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Manga presents
Psychic Wars (2002)

"It's smell of the beast, that same disgusting smell."
- Ukyo (Alan Blyton)

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: June 30, 2002

Stars: Roger May, Alan Blyton, Jonathan Keeble
Other Stars: Lesley Rooney, Julia Brahms
Director: Tetsuo Imazawa

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, nudity, strong language, adult situations)
Run Time: 00h:54m:38s
Release Date: June 25, 2002
UPC: 660200405922
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- CBB- C-

DVD Review

Perhaps the one question on my mind after viewing Psychic Wars was the obvious one: where was the psychic war? Indeed, this film is inappropriately titled, for it has nothing to do with psychic powers or psychic anything, for that matter. Actually, the film is about a Japanese brain surgeon, Ukyo Retsu, who gains all sorts of mysterious powers soon after operating on a strange, old woman. In her brain, he finds a huge, bizarre tumor that's still alive even when being removed. The woman dies soon afterwards, at the exact moment Ukyo attains awareness of both his powers and an ancient struggle between mankind and demons. The tumor eventually proves to be some kind of miniature monster, which Ukyo kills, and then sets out to learn more about these ancient demons.

Through a frustrating array of flashbacks and flash-forwards, Ukyo eventually learns that just outside of Osaka, there was once a great, ancient empire controlled by evil demons and that, in that age, people believed that every 5,000 years, they would return to threaten the future world and someone would have to stop them. Ukyo is the one who must stop them with his new-found ability to kick demon butt. He discovers that these old ruins are actually a gateway into the past, wherein Ukyo can keep the present safe by destroying the old demon empire. It's a little confusing (well, VERY confusing), but it all basically works out in the end once you're given enough time to digest it. The story, though heavily convoluted and mixed-up, serves as a basic backdrop for Ukyo to kill off various demon bad-guys, while at the same time forging a romance with a nurse from the hospital where he works. Brain surgeons have all the fun.

The problem with Psychic Wars, is that it rarely makes much sense until long after a certain scene has passed, and takes too long get rolling. Running at about 55-minutes, too little of that time is spent on crucial action; instead there's enormous amounts of dialogue scenes with confusing religious and philosophical discussions. For a film in which a character must transform into a mystical warrior, the short time allowed means that the characters are never well defined. Ukyo is normal one minute, then super-demon-killer the next, with no questions asked. The film moves forward without explaining what's going on until you're right in the middle of a situation, then it flashes back to something important that explains what's going on, which is a very awkward way to tell a story. This back/forth movement is repeated throughout much of the program, making it hard to orient yourself. It is not a terrible film, but one that's extremely hard to follow and understand until it's all over.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: Other than a mildly faded source and some slight speckles on the negative, the transfer is largely without any significant problems. A few scenes bring out compression artifacts around the brighter colors and textures, but this seems rooted in the traditional animation used to make the film, which obviously hand-drawn and manufactured.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: In a technical sense, the best audio on the disc is the English 5.1 track, which offers very good clarity, some surround effects, and well-rendered dialogue. Unfortunately, few people actually enjoy watching Japanese anime with an English dub, particularly one that isn't very impressive. The Japanese stereo mix has very good clarity and some impressive effects that really fill the room, but suffers from a muddy dialogue track. Obviously, since most will be viewing this with the English subtitles, hearing the dialogue isn't a problem, but it still effects some aspects of the film when the speech is so hard to make out.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Manga Video Catalog
  2. Manga Catalog Preview
Extras Review: The extras include a short video of mixed clips from various Manga releases, as well as an interactive listing of many of their releases with technical information, box art, and summary. Other than that, there are no feature-related materials, but just weblinks and logo animations for the companies involved in the production of the disc.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

Psychic Wars is probably more suited for rental since it really lacks any 'classic' qualities. It is entertaining, and at times rather creative, but the confusing storytelling makes it hard to sit back and enjoy.


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