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It seems like the only industry that baffles me with how inept it can be at times, is the entertainment industry. They can take some great ideas, have a great cast of actors, talented individuals, and end up with something that is just a slog to go through, or so incredibly terrible, that you can’t take your eyes off it. I mean, here is an example. I am about to pitch you an old anime short film/OVA that sounds like the most dumb/fun/awesome sounding thing ever. The title of the OVA (Original Video Animation. Basically, another term for straight to DVD/VHS tripe) is Cybernetics Guardian. It was released in 1989, and was directed by Koichi Ohata, the same director of the infamous Genocyber. It’s about a young man who wears psychic-powered armor that is kidnapped by a cult to be possessed by this new heavily armored god of violence. This god has a huge amount of 80s glam rock hair, and can rip anything to tiny shreds. At the end of the OVA, he fights a large multi-limbed machine that the villain of this OVA has fused himself with. How cool does that sound? You then see the cover art for this OVA, and it looks like a lot of dumb 80s violent fun. You watch it, and find out it’s one of the biggest trainwrecks of Japanese animation you have ever seen. This OVA specifically is just atrocious to sit through, and not just because of the bad story, characters, animation, and setting. No, the biggest sin this OVA/short film produces is that it’s an utter bore to watch. Let’s dive in, and see what kind of bad this OVA is.
So, this whole garbage heap takes place in a city known as Cyber-Wood. I am sure many of you have come up with some lewd jokes with the name of the city, so I won’t make them here. We follow the protagonist, John Stalker, as he is in the middle of testing this power suit that feeds off of psychic waves. It’s meant to be used as an alternate means of force so violence doesn’t have to be used. Unfortunately, during the testing process, something happens to John, and he is next seen getting kidnapped by this crazy cult that has had him possessed by the god of violence known as Saldo. Can John break free from this god’s hold, and save the city from the actual villain of this trainwreck?
If I haven’t made it clear, this film is a chore to go through for multiple reasons. First off, the animation. It’s not the worst that I have seen in terms of fluid movement and character design, but nothing besides Saldo stands out about it. Every single character looks to be of something from that period in time. The color pallet is way too dark, and either because of a bad transfer job from VHS to DVD, or the actual footage is this dark, it makes The OVA hard to watch since you want to see what’s going on, but can’t. It’s not like the fight scenes are that great. You can pretty much tell this project had a shoe-string budget, and it seems like the entire budget went towards Saldo’s first transformation sequence. Cybernetics Guardian is rather disappointing in being part of the infamous clique of ultra-violent anime that was released during the 80s-early 90s. It can be violent, sure, but compared to infamous titles like Angel Cop, Genocyber, M.D. Geist, Violence Jack, Mad Bull 34, and Baoh, Cybernetics Guardian is very quaint and tame compared to the anime I listed above. Not to say there weren’t times that could make people squirm a teeny bit, but after hearing how notorious anime was for a time, it makes you feel like you were ripped off, since you were promised Tarantino levels of blood and violence. I mean, you have a giant armored being with 80s rock hair, how is that hard to mess up?! It’s apparently easier than it looks, because it is boring to watch. All the characters in this OVA are boring and forgettable. I think it really has to do with the pacing, because either limited by the time or halfway through development they were only going to get one OVA instead of more, they tried to cram so much into the 45-minute runtime. It’s like when you see an animated film based off a show try to cram in a whole season of said show into one movie. Once again, this idea never works! Heck, the OVA ends on a sour note since they (spoilers by the way) show off that there are two other armored beings that John Stalker would have probably fought next. Thank you, OVA, you wasted my time with boring characters, very few if any mediocre action sequences, and horrible voice acting, and you tease me with only one decent fight scene, and two other armored god-like beings only to never see them ever again!
So, among this entire OVA, is there something positive to say about it? Well, there is, if even then, it’s unintentionally good. The voice acting is so bad, that it’s entertaining to hear. Also, with how rushed/forced everything feels, it would make for one of those “so bad it’s good” movie night selections. It’s easy to riff on since this was during a time when Japan was willing to put anything on a VHS due to strict censorship laws. This led to so many garbage titles that make for great comedic riffing.
Still, being made of comedic riffing possibilities does not mean it’s a good product. If anything, it makes it worse, and Cybernetics Guardian is everything that was horrible about anime back in the day: uninteresting story, setting, characters, mediocre animation, and an overall waste of your time. It’s easily one of the worst anime I have ever seen, and not because it’s horrible, but because it had so much more to it, and it never used it’s setting for anything more than forgettable schlock. I would say don’t go see this, but it’s up on YouTube, so I can’t stop you from seeing it there. I would give this a “The Worst” rating, but compared to something like Violence Jack, Cybernetics Guardian is easily more watchable. Well, we covered some good Japanese animation, and some bad Japanese animation, let’s talk about some of the best stop-motion animation around with The Boxtrolls! Thanks for reading, and see you all next time!