Psychic School Wars is based on a 1970s sci-fi novel (that I’m going to do my best to track down now). This particular adaptation is from 2012.
Seki Kenji is a rather average highschool boy. He’s in love with his classmate Kahori, who appears to be a studious, musical young girl. They share a mutual friend, Natsuki. Natsuki is athletic and loud, and Kenji’s neighbor. It’s clear that they have a close relationship – they’ve been friends since childhood.
One day, a transfer student shows up in Kenji’s class. Introduced as Ryoichi, he immediately catches Kahori’s eye and is welcomed into their little group of friends.
Soon, things start getting a little strange at school. Students and teachers begin either changing or disappearing. There is a push to completely ban cellphones. Ryoichi seems to be at the forefront of these changes, and soon reveals himself as a psychic who has come to earth to find teenagers with latent psychic abilities.
It soon becomes clear that Seki is the only one who can stand up to Ryoichi in the quickly changing school. But what does he need all these psychics for, and what is Ryoichi’s true story?
We turned this into a movie date night, so I actually had a second opinion for this review, and at the end our thoughts were a bit mixed.
We both liked it, for the most part. But the plotline was quite thin at times – and perhaps would have been better suited to a series than a single movie. There were a few parts where it was hard to really tell what was going on. Smaller subplots – like the banning of cellphones in school – seemed to be really important, while they were actually kind of inconsequential. Psychic School Wars wraps up with a lot of loose ends and questions.
In something as fantastical as science-fiction, the story-telling has to go to a little extra effort to make everything believable and understandable. While I wouldn’t necessarily consider this a failure, I think it could have been much better in that respect. By the end, both of us had questions, and it didn’t take long to realize that those questions were more of a storytelling weakness than us just not paying attention. By the end, there were so many things I still didn’t understand. Things that felt like they were supposed to be important, but just got swept under the rug in favour of chasing down the love stories instead.
The characters were rather clichéd, but it was hard not to love them. This could have been because the movie itself was so moving – I’ll touch on the art, animation, and music shortly – but the end result is the same. I’ve seen some reviews say that it’s hard to care about them. I disagree – the main characters seemed alive and real to me. They were empathetic and realistic in their actions. The romantic aspects were probably the most compelling part for me because of this.
It was certainly worth watching, and we both enjoyed it. I just think it could have been handled a little bit better – some more follow-through and fleshing out the plot would go a long way. This is the main reason I think it would have made a good series instead of movie. Having that extra time would have given Psychic School Wars the room it needed to become a full-fledged story.
P.S. Make sure to keep watching through the credits. Just trust me. It’s important if you don’t want to feel like your sense of hope has been kicked off a cliff.
Art & Animation (and music)
Psychic School Wars is visually stunning.
From the moment we turned it on, the details and images were incredible – cherry blossom petals, light dancing on the ocean, sunrays through a school window. The use of light and colour is perfect. There is no moment of the movie that isn’t just breathtakingly beautiful.
Luckily, the animation is just as high-quality as the artwork. Movements are fast and fluid, and nothing ever really stays still. It’s clear that a lot of work went into this film – it was one of the best-animated things I’ve ever seen, and I don’t really say that lightly.
Along with the visuals, the music was perfect. Every background and theme matched perfectly to the scene. It’s almost hard to comment on because of how well it fit – this didn’t seem like a movie with several aspects to pick apart. Everything came together flawlessly to create a wonderful experience.
In a way, this probably helps to detract from the rather loose plot, but I guess I’m okay with that. While it’s not a masterpiece in storytelling, it certainly is a work of art and I’d highly recommend taking a look.
For your purchase, you’ll get an array of promotional videos and trailers. On the plus side, you’ll also get a beautiful box that will look nice in any anime collection.
One complaint my boyfriend had was that he couldn’t figure out if there was a way to turn on English subtitles with the dub (it’s our failsafe if we want to talk during a scene so that we can keep reading). I’m not sure if this is standard on all of Funi’s dvd/blu-ray sets. It probably is. When I watch by myself I usually watch in Japanese with a few checks on the dub’s accuracy and sound, so it’s nothing I’ve really paid attention to before.
This is one of the few cases where I’ll say that I think it’s worth getting ahold of a hard copy instead of streaming online. As great as Funi’s streaming site is, I could see a huge quality difference between playing it on the site and playing the blu-ray on my tv.
Overall, I think that Psychic School Wars is worth watching. For whatever thinness there is in the plot, the overall anime is worth it. The romantic subplots are engaging, the music is lovely, and the art is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. At the very least, it’s worth a look.