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Weeaboo Wednesday – Psychic Wars, Pt 1

February 17, 2010

Returning readers will note that this is the first Weeabo Wednesday in several months, which is due entirely to the poor work ethic of our two laziest writers and nothing else.  Regulars will also likely notice that I am not the usual writer of WW (as it is called in the business) on account of my seething and irreconcilable dislike of animes.  I hardly think I should have to explain why anime is, for the most part, a creatively bankrupt wasteland of putrid cliches and normative stereotypes akin to the worst that American sitcoms have to offer, so I won’t waste my time or yours doing so.  But, like any reasonable person, I will admit that there are always notable exceptions to everything, including my long-held “burn all anime” axiom.  In fact, one anime shines so brightly in my eyes that I will go as far as to call it amazing.  That anime is Psychic Wars, and today I’d like to introduce it to you.

Every official description I can find of Psychic Wars summarizes the movie sort of like this:

A surgeon finds a growth inside a cancer patient which ends up being a 5,000 year-old demon that he then has to fight.

There’s actually nothing wrong with that quote, and it’s an entirely accurate portrayal of part of the movie, unfortunately it only describes, at most, 8% of the movie’s events.  The remaining 92% is a nigh-indescribable fever dream of lightning-paced tenuously connected incidents acted out by characters with the personality development of set furniture. It’s amazing.

Like I said, the film is almost impossible to describe, but I’ll try to do it some justice.  The movie’s blitz-like opening act consists of our hero Dr Ukyo surgically removing a weird looking red blob from a kindly old lady.  Everyone at the hospital is confused by the red globule, including Dr Ukyo, who decides to go drive to a shack in the middle of nowhere and pray on it.  While there, he decides the the shrine he is praying to looks a lot like the woman he just de-tumored, which for some reason triggers a crazy cosmic event where a purple beam falls from the sky and destroys the shack around him.  This gives him super powers, but he doesn’t seem to care about that, and is only stirred into emotion when he learns that the old lady has died on his way back to the hospital.  Oh, also the weird blob is now a demon starfish that is killing people, which Dr Ukyo takes care of by punching it to death.

This is all done before the ten minute mark.

That makes two of old joke.

Now, despite the fact that what’s already happened has enough in it to constitute its own  ridiculous and terrifying movie, this is only the beginning of Psychic Wars, and there’s much more to come.  The movie moves at a ridiculous speed and with such crude animation it’s almost as if it’s an animated storyboard to a movie that’s supposed to be six hours long with all the dialogue taken out.  My roommate and fellow Sqlog writer Kyle Smith contends that the movie is probably a pastiche of scenes from a multi-episode anime series, condensed into one 50-minute soup, but I can’t, for the life of me, find any information about Psychic Wars beyond the incarnation I saw it in.  I honestly think it’s the other way around – a guy had an idea for a series but didn’t have the werewithal to produce an entire season of content, so he just made an hour-long montage of four-second shots of a buff dude punching demons.

Anyway, the movie continues, criminally negligent of the audience’s needs for narrative cohesion, by following Dr Ukyo and his loyal assistant Ms Asahina to another weird shrine of some sort where there are weird goblin-looking statues everywhere.  They gibber on about some irrelevant exposition for a short while before lo and behold, some weird goblin-looking monster springs to life out of the ground, presumably from a mole’s tumor, and attacks them.  The monster completely kicks Dr Ukyo’s ass for a while until Ukyo turns yellow and summons two weapons out of thin air for no reason.  By punching the demon with his weapons, also known as “stabbing”, he is able to conquer the monster, and then he and Asahina go on with their day like nothing ever happened.

Oooh, burn!

Ooh, burn!

The rest of the film unfolds into its own insipid mythology, where it turns out that demons and men once lived together as competing tribes, and the first men, or “Jomon” only came to be because they defeated all the demons.  Some archaeologist in a ridiculous lab coat has apparently discovered the ruins of the first Jomon city, and so he send Ukyo to go guard it or something because apparently now that the demons are awakening again after Ukyo’s tumor incident, the past is in danger.  The archaeologist has Ukyo walk into the ruins where another unexplained cosmic event sends him hurtling into the past, where he immediately begins hitting demons with the butt of his rifle and exploding his shirts with his now giant shoulders.

Ukyo is now apparently in the “Jomon era,” the time of the first humans, who are all grateful that he has come to save them.  He visits the goddesses of the era, all of whom look like the old cancer lady, explain to him that he needs to defeat the demon tribe to make sure they don’t kill all the Jomon, or else the human race will cease to be in the future.  The movie has no time to explain away the inherent paradox in this — the conditions under which Ukyo is sent to the past seem to be heavily predicated on him already having gone to the past — as it has to get to more pointless demon killing.  This time, Ukyo sees a naked Asahina hogtied in the middle of the lake, and before asking himself how Asahina was able to travel to the distant past in order to even get captured, he rushes in to save her.  This Asahina is, of course, a demon, which he then fights and defeats by tearing out its heart.

But not before kicking it in the groin.

This happened. An adult saw this and said "Yes, put this in my movie."

It should be noted that nothing even close to resembling a “Psychic” War has happened, at all, and we’re halfway done with the movie.  It should also be noted that there have been maybe 30 or 40 lines of dialogue within the entirety of what I’ve shown here, if you exclude all the screaming that Ukyo does when he is fighting.  The thing about this movie is that it’s not even fair to say that it doesn’t make sense, because that so callously ignores how boldly and aggressively it doesn’t make sense.  The entire movie happens in media res, in the sense that it seems like the first and last five minutes of any scene have been edited out, leaving only the punch-filled payoff without any of the buildup or denouement.  If this wasn’t so clearly because of cheap animation and horrendous editing, it would almost be genius.

We’re still not nearly done.  I will conclude my summary and review of Psychic Wars next week, or tomorrow, or whenever.  I don’t know.  You don’t own me.

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