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ADV Films presents
Devil Hunter Yohko Collection 1 (1990)

"And you thought your puberty was tough!"
- Tagline

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: July 11, 2002

Stars: Aya Hisakawa, Yuji Mitsuya
Other Stars: Naoko Matsui, Mika Doi, Chieko Honda, Kappei Yamaguchi
Director: Tetsuro Aoki, Hisashi Abe

Manufacturer: MOFC
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (frequent nudity, sexuality, language)
Run Time: 01h:45m:00s
Release Date: May 14, 2002
UPC: 702727030925
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- C-B-B B-

DVD Review

Devil Hunter Yohko is a landmark DVD release for ADV. After all, Yohko was the first series that the company released on video in America, in 1992, opening up the U.S. to the world of Japanese animation and eventually bringing it into the mainstream. At the time, it was unlike anything most anime fans had ever seen, as most of the series that made it to America had more to do with giant robots and sci-fi action that elements of fantasy and humor. Nowadays, though, an amazing variety of anime programming is available, and Yohko no longer seems novel. Stripped of its historical significance, it's simply one more series, and a rather dull one at that.

Yohko Mano is, by all accounts, a normal high school girl. She goes to school, has trouble in her classes, and worries about getting a date. That is, until her grandmother informs her that she is the 108th Devil Hunter, the next in a long line of girls destined to battle demons that are trying to take over the earth.

What originally drew me to the series were its similarities to Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Yohko obviously inspired the U.S. TV series. But where Whedon used the story of a girl trapped by fate and forced to protect the world to tell often poignant stories about battling the metaphorical monsters of the teenage years, the Japanese forebear simply uses the setup as an excuse for lots of elaborate, violent, and rather meaningless fight scenes. And then there is the superfluous nudity from our heroine, who, in the process of transforming into her battle state, has to spin around totally naked for a couple of minutes.

Now, I'm all for the fun, fluffy, episodic anime series like Slayers, which also deals with young girls battling monsters, but Yohko has none of the charm of that show. Yohko herself is a rather dull heroine, and the interchangeable action sequences add little to her character. The bright spot of the series is her grandmother, who offers sage advice and a bit of sexual humor (always encouraging Yohko to get herself a man), but she more or less disappears after the first episode.

This two DVD set includes the first three episodes of the series (six were produced in all), and I can't say I'm itching to pick up volume two. I'll say one thing, Yohko might have been the inspiration, but it's no Buffy.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Devil Hunter Yohko suffers many of the same problems as a lot of older anime series. The image appears to be somewhat unstable, with line jitter frequently evident. Colors are washed out and unimpressive. The source material shows its age with a few scratches and nicks. Blacks tend to look a bit grainy. It's certainly a watchable picture, but one that definitely looks its age.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Japaneseyes

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in a standard 2.0 mix for both the original Japanese and the shrill English dub. Actually, both tracks sound a bit shrill. Dialogue is generally clear, but it tends to sound tinny and harsh. Sound effects are presented across the front soundstage with very little directionality, and they too sound ok, but are lacking in clarity and fidelity. On the plus side, the score expands the soundfield nicely and doesn't suffer from the same problems as the dialogue and effects.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
3 Original Trailer(s)
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Burn Up Excess, Kimera, Excel Saga, Steel Angel Kurumi, 801 T.T.S. Airbats, Miyuki-Chan in Wonderland
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Matt Greenfield, co-founder of ADV Films; David Williams, ADV DVD Producer; Janice Williams, DVD Coordinator for ADV Films
Packaging: Double alpha
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Yohko Artwork Gallery
  2. Devil Hunter Yohko Music Video
Extras Review: Devil Hunter Yohko includes perhaps the best extras I have yet seen on an ADV release. Because it was the first OVA (and in fact, the first program in general) that ADV released, the co-founder of ADV, Matt Greenfield, along with members of the DVD production team, David and Janice Williams, have contributed an historical commentary to the first episode of the series. It isn't about Devil Hunter per se, but more about how the company came about, and what the difficulties were in securing the rights to this particular series. There is a ton of information about ADV and the history of anime in general, and most of it was news to me and fascinating to listen to.

Four original Japanese trailers for the OVA are provided, along with a music video for the opening song. The Retrospective of Devil Hunter Yohko Artwork features conceptual art created by ADV for the original release of the show, along with various incarnations of the VHS covers for each episode.

The ADV Trailer Gallery has thankfully been updated to include spots for their new wave of releases, including Burn Up Excess, Kimera, Excel Saga, Steel Angel Kurumi, 801 T.T.S. Airbats, and Miyuki-Chan in Wonderland.

Finally, two versions of the first OVA are provided. The first is the original, in both English and Japanese. The special extended version is available only in English and runs less than a minute longer. When recording the dub for the series, the producers discovered that they had extra music for the episode. The corresponding animation turned out to be brief edits from many different scenes, most of them deleted comical reaction from Yohko. Because no Japanese dub was recorded for this extra material (as it was deleted from the original Japanese release), the re-edited version is available only in English. The differences are very hard to spot, even if you watch them one after the other, but the inclusion of both is nevertheless appreciated.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

Devil Hunter Yohko is an unremarkable series. Its historical import as the first release from ADV far outweighs its worth as a piece of entertainment (though the latter episodes do show some promise). If you want a series that more effectively mixes horror, comedy, and sex, try Slayers. Yohko is 12 years old and showing its age.


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