How many dark underlords can the island nation of Japan resurrect? From watching shows like Cybernetics Guardian, you'd guess there were an infinite number. I can't even count how many anime I've watched where the plot resolves around some ancient evil being resurrected by chanting Masonic rejects. Enough already, will ya? And you can't convince me that just because Japanese studios have made 1153 of these asinine programs, American companies have to release all of them. But here we are, watching one more romp through territory so familiar that it's burned into the back of our skulls.
Considering that first paragraph, you probably expect me to wail on Cybernetics Guardian, shrieking about its poor animation, its 80s heavy metal soundtrack by the aptly named Trash Gang, and its direction by Koichi Ohata, infamous for the howlingly bad MD Geist series and the disturbing gorefest Genocyber. You might expect me to give it a rating your parents would have grounded you for and throw it in the trash bin. But I can't...for regardless of its incalculable faults and its complete unoriginality, it's what I call "perfect trash". Gleefully violent and blissfully incomprehensible, Cybernetics Guardian nonetheless moves at such a breakneck speed and with such Z-movie aplomb that I couldn't help but smile.
Cybernetics Guardian does have a plot, explained in snippets that are so short that you might believe the show is smarter than you (if only for a moment). John's a researcher for a biotech company located in Cyberwood, working with a rare new metal that can help people quickly recover from what used to be permanently disabling accidents and conditions. This new material is also useful in mobile suits, which the company is designing to help clear out a slum-ridden, crime-infested hole called Cancer.
John's testing out the latest design in front of an assembled audience of VIPs when things go nuts. Adler, an insider at the company, is secretly a part of the previously mentioned Masonic rejects, and his cult freaks are trying to resurrect Saldo...sort of like Waldo only with huge fans and talons. Anyway, because of the evil connection between this metal and humanity, John becomes Saldo. Sort of. Maybe. Now he's ultimate evil, but he doesn't want to be, and it will take his friend Leyla to help him escape this wicked destiny of his. That is, if Adler doesn't get to him first.
Now this is the stuff of trashy anime. You've got a creature inferno-bent on destruction, leaving large bloodstains in his wake. You've got the malicious partner scientist on a mission to destroy humanity. You've got a romance that makes Anakin and Amidala look like Romeo and Juliet. You've got two hours of plot rammed into forty-five minutes. You've got animation that could have been put together by ten thousand monkeys trying to write Shakespeare. You've got no character development, a story so incomprehensible that I can't even tell you if I got it right, and all this punctuated by loud bursts of music that would have made Def Leppard cringe.
Yet somehow, I had a good time with this one. Perhaps it's because the violence, though graphic, is laughable in a bizarre way, so over the top that it's not disturbing so much as preposterous. The love story is perfunctory but sweet. Adler is a crazy man with a crazy haircut that resembles a purple beehive with spikes--now that's fun! Ohata gives us a show that makes us laugh at its ridiculousness, which was impossible with his other programs. They were ridiculous, too, but so ugly and malevolent that any possibilities for taking them as comedy were lost in the brutality. Time has helped this, too; who can't help but giggle at a Japanese band trying desperately to sing in English while pounding away like they're auditioning for Spinal Tap? And when I wasn't laughing, I was enjoying the pace of this thing, which is so swift that you can't think about how dumb this show is for long.
I'm not suggesting you buy Cybernetics Guardian. I'm not even suggesting you rent it if you like your anime to be comprehensible, free from carnage, and thought provoking. But for a late night in the dorm with a bunch of friends around at midnight, sandwiched in-between showings of Akira and Fist of the North Star, this is the perfect piece of lunacy if you know what you're getting into. I laughed at this show, not with it...but I laughed. So sue me.
Cybernetics Guardian -- graphic violence, very brief nudity -- B- (but probably a D if you were to take it seriously)