Chinese Girl Cartoons – Psycho Diver: Soul Siren

You know, normally I wait to write the review until after I’ve actually watched the thing I’m reviewing, but sometimes things happen that impress upon the viewer their need to be recorded with great immediacy. First, a guy’s head explodes. Second, the protagonist has an answering machine that uses DVDs for storage. Third, there is J-pop featuring gibberish intoned in a fake Jamaican accent. Fourth, the protagonist’s name is Superman. The extent to which subtitles in Comic Sans on a low quality YouTube video can be trusted is minimal even when approached in the most charitable of spirits, but Superman absolutely definitely for real tells another guy: “You have the pot. You are incapable of killing me.” To which said other guy responds: “Don’t speak too soon. Try some.” Like I always say, when life gives you shitsubs, you make… whatever the hell this is.

Initially I thought this was going to be a rip-off of Scanners, you’ve got the psychics, you’ve got the head explosion, you’ve got the weird cult trying to make the cult leader’s daughter a vessel for their god. Okay, so maybe that last part wasn’t in Scanners, nor really 99% of what happens(?) in this OVA, but I really thought that was where it was going. Instead, it’s just complete nonsense. There is a girl, who seems to be pretty consistently referred to as Yuki throughout, and she is psychic, or she can be psychic, but all she wants to do is sing, but her mother, who is the leader of a cult (oh, you know how those mothers are!), wants to give Yuki god powers for reasons. Her father doesn’t like this, so he hires Superman, the titular psycho diver, to dive like a psycho into Yuki’s head and get rid of the craziness. At first, Superman doesn’t want to, since Yuki was the cause of the head explosion we see at the very beginning, but then someone kills his dog off screen, prompting him to reconsider.

As with most 50 minute OVAs, there’s the sense throughout that a lot of detail has been left to implication of the variety that requires extreme leaps in logic on the part of the audience, which is bizarre when you consider just how much time is devoted to explaining the very, indeed almost impossibly one-dimensionally simple fact that Yuki, head explosions and all, just wants to sing songs. The fake Jamaican “singing” seems to be accompanied by some kind of music video in which she smashes up a burning car with a guitar and then goes to jail and does laundry, but at first I assumed it was showing us some kind of back story for the character. No, it ain’t. The diving sequences occasionally show us a doll-like thing that is apparently possessing Yuki, but apart from that it shows us a fairly accurate representation of what happens in dreams, that is to say it shows us completely random shit. These give us most of the gore content of the OVA, which is usually done in quick cuts, probably both to suggest yet stronger images to the audience and to save money, since anime has ever been a budget affair.

I wish more random intercutting of nonsense had occurred, since most of the time we have to look at Superman’s supremely ugly character design instead. His face fits neatly with the generic corporate goon archetype that so readily populates anime of a certain era, and his dress sense matches without fault, but his hair, my god! Not being much for memes, I would ordinarily refrain, but this is a “just fuck my shit up fam” barnet if ever I saw one. Outside of this central oddity, the rest of the cast is disappointingly generic. There are a couple of pretty girls, one of whom we have the distinct pleasure of ogling naked after she has just been murdered off-screen. I mean, you kind of expect it at this point, but it sticks out here because, while it is cheap, Psycho Diver is pretty tame in the scuzz department overall. Padding out the male side of things we have a generic heavy, a giggly knife man, a guy who looks like he got lost on his way to the clown gang meet in Neo-Tokyo, and an old man who gets his face mushed into the floor. So it goes.

Now, not being one to leave stones unturned, albeit with a gloved hand, since you never know what you might get on your fingers with terrain of this nature, I was given ample reason to watch Psycho Diver a second time, for the video misleadingly titled “Psycho Diver – Soul Siren (1997) – English Subbed” on YouTube is in fact—drum roll please—a shitdub! To start with, we still get the fake Jamaican nonsense, but the female vocal, which I guess is supposed to be Yuki’s own, features rapping that sounds like it came from Hip Hop eJay. “I’m reduced to a number, a cog in the machine, involuntary member(?), they try to take your dreams.” I’m just doing my bit for those of you out there who actually remember eJay, which as far as I can tell hasn’t been a thing for over ten years now. In any case, this more or less confirms that the opening sequence, minus the head explosion, is a music video for a song by Yuki, which is apparently called “Warfare Beware”. Unfortunately, the dub itself is nothing special, occasionally warranting a few unintended laughs, but mostly consisting of droning monotones reciting perfunctory dialogue.

Psycho Diver is a complete mediocrity and it’s really no wonder that it’s so obscure among its sleazy OVA brethren. It pretends to the artistic but trips up over its own lack of style. Of the psychic themed anime I’ve seen, it’s more competently organised than the abysmal Hell Target but lacks the boneheaded fun of Oedo 808, taking itself far too seriously for the minuscule amount of substance it has to offer. All told, a pretty weak start to my 2020 season of delicate tolerance for anime bullshit, but at least that means there’s a good chance things will improve from here.

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