Venus Versus Virus is a manga created by Atsushi Suzumi that has been adapted into an anime series. Not released in America yet, I’m watching the R2 DVDs. I’ve been interested in Venus Versus Virus since I first saw the manga, and the animated series does not disappoint. The story focuses on Lucia and Sumire, two girls who work together at the shop Venus Vangard, exterminating the evil spirits called Viruses. Lucia and Sumire each have their own unique powers, but these abilities come at a cost.
MSRP: 5000 yen (5250 with Tax), 6000 yen (DVD1 with Box)
Audio: Japanese 2.0 PCM
Extras: Clean Opening, Clean Closing Ep. 1 and Ep. 2
Notes: Review is based on a Retail purchased copy of the final product.
In the first episode, Lucia and Sumire have a client, Lisa, who has been seeing a “shadow,” and now her friends are disappearing. The shadow is actually a Virus, a human-like existence that has lost its soul and so now preys on the souls of others. It derives its name from its modus operandi: right after you’ve been attacked by a Virus, you become one, and then you attack another person. Most people cannot see Viruses, but Lisa can, and that makes her an appealing target. Lucia and Sumire investigate, searching for the Virus, but they can’t find any evidence of one. Lucia uses her special power, her left eye that she incapacitates behind an eye patch, to find the Virus. Able to see what is otherwise hidden, her eye is invaluable, yet its curse is that it reveals many horrible, nightmarish things. She hides it behind the patch to protect her own sanity, and only uses it when she has no choice.
The characters are quite interesting. Sumire is cute, clumsy, and afraid of caterpillars. She’s a novice at hunting Viruses, and Lucia is teaching her the ropes. Lucia is strong, beautiful, and cold. All business, she will use any means at her disposal to win, no matter what the consequences may be. So naturally, in this episode she uses Sumire as bait to lure the Virus out of hiding. A fight ensues, and we find that, when aiming a gun, Sumire couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. Other than her ability to see Viruses, why the hell does Lucia keep her around?
Because Sumire is special. When shot with the antivirus used to destroy the Viruses, she goes into Berserker mode. She becomes a living antibody, an unstoppable killing machine. The problem is that Sumire can’t control the power, and after ripping apart a Virus, she turns on Lucia.
The second episode introduces us to what Sumire’s lot in life is. Because of her unique ability, and because she can’t control it, she’s a guinea pig for the Vangards. They shoot Sumire with different strengths of the antivirus to see what will happen, draining Sumire both physically and emotionally. She leaves Venus Vangard, attempting to go back to her normal existence as a student. This episode focuses on Sumire’s desire to return to her old life. Of course, since she now sees Viruses, nothing for her can be as it used to.
The character designs are gorgeous; the girls are delicate, lovely, and the costume designs are simply amazing. Lucia’s dresses are dark and gothic while Sumire’s school uniforms are unique and extremely hot. The young girl, Lola, who also works at Venus Vangard, is quite amusing. We don’t know anything about her, just that she has no problem telling Sumire how much she sucks at everything. Nahashi, Lucia’s guardian, does all the research and cautions Lucia when her behavior seems reckless.
The original Japanese cast provide great performances. Minori Chihara is perfect as Sumire, expressing both her cute, friendly nature and the pain she feels over the life she’s lost. Ayahi Takagaki (Lucia) is cold and confident, yet expresses emotion when she needs to. The supporting actors and actresses work well with the two main characters; no one sounds fake or out-of-place. Ayumi Tsuji makes a perfect Lola, sounding cute even when the character is annoyed or being a brat. The opening and ending credits have great music and pretty artwork. The animation for this series is beautiful. My one complaint is the CG, which is noticeably bad but thankfully sparse.
Venus Versus Virus is like the Japanese version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sumire bumps her head, is always late, and is also supposed to fight evil. She doesn’t want her powers and wishes she could live a normal life as a student. Sound like any blonde vampire slayer you know? On top of that, when the guy who has a crush on her tries to ask her out, Sumire interrupts him, exclaims that she’s late, and runs off. If I call this guy Xander, you can’t blame me. Compare Nahashi to Giles and I think I’ve made my point.
The story is quite interesting and will pique the viewer’s interest, but it’s ultimately Lucia and Sumire who will keep fans coming back for more. I want to know more about them. I want to see where they’ll go from here. I look forward to watching the next DVD. This is ultimately one of those “can’t miss” series. It has aspects that will appeal to a wide range of people. I highly recommend checking out Venus Versus Virus. After just the first two episodes, you’ll be hooked.