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Unlimited Psychic Squad Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read

The Unlimited Blu-ray CoverTo build the world for his Queen, Kyosuke will go the distance against impossible odds.

What They Say:
You don’t have to be psychic to know that Hyobu Kyosuke is trouble waiting to happen, but having psychic powers of your own may be your only chance if you want to stand against him. One of the most powerful espers on the planet, Hyobu’s incredible range of abilities extends as far as controlling his own aging process, and the potential strength of all his talents combined is so terrifying that he wears a device that limits their use except in cases of extreme emergency. The time is coming, however, when Hyobu will need to unleash everything he has.

Sometimes it takes a villain to do what heroes can’t, and as the leader of the secret organization P.A.N.D.R.A., Hyobu’s dedicated his life to fighting those who would entrap, enslave, or kill anyone with psychic powers. Now PA.N.D.R.A. itself is in danger and, to combat that deadly threat, the gloves and limiter are coming off!

Contains episodes 1-12.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only, which is unfortunate since they did dub the younger-set series. The track is done in stereo using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec and it’s a pretty solid mix all around with what it does. There’s a good action aspect to this so that it gets a really good workout across the forward soundstage with depth and directionality that immerses you in it enough when it gets rolling. But it also handles the dialogue well throughout since we get a little psychic material once in awhile and a decent array of characters on screen interacting. It’s not an overdone mix but it doesn’t skimp out either, really making it feel like a show that put in the effort with it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in early 2013, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second, and without a dub track that gives it plenty of space. Animated by manglobe, the show is definitely a huge step up from the previous series, but it’s going for a more adult approach and the animation reflects it. It goes with a darker look in general, but not to the point where it’s grimy and hard to discern. There’s a good range of locales that it takes place in and the psychic powers definitely give it some really big moments, especially when Kyosuke lets loose with his abilities and the power flows out of him. The detail comes across very well throughout and the overall design has a lot going for it as there is no scrimping with the quality of the animation. It’s very fluid, very mature compared to the kids series we had before and it all comes across in a very rich, solid and engaging way here.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case that has the two discs held against the interior walls. The front cover gives us a darker look with a washed out approach to the character designs as they stand among some ruins while more of a city in purple hues are in the background. This keeps the characters from really standing out well, especially as half of them are shadowed a bit too much, but it does set the tone well enough The logo is kept along the top, though it uses a blending of the Japanese title and the English language title for the previous series, though it works well enough. THe back cover works a dark design overall, but with the artwork for Kyosuke along the left, it’s brighter and sharper than the cover artwork itself. There’s a few shots from the show to be had here that are small and decent, but the premise is what takes up most of the space. It’s easily readable with it being white on black and it covers the bases well without giving it all away. The rest is given over to the usual with the production credits and the technical grid that covers it all in a very clean, clear and accurate way. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design for this release works a similar design to the cover in that it has a darker and more mature feeling without being oppressive. The layout is a simple static layout to it where the right side has the navigation strip that doubles as the pop-up menu while the rest is the character artwork. That has Kyosuke in the foreground while the rest of his team are behind him, all of them set in front of a good red splotchy background that has a world on fire kind of feeling. The navigation strip is straightforward with the episodes listed by title and number, and since there’s nothing else here outside of the extras on the second disc, it’s all about episode selection itself. Everything loads quickly and easily and we didn’t have any issues in getting around.

Extras:
The only extras included here are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Back in 2005, Takashi Shiina started a manga series called Zettai Karen Children, which is ongoing at 41 volumes so far. It got an anime series back in back in 2008 by studio synergySP that ran for 51 episodes and an OVA, which Sentai FIlmworks brought over as Psychic Squad. While that series went overall in Japan, it didn’t have any further material until this 2013 series hit, which focused on the ostensible villain of Psychic Squad. Whereas the first series certainly had is serious aspects to it and built to a larger plan across it with a strong ending, it still spent a lot of its time with elementary school psychics. I had a mixed experience with the show, but as a whole I liked Psychic Squad.

