Guyver has a long history in the world of anime and beyond. It all started back in 1985 when Yoshiki Takaya created the Bio Boosted Armor Guyver manga. Since then the franchise has gone on to have an OVA and some live-action releases, but more recently Guyver: The Bioboosted Armor was released in 2005. This 26 episode was one of the titles originally released by ADV that was picked up by FUNimation during the licensing shift. Funimation has already released Guyver on DVD, but the series has made the format jump to Blu-ray recently as well.
There's no denying Guyver's popularity in Japan, but its celebrity status in the States isn't quite as impressive. The live-action offerings have left something to be desired and the original OVA is appreciated solely by lovers of the sci-fi genre who don't mind ample amounts of clichés. For the most part the qualifications for loving the OVA can be applied to the 2005 series. Guyver: The Bioboosted Armor is a fun, action-oriented science fiction show, but it's hampered by bouts of repetition and anime stereotypes. Ultimately the series is entertaining popcorn fare that doesn't get too deep since it feels slightly imbalanced at times. Don't let that deter you though, if you love sci-fi, anime, and action you'll get a kick out of this series.
The show takes place at some point in the future in Japan, but the twist here is that bio technology has grown exponentially and there are several monsters running around masking as humans. Known as Zoanoids, these beasts are manufactured by the Chronos Corporation and at the start of the show one of them escapes. Alone and in the woods this guy apparently desires little more than to be human again, but Chronos isn't about to let him run free, especially with three experimental Guyver models.
The Zoanoid is pursued by a team of other monsters and the confrontation ends in a massive explosion that sends the Guyver models flying this way and that. That particular day turned out to be a fateful one for Sho and Tetsuro, who are ordinary high school students that just happened to be in the neighborhood when the explosion went off. While sitting by a tranquil lake one of the Guyver units comes crashing down next to them and Sho accidentally activates it. He's attacked by a tentacled-monster-like-thing which transforms him into an alien-looking suit of armor. Sho's understandably scared silly and Tetsuro, well, he thinks his friend has just been eaten. It's fortunate for them that this happened though, because the pack of Zoanoids comes along to say hi, because they want the Guyver back.
With his newfound bio armor Sho cuts through the Zoanoids like a warm knife through butter. When the ordeal is over the armor melts away and Sho is left standing in front of a very confused and frightened Tetsuro. From here the show explores what Sho goes through as he learns about the Guyver and ponders how it is affecting his body as strange markings grow on his back. Little doses of explanations are doled out as the series progresses, but it's not until later that we really have most of the questions answered.
As the series moves on and the episodes progress we find that Chronos is increasing their efforts to get the Guyver units back under their control. One of their own has bonded with the second unit and he becomes a nice antagonist for Sho, who really is just unwittingly swept up in these bizarre events. Even stranger though, is the involvement of Sho's student council president, who is the nephew of a Chronos manager, but has ulterior motives all his own. When the third Guyver unit falls into his hands things are all up in the air when it comes to Sho's fate and what Chronos plans to do.
Through the 26 episodes of Guyver the show presents a fast-paced story full of bloody good action and some fine dramatic moments. I will say that most of the episodes follow specific patterns and there's a strong monster of the week mentality. Nearly every episode starts out with Sho getting found by a Zoanoid, turning into Guyver, and finding a way to beat the snot out of his opponent. It's a simple set up that has been used countless times, and though it gets a tad repetitive, it actually works here somewhat. The thing that makes the show work is the running plotline which acts like an adhesive between patchwork episodes. From one outing to the next, Guyver strings you along with an appropriate amount of exposition that helps keep the level of intrigue high.
Where Guyver stumbles a bit is in its execution of the relationship between Sho and Tetsuro's sister, Mizuki. The series lays it on quite thick that Sho has a thing for her, though she's infatuated with the student council president. This is something that causes problems for Sho at some point in the series, and it's never really developed to a point where it doesn't feel forced. Thankfully Guyver focuses more on the action, but this element comes into play as well.
Whether you're familiar with the franchise or not, Guyver: The Bioboosted Armor is a fast, fun ride. It's a show that feels fresh, yet familiar at the same time thanks to this modern animation and traditional storytelling. It may be rocky at parts thanks to some repetition and predictability, but for what it's worth this is a satisfying anime from start to finish. If you're not a Guyver fan you will be by the time this show is over, and because of that this complete series comes recommended.
Guyver: The Bioboosted Armor is presented on Blu-ray with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and full 1080p resolution with AVC codec. The series looked quite good on DVD back in the day, and I was anticipating this Blu-ray transfer. I'm pleased to report that the quality lives up to expectations and FUNimation definitely went the extra mile to up the ante, so to speak. The picture quality is sharp with vibrant detail, a solid image, and virtually no flaw to speak of. Grain and block that was present on the DVD transfer aren't a problem here at all, and in many ways this presentation stands above some of FUNimation's other recent Blu-ray efforts.
Presented with Dolby TrueHD English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0, the sound quality here is slightly sharper than what we experienced with the DVD release. The 5.1 selection offers slightly more presence on the soundstage and the action sequences stand out because of this. The stereo mix isn't bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it feels flat in some respects. The dub quality is good on both sides of the fence as well, though personally I preferred the Japanese track.
The bonus features made available on the DVD release have been included here for this Blu-ray edition as well. Trailers, production sketches, clean animations, and a manga to anime comparison are packed into this set. There are also four audio commentaries with the English cast. While neither of these really stands out, it's nice to know that if you're upgrading to the Blu-ray, or just picking the show up for the first time, you're not getting shafted in terms of supplemental content.
FUNimation's Blu-ray edition of Guyver: The Bioboosted Armor is an enjoyable, sometimes campy, excursion in sci-fi anime. It's not a perfect or genre-defining experience by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a solid action-oriented affair with an entertaining plot and fun characters. This Blu-ray collection features a nicely upconverted transfer and maintains all the bonus features from the DVD collection. It's totally worth picking this set up if you haven't seen the show before. If it's already in your collection then it's worth noting that the picture and audio is definitely an upgrade, so take that into consideration.