Formerly, to my mind there were two kinds of animé: There’s the Good Stuff, with killer animation, plenty of action and well written, witty dialogue.
Then there’s the other kind... Bad Animé. This has no story, inconceivable links between action sequences, needless and gratuitous sexual content and crap dialogue.
However, we now have a third choice: Middle of the Road Animé. This has an okay storyline, okay dialogue, needless but non-gratuitous sex scenes and average animation. This choice has been created solely for this title (although I will no doubt employ it in future...)
So this is Bio-Hunter. Made in 1995 by director Yuzo Sato and supervisor/writer Yoshiaka Kawajiri (of Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D fame), we are again subjected to a film made on cels in the old-fashioned animation arena. However, the film has been digitally remastered so it comes across looking very nice, even if we are only granted a 4:3 aspect ratio. A lot of animé is made direct to video (or was) and this is why we get that size ratio coming up so often. Unfortunately.
|"Ever heard of a Bio-Hunter...?"|
Our story begins with a girl sprouting demonic heads from various parts of her body. We soon learn she is affected with the Demon Virus, an horrific affliction that converts the human genome into a monstrous parody. Enter our heroes to save her; Komada and Koshigaya, two science teachers who are developing a cure. Their world soon collides with that of a young woman being pursued by a force sent by a powerful serial killer who wants her grandfather. He is a famous psychic who knows the true identity of the serial killer, and soon our Bio-Hunters are in pursuit to solve the mystery.
I wasn’t expecting much here, I’ll be honest, but I was granted a bit more than that. Overall though, while interesting, the story was a little weak and the animation decidely ordinary. There are expansive moments of empty padding or silences between stilled characters that do nothing to progress the storyline, and so even as the story gets going, it drops to a walk again. This is kinda constant throughout so by the time we get to the ending of this 58-minute journey, we’ve stopped and started so many times it’s a little hard to get enthused.
However, in relation to my newest principle of animé, the film is still fairly entertaining, if the tiniest bit cheesy. I took that to be a subtle tongue-in-cheek though as the film pays homage to films and television like Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Fifth Element and The X-Files. Bigger fans than I of animé will probably find much more of interest here, and while it is worth a look, I found it quite average.
Digitally remastered means clean animation and that’s the case here. Whilst there are those annoying and unremovable cel artefacts, there don’t appear to be any film artefacts throughout. Colours look great, with plenty of even saturations throughout and blacks looking natural enough. All this is to be expected, naturally, from a remastered film and so the picture is quite perfect. There are only a few moments of aliasing that I picked up and these form the only real problem with the disc at all.
Dolby Digital 5.1 goes to work here with some very tasty moments in the surrounds. The subwoofer speaks up constantly as well, adding a real depth to both the music and the action sequences. The music here, composed by Masamichi Amano, reminded me a lot of The Fifth Element with its world music underscoring. Very nice, although it sounded a little muted at times. Dialogue is all fine and delivered humourously enough, though some growling of human baddies might irk a little. Otherwise a nice clean surround experience that does well to buoy up the screen.
There are some good moments within this shorter film, but the instances between stretch on interminably. The humourous dialogue isn’t really enough to bolster interest and I think that’s why there are frequent occasions of girls with no tops on. However, I’ve seen far worse than this offering and even though it is padded out a little unnecessarily, it has the good grace to not drag on beyond the 58 minute mark.
As I said, Middle of the Road Animé.