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AKA: Psychic Academy Ora Banshou, psi-Chic Academy
Genre: Psychic action / romance comedy
Length: Web release, 24 episodes, 10 minutes each
Distributor: R1 DVD from Tokyopop.
Content Rating: PG-13
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Asagiri no Miko, Mahoromatic
Notes: Based on the manga of the same name by Katsu Aki. The first syllable in "psychic" is often rendered with the Greek character for "psi".
Rating: Three StarsThree StarsThree Stars

Psychic Academy Aura Banshou

Synopsis

Shiomi Ai has been enrolled in the Psychic Academy - a high school where users of a mysterious force named "Aura" are trained in how the channel their powers. Unfortunately, Ai's power is practically undetectable, and he's not even sure why he's following in his brother's footsteps. To make things worse, he's caught in a love triangle between his childhood friend Orina and the tomboyish Myuu. And even worse, he's supposed to defend himself from random psychic battles.

What's a guy to do?


Review

This series is noted for being one of the first anime to be released straight to the Internet. However, like the "pioneering" OAV Dallos before it (and a legion of Western web comics in the current age), Psychic Academy Aura Banshou is an unpolished series that tries to succeed by executing a "tried-and-true" formula in a "fresh", "hip" (and network executive-free) format.

Let's see how well they're doing. Hmm, we can start with the premise: super-powered psychics going to high school. What a terribly original concept! Pneumatically inflated girls ... loser lead ... and they even tried the whole Harry Potter look with the boy's uniforms. Yeah. Some real creative genius in this series, to be sure.

Okay, now we've established that this is a been-there-done-that series of the worst sort, but beyond the obvious rehashes, there are other reasons why this really isn't anything extraordinary.

For starters, we've got the seemingly New Standard episode length of ten minutes, which is frustratingly short and gives little time to set a proper story before the end credits run. Blink and you miss it, rather like most rural Arizona towns. It's that inconsequential. Granted, it's not a festering, steaming pile of crap like Rizelmine, for which we should all be grateful.

What this series does offer is some rather generic fighting action, an obvious fixation with the female characters' breasts (which would be amusing if it weren't so painfully contrived).

There is one bright spot, though: the main character's mentor. Imagine the coach from Rocky, crusty, abrasive, and hard-bitten- then put him into the body of a psychic rabbit named Buu. No, seriously. If anything, that character alone lifts this otherwise stale series out of the Gowcaizer trash heap and into the realm of enjoyable cheese.

Another nice thing they're going for in this series is that, while the whole love triangle cliche has been done to death, Ai, Orina, and Myuu are at least on this side of likable, and it's actually nice seeing characters who *aren't* able to use their super powers without so much as breaking a sweat like in too many other series. I severely doubt the writers broke a sweat creating the plot for this series, either.

Unfortunately, the actual animation isn't very well done, and the music is either bad enough or unremarkable enough for me to have stricken it from my memory - I'm not quite sure.

Now we'll have to wait and see whether this thing actually grows a story, because the later episodes that we've viewed seem to point in the general direction of "we don't want to suck". If you're feeling charitable, you can give them the points for trying. Besides, it's a nice little time-waster of an anime -- not that ten minutes per episode is much time to waste in the first place.

In the hopes that perhaps this will get better than the low side of average, here's the benefit of the doubt.

A lightweight, but still reasonably enjoyable series that isn't anywhere as original as its release format. My guess is that the manga is better.Carlos Ross

Recommended Audience: Fan service galore! Boob shots, crotch shots, silly action sequences - they're all here. However, it's all mostly harmless, and fine for teens and above as the majority of the nudity in this series is in the opening sequence.



Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Partial (11/24)
Psychic Academy Aura Banshou © 2002 Katsu Aki / Starchild
 
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