My path into anime and manga fandom was a very twisty one. But if there was one that I had to say was my major push into it, it’d be Yoshiki Takaya’s comic Kyoshoku Soko Guyver or Bio-booter Armor Guyver. This long running comic series (started in 1985 and still ongoing) was a love letter to classic Japanese live action transforming heroes like Kamen Rider and Kikaider, capturing all the drama, horror and action of those in a fresh way. It’s been adapted before as a straight-to-video animated film, a straight-to-video animated series, and two live-action American films. This is the most recent adaption, and is one of my favorites.
Sho Fukamachi is a normal teenager. He hangs out with his best friend Tetsuro, is on the student council as secretary, and has a major crush on his best friend’s sister Mizuki, who only has eyes for the council president Agito Makishima. While hanging with Tetsuro, Sho ends up seeing an explosion. Unbeknownst to the two, it was caused by a battle between two monsters, one of whom was attempting to escape with three strange, ancient alien devices called Guyver units. One of these crashes in front of Sho, and the Guyver unit comes to life and merges with him. The Guyver is a bio-organic technology marvel, a living suit that when merged with a human transforms the person into a superhuman fighter, outfitted with incredible weaponry. Now transformed into the Guyver Unit-1, Sho must fight to protect his friends and loved ones from the sinister Chronos organization and their genetically engineered monsters, the Zoanoids. But can one teen, even with the nearly unlimited power of the Guyver, face such odds?
Sho’s a likable protagonist, mostly because it’s easy to see how traumatic his situation is. Add in the sheer awesome design and potential with a symbiotic suit of armor like the Guyver, and it’s a showcase of why the Japanese love shows about transforming heroes fighting monsters every week. This 2005 series is probably the best representation of the franchise yet, following everything that has happened in the first 10 or so volumes of the comics.
Let’s talk about the Zoanoids for a moment. These monsters are amazing. Their unique designs and abilities make for great action scenes, particularly when the more specialized creatures, known as Hyper Zoanoids, appear to menace Sho and his friends. Speaking of his friends, the cast of humans and allies to Sho are pretty decent and realistic, helping drive some of the horror of finding out that such a clandestine war for humanity’s fate is at hand.
The major selling point of the series is just how unpredictable it can be. Fairly early on, something happens that would shock most newcomers. And of course, the action is top-notch as we learn alongside Sho just what he is capable of. If there’s only one complaint I could make, it’s that the final episode ends on a cliffhanger. While there is some hope of a sequel series to finish the story, it’ll be a long time coming.
Guyver: The Bioboosted Armor, currently available on DVD, Blu-Ray and streaming online from Funimation, is a great adaption. While fans of the classic version and comics may be put off by it’s more modern human designs (the Guyver and Zoanoid designs remain intact), and the toning done of the gore due to being broadcast on TV, it’s still a great adaption, and a good starting point for a different kind of anime experience.
|A great adaption of a great story, with amazing action, monsters, and a very memorable hero.||The newer character designs may throw off fans of the classic material, and its cliffhanger ending is a bit frustrating.|