Japanese, English / English, French, English (SDH)
2 (1BD/1DVD), 1 (DVD)
Psychic School Wars, known as Nerawareta Gakuen in Japan, is a 2012 theatrical anime from Sunrise, the studio behind such popular series as Cowboy Bebop, Code Geass, Love Live, and Mobile Suit Gundam. Based on a 1973 science fiction novel by Taku Mayumura, Nerawareta Gakuen has received 6 prior adaptations – four television dramas, in 1977, 1982, 1987, and 1997, and a further two live-action films, in 1981 and 1997. This anime adaptation was directed by Ryosuke Nakamura, who has since directed short form slice-of-life anime Aiura and the fantasy adventure series Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash, which aired earlier this year. I’ll admit that I was primarily drawn to this movie due to one of the Japanese cast members – the amazing Kana Hanazawa. Although I was watching for only one cast member and, naturally, the character she voiced, I quickly came to like all of the main characters.
Spring marks the start of another new school year at a junior high school in Kamakura. A new transfer student, Ryoichi Kyogoku joins the 8th grade. Kyogoku has a very special proficiency in telepathy and has been ordered by his father to use this ability to scan other people’s minds and take over the school. He instantly gains popularity at school from his good looks and charisma and he sets about taking control of the school. As people begin to fall under Kyogoku’s spell, he covertly manipulates his followers and pushes aside anyone who gets in his way. With the school almost completely under the control of Kyogoku, only one boy seems unaffected – Seki. Does Seki have what it takes to save everyone from the clutches of mind control?
– All The Anime
Sunrise have done an amazing job on both the visual and auditory fronts – this is a very colourful film, and the screenshots really don’t do it justice. It’s a shame that I watched this on DVD for this review – the image quality was never disappointing, though it was rather soft, I’d have liked to have seen how sharp the blu-ray version is. I’ll definitely have to purchase the Blu-ray release at some point soon for a rewatch of this film. Psychic School Wars may be trying to masquerade as a sci-fi movie, especially with that title, but the sci-fi element is only really there to facilitate the romance, and give Sunrise an excuse for some beautiful visual choices that would be impossible in a more realistic setting. I’m a big fan of school romance anime and appreciate this movie for what it is, but even I have to admit it’d have been more enjoyable if it felt that the sci-fi elements were actually of importance and not just a background plot popping up every so often to remind you it exists. The psychic goings-on at the school are never really resolved – at one point a battle that seemed inevitable is simply swept under the rug when Seki suggests that they instead go to the beach. The credits roll at a point in the film that left me feeling incredibly disappointed, discarding the romance after already discarding so much of the psychic school war itself. Thankfully, the post-credits scene brought it to a satisfying conclusion.
There were no extras on-disc for this release, which is a shame, but the collector’s edition does include a 40-page booklet. The Japanese audio track featured excellent voice work from the cast, and the surround mix made decent use of the rear channels, without seeming pointless or forced. I gave the English audio track a try after watching the film in Japanese, and it didn’t quite have the same charm from what I watched, but it’s still a good effort. I didn’t bother with the French audio or subtitles because I don’t particularly understand French. It was, however, nice to see both English subs for the Japanese audio and English (SDH) subtitles for the English dub. The subtitles were easy to read throughout visually, though there, unfortunately, several instances of subtitle lines in broken English – I hope All The Anime’s ever-improving QC process sees to it that this is an isolated issue and not something endemic of discs authored by the French side of All The Anime going forward.
Despite not being entirely what I was expecting going in, I found Psychic School Wars to be a brilliant example of a school romance anime, with simply gorgeous visuals from Sunrise. This title shouldn’t be dismissed just because it focuses on the romance rather than the battles as other adaptations have done – give this movie a couple hours of your time and you’ll be blown away by how colourful and elegant the animation is. Just make sure you keep the disc spinning until you’ve watched the post-credits scene, as you’ll be left with a sour taste in your mouth if you stop watching when the credits roll.
Despite not being entirely what I was expecting going in, I found Psychic School Wars to be a brilliant example of a school romance anime, with simply gorgeous visuals from Sunrise. This title shouldn't be dismissed just because it focuses on the romance rather than the battles as other adaptations have done - give this movie a couple hours of your time and you'll be blown away by how colourful and elegant the animation is. All The Anime are really impressing me when it comes to movie releases so far this year, and I can't wait to watch whatever standalone movie they release next.