Like many Americans, and indeed, Westerners in general, my first introduction to the Guyver was through the live action films from the early 90â€™s. They eventually lead me to pick up the animated OVAs from which they were based (which, in turn, was based on the manga series). As a kid, I liked them mostly because it was so rare to see gore and cursing in a cartoon. Now, as an adult, I donâ€™t quite get the same sort of juvenile entertainment out of television. Yet, the Guyver has remained a nostalgic favorite of mine, even if the series hasnâ€™t aged very gracefully.
The Guyver tells the story of Sho Fukamachi. While chilling out in the woods with his pal, Tetsuro, they stumble upon a mysterious device. Sho accidentally activates it, bonding the â€œcontrol metalâ€ to his body and turning him into the superhero, the Guyver. The Cronos Corporation, creators of the Guyver unit, wants their device back. They send legion upon legion of Zoanoid mutants to attack Sho, his friends, his family and just make life generally unpleasant for the teen. At his side is the Guyver III, who has an agenda all his own, and Murasaki, a journalist with secret alien origins which tie into the Cronos Coporation.
The Guyver is very campy. It often tries to take itself seriously, and some times succeeds, but due to the rushed nature of many of the storylines the characters and plots are diluted to a noticeably two-dimensional level. Due to this, the emotional impact of certain scenes (such as the death of Enzyme Type II) lose most of their power. Additionally, villains such as the Guyver II are dispensed with almost as soon as they appear, making their threat-level minimal.
Now, what if you like campy and cheesy scifi-horror action? Then you may very well like the Guyver. *I* like the Guyver. The animation, over-the-top violence and rushed sort of storytelling are very reminiscent of shows and movies such as the original Fist of the North Star and the first Vampire Hunter D film. If you did not get any entertainment out of those titles then thereâ€™s little hope youâ€™ll get any from the Guyver.
The English dub is pretty much s***, which is a shame, as itâ€™s the only version of the series available in the United States. The actors do improve as the series goes along, and some of them (such as the actor for Tetsuro) are alright, but thereâ€™s only so much they can do with twelve episodes. Other voices are unforgivably bad, such as Aptom. I admit, it enhances the â€œcheeseâ€-factor and gives the series a Mystery Science Theater quality. It can be fun to make fun of.
The series is broken up into two arcs, each containing six episodes. The first arc features the Guyverâ€™s battle against Cronos Japan as well as all the origin and character set-up. Itâ€™s the stronger of the two arcs, for certain, with Cronosâ€™ constant screwing with Shoâ€™s life being rather exciting. The Guyver II (as short-lived as he was) and the Hyper Zoanoids are also some of the better villains of the series.
The second arc, featuring the Guyverâ€™s struggles against Dr. Balcus, is easily the worst portion of the series. There are a few highlights, such as the Enzyme Type II story arc. Aptom, despite his bad-dubbing, is a decent villain. He gets a lot of story devoted to him, though, while better villains like the Guyver II get cheated. Dr. Balcus is completely devoid of character and reminds me a lot of Dr. Demon from Tranzor Z. Then thereâ€™s the new hero, Murakami. Canâ€™t say I gave a crap about him, since his quiet and brooding personality was already done with Agito Makishima (the Guyver III). His ties to the aliens which created the Zoanoids and the Guyver is interesting, but the series is cancelled before anything particularly good can become of it.
Itâ€™s also a bit disappointing that the series ends on a cliffhanger of sorts. Thereâ€™s some resolution, such as the defeat of Aptom, but Cronos is far from finished and thereâ€™s even a few revelations made in the last second (such as the fate of Commander Gyou) which leave you wanting more. The manga series continued on well past this point in the story, but unfortunately, finding the manga in America isnâ€™t always easy.
I like the Guyver, but I also like cheesy horror movies and violent video games. Iâ€™m not exactly the best judge of quality, and I know this. Iâ€™d recommend the 2005 Guyver series over this version, though itâ€™s not without its retro-charm.