Satomi KoorogiToshiyuki MorikawaKiyoyuki YanadaNaoko Matsui
Devil Hunter Yohko
Also known as: Mamono Hunter Yohko
Medium: OVA, series
Year: 1990-1995
Director: Katsuhisa Yamada, Akiyuki Simbo, Hisashi Abe, Jun'ichi Sakata
Original creator: Juzo Mutsuki
Actor: Aya Hisakawa, Konami Yoshida, Chieko Honda, Hiromi Tsuru, Ichinari Miyazaki, Ikuya Sawaki, Issei Futamata, Kaneto Shiozawa, Kappei Yamaguchi, Kiyoyuki Yanada, Masaharu Satou, Mika Doi, Mugihito, Naoko Matsui, Nobuyuki Furuta, Noriko Hidaka, Reiko Suzuki, Satomi Koorogi, Shigeru Chiba, Shinichiro Miki, Sho Hayami, Sumi Shimamoto, Toshiyuki Morikawa, Yuji Mitsuya
Keywords: anime, magical girl, boobs
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 6 episodes
Website category: Anime 1990s
Review date: 19 November 2015
It's pretty empty, really. It has camp value and nudity, but the characters are fairly thin and it's not really about anything. A ditzy teenage girl with ridiculous hair fights demons and suffers clothing damage. That's it. The manga it's based on is only one volume long, which doesn't surprise me.
Yohko Mano is our heroine and she's about to discover that she's from a family of Devil Hunters. Her cranky little grandma used to be one, although her mother wriggled out of it by getting pregnant. Devil Hunters have to be virgins. (Since grandma by definition now isn't a virgin either, does that mean the rule has wiggle room or that there was a gap of decades during which the world was under attack by demons?)
This is the cue for demon-fighting adventures. Demons appear! Yohko fights them! Why? No idea. The demons are just random monsters, popping up to be whacked. Admittedly ep.5's Time-Controlling Demon is a bit more substantial, but still I didn't really see the point of them. How do we know that they're even evil? They're ugly and monstrous, yes, and one of them is a sinister whip-wielding teacher who tries to seduce students, but what's wrong with that? Maybe all they wanted was a day trip to Japan, eating takoyaki and buying souvenirs for the folks back home? Come to think of it, would anything bad have happened if Yohko hadn't fought them and instead had let them do whatever they wanted? I don't know, but the answer might be "not really" if I'm right about that gap between Granny and Yohko in which there was no Devil Hunting.
(The whole Devil Hunter thing is is a bit vague, incidentally. Being a Devil Hunter is a title that's passed down through the Mano family, but Yohko acquires a sidekick called Azusa Kanzaki who's a Devil Hunter in training. Hmmmm.)
The fight scenes are okay, if you like that kind of thing. The nudity is nipple-riddled and fairly plentiful, especially in the early episodes, but it's also comparatively innocent compared with modern shows. It tends to be about glimpsing, not ogling, although Yohko's nude transformation sequences are quite impressive.
The storylines are forgettable, albeit with some improvement in later episodes. Here's a summary of the important points:
Ep.1 (42:29 min) = the aforementioned whip-sensei, a kissing hypnosis sex demon and an underwater demon with swimsuit-damaging tentacles. However this episode does have a clock that goes from I to XIII, because it forgot to include IV. This might have been clever in ep.5, but here I think it's just a goof.
Ep.2 (29:27 min) = nothing
Ep.3 (29:13 min) = this episode is actually making more of an attempt to be meaningful. Yohko's monster-fighting brings two lovers together.
Ep.4 (28:27 min) = this probably shouldn't count at all. It's a music video, not an episode. However this show has some classic theme tunes, which in all seriousness is by far the best thing about it. Worth a look.
Ep.5 (43:28 min) = Yohko turns into a boy-fixated airhead. This is actually quite funny and for the first time gives the writers a hook for the character. This is also the Time-Controlling Demon episode, so overall there's some modestly fun stuff here.
Ep.6 (43:14 min) = Yohko gets a malicious doppelganger and they fight a demon that has a Nudification Attack.
The supporting cast are... okay. They're nothing special, but I didn't mind watching them. Yohko's tiny, overbearing grandmother is the liveliest character. Mum doesn't have much presence, despite getting what are theoretically quite good jokes in ep.1 and ep.5. Yohko's friends are quite likeable, though. Chikako Ogawa sees herself as Yohko's manager and Azusa is that trainee I was talking about.
This was ADV Films' first VHS release. Apparently they "wanted something that was really very unique, that people were going to say 'Whoa! What was that?', because at the time no one in the US had seen anything like this." In fairness I suppose it does predate Buffy the Vampire Slayer, not to mention being an innocently sleazy 18-certificate cartoon at a time when Westerners weren't too familiar with anime. These days, though, it doesn't stand out. Even the 18 certificate looks quaint, as if the BBFC had been too shocked by the apparent clash of form and content to be able to think straight.
It's all on YouTube, by the way, if anyone's thinking of checking it out. Both the English and Japanese dubs are up there.
The series evolves, probably thanks to the one-a-year release schedule. The fanservice level drops, the storylines get more meaningful and Yohko grows a clearer personality. I actually think the series's second half isn't bad, even if it's still suffering from undercooked characters and an underwritten premise. Great music, though.