There’s a lot to like about Genocyber. It’s edgy, it’s violent, and it has a great atmosphere. But like so many OVAs, the weight is all in the packaging. Any dissection or analysis of this anime reveals there’s really not a lot at its center.

The plot looks deep and engaging at first, but almost immediately you realise it’s a ripoff of a ripoff of a ripoff. Blah blah siblings with a psychic link blah blah huge robot mechas blah blah shadowy government agents blah blah climactic transformation scene blah blah city blows up the end. The characters are mostly just stock, including the usual assortment of evil scientists and masked henchmen and a gang of street thugs lifted right out of Akira.

If you don’t care much about story, Genocyber works. It evokes a nasty and brutal atmosphere, and the thematic confusion could be interpreted as acute psychological depth. It worked for Neon Genesis Evangelion, after all. The animation is punchy and colourful, with a few CGI moments mixed in here and there. On the whole it’s hard not to be impressed by Genocyber‘s aesthetics and style, even if the content side of the anime comes up short. As with Ohata Koichi’s previous work MD Geist, the gore factor is comically high. One scene in the middle gets so outrageous and excessive that it borders on being comedic. The final battle ends with all of Hong Kong destroyed.

Things get hard to follow. Genocyber is confusing, bombastic, and over-the-top. In a way, it’s almost like its own characters, in that it’s cataclysmically fucked in the head and deserves to be in a room with padded walls. This is a definitive example of 90s anime, both the good and bad. The English dubbing sucks ass, by the way.

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