So when this twelve episode series was announced, I was surprised at just how different it went compared to the previous series. With its focus on Kyosuke, they went with manglobe for the animation and largely spent its time with the adult characters. But it also kept its ties to the original work as it plays alongside it in a future tense as characters from Psychic Squad do show up, though the girls are all now in middle school so they have a little bit more to them that works in their favor. What this series does though is to not rely heavily on the previous work, though the more you know about Psychic Squad, the more you’ll get out of this one. But the main appeal here is that it does play outside of it and explores a character that was a slightly nuanced villain that was looking to build his world for his Queen, who is the lead character of Psychic Squad.

The premise of the franchise as a whole has a kind of X-Men feeling to it as there have been psychics in the world since the early 20th century and Kyosuke was one that served in the military ESP unit back in the 1940’s as part of the war. He’s used his ability to try and force a better and safer world for his people as he saw how in the 40’s that governments worked to put down, eliminate or control psychics. There’s a lot of establishment of this in Psychic Squad, but Kyosuke’s a key player in it by creating safe places for psychics of all stripes over the years, with some that are very closely aligned to him for the way he’s helped them. Of course, doing all of this for so long, he’s made a lot of enemies and over time he’s also lost allies, which is where things start here as he goes to rescue a young girl named Yugiri that is quite important to him, not just for her abilities, but for who she is. This prison complex is where he comes into contact with Andy Hinomiya, a psychic-negater of sorts that’s been imprisoned as well. Of course, that’s all just a cover as he’s actually a spy for the US ESP department that’s been assigned to infiltrate Kyosuke’s organization.

The show plays to a half and half kind of approach with what it wants to do as the first half is all about Andy getting brought in by the group and going through various tests, both of his character, his loyalties and his abilities. It works well as Andy is interesting enough himself, being an adult working as a spy, and we see how he grows decently close to some of those in Kyosuke’s group while also trying to perform his mission. It’s not hugely deep, but it takes us across several different locales and jobs that shows us just how involved Kyosuke is in a lot of things. The back half of it is where things start to draw together as those that are hunting Kyosuke from the USEI are revealed and we see it going into a large scale fight. But it also spends some real quality time for two episodes by taking us back to the 1940’s and exploring what Kyosuke went through during the war, the real birth of his abilities and his eventual death that put him on this path. There are some real echoes here from the whole Magneto and X-Men franchise, and it’s played in a straight and serious way that comes across beautifully.

For fans of Psychic Squad, we do get some solid appearances from those characters here, but they avoid becoming the main focus as a whole. The focus really is on the leads of Kyosuke and Andy and the kind of bond and trust that does grow and gets tested. Initially, we just get time with Minamoto from BABEL as he continues his pursuit of Kyosuke’s PANDRA organization and there continues to be that kind of nuanced approach to how they deal with each other as adults. But we also get The Children with Kaoru, Aoi and Shiho, as well as time with Tsubomi and a few others. What they do here is complement the storyline rather than taking it over as it unfolds and the mysteries are revealed, but we also get them being true to who they are and their storylines, just aged up slight. It really does leave me wanting to see a middle school or later version of the Psychic Squad material.

In Summary:
The Unlimited was probably my favorite simulcast of the winter 2013 season as it took a show that we had seen focusing on kids and then pivoted to reveal how things would look from the adults point of view. With a great budget, beautiful animation, great character designs and a solidly engaging story that works in smaller pieces and a whole, it won me over on a weekly basis and it feels even strong here in marathon form. The show explores some themes that have been familiar to comic book fans for a long time, but from a Japanese point of view with a good blending of material. The series works as a self contained piece, though you may find yourself wanting to check out Psychic Squad afterwards. There’s a lot to like here and I really, really wish it had done well enough to warrant a dub as there’s some very good stuff for a voice actor to work with here. Very recommended.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: April 21st, 2015
MSRP: $59.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 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.

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