Manga Video // 1991 // 54 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Mike Pinsky (Retired) // July 19th, 2002
"Is this mighty one really a doctor?" -- Nurse Fuyuko
Osaka, present day: an ordinary surgeon operates on a woman and removes an odd tumor. Later, for no apparent reason, he drives out to an ancient Shinto shrine he has never seen before. There, mild-mannered Dr. Ukyo is charged with energy by mysterious purple lightning. Now a psychic superhero, he battles the evil tumor (transformed into a monster, of course), then dedicates himself to fighting evil.
Sound like a Marvel comic from the 1960s? That is pretty much what you get with Psychic Wars, a harmless and fairly silly anime adventure. All the trademark superhero tropes are in place: the hero with a noble spirit, his understanding girlfriend, and a destiny that guides him along every step in his predictable journey. The movie itself is episodic, with Ukyo battling dull demons in the present and 5000 years ago (thanks to a time warp suspiciously borrowed from Doctor Who). His powers are not anything special (he glows and punches really hard) and the demons not particularly interesting (more like big orcs from an old D&D game). You keep waiting for something inventive or clever to happen. Then it is all over and the credits roll.
Although a quote from TV Guide on the cover announces that the film boasts "a sophisticated level of illustration" and Manga Video slaps a mature viewers warning on the case, there is little here that would upset anyone over the age of 12. The blood is mostly green (from the demons), the violence just outside of camera range, the nudity is brief, and the whole thing is too crudely animated and brightly colored to be realistic. Again, just like an American comic book of the 1960s, with all the ponderous dialogue and wooden characterization intact. This is all very lightweight stuff that was years out of date before it was made.
Given that Manga Video makes little effort with this one, offering a washed out and dirty full frame print with an uninspired sound mix -- and no supplements -- it is clear that even the company has little confidence in Psychic Wars, treating it as just another pointless title to fill the shelf. You should take that as a hint.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Manga Video
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 54 Minutes
Release Year: 1991
MPAA Rating: Not Rated