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Image Entertainment presents
Psychic Force (1996)

"It's my duty to save the souls in sorrow."
- Keith (Kyousei Tsukui)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: September 05, 2002

Stars: Tomokazu Seki, Kyousei Tsukui
Other Stars: Manabe Mitsuaki, Ayako Shiraishi
Director: Kenichi Onuki

Manufacturer: Ritek
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, violence)
Run Time: 01h:03m:34s
Release Date: March 12, 2002
UPC: 014381106022
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- C+A-A- B-

DVD Review

Psychic Force follows in a long line of anime derived from video fighting games. Originally released by Taito in 1995, Psychic Force 2010 is the basis for this two-part OVA. The game and its successor, Psychic Force 2012, are now available for Dreamcast and Playstation. Like most of these shows, if you don't know the game, you are going to be at a substantial loss, and even if you can get around an unfamiliarity with the characters or premise, this story is just not very involving.

In the future, the world is divided into two basic camps, those with psychic ability, and those without. The human race, feeling threatened by the psychics, began a witch hunt in 2007, with even parents slaying their children to rid the world of the psychic element. The government, like governments do, imprisoned many psychics and is conducting experiments on them, trying to harness their abilities to make better, more effective weaponry. As the show opens, Keith Evans has escaped captivity, and is now a hunted man. He meets Burn Griffiths, another psychic, who brings Keith back home with him to recuperate from his last run in. The two are polar opposites in personality, but form a strong bond, with Burn taking a protective role in the relationship. Sensing that the government is closing in, Keith vanishes, which doesn't go over well with Burn, who goes out after him. Together they try to stay ahead their pursuers, but that isn't going to last forever.

Flash forward to 2010, and Keith is now in charge of Noah, a psychic alliance determined to declare war on their human adversaries. Having become separated years earlier, Burn is now trying to locate Keith, believing that psychics and humans must learn to coexist. Of course, these fundamental philosophies clash, creating a power struggle in the face of an oncoming confrontation with the government forces.

In theory, the concept behind this anime could have worked, even overlooking the goofy character design inherited from the game. Like many shows, it tries to be mysterious in the beginning with an onslaught of flashbacks, and little in the way of linear exposition—a style that can work wonderfully if given time to use these glimpses to later form a cohesive story. However, this rarely works in a short series, and at just over an hour, Psychic Force simply creates a confusing barrage of images that lead up to a mediocre finale. The characters are underdeveloped and hard to sympathize with, the story is too fragmented, and interest has already been lost by the time we get to the climax. The saddest part is that Image has done a really great job with this release.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Image quality is very good, and does justice to the artwork. Colors are strong and vivid, black levels solid, and only minor aliasing and some interlace artifacts are evident. There is a moderate amount of fine grain, which is well represented, and source defects are negligible.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes
Dolby Digital
Japanese, Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Psychic Force gets the premiere treatment here with 5.1 channel and stereo surround track for both Japanese and English (noted as "Englush" on the package) tracks. On top of that, an isolated score/effects track is also included.

The 5.1 tracks are solid, providing an enveloping atmosphere, with good use of directionality, while keeping the score and dialogue separated. The 2.0 tracks are less expansive (as is always the case), and not as bright. While the Japanese pronunciation of the character names comes off a little odd, it is vastly superior to the English dub.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
3 Featurette(s)
Packaging: EastPack
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Interviews
  2. Commercials
  3. Promo video
  4. Psychic Junky Fair Three
  5. Isolated music and effects track
Extras Review: While I wasn't enthralled by the feature itself, the extras here warrant attention.

First is a 09m:23s interview segment featuring the Japanese voice actors discussing their roles. Tomokazu Seki (Burn), Kyousei Tsukui (Keith) and Manabe Mitsuaki (Richard Wong) are seen in studio performing their parts and answering questions.

A 04m:02s promo for the OVAs and a collection of TV commercials (03m:36s) is also included.

The best part is the inclusion of footage from the third Psychic Junky Fair (15m:20s), where over 700 fans have gathered to meet the stars of the show. The first section is a question and answer period, where stars Tomokazu Seki, Kyousei Tsukui, Ayako Shiraishi (Sonya) and director Kenichi Onuki have a round table discussion about the production. This is a lot of fun, as the actors poke fun at their characters, and let their natural personalities steal the show. The second section is a live voiceover, where the actors reprise their roles, and even get audience members to try a hand at voice acting. Finally, there is the cosplay contest, demonstrating the costumes fans have made of their favorite characters.

This collection of extras is almost worth purchasing the disc on its own, offering a fun, behind-the-scenes look at anime and its fandom in Japan.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

I have to hand it to Image for the work they've done on this release, despite the fact that the show itself is pretty undeserving. Psychic Force may please fans of the video games, but for the general market, this one is best as a rental, though a good one, if just for the extras.


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