Psychic Force, directed by Kenichi Ōnuki. Two 30-minute episodes. May 25, 1998.
The Psychic Force two-episode OAV was based on the 1995 Japanese video game, created and released by Taito in Japan and released by Acclaim in North America. The OAV was produced by the Triangle Staff studio in 1998. Since it was based on a video game, it was assumed that most purchasers would be video game players who would already be familiar with the basic story.
This was set in 2007 and 2010, then roughly 15 years in the future. Rare mutants with psychic powers called Psychiccers have been born. Each Psychiccer has a special power; over electricity, fire, gravity, ice, teleportation, time, wind, and so on. (They each also dress so distinctively that they might as well be costumed superbeings.) Normal people fear them since their powers seem too violent, even if they aren’t deliberately used for crime. Governments and militaries try to duplicate their powers as weapons. A new Psychiccer nation, Noah (or NOA), offers all Psychiccers a safe home with their peers, but it turns out that Noah’s goal is really world domination. The heroes of Psychic Force are the “good” Psychiccers who oppose both sides.
Part 1 begins in Alaska in 2007, at the U.S. Psychic Research Lab #13. The government is experimenting on young British Psychiccer Keith Evans against his will, to gain his ice power to create super-soldiers.
The opening credits show Burn Griffiths, a young American biker who rescues Keith and is drawn into the battle. He is sympathetic to Keith’s goal, but is troubled by how easily Noah can be turned to world domination by the Psychiccers – which is Psychiccer Richard Wong’s goal.
Hong Kong’s Wong Foundation is destroyed by black-clad commandos. So is the rest of the city. And Tokyo. And Russia, where parents kill their children. All normals do everything to kill or capture all the Psychiccers, resulting in lots of killing on all sides.
2010 in America. Burn looks for his friend Keith. Psychiccers hear the telepathic voice of someone calling them together. Burn follows them to where their apparent leader, Richard Wong on a huge video screen, says that they have won. They will have the new country of Noah created just for Psychiccers.
2007. There is a long flashback showing how Burn and Keith meet. Burn is the son of prosperous farmers. (This is presumably not in Alaska any more.) He literally runs into Keith on his motorcycle while Keith is escaping. Keith does not reveal at first that he is a Psychiccer. Burn’s parents take him in on their farm, but he leaves to protect them. As he is leaving, he sees three government agents heading for their farm. Keith returns to protect Burn’s family, revealing his ice powers. Burn refuses to give up their friendship even if Keith is a Psychiccer. But despite their attempt to flee, the government recaptures Keith and Burn is helpless to stop them.
Three years later, Burn searches for what has happened to Keith. He is present when a telepathic voice calls al Psychiccers together. He travels to where Noah is being proclaimed by Richard Wong. But Wong says that he is only there to introduce their leader: Noah’s creator, Keith Evans. Part 1 ends with Burn asking, “What happened to you, Keith?”
The minutely longer Part 2 shows Noah in action. What binds the Psychiccers together even more than having individual psychic powers is their shared mental link. Normal humans are all mentally-isolated individuals. Keith travels throughout the world to rescue the Psychiccers being tortured by the humans. He brings them to “a place of love”, Noah, in the former U.S. Psychic Research Lab in Alaska (which seems awfully isolated for a nation).
Many characters seen briefly in Part 2 are more fully developed in the video game’s background. The bald Raytsk is Gates Oltsman, an American soldier whose wife and daughter were killed in the fighting by the Psychiccers. He has had himself turned into a cyborg giant to kill Psychiccers. The girl dressed in green & red with a cap reading WIND is Wendy Ryan, an Australian Psychiccer. Wind is her power. She is looking for her older sister, Chris; not knowing that Richard Wong has transformed Chris into the bioroid Sonia. Her power is electricity. Emilio Michaelov looks like a helpless little girl. In the game he has the power of light. Booladon is Bred Kilsten, a German Psychiccer with a split personality. His Booladon personality is a psychotic killer, but Keith can control him. Rokudo Genma, the leader of a band of Japanese monks, appears so little in the OAV that his whole face is never seen.
When Burn and Keith meet again, Keith is delighted; but Burn berates him for his war against normal humans. Keith cannot forgive the Normals who tortured him. When Burn will still not accept Psychiccer supremacy even after Keith awakens his psychic power of fire, they separate. Keith returns to his throne, while Burn wanders the corridors of Noah looking for Psychiccers who do not want to kill Normals. He eventually finds Wendy and Emilio, and leads them out of Noah.
The ending can be seen as confusing. There is plotting within Noah, with Richard Wong trying to become a power controlling Keith, and Sonia determined to kill anyone whom she thinks is threatening Keith. Civil war breaks out within Noah, possibly destroying it. The ending, showing Burn watching the fighting within Noah from afar, implies that he is glad to be out of it.
Psychic Force fails as an OAV because it is too heavily dependent on the video game. None of the characters can have any personality; they are just cyphers for each video game player to manipulate. Noah is a “nation” with less than a dozen “citizens” because more would be too confusing to game players to keep track of. There is no real motivation for Wong’s plotting against Keith, or an explanation or reason for Wong’s turning Chris/Sophia into a “bioroid”. Or an explanation of what a bioroid is; she does not seem any different from any other Psychiccer. The story does not really end because the video game does not have an ending.
But it does have cool character designs by director Kenichi Ōnuki.
Next week: “Forgotten” OAVs #23.