The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Soujuu Senshi Psychic Wars

Title: Sojuu Senshi Psychic Wars aka Psychic Wars
Genre: Action
Company: Toei Animation
Format: 1 OVA
Dates: 22 Feb 1991

Synopsis: 5,000 years ago, humanity competed with demons for survival. The demons were all but wiped out, and had not been seen or heard of since, until a young Tokyo doctor, Retsu Ukyo, finds a demon growing inside a patient. Upon further research, Ukyo realizes the demons are returning, and they are determined to establish themselves as the sole sentient species on Earth. The gods begin to worry that humanity will not be able to defend itself from the demon menace, and grants Ukyo magical powers so that he may defeat the demons.

The Highlights
Mouths: Sometimes really well animated.
Literally every other aspect: Inconceivably bad.

You know you’re in for a treat when a show opens with the stiff shuffling about of an uncolored crowd, then transitions to a wide-shot of an uncolored city accompanied by a bland narrative monologue. Nothing like a nice whiff of generic early-nineties bullshit to dull the senses. Apparently this OVA is a condensed version of a much longer series, and attempts to cram several hours worth of plot into the space of less than an hour. The story progresses at a breakneck pace, and yet still manages to be marginally less entertaining than watching granite corrode.

The main problem is that the narrative jumps from major plot point to major plot point without doing anything to give these events a modicum of gravity. Characters die or are put into hazardous situations, but are so poorly developed that I can’t muster two fucks to rub together that I could give. You’ve got your stereotypical straight-arrow stoic hero, your run of the mill damsel-in-distress, and your generic — and rather poorly drawn — demon antagonists. Why even try to make the audience care about your characters if they’re everything everyone has seen a thousand times before? The setting isn’t much more original either; demon infested Japan, now where haven’t I seen this before…

In an OVA of this caliber, one would hardly expect the animation to fare much better, and to assume that it would be atrocious would be fair. However, though the quality fluctuates heavily, at its best it’s merely bad rather than blinding. The art, on the other hand, remains consistently horrible for the full run-time, and the designs for the demons are to this day the dullest I’ve ever had the displeasure of seeing. I get the sense that the budget was severely mismanaged, as there are a remarkable number of colorless or monotone scenes in this test of one’s attention span. One thing I will give the animators credit for is that the mouths in certain scenes have a remarkable number of frames of animation. That’s a corner most studios cut, and it’s good to see it done correctly, even though they’d have done better to allocate the budget elsewhere.

What I found strange about this OVA is that it evokes in me a feeling I very rarely experience: overwhelming confusion and disorientation. Characters disappear as mysteriously as they were introduced, and almost nothing is ever properly explained. It’s not that everything needs to be spelled out, but at a certain point it just gets ridiculous. The hero hugs a statue and gets magical powers, and we’re never clued in on how it happened. He gets sucked into a whirlpool and ends up 5,000 years in the past, and we aren’t told how. Even stranger is the bizarre misconception that traveling into the future can change the past. We’re all time travelers that can only go forward, what we do affects the future, and not the other way about.

While the show I guess had its moments, the writing is so weak that I find it hard to believe the writers were anything but uninspired. While the dialogue could be worse, the plot is incoherent to a ludicrous degree. The only compliment one could give this OVA is that aspects of it could have been worse, unlike M.D. Geist or Violence Jack, where literally nothing could have been more horribly botched.

The Rating: 2

Reviewed by: CNile

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