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 P.A.N.D.R.A. itself is in danger and, to combat that deadly threat, the gloves and limiter are coming off!
The audio track for each episode was in Japanese 2.0. English subtitles are provided for non-native speakers. The sound quality was fine, even if it didn’t have any bells-and-whistles.
The episodes are shown in 16:9 anamorphic aspect ratio. There were no technical issues that I noticed, and the show looks very nice. The animation style is fluid and kinetic, the character models are solid, and the use of color is very nice.
The twelve episodes comprising this collection come on three discs housed in a standard case. Discs one and two reside in a center inset, while disc three comes attached to the inside of the back cover.
The front cover shows the main P.A.N.D.R.A. group against a purple and black cityscape. The spine features the show’s title and the show’s second lead, Andy Hinomiya against a black background. The back cover features the standard still shots from the show, the series’ summary, cast and crew credits, and DVD specs. It’s a good design, but it also should be. By this point, Sentai has this down to a science.
The menus follow the same basic design: on one side of the screen, it shows the character who graces that particular disc. On the other side, it lists the episodes and special features options. There isn’t a “Play All” button, but clicking on one of the episodes automatically does this, so it’s not a big deal. The menus are easy to navigate, and I had no complaints.
Just your standard clean Op/Ed and Sentai trailers. Nothing to write home about.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Unlimited Psychic Squad was one of those series that had been sitting in the review pile for quite some time. Not sure why—perhaps it didn’t get enough buzz, or simply no one was interested. Regardless, I decided to pick it up and give it a shot. I’ve done this before, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t (I’m looking at you, DD Fist of the North Star!). I’m happy to say that this time it did work. While the show doesn’t do anything revolutionary or go beyond simple competency, it does tell an engaging story with solid characters and some really cool psychic fights. What’s not to like?
The series I watched has an interesting history. It’s partially based on the Shōnen manga Zettai Karen Chirudoren by Takashi Shina, which is about three girls with psychic powers and the “normal” person tasked with guiding them. This was turned into an anime series by SynergySP called Psychic Squad. According to the ever-accurate Wikipedia, the show first aired in 2008 and ran for fifty-one episodes. The series I watched is a spinoff focusing on the antagonist Kyōsuke Hyōbu and was originally titled Zettai Karen Children: The Unlimited. The title was changed to Unlimited Psychic Squad in North America.
I knew none of this going in. I tend to research a show after I’ve seen it so I can judge it strictly on its own merits, and I have to say that Unlimited Psychic Squad holds up well. Despite the dense world- and character-building that preceded it, the show functions quite well as a standalone. It gives us everything we need to know in the very first episode: a new species of humans arose around the time of the Second World War with extraordinary psychic powers. The majority of the normal populace viewed these Espers as monsters, as freaks, and as tools, and Espers constantly live in fear of persecution and abuse.
As always, when society creates a group of second-class citizens, there arises an argument over their place in the world. Some normals and Espers work towards peaceful cohabitation. Others fight for supremacy, or, at the very least, survival. Hyōbu and his group P.A.N.D.R.A. fall into that second category.
Hyōbu may well be the most powerful Esper in the world. His power is so great that he uses it to retard his aging, and constantly wears a power limiter to keep it within safe levels. When things go bad, he turns off the limiter and cleans house, which typically occurs at the climax of each episode. He and his terrorist group rescue abused and exploited Espers, shut down illegal government programs, and work to create a world where Espers rule (or even supplant) normals.
Hyōbu’s life grows more interesting when he rescues the Esper Andy Hinomiya from a prison camp. Hinomiya possesses the unique ability to negate Esper abilities. Understandably, this ability doesn’t make him very popular with the Espers, but he’s equally shunned by the normals, because of his status as an Esper. He walks between two worlds, belonging to neither, and harbors a deep resentment towards both groups. This makes him the perfect double agent.
Working as an agent for the United States, Hinomiya infiltrates P.A.N.D.R.A. in order to steal a valuable piece of technology. As Donnie Brasco would tell you, this is easier said than done. Going into deep cover like that means that Hinomiya must live, work, and struggle with the terrorist group, and in doing so, he gets to know them as people. Now, the man without a home struggles between his genuine affection for the group and the duty to the people he works for.
Hinomiya and Hyōbu form the two poles of the story. Really, it’s their story: the man between worlds and the man who wants to radically change it. Both characters are well developed with clear goals and motivations, and the tension that these conflicting goals cause works very well.
The supporting characters also round out the series well. My two favorites are Yugiri, a young, but very powerful Esper, and Momotarō, a psychic flying squirrel. In fact, my only real complaint about the show relates to these two, and that complain is how can you have a psychic squirrel and a cute young girl and the show not just be about their adventures?! I hardly ever use interrobangs, so hopefully, that illustrates my passion. I demand a Yugiri- Momotarō series right now! Now, I tells ya! Can you imagine how cute that would be?
Okay, I went and splashed some water on my face. I’m feeling better now.
There actually isn’t anything to complain about with this series. Although it’s very by-the-numbers, it uses those numbers very well. It’s a solidly-constructed limited series with engaging characters, interesting world-building, and some pretty cool psychic fights. While it would have been interesting if it had gone against genre conventions at some points (frankly, I think Hinomiya should have died), I still had a good time watching it. What more needs to be said?
Unlimited Psychic Squad is a fun series. It doesn’t bring anything new to the table, and it plays it safe by staying within genre conventions, but what it does well, it does well. It’s an entertaining show that was a nice surprise. Dr. J gives this a…
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: A
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: April 24th, 2015
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Panasonic Viera TH42PX50U 42” Plasma HDTV, Sony BPD-S3050 BluRay Player w/HDMI Connection