for not actually including any mecha anime, and containing MD Geist I and II. It also contains Genocyber and Cybernetics Guardian. All of which have tons and tons of extra features. It should probably be called the “Koichi Ohata Boxset”, but that just doesn’t roll off the tongue as well. The Mecha Masters Boxset also includes the MD Geist soundtrack which is actually really catchy and should be listened to! If one part of MD Geist didn’t suck, it was its soundtrack.
*For the record I like Bill Clinton
Positives: Ultraviolent, dark, hates everything that exists and this hate is very unique, great (although very dated) soundtrack, the dub on the first three episodes, good central story, mean spirited, really cool, Bill Clinton stars in it.
Negatives: Jumpy storytelling, unclear where it is going, cheap animation and art, the dub in the last two episodes, the plot in the last two episodes, the fact I actually sat and watched through the last two episodes 3 times.