Yet another title from that was left on the shelf when all the other, more recent and popular, titles went out for loan. That's cool though, it can be fun looking through older titles searching for a hidden gem. I wish I could happily pronounce I had found one!
Japan has a rich history of mythology and folklore, and amongst that lore there are no shortage of monsters. What most people don't know, but two molecular biologists do, is that there is a common cause behind many of them... and that cause still stalks the world today. Specifically it is a virus, which they have named the demon virus, which is able to reprogram and rebuild the mind and body of the one it affects. Koshigaya is probably one of the worlds leading authorities on this infection, and it's cure, while his partner Komada has a rather more intimate relationship with the virus, and an even more intense interest in finding its cure.
The two manage to get involved in a complex case, which they suspect involves the demon virus. A young lady, daughter of one of Japans prominent psychics, is on the run from people seeking her death. She's not sure why, or where her father has gone, but both Koshigaya and Komada are drawn to assist her. Although had they known how high the stakes would be, or the price they would have to pay, perhaps they would have thought twice.
Oh look, more fluffy science. Yes, viruses can reprogram the DNA of the organism they infect, and the defenses of the body are ruthless in killing such mutations, even if that effort will itself be fatal. However, this is an awful long way away from causing the entire body to be re-designed, granted super-powers, and a new psychology. The silly-science explanation for fortune telling is even worse. Still, it doesn't really matter if the science works, it is sort of cool that they're earnest about it. Even if the logic is bogus it gives a certain depth to the proceedings.
It certainly gives us some very different looking heroes if nothing else. While the movie opens with a sex scene (making it rather clear this is not intended for the kids) we first meet our mature age hero putting University students to sleep. I can't blame them, even the minute or two we get to see was almost enough to have me nod off... really a rather evocative depiction of how very boring a lecture can be. The creators seem to agree, because that's about all we see of the University or their professional lives.
Instead they get dragged into a case which starts with a pretty girl, moves quickly to mobsters, and then inevitably onto monsters. The progression of the story is obvious within about the first 10-15 minutes and the script doesn't attempt to hide much. There are lots of clues, including the characters more or less stating things directly, as to where the progression is headed. This is probably sensible though, the movie is only 60 minutes long and they need a fair amount of splatter to make sure the title sells to the horror fans. It's not actually too bad, but it is a little bit simple. There's some decent character work, Koshigaya gets his angst on quite effectively, but its only the side-dish, not the main course.
The conclusion is, of course, a bit of a monster bash. Once again it's not that bad, there's a decent amount of movement and a certain sense of power in the way they move (and of course lots of splatter) but at the same time they're quite traditional. Especially Mr. tentacle depicted above who is probably up there as one of the most over-used horror mechanisms in anime. There's even some groping and a completely unnecessary oral probing just to confirm that, when confronted with tentacles, certain anime producers just can't help themselves.
I'm not really sure what more I can say. It is marginally watchable but it doesn't have a whole heap to recommend it. The movie is short, the characters and progression fairly simple and the monsters probably won't impress a modern audience. It is even, at times, rather corny. It could be argued that this is intentional, that it is a parody, but they don't go nearly far enough in this direction to make it work as a parody... instead it just seems like a typical cheapy horror movie, with some silly science over the top. I could very easily picture it as a live action B-movie. If you really like horror, and aren't too demanding, it might be worth a try but most people can probably leave this one on the shelf.
And of course another reason for its failure to impress is the production. It's rather dated and I doubt it was big budget even then. The character art has a strong style, but it is not very cool by modern standards. Meanwhile the heavy linework, and coloring, makes it clear that this is from a different era. Nor does it move with the smoothness one might desire, an indication that keeping the framecount down was important. Although the movie does work within its limitations by having a lot of the action happen at night. The action itself has a degree of skill, some interesting moves (the helping hand almost deserves a character credit) and a certain sense of power, but not enough to carry the movie by itself. The voices are fine, nice to see a script that uses lots of long words, and they have a rather limited selection of ambient music but it suffices. Some of the other sites mention it doesn't have much in the way of "special features" on the DVD, but since I never bother with them I couldn't say.