Yuki Kano has it all: fame, wealth, the world at her feet. There's also something very wrong with her... from time to time, she's totally unable to sing (which, for a pop star, is not good). Enter Bosujima, a "psycho diver" with the capability to enter people's heads and straighten out what's wrong with them. Well, most of the time, anyway.
My quest to watch the obscure and the weird continues with Psycho Diver! This 45 minute, standalone OVA is one of the most skull fucking insane anime I've ever witnessed. It has some really good ideas that were pretty damn creative for the time, but the execution is all over the place.
This wasn't based on a manga. It wasn't based on a light novel, video game, or anything else. Anime industry veteran Mamoru Kanbe just went to Studio Madhouse with a script and pitched this as a 45 minute OVA. Madhouse accepted and we got this blessing of insanity. In America, it was
licensed by Urban Vision, who saw themselves as the "mature" dub studio. Urban liked to exclusively license the darkest, grittiest anime they could get their hands on. Psycho Diver is a psychological horror that certainly fits in the Urban Vision catalog.
A tough, film noir detective named Busujima uses a device to dive into his clients' subconscious and solve their psychological issues. This came out a full 10 years before Paprika and almost 15 years before Inception! A young singer named Yuki has lost her ability to perform after joining a shady cult. Her talent agency hires a psycho diver to solve her issues, but it turns out the cult has given Yuki dark powers. The psycho diver's head explodes and the agency realizes they need the best psycho diver in the business, Busujima! At first he refuses, but the talent agency kill his dog in a scene reminiscent of the horse head scene from the Godfather. Busujima gets the message and agrees if they pay handsomely.
Busujima dives in, but nearly gets himself killed after witnessing some End of Evangelion nightmare imagery. He announces he will need better equipment and says he will try again in a few days. It turns out the cult isn't happy about the talent agents hiring Busujima and send some assassins to kill him. Busujima escapes and hooks up with a lady talent agent. It turns out she was against the whole dog thing and sincerely just wants to help Yuki, whom she considers a dear friend. Some cult assassins manage to brutally murder Busujima's new lady friend and he decides its time to go deal with the cult. On the way, he runs into the asshole talent agent who is insinuated to have been the dog killer. This sunglasses wearing asshole is actually an agent of the Japanese intelligence bureau and was working as a triple agent to infiltrate both the cult and talent agency! Sunglasses drops some narrative exposition that the cult leader is actually Yuki's mother and wishes to transfer her psychokinetic powers so Yuki can be the next cult leader. Yuki's stage manager is her father, who has decided to betray his wife and gain Yuki's power for himself.
Now it's time for the final act and things get weird! Busujima and Sunglasses arrive at the cult building and engage in an all out brawl with the cult members, including some minion with a retractable shoe knife. Yuki's father arrives and murders her mother with a surprise gun shot. Daddy explains that he only hired the psycho diver as a distraction to confuse the cult leader mom and distract from his true intentions. Yuki unleashes her full power and kills her evil father along with totally destroying the cult building. The only survivors are Yuki, Busujima, and Sunglasses. Busujima now decides that Yuki is losing control of her powers and he needs to fix her with a psycho dive. Her first layer of subconscious is the guilt she feels for still loving her mother despite knowing the cult is evil. Our hero dives 1 layer deeper and discovers that Yuki killed a childhood friend with her powers because she was upset after losing a board game. Seriously! All of Yuki's inner evil manifests itself into a dark Yuki and attacks Busujima. He loses a lot of blood, but finishes Dark Yuki off by pummeling her with a chair until she explodes into sand! The anime flat out turns into Professional Wrestling to deliver one of the greatest WTF moments I've seen in anime. You would think that's the end, but NOPE! The Shoe Knife minion is still alive and kills some lab techs with ninja needle projectiles. Sunglasses shoots the minion right before he can kill Busujima and FINALLY we reach the end. Yuki is now cured from her inner darkness and can sing again. She dedicates her next album to Busujima and his fallen lady friend, along with wishing him to find happiness.
Studio Madhouse rightfully deserves its glowing reputation, but 90s Madhouse was a bit more hit and miss. This anime looks a little rough at times, but is ok overall. This clearly wasn't a big project and was probably made because somebody lost a bet or owed Mamoru Kanbe a favor.
I highly recommend the hilarious Urban Vision dub. They want to make it like a hard boiled detective movie from the 1940s and it's glorious! These guys were like America's version of Manga UK.
God bless Mamoru Kanbe. He may not hit a home run every time, but he directed my favorite anime and he NEVER makes something boring. I'll once again say that this had potential and a number of great ideas, but was clearly condensed and under a strained budget. It's a very flawed work, but a deeply enjoyable piece of WTF vintage old anime!
I was very surprised when I purchased this after only watching the trailer. Usually, it's been about 50/50 when I do this, but this one is very hard to find in eng dub. I thought it was very good. Older anime style from 90's with good, original story. Pretty gorey violence that was typical of the Akira, Ninja Scroll type. Short 50 minute OVA, but worth watching. The main character dives into people's brains and tries to stop them from commiting crimes or to get info. It has nothing to do with deep sea diving. It's sorta like a cop drama, almost like Jonny Mneumonic
(keanu reeves). Check it out if you like cyberpunk too. I would not call it a cyberpunk anime, but similiar in animation.
