You could have observed that MVM have been bringing again some older titles just lately, and whereas exhibits like Kanon and Air are on no account misplaced and forgotten, I might not blame you in case you hadn’t heard of Venus Versus Virus earlier than. Tailored from Atsushi Suzumi’s manga and initially broadcast in Japan in 2007, the collection was licensed by ADV Movies then transferred over to Funimation as the corporate fell into monetary difficulties in direction of the tip of the last decade. Now this supernatural thriller has been rescued by MVM for a UK launch, we will lastly see what it has to supply.
The story follows Sumire Takahana, a ditzy and unassuming schoolgirl who works at a neighborhood retailer referred to as Venus Vanguard promoting antiques and second-hand clothes. The shop nonetheless is only a entrance, as Venus Vanguard is definitely a secret organisation whose primary function is to search out and kill demonic creatures often known as Viruses. Whereas most people can’t see them, Viruses are nonetheless extremely harmful as they search out people who can, and devour their souls, turning them right into a Virus in consequence. Having gained the power to see Viruses after a sure incident, together with a supernatural energy that permits her to battle them, Sumire is introduced into Venus Vanguard by senior member Lucia, alongside a mysterious chocolate-loving younger woman referred to as Laura who develops the group’s weapons, and an outdated gentleman and researcher referred to as Soichiro Nahashi, to battle and eradicate the Viruses that plague the world.
When you had been an avid anime watcher within the mid-2000s or possibly simply moving into anime like I used to be, then Venus Versus Virus will most likely provide you with some nostalgic emotions because it undoubtedly feels very a lot of that period, following the identical edgy gothic styling and ambiance that had been popularised on the time by collection like Dying Be aware and D. Grey-man, whereas adopting the chuunibyou “sealed highly effective eye” trope in a time when it was nonetheless handled severely relatively than being made enjoyable of. Whereas this collection isn’t in the identical league as these shonen favourites, I fairly loved going by way of it because it presents some tacky good enjoyable, pairing tense fights in opposition to horror movie-esque demons with a surprisingly fascinating storyline that surrounds its forged of mysterious characters.
These two completely different focus factors for the collection largely break up it into two halves, the primary focusing extra on the motion in a monster-of-the-week format that exhibits Lucia and Sumire investigating quite a lot of Virus-related incidents and taking the demons down, whereas the second turns its eye in direction of the place the Viruses are coming from and the mysteries that encompass every of the completely different characters. Each side have lots of fascinating elements to dig into, however I type of most well-liked the primary half, as you actually get to see the consequences of the Viruses on the individuals they search out, whereas it pairs elements of the horror style effectively with some tragic tales, with the likes of Episode 3 rising as one of many collection’ excessive factors.
The second half, however, does a fantastic job of placing throughout a thriller and a drip-feed of gradual reveals, however on the similar time it may be a bit too gradual, at occasions dropping the main target in its storytelling. There’s a romantic subplot that it will get slowed down with and it even veers extra in direction of slice-of-life territory at one level, and whereas each do have a component to play ultimately, I don’t assume it wanted to spend a lot time on them. As such, it usually appears like a mishmash of various genres; motion, horror, thriller, romance, drama, and comedy; and when you’d assume placing all of those right into a melting pot shouldn’t actually work, the collection manages to tie all of them in with some respectable character writing that makes you need to comply with alongside and see the place everybody finally ends up ultimately.
It’s only a disgrace that the tip may be very inconclusive and left as much as the viewer’s personal interpretation, as whereas I don’t assume it’s that unhealthy as the primary plot does get wrapped up, it’s a little irritating that it ends on an enormous cliff-hanger that may by no means be resolved. The way in which the villains are dealt with within the second half can be unconvincing, with one character seemingly being necessary however not likely contributing something, whereas the primary villain simply pops up out of nowhere.
The remainder of the character growth nonetheless is executed fairly properly, and whereas the character backstories are established very early on, it’s cautious in not exhibiting you the complete image till later within the collection. I appreciated the way it stored lots of its playing cards near its chest, which stored me guessing at what the actual motivations of every character had been. A few of it feels very predictable and straightforward to work out, but stuff that I believed I had discovered both had a twist or was a bit vast of the mark, so there have been nonetheless loads of surprises in there.
When it comes to how the characters come throughout although, Lucia might be probably the most fascinating of the bunch as she is so enigmatic and is commonly in full-on tsundere mode and hides lots of her true emotions. I additionally love her character design, and he or she pulls off the chuunibyou look very effectively. Sumire however is much more clear and rather a lot simpler to work out however remains to be enjoyable to look at When you like airheaded characters. Her supernatural powers additionally give her an additional dimension to work with. I additionally loved watching the twins Laura and Layla and the way they’re separated on the 2 sides of the primary battle. Nonetheless, I need to additionally give an enormous spherical of applause to Riku, the youthful boy, who retains up his working gag of attempting to ask Sumire out on a date to the films for all the collection.
The collection is animated by Studio Hibari (you might be extra acquainted today with their subsidiary, Lerche) and directed by Shinichiro Kimura (seen extra just lately as a storyboard artist and episode director on exhibits like Asobi Asobase and Radiant). Contemplating each its age and the truth that this can be a DVD launch, I believed the collection regarded fairly good with some impactful and effectively animated motion scenes. I’ve already talked about the robust character designs and gothic aesthetics which I appreciated, however there’s additionally good work on settings and backgrounds and lots of small particulars to be appreciated, like how the magical markings on some characters change relying on the basic kind of their assault, and the way the variety of roses within the vase in Venus Vanguard HQ adjustments over time to mirror the development of the story. One factor that did appear odd was the elevated pace of a few of the animation; I’m undecided if it was simply due to the sooner NTSC body price or if it was an intentional impact. A number of cuts of trains zooming previous above the store are incessantly used to transition between scenes and these all the time caught me off-guard for how briskly they regarded.
The collection’ soundtrack, composed by Hikaru Nanase, has a definite 80s horror film vibe, and works effectively when the collection is attempting to be creepy, however this does get misplaced in that style muddle within the second half. The opening theme, “Bravin’ Dangerous Brew” by Riryka is a powerful, rocky J-Pop quantity, whereas it’s no shock gothic rock band Yousei Teikoku offers the ending theme, “Shijun no Zankoku” as their picture is an ideal match for the collection’ gothic aesthetic.
Venus Versus Virus is delivered to the UK through MVM, that includes all 12 episodes in each subtitled Japanese and the English dub. Each language choices sound nice and have high expertise fairly early on of their careers which is definitely fascinating to return to. Ayahi Takagaki (Chris in Symphogear and Lizbeth in Sword Artwork On-line) places in a strong efficiency as Lucia, whereas we have now Chihara Minori in a really shrill and girly position, taking part in Sumire, which might have been fairly completely different from voicing the very monotone Nagato in Haruhi. The English dub in the meantime options Joanne Bosanno (Aisha in Is It Incorrect to Attempt to Decide Up Women in a Dungeon? and Rei in Revue Starlight) and John Swasey (All For One in My Hero Academia). The one extras of word are the clear opening and ending animations.
General, Venus Versus Virus is a surprisingly respectable mixture of a unusual action-focused thriller, providing some tacky good enjoyable with strong battle scenes and an intriguing thriller surrounding its participating forged of characters. Whereas its noughties gothic-inspired aesthetics could not resonate with youthful viewers and its complicated style muddle and unsatisfying ending maintain it again, anybody on the lookout for a forgotten throwback could have an excellent time with this one.