The Vault of Error: Bio Hunter
A gnarly '90s anime relic
By Paul Thomas Chapman
Be the first of your friends to like this.
Love means never having to say I’m sorry for hideous bodily mutilation, because nothing sours the romance of the moment quite like sprouting teeth from some place that teeth were never meant to be. Of course, when dealing with an animator like Yoshiaki Kawajiri, hideous mutilation and errant teeth are par for the course, and the opening reel of Bio Hunter gives us both in spades, wrapped in the kind of not-safe-for-work sex scene usually found in those scandalous European comic books they sell shrink-wrapped at the newsstand.
Graphic sex and gruesome violence, all within the first two minutes. To poach an old joke, Bio Hunter truly is “totally unexpected” and “not kid’s stuff."
Bio Hunter is the story of Koshigaya and Komada, a pair of freewheeling molecular biologists on the cutting edge of evolutionary science. In addition to dealing with the rigors of academia and a horde of infatuated female students wanting to feel the silky caress of Koshigaya’s pencil thin mustache, the duo moonlights as amateur demon hunters. In this case, the demons aren’t of a supernatural variety. Instead, they’re manifestations of the so-called “Demon Virus," a pernicious little chunk of retrograde DNA that transforms its victims into all manner of grotesque chimera. It’s up to Koshigaya and Komada to stop these man-eating monstrosities, and they have an ace up their sleeve: despite his demure good looks, shy demeanor, and fabulous ponytail, Komada himself is infected. He’s able to control his transformations, but only barely.
And speaking of “barely," did I mention that one of the symptoms of Demon Virus infection is an overpowering desire to strip the succulent livers from nubile young women? No? Well, such a symptom exists, and everyone knows it’s not possible to get to the liver without removing the brassiere first, right?
When a famous fortune teller disappears, it falls to Koshigaya and Komada to protect his granddaughter, Sayaka Murakami, a young lady with a penchant for professors with ponytails, from falling prey to a rampaging demon. The demon happens to inhabit the body of Seijuro Tabe, Chief Secretary of the Liberal Republican Party, a ruthless politician just a few heartbeats away from the office of Prime Minister. The ravenous Tabe has no compunctions against sucking down livers to prolong his unholy existence and abusing his executive powers to hide his crimes. Are Koshigaya and Komada bad enough dudes to stop the future Prime Minister? Or will Japan suffer another four years of demonic democratic policy? Only the Bio Hunters know for sure…
I love Yoshiaki Kawajiri. I love how transgressive and weird his films are, even the lesser offerings like Highlander: The Search for Vengeance. However, it would be unfair to lay Bio Hunter entirely at his feet. Although Kawajiri is credited as the supervisor and the scriptwriter, the direction was actually performed by Yuzo Sato, an artist with many credits for storyboarding and key animation to his name. Another name worth mentioning in relation to Bio Hunter is the music designer, Masamichi Amano. The score is techno-erotic, full of heavy industrial sounds and strange psycho-sexual flourishes, and that’s no surprise considering Amano also created the music for such diverse works as Urotsukidoji: The Legend of the Overfiend, Nightmare City, and Battle Royale.
It’s a crying shame that Urban Vision, the American distributor that brought us so much Kawajiri goodness, is for all intents and purposes extinct. They haven’t released an anime title since the best-left-forgotten Ninja Scroll TV series. Their live-action offerings, such as Azumi 2 (written in part by Kawajiri, of course), are slowly going out of print. Their website is a dead address with a broken image tag, the name “Musashi” in the header, and the phrase “UNDER CONSTRUCTION” glaring from a plain white background in an angry 32 point font. I lament their passing as an addict laments the absence of his needle and his spoon. Few companies remain in this market to give me what I crave.
And what of Bio Hunter? Sweet, beautiful, ridiculous Bio Hunter? The physical disc commands usurious prices on Amazon and eBay, although there exist less expensive rental and purchase options via download. I say get it while you can. You never know when the Demon Virus might infect those computer servers, causing Bio Hunter to evaporate into the Internet ether and your computer to sprout a toothed vagina that tries to maul your face off.
Distributor: Urban Vision
Originally released: 1995
Running time: 58 minutes