- Psycho Diver: Soul Siren (1997: Madhouse and Studio Junio) 1/1 eps.
Staff and Background
This OAV is based on novels by Baku Yumemakura. In terms of anime he hasn’t done that much, with the most famous being Amon Saga, but he did the script for Onmyoji so there is that. The OAV was directed by Mamoru Kanbe who also directed Elfen Lied, Kimi to Boku, Sound of the Sky, and of course Ninja Gaiden. His career really has gone a weird direction, starting with weird as violent action stuff and ending up in cute boy/girl shows.
Story and Characters
The best way to describe Pyscho Diver is that it is basically the noir version Paprika but religious cults and popstars. If that sounds weird that is because it is. Our main character is Busujima who is one of the titular psycho divers and also has very silly hair. “But what is a psycho diver?” I hear you say. Well they use technology and psychic powers, because of course there are psychic powers, to enter people’s minds so they can find the source of an individual’s trauma and help them find ways to deal with it. Annnnnd that is pretty much the extent of the Paprika connection. Anyway, Busujima is hired by a record label to psycho dive into the mind of their main star, Yuki Kanno. He does this and finds out that there are religious cults involved, with their mysterious leader, and shit starts to go down. Various goons start going after Busujima as he attempts to help Yuki and, of course, it all ends with a big fight. Oh, and he also falls for Yuki’s manager and there is, as per usual, an extended sex scene. I wouldn’t exactly call the plot of Psycho Diver amazing or anything but it is pretty fun and it is at that level of weirdness where I can forgive a load of stuff. The characters are bland-ass stock characters but not offensively bad. Yuki is actually kind of cool but she really doesn’t get enough screen time to really shine. Psycho Diver very much feels like a low rent Kawajiri joint, for all the pros and cons that comes with that.
Audio and Visuals
This is a mid-90s OAV by Madhouse so it looks fucking awesome. Outside of the main character’s silly hair the character designs are all pretty dope. The general art design adheres to that 90s Madhouse aesthetic of lots of blacks, realism, and weird ass shit. This show does do some really cool stuff and the psycho dives, whilst not on Paprika’s level, have some dope ass shit going on in them. In addition, the animation in general is pretty damn good, as one would expect. Outside of some weird movement in the opening music video, yes it starts on a music video, and Busujima’s hair I really have nothing to complain about in terms of visuals. On the audio side of things it gets a bit complicated. The sub is alright, perfectly fine but nothing amazing. There is one song, sung in universe by Yuki, that they play to open the OAV and once later on, it isn’t particularly good. The dub is overall pretty good. The voice acting is actually all quite good and they changed the script quite a bit to make it more like a noir film, with internal monologuing by Busujima that just isn’t present in the sub. I know people like their sub purity but I would definitely say the dub is the better version here as I think that noir feel really works in favour of the OAV, the sub just has a ton of weirdly long silent shots. The only downside of the dub is that they also dubbed the song and oh boy. I mean, the original wasn’t good to start off with but eeeesh. They made it worse and then hired someone who couldn’t sing it, not a good plan. Luckily it isn’t that big of an issue, the song is only played twice and the second time is fairly brief. If anything it is actually quite entertaining how bad it is. Also, I have to give a shout out to this fantastic pick-up line, I burst out giggling at that one.
Justin Sevakis describes Psycho Diver as “Paprika’s deranged, ugly, stupid in-bred cousin” which I think is a bit harsh. While certainly not the brightest show on the block I’m not sure I would call it stupid either, it is more bizarre than anything else. But you what? I had fun with this and I’d be happy to watch it again anytime, which is all that matters really. So, if you want to see a Kawajiri joint that isn’t by Kawajiri where a dude with stupid hair dives into a pop star’s mind to give her therapy whilst also fighting a religious cult then this is the show for you, though that is quite a specific request so you might want to hire a psycho diver of your own!
Final score: 6B