From what I know of "Psycho Pass", watching Psycho Diver might not make the premise look as unique as it once seemed. While "Psycho Pass" seems to have technology in it that reads and detects a person's psyche wirelessly to see if they're sane, Psycho Diver features technology that also allows one to more literally see another person's sanity, but without such instantaneous results and instead by reading into another person's mind. The device is similar looking to the machine in "The Matrix". It's a relatively interesting idea for future technology, or just plain science fiction, that could lead to some interesting stories while in
another's mind. Maybe it would be a mysterious unidentified man with an unknown past, the Psycho Diver reading in to learn about him. Maybe the Psycho Diver learns too much or something that will be so astounding as to change his priorities in life. There could be some heavy psychological aspects to the story and it could even work well in a setup that's limited to around forty minutes. However, what we have here isn't that and is something quite different. While there's that element of science fiction, Psycho Diver is much more of a light psychological and supernatural series. That would also be more supernatural than science fiction.
Psycho Diver has a fair art style that keeps things in good proportions for the most part. There's a tad bit of lacking animation and a bit too many stills for what you'd expect in the mid-90's, but the art style is moderately detailed. The direction is also pretty good with some interesting scenes, but it does fluctuate throughout the OVA. The sound has some slow and ominous electronics that are at the level of keeping the atmosphere intact, but not to the level of making it that much immersive. However, the sound as a whole is not exactly good for the english dub. I couldn't find a subbed version, but the english voices themselves are actually not too bad. What's not that appealing, however, is the english vocalized songs. The background to them is alright, but the vocals themselves are quite distasteful. The thing that makes it even worse is that the story acts like the music is "amazing" and that the viewers are supposed to be impressed. To be fair, there are many series that come to that predicament and I am usually lax to that aspect as if the song was really that good, why would it be in an anime and not all over the radio? But in this case, this song isn't even average and definitely not something I would seek out afterwards. The songs the vocals are over is R&B, so at times there will be attempted rap singing. It's not too enjoyable and actually, near the beginning, there's basically a music video of the singer (not live-action, but the anime character) singing it. She sings it in a prison and throws up some nasty gangsta' signs, but I can't say I was convinced. It was almost cringe-worthy as you couldn't be sure if it was supposed to be a music video at first or just some artsy direction (which would have been horrible), but when it was known it was literal I could breathe a sigh of relief.
So the more superficial aspects of Psycho Diver are somewhere above average, but there's still that premise it has going for it. First of all, let's weigh the science fiction of this OVA to the supernatural. There's a lacking genre listing of supernatural no doubt, but I'd like to argue that this is actually more of that than it is of the sci-fi that it does have listed. So, what's science fiction about Psycho Diver? Is it set in the future? It may be set in the future, but everything appears much like modern day or more to the time this OVA was released. The only thing remotely science fiction is the laboratory that's shown at the beginning, and the mind-diving device which would be the only clearly science fiction aspect to be had. To the supernatural, however, we have something very similar to Elfen Lied and maybe a bit of Akira. The story's actually much like a tamed and a bit more intelligent Elfen Lied, minus some of the horrendous gore (which isn't a good or bad thing). It'll be up to the person to weigh whether a machine is more important to the plot than the addition of the supernatural. If the machine had a more persistent role in the OVA, however, than I may have even joined the latter side in supporting the impact of science fiction over the supernatural.
The lack of relevance of the premise was the greatest wast of potential to be found in this OVA. The device is only used twice, and those periods are brief. We don't get to explore the way the device works much and it's mainly served as a tool for the supernatural element of the plot. It's a shame that the supernatural aspect takes the lead, simultaneously taking away most of this OVA's uniqueness. What's even more of a disappointment is the addition of rushed romance in attempts to add more purpose to everything, but mostly the main character. With the limited time available, it was a bad idea to use a decent amount of it for that purpose, as it would take at least half of the entirety of the OVA to make the relationship impactful or believable. To be honest, no character here made an impact or settles down enough for the viewer to care much for them. The entirety of Psycho Diver was rushed at a slightly fast pace. If the OVA got its priorities set and didn't take on too many more-or-less useless elements to the story and just focused on a few instead, the pacing they had may have actually worked out fine. That isn't the case though, and the premise for Psycho Diver soon becomes an after-thought while the under-cooked love and unexplained, transcendental fundamentals move forward.
Psycho Diver can be seen as a possible motivation towards Psycho Pass in its premise, while on its own feet Psycho Diver doesn't seem to have felt confident enough in the variable uniqueness it had going for it to develop on it. It should have been psychological in reasoning and to the mind, but only becomes so when one considers the unexplainable supernatural that exists within it. There isn't any mind games that go on and that's why it should be considered as a light psychological. The art and direction are workable, but there was definitely too much for this OVA to chew on to make any single facet interesting. The english voices could've been better in many places, while the english singing could've easily been better than it was. Psycho Diver would've worked much better as a series than an OVA with the story it wished to go through with. The title also makes it seem as though this specific story that the OVA tells may have not been the main story of the premise, but just a setup for this OVA that might spur more content down the line. If this was an OVA with the desire to become a series, it really went down the wrong route with its story. It should've showed what the premise had to offer and not stick with things that can be found in many other anime. Overall, Psycho Diver is disappointing, but still may be worth the watch as there are some interesting moments.
its sad that this ova is such an anigma,when it really deserves praise.I watched it many years ago on the former action channel and its still awesome.for an ova that is less than 50 mionutes long ,it is filled with so much quality.Its about a guy who by his profession is called a psycho diver because he dives into peoples mind to uncover any mental trauma or disorder and remove it.one day he is force to come out of retirement after getting a special case of a singer who is suffering from a serious disorder,he later finds out that this case took
the life of his close friend.the entire plot is sorounded with deception and intriqe.The animation is wonderfully done with the dark colours suiting the mood and feel of the anime very well.a very good watch go check it out.