Mamono Hunter Yohko 5

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Our rating: three lava lamps.

Information about this film in the Internet Movie Database.

The problem with something like Mamono (Devil) Hunter Yohko is that it was a great concept, but the idea was pretty fully explored in the original. However, Devil Hunter Yohko (as the series is known in the U.S.) was also popular enough to spawn a slew of sequels. That may sound like good news, but the creators of Yohko seemed to have trouble coming up with any original ideas. The result is a much flashier and better-animated film that is merely a retread of the original story.

The first sign that a series is having trouble coming up with new ideas is the introduction of a gratuitous new character. In Devil Hunter Yohko 2, we were introduced to Azusa, a younger, cuter version of Yohko (her cousin, actually) who is also a devil hunter. How this is possible, as we are told that the Devil Hunter mantle is handed down from mother to daughter, is never explained. Suffice it to say that the higher powers in the Yohko writing department decided it was time to spice things up with a sidekick, which is (almost) never a good idea.

Yohko 2 and Yohko 3 further suffered from the complete absence of Madoka and Yohko's mom from the story! Although Mom was always a peripheral character, Madoka provided much of the comic relief for the first film, and her absence is deeply felt. For the record, Yohko 2 is about how Yohko and Azusa start an exorcism business, and in Yohko 3, Yohko falls in love with a prince, and she must travel to a mystical realm to rescue him. What happened to Yohko 4? It doesn't exist. Instead, there was Devil Hunter Yohko Forever, a collection of music videos starring our heroine.

All of which brings us to Devil Hunter Yohko 5. In 5, Yohko must fight the Devil Hunter's greatest enemy, the demon Tokima. Naturally, the demon posesses the latest object of Yohko's latest infatuation, and attempts to seduce her. Madoka, back from her hiatus in the previous two episodes, warns Yohko to protect her virginity until marriage. Again, this points to the bankruptcy of ideas that is dogging the series. At the end of the original Yohko, Madoka told Yohko she could sleep around all she wanted because she had become a full fledged Devil Hunter, and even suggested a candidate for her first conquest! Well, Madoka seems to have backpedaled from that position in a major way. But why? Nothing in the script of Devil Hunter Yohko 5 ever gives us a clue.

Tokima turns out to have powers based on time (there are lots of clocks in this movie), and is able to do the following: Regress Madoka to her teen years (yikes!), kill Yohko, and send Yohko back in time to medieval Japan. Luckily, Yohko is resurrected by the original Devil Hunter, Haruka. Yohko then brings Haruka to the future for a final showdown between Tokima and the four devil hunters (Yohko, Madoka, Azusa, and Haruka, in case you lost track). Once again, evil is vanquished and Yohko lives to fight another day.

Yohko 5 has pretty good animation, or at least more expensive animation than it's predecessors. However, the original Yohko did a better job of portraying the surrealism of a demon-possessed landscape. Everything seems a little darker in the first Yohko, making it scarier and more mysterious than its successor. It's too bad that, in this case, better animation actually makes for a worse film.

A final continuity note: what the heck happened to Madoka's tattoo from the first film? In her "young" state, the tattoo mysteriously disappears and no one mentions it. Somebody didn't pay attention to the first movie.

If you really loved the first Mamono Hunter Yohko, then you'll probably like this sequel pretty well. It's got a lot of the stuff that made the first one as funny as it was, and some pretty cool demon fights to boot. And it certainly is better than Yohkos 2 and 3. Just keep in mind that sequels are rarely as good as the films that spawned them.

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Review date: 3/14/97

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