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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Devil Hunter Yohko: The Complete Collection
Devil Hunter Yohko: The Complete Collection
ADV Films // Unrated // February 8, 2005
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Chris Tribbey | posted May 10, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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"You'll never catch any boys that way."

THE SHOW:

In 1992, the American home video industry was laughing at this little start-up company out of Texas, which had licensed a Japanese "cartoon," Devil Hunter Yohko, for the domestic video store market. Anime? On store shelves? Please. Who's going to buy this?

Today, ADV Films is the largest distributor of anime in America, with nearly 700 anime releases under its belt, putting out 10-15 DVDs a month. It's the biggest and best-known distributor of anime in America, and is the leader in a profitable and expanding corner of home entertainment.

Who's laughing now?

It all started with Devil Hunter Yohko, an odd little action show filled with fan service, which has now been released in a three-disc, complete collection set. This show – which follows a demon fighter who shows off her panties as often as her sword – probably means more to ADV than it does to anime fans at large. But it's simple and sexy enough to entertain us for a few hours.

Yohko is an attractive, naïve, friendly schoolgirl, with legs up to her chin and large breasts that can't seem to stay behind her shirt. She's the 108th devil hunter in a line of women dating back … well, a long time. Using innate power that comes with her lineage, Yohko is charged with riding the world of demons that cause chaos among mankind. Lucky for her, the demons are coming after her. No need to seek them out.

Good with a sword, better at martial arts, Yohko deals with seemingly random demon attacks, an overbearing grandma, and an overzealous "devil hunter manager," all while wondering when she's finally going to lose her virginity. But every guy she almost winds up in bed with has some sort of issue (usually the deadly, "Hi, I'm a demon" type), and there's this little problem with being a devil hunter: sex is taboo. It's a wonder they've gotten through 108 generations.

Devil Hunter Yohko LOVES to show off the women in the show. Everyone winds up nude at some point. Yes, grandma too. And this isn't just fan service: this show borders on porn. Besides the random nipple and panty shots displayed in every episode, Devil Hunter Yohko episode one has a principal stripping for (and sleeping with) one of the students, and a hot sexual exploit with Yohko that has the feel of a rape scene. That's all before a hot demon seduces the guy Yohko has the hots for … and then sucks his blood. This isn't the pure flirty stuff you'll find in Please Teacher! Not that this show is treating sex as evil. It has a little fun with the fan service. Nearly every time Yohko fights in her devil hunter outfit, the damn thing gets slit right below her crotch ("Where were you aiming for, pervert?!"). Only once is Yohko really in danger of losing her virginity, though mom makes sure her girl is safe by throwing some condoms at Yohko early on ("They're a girl's best friend"). All this stuff about sex almost makes you forget this is an action series.

The fighting scenes aren't all that bad. OK, so they're not all that great either, but several of them get really bloody and sadistic. The demons are gnarly adversaries, though they're predictable and short on smarts. There's no real "villain" to speak of in Devil Hunter Yohko, just a line of mean beasties waiting to be vanquished. The fights and the skin supplant an often silly story, which relies primarily on just that: fights and skin.

The opening episode is presented in two versions on disc one of this set, but you may not notice a single difference between the original and extended episode. Both run mere seconds over 39 minutes (the rest run at under a half hour), and only a few, unimportant scenes are restored to the extended episode. Really, the only nice thing about having the two episodes is that ADV produced a great commentary track for one of them (more on that in the extras portion of the review below). There are six episodes on the three discs of this set, with the fourth episode being a music video collage of stills and scenes from the series, with a live action bit midway through.

THE DVD:

Video:

The fullscreen transfer (4:3 ratio) to DVD appears fine, though the video quality for this release is really a tale of three DVDs. The first DVD, with the two editions of the first Yohko episode, is chock full of spots and scratches. Colors are dull, the image shimmers a lot, and grain is nearly ever-present.

But then you get a much better look in the second and third DVDs. The quality greatly improves, with better flesh tones, fewer spots of grain, and nary a scratch to bitch about. Colors are brighter as well.

It seems like the further this series progressed, the better it looked. But it wasn't an outstanding achievement in animation or character design. In short, this show is not an animation great. It looks good enough to make those bloody action scenes exciting, and those sex scenes look hot.

Audio:

Dialogue heavy, Devil Hunter Yohko is presented in Japanese and English 2.0. No problems with distortions, drop outs, or improper fuzz. Lots of background music used, but other than during battles, not much goes on in the ambient noise department.

The English dub is more playful, which is both good and bad. When Yohko is nearly killed in the school pool, she's given a towel to cover up her now-exposed assets. In the Japanese track, she's simply given the towel and says thanks. In the English dub she's told she's showing more than she probably wants to. Funny. When Yohko is unexpectedly attacked by one of her friends, she protests. In Japanese: "What are you doing?!" In English: "What's your damage?!" Not funny, and too much of a reach for stupid American teen-speak. Yohko's voiceover is great on both tracks, while the voice for the grandmother in English is better. She sounds like a man in the Japanese track.

Extras:

On disc one, a Retrospective of Yohko Artwork shows more than a score of posters and screen shots from the show, but be prepared for some button pushing. This feature has no music, and doesn't scroll to the next artwork on its own. A Devil Hunter Yohko music video set to the opening theme song is a nice summary of the opening episode, while the other extras on disc one are three show trailers and six ADV previews (with that kick-ass background menu music that ADV sadly stopped using last year).

The very first title ever released by ADV, the company puts an excellent commentary track on this release, with co-founder Matt Greenfield, DVD Coordinator Janice Williams and DVD Producer Dave Williams weighing in. Greenfield gives us the low-down on how ADV was started by a couple of anime fans working in video stores who were sick of the cost of laserdiscs, how Yohko went from licensed to store shelves in record time, and how much work a few anime club members put into the subtitles. ADV put out 10,000 video copies of this show ("Everyone in the (video) industry thought we were mad," Greenfield says) and a few well-placed ads and some hard work at the few anime conventions put ADV on track to prosperity.

We learn that because four is an unlucky number in Japan, there was no real fourth episode of Yohko (it's a music video montage called 4-Ever) and how "When you're looking at older shows like Devil Hunter Yohko, you have to realize these shows were originally shot on 16 millimeter film," Greenfield says. This commentary is more about the inception of ADV than it is about the show, but it sure is interesting.

There are no episodes on disc two, though disc three has clean closing animations for episodes five and six, and trailers for episode five and three different ones for episode six.

The opening of the DVDs shows ADV's original logo, a testament to Devil Hunter Yohko being the first anime release from ADV, and these DVDs are packaged in two DVD cases, stored in a simple cardboard holder.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Fans of Devil Hunter Yohko will want this set, with a nice smattering of extras, an extended edition of the opening episode, a fun commentary track, and a nice package. Action shows with hot girls aren't that hard of a sell in anime, and has a pretty broad fan base. For those fans, this show is Recommended, and that also goes for anyone who wants to know how ADV Films started on its road to being the No. 1 domestic distributor of anime. For everyone else, Rent It.

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