Jaspre Bark looks at the latest crop of manga vids

Our featured series this month is the highly popular and successful multi-part Guyver series.

This comes in three different incarnations, all based on the original series of mangas written and drawn by Yoshiki Takaya. The first gory three part incarnation isn't available in this country so, so to avoid being cruel and wetting your taste buds I'll say no more about it. The second is a live feature, not really the domain of this column, directed by Batman Returns make up artist Steve Wang and Screaming "Mad« George, so the one I'll be focussing on is the twelve part anime released by Manga Entertainments.

The Guyver (which means literally `out of control' in Japanese), is a bio booster armour unit, engineered by an ancient alien race which visited earth in the days when it was only a barren planet devoid of life. Three of these units, along with plenty of other alien technology, are discovered by the evil multinational (aren't all multinationals evil) Chronos Corporations. They use this discovery to build an army of combatants who can morph into giant super powered behemoths at will. These are known as Zoanoids and Chronos plan to use them to take control of the worlds governments and so rule the planet. An employee of Chronos steals the Guyver unit in an attempt to halt their evil plan, he is apprehended and killed but not before he manages to hide the unit, which is discovered by our hero Sho Fugimachi who accidentally activates the unit. The Guyver symbiotically melds with Sho allowing him to transform into a super powered armour clad warrior by simply calling the Guyver's name. Sho along with his best friend Tetsuro, his girlfriend Mizuky, a mysterious gun toting journalist and the enigmatic Guyver 3, is all that stands in the way of Chronos' plan for world domination. Stirring stuff huh.

The twelve part series is split into two main story lines, the first of which pits Sho, The Guyver et al, against the Japanese branch of Chronos, while the second sends them up against the Chronos' Central Headquarters and provides many stunning revelations along the way. All in all this series can become compulsive viewing and at only around £4.20 a time it's not bad value, but take note, each episode is only about twenty five minutes long, and the animation can be a bit poor sometimes. This said it's well worth checking out, if only to find out why most episodes - without any cinema release - regularly topped the best selling video charts. I guarantee you'll become hooked.

Only three new releases to review this month. But please, let go of that razor and put those pills back in the bathroom cabinet, because they're all rather good. Madox 01 is my favourite of the month. It tells that age old story of a boy (Koji) on his way to an important date with his long lost love (Shinjuki), who accidentally becomes entrapped in a prototype Slave Trooper battlesuit (Madox 01). I mean how many times has that happened to you right. All Koji wants to do is get to his date on time, no matter how much havoc he accidentally wreaks on the way. Unfortunately he's lost the manual that came with the battlesuit, which fell into his hands after the US army just happened to mislay it. All that stands in his way of meeting his girl is the entire massed force of the US army, lead by the near invincible Lieutenant Kilgore, a soldier with a special grudge against Madox 01. This is an extremely entertaining anime combining edge of the seat excitement with sometimes hysterically funny situations. Mega must see !

I was rather rude about Angel Cop (which concludes this month) in the last Animazed but I've changed my mind. It turns out the fat capitalist swine about whom I was so scathing are the real bad guys and everyone else is a pawn in their sinister game (could almost be like real life, huh). This series turns out to be bleak, cynical, brutally violent and bristling with the most explicit language, and hey can you think of a better recommendation.

I can only give you half a review of Orguss 02 because those kind people at Manga Entertainments only gave me half a copy, sadly I was just getting into it only to find the second part of this third and concluding volume wasn't on my time coded copy. From what I saw this is a vast Moorcockian epic spanning several dimensions and the rise and fall whole dynasties. Buy a copy and E mail me the conclusion. Unless you work for Manga, in which case you could snail mail me a complete copy (hint, hint).

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