Venus Versus Virus: The Ultimate Guide
by Janet Houck
Middle school student Sumire has always had the ability to see ghosts. Shy and quiet, no one believes her, so she keeps it to herself. One day, she finds a mysterious brooch in the hallway at the private girls' school that she attends, and pricks her finger. Since that fateful accident, Sumire has been seeing much more than before--strange slime monsters living unseen among humanity, and one sees Sumire and attacks. Coming to her rescue is a mysterious gothic lolita girl with long pigtails and an eyepatch and wielding a gun, who shots the monster dead with one shot. Without any explanation, she tosses Sumire a flyer for a clothing store, telling her to go there to pay her debt.
Sumire finds the store, Venus Vangard, and the mysterious girl initially wards off all of Sumire's attempts to find out what was that monster, treating her as a customer with addled wits. However, once she realizes that Sumire's memories were not erased after the attack, she introduces herself as Lucia, and takes Sumire to meet Nahashi, her guardian and assistant in hunting Viruses, the hidden monsters that seemingly prey only upon humans who have Vision, the ability to see Viruses. Since being pricked by Lucia's brooch, Sumire has developed Vision, along with her naturally strong psychic ability. Lucia is a Virus Hunter, who helps people with Vision when they are targeted by Viruses. Her clients usually pay for her help by buying clothing and accessories at the store, as they forget about their Virus experience.
After this explanation, Lucia presents Sumire with the bill for her rescue, and Sumire panics; it's an astronomical figure, even with the discount for finding her brooch! Lucia gives Sumire a chance to pay it off by helping her in her Virus-hunting by wearing a pendant while at her school and in her dorm. It sounded like such an easy thing to do to pay back such a huge debt, but Sumire has no idea what lurks in the darkness, searching for her juicy soul. To Lucia's surprise, Sumire has Virus-hunting abilities of her own, as she morphs into a living Antivirus weapon when she comes into contact with the special bullets in Lucia's gun. As Sumire struggles with this shocking truth about herself, Lucia seeks to enlist her in the fight against the Viruses. Thus this duo of Virus Hunters begins, as the girls struggle to learn to live and work with each other, and with their own dark secrets, in Venus Versus Virus.
The series finds its origins in the pages of the Dengeki Comic Go! shounen manga anthology, where it has been running since June 2005. A drama CD based on the manga was released in October 2006, while in January 2007, an anime adaptation began broadcasting in Japan on BS-I, bringing this story of monster hunting and mystery out of the pages and onto the small screen.
Currently, there are four volumes released of Venus Versus Virus in Japan, and the story is still ongoing in Dengeki Comic Go!, with many unanswered questions and hidden enemies on the horizon.
This is the first published manga series from creator Atsushi Suzumi. Suzumi entered a one-shot manga contest in the anthology Dengenki Dao, the theme being gothic lolita... setting the basis for Venus Versus Virus.
Without a doubt, Venus Versus Virus is a shounen yuri manga. There is no explicit yuri content in the manga, but the pages are full of subtext. Lucia is quite touchy-feely with Sumire when they meet at Venus Vangard (to which Sumire blushes ferociously), and once Sumire moves in with Lucia, all of Sumire's family and friends just assume that the two are a romantic couple, to Sumire's embarrassment.
The manga volumes include character sketches and creator commentary, and an extra side story involving Sumire and Lucia hunting a Virus at the boarding school (again), along with full-color pinups of the girls. Suzumi draws his characters with simple clothing and hair, but with ornate accessories, giving Lucia and Sumire a sense of everyday elegance. The plot moves at a hectic pace, keeping the story from becoming bogged down by filler. The girls get no rest at all from their Virus-hunting duties, even if it seems so on the surface.
The manga series has been licensed in the US by Seven Seas Entertainment, with the first volume set to debut in July 2007, and the second volume in October 2007.
The anime series began broadcasting in Japan in January 2007 on BS-i. From Studio Hibari, who worked on the recent Kashimashi anime, Venus Versus Virus the anime features clean animation with solid colors, and catchy opening and ending songs. The opening, "Bravin' Bad Brew" by Riryka, is a toe-tapping techno number, ready to pep you up for watching some virus-slaying action. The ending song, "Shijun no Zankoku" by Yousei Teikoku, the duo behind the striking opening song for Innocent Venus as well, is powerful, yet soft, perfectly matched to the tone of the anime and of the characters of Lucia and Sumire.
The seiyuu for Lucia is newcomer Ayahi Takagaki, with Sumire voiced by Minori Chihara (Aya in Tenjho Tenge, and Yuki in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya). The role of Nahashi is played by veteran Juurouta Kosugi (Akio in Utena, Dryden in Escaflowne, and Brialeos in the Appleseed movie).
The anime slightly differs from the manga series. The first episode opens with Lucia and Sumire already partnered, with the backstory of how they met being explained in the fourth episode.
The anime introduces a new core character, Lola, Nahashi's young niece and assistant, who plays the role of the cute loli girl, doll-like in her appearance and our narrator for episode previews. We also learn that Lucia's mother was killed by a Virus, hence her absolute hatred for Viruses. The brooch that pricks Sumire's finger also takes on additional meaning as having belonged to Lucia's mother, given by Lucia's mysterious father.
The yuri sentiment between Lucia and Sumire takes a few episodes to develop, but the first signs of affection are visible in the flashback during the fourth episode.
The anime series has yet to be licensed outside of Japan, and is still running, with a DVD release in the works. Information can be found at the official website, http://www.tbs.co.jp/anime/vvv/, where you can download wallpapers and commentaries, and learn more about the anime series as it progresses.
A drama CD based on the manga series was released in October 2006 by Frontier Works, featuring character voices that differ from the anime's seiyuu. Lucia was played by Hitomi Nabatame (Arcueid Brunestud in Tsukihime), Sumire by Rina Sato (Negi in Nagima!?), and Nahashi by Tamio Oki (Washi in Haibane Renmei and Aramaki in Ghost in the Shell) The CD consists of five tracks, labeled Peace 01 to 05.
A CD single of the opening song for the anime, "Bravin' Bad Brew," was released in January 2007.
If you like supernatural horror and cute girls with guns, Venus Versus Virus may be your ticket. With non-stop action and unique character designs made to catch your eye, this is one series to see and experience!
Venus Versus Virus © ATSUSHI SUZUMI 2006