Adapated from a long since cancelled manga, Genocyber is widely regarded as a cult classic by anime fans. Though watching it recently, I find that it while it sill remains a visual tour-de-force and namely one of the goriest anime I’ve ever seen; the story is a bit thin and disjointed. In the first episode, we see that some sort of weapon is being developed through metaphysical means. A test pilot is introduced in the form of a young girl. Full scale war and body transformations happen that defy anything I’ve seen in the world of anime up until Parasyte. Again, its a visual spectrum. But I honestly didn’t care much for what felt like an overly convoluted storyline.
The next two episodes revolve around a ship carrying the weapon, which of course re-introduces us to the girl who now has some sort of psychic abilities and apparently can transform into a demonic looking robot of death metal proportions. It isn’t until an infestation begins that these episodes become interesting enough, and of course there is a battle between Genocyber and a grotesque monster. The latter half of the third episode is also visually stunning; as everyone on the ship becomes assimilated into this thing and we’re seeing that play out in real-time. Putting it bluntly, Genocyber goes crazy and starts waging war on the whole of humanity. Realizing that the power is too great for mankind, it decides to sleep, along with its now half-human counterpart. After all of this is finally said and done, Genocyber finally starts making sense – and it does so in the form of just two episodes: The Saga Of Arc De Grande Acts I&II.
To be honest, Arc De Grande makes up for all the confusion in Genocyber. It also felt like the writer decided to lay off the shrooms for a bit and just give us a goddamned coherent story. Arc De Grande is essentially mankind’s last gasp in a world completely devastated by Genocyber. It is a towering monolith of a city built over the ruins of the old world. A male protagonist is introduced, much in the vein of the prepubescent male protagonists that now make up a large part of Japanese entertainment media in general. He is accompanied by a woman who cannot see, though like the female Genocyber test-pilot, also has psychic abilities. A shady looking man tricks our male protagonist into killing another man, which is an immediate death sentence in a city where the mayor is insane and believes that he can get rid of crime by simply killing everyone guilty of a crime and piling up their bodies in massive heaps, to be later burned by “peace officers” (if that doesn’t sound 1984 enough for you). This causes our hero to take his woman and basically flee to the underground areas of the city where the old world ruins lay, specifically in the form of biting mutant worms and massive sepulchers.
Though in a world where residents are being told to double their workloads whole the rich tower over them and live in frivolity, a savior in the church seems to spring up among the poor class. This church soon becomes known by the mayor and his underlings as a rebel base that must be squashed, even though the mayor is challenged in regards to the fact that the church and it’s followers technically aren’t harming anyone. In fact, the church seemed to be caring for the poor and neglected as a sort of shelter in a city where they’re experiencing mass persecution and crime. The citizens are warned by the church of God’s wrath, which is illustrated as the Genocyber, now resembling a mural of sorts. This becomes even more evident when our fleeing protagonist and his beloved fall into a pit and discover that Genocyber is still alive and calling directly for her. The spirit of Genocyber calls our protagonist back into the city for some unknown reason, where he begins to suffer from amnesia and gets caught, later discovering that he’s being tortured by the seedy fellow who tricked him into killing an innocent man in the first place. It is still not explained as to why the spirit of Genocyber led our protagonist back into the city, yet left his lover in the same spot where she was later found by the church and brought to safety.
Eventually, the mayor’s dogs break through the ceiling of the church and discover that the woman with psychic powers is alive. So of course, they slaughter every single person (as we are shown myriads of dead bodies filled with bullet holes, which include women and children – something you won’t see in modern anime, for sure) while a commemorative parade is held above ground. Though our protagonist is surprisingly not killed, the mother of his child (because we saw that coming) certainly was, regardless of the fact that I was expecting them to bring her in for research. I feel that some of this story might have been rushed in those regards. More could have been done, but there’s no use in crying over a dead manga. At any rate, Genocyber is summoned again by the spirit of the dead woman, even though she’s cautioned against bringing the monster back. Fuck you, this guy just committed genocide on a massive scale. It’s time to burn this mother down. So that’s what happens. In graphic detail, we see Genocyber’s arm bursting out from the city streets during the parade, to smash the mayor’s car with him inside of it. They’re both thrown through a window, though no signs of death were inferred.
With Genocyber’s awesome power the entire city is leveled, in addition to bringing down the satellite object that summoned this mechanical beast in the first place. Not even innocent civilians walk away from this destruction as Genocyber opens it’s mouth in one scene to turn them into human barbecue. Arc De Grande is levelled indefinitely, except for one minor instance where both our protagonist and the latest pilot of Genocyber are brought back to the world of the living, accompanied by the cry of a baby. In this we see that new beginnings can be had with a much greater ideal than the cruel slavery of Arc De Grande.
After watching all of this, I feel that just watching the first episode and The Saga Of Arc De Grande is enough. The whole ship sequence was nice, but nothing that really left an impact on me. It seems like these two episodes were an attempt at a different kind of sci-fi that has been done far better in recent years. So definitely watch the first episode for its visual spectrum and then move onto Arc De Grande. You’re not missing anything unless you just can’t get enough of grotesque creatures. And to be honest, Arc De Grande gave me a story worthy of an animated series in itself. While not perfect, the OVA format allowed the adaptation to cover the meat of the story, rather than what would have happened if Arc De Grande had been a twelve episode series today. There was very little filler of which I would consider to be just a few minutes compared to what I get with a large majority of anime where almost every incessant detail is discussed.This can total up to an hour of what is essentially wasted time. Going far over my word count limit for this one, I would definitely consider Genocyber an overrated classic which only caught my attention for three out of the five allotted OVA episodes.