What They Say:
Between training and field experience, the abilities of the three girls in the esper team “The Children” have continued to expand and diversify. However, as Aoi, Kaoru, and Shiho keep learning new ways to apply and utilize their powers, it soon becomes obvious that the real question is not how they use their powers, but rather what they might use them for.
With sinister organizations like P.A.N.D.R.A. and its teams of espers as an example, and capabilities that are already far beyond those of any normal human, are they becoming TOO powerful? But if that’s so, why is Ichirou Tanizaki suddenly teaching the girls how to understand the way that criminals think? And just what is this secret mission that Koichi has left on without them? Are they lambs being intentionally led astray, or are they closely watched wolves in good girls’ clothing? And whether they’re really heroes or prisoners, their already chaotic existences are about to be shaken to the core once again as a new psychic force enters their world!
Contains episodes 27-39.
The audio presentation for this series is pretty basic as it contains just the original Japanese mix in stereo encoded at 224kbps. The show isn’t one that really stretches things but it has a good forward soundstage mix that has a full feeling to it because of how it plays out. It’s a brash show where there’s a lot going on with the action scenes but it’s just kind of strong in a way without being distinct. The dialogue often feels the same way with the way it has a lot of fast paced moments to it with the three girls chattering on and the guys trying to get in their own fast paced words in order to keep up. It doesn’t have much in the way of depth or directionality and is fairly center channel oriented. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally beginning its broadcast in 2008, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. This collection has thirteen episodes spread across two discs in a six/seven format. The show has a lot of bold, strong colors to it without a lot of detail to much of it when it comes to the character designs but the transfer lets the colors shine through well and it definitely stands out. The series is not one that’s terribly striking or filled with lush animation but the transfer captures what it is and does a decent job with it. The large areas of solid colors tends to look good with little in the way of noise though some of the darker backgrounds shows off more of it.
The packaging presentation for this release is very simple and straightforward as it has the two discs in a single sized keepcase. The front cover gives us the primary trio once again but it changes it up a bit as we get them in their older form. Which means a lot more shapely and with a lot less clothes overall, and clothes that show off more of their ample adult assets. The background uses some of the symbols from the show though it’s not all that distinct and just adds a little randomness to it that draws your eye more to the characters. The back cover does similar kinds of designs for the background while the foreground brings in a number of shots from the show that are small but varied while also having a larger shot of Comerica that’s kind of dark. The summary is kind of brief but that works in its favor here since the show isn’t all that deep or complicated itself. The bottom section has the standard material with the production information and the accurate technical grid. No show related is included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for the series is relatively simple but it’s done well enough in theme and tone to work. The static menu is designed with some of the character artwork on the left, such as the main characters for the first volume and some of the supporting cast for the second, while the logo is above them using the English name of Psychic Squad. The right side features the episodes broken down by number and lengthy title with a red star as a cursor. With it being a monolingual release, there isn’t a language submenu but each disc has a special features menu which loads quickly and without problem. The layout does the job and everything works smoothly.
The release has a couple of extras to it such as the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences as well as the sponsor bumpers, which are just red filtered dialogue free 11 second sequences. They’re not exactly what you’d expect and I’m not quite sure why they were worth including.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With half of the show out of the way, the first twenty-six episodes of the series left me with mixed feelings. There’s a good feeling that comes from it in a semi-old school way where the way it unfolds makes it feel like it fits more with something from the early nineties that the last few years. While the show spent a lot of its time in both of the previous sets going through the motions of various psychic related missions, it also upped the ante when it came to what Hyobu is up to with his formation of PANDRA and his plan to get Kaoru all powered up in the years to come to be the Queen of the espers so they can revolutionize the world. I’ve enjoyed that push overall since it shows a longer plan overall and makes for some amusing glimpses at the future.
With this set of episodes, it runs along similar lines as we get more of the standalone mission stories but also the larger inclusion of the whole PANDRA effect. With Minamoto now knowing the kind of future that Kaoru has ahead of her, and the other girls as well to a different degree, he’s being a lot more protective of her and trying to tamp down what she’s involved in. At the same time, he’s also actively working to ensure that she’s being guided in the right direction as he hopes that he can change the future. But knowing that even in the future that he’s seen that she admits her deep love for him and continues on, he’s getting a lot of conflicting messages about how to deal with her and that figures in well across the set.
When it comes to PANDRA, that’s a whole other kettle of fish. Hyobu’s intent on the longer game here as he essentially knows what the future is, but there’s that idea that he can hasten it to some degree and to bring at least Kaoru over to his side earlier in order to achieve his own goals alongside it. With some of his efforts, he forces things directly himself by setting up situations or utilizing BABEL organized precog missions as a way to insert himself into things so he can either work with her or extend enough dialogue her way to try and win her over. He also has others that he sends along at times, a somewhat annoying pair for the most part, but with his growing ranks of espers in his line of command he’s able to use a lot of people to try and tweak the situation.
Bringing all of this to the forefront is something that happens to varying degrees across the set and it works well to build the larger narrative of the series. You can see it becoming more central in the next and final set. But this set also focuses on the fun that the kids have with each other and their overall growth. Part of the problem that the three of them have is that they’re often being thought of as just children, which they are, but they’re also children with a lot more life experience that has shown them many things that has them aged up a bit more. They’re not exactly mature since they’re still dealing with a lot of issues that come with the age, but there’s also the weight of what they do on them and that changes who they are, something that the adults often fail to see.
Thankfully, the show does continue to have the kids spend time with other kids. One of the things they did earlier in the run was to have the trio go to a normal school so they could have a normal childhood in some ways, similar to Naomi, by doing all the things kids would do. One story here focuses on Naomi pretty nicely as she helps out someone at her school who appears to be influenced by an esper and it’s causing a lot of trouble. Another story focuses on the trio going on an outdoor trip in the woods for the main trio and Kaoru gets separated with another boy as they get stuck in a secret underground base. It puts Kaoru in an amusing position of dealing with a boy the same age, who has no interest in her, and getting her to socialize and have fun in a different way. It all goes towards the larger goal of giving her something grounded in the real world.
One big change that they do make to the show is introducing a new character named Fujiko that has a fair bit of impact. While Hyobu has several supporting characters to deal with in his group, BABEL brings in someone just as old as Hyobu who has been napping for the last ten years in a secure bunker below the main building. She’s cranky, smutty and amusing in a number of ways and she’s intent on changing things up at BABEL as she thinks there’s just too many things going in the wrong direction here. Her role is bigger at first, especially when she sends Minamoto away so she can test him, but as it goes on her role diminishes a bit though it does provide for some decent bits when it comes to her longtime relationship with Hyobu.
After the first twenty-six episodes of the series, there’s definitely some sense that things are spinning their wheels a little bit. Thankfully, the series does move events forward a bit here in a few different ways. PANDRA gets more involved in trying to make their case to the world through force and manipulation, the Children start to grow a bit more with their standing in the world and each other and a more expanded look at how the coming war between the normals and the espers may unfold. It all does it in the same kind of style as we had in the first two sets so there’s lots of comedy, slapstick and awkward sexuality. I like that things are growing and changing a bit but the core of the show is still pretty much the same.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Sponsor Bumpers
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: September 4th, 2012
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.