Psybuster: Science vs the Environment

Yet another blind buy here. I bought this during Right Stuff’s holiday sale alongside GoShogun and His and Her Circumstances. Blind buys are always a hit and miss kind of thing, and this show was definitely a miss. Still, how was I supposed to know? Still, I think it was definitely worth the watch. There were some interesting concepts in this show that I don’t see in a lot of anime these days. I still wish this wasn’t a mediocre show, but that’s common everywhere. Nobody wants a show that they are watching to be bad. That’s just human nature.

Plot/Premise

Cybuster 3

Psybuster has a very slow start, which is good for some world building. In the beginning of the series, we see our main characters, Ken Ando and Mizuki, try to finish up their last training mission in small mechs called RTs. The companies name they are finishing up for is called DC, a company that is seemingly built to clean up the environment around Japan. You see, ever sense Japan has been suffering through a large amount of earth quakes and other natural disasters, the environment of Japan has been suffering. A private company cleaning up Japan seems like a good idea, but with no surprise to anyone, their goals are nothing by sinister.

After a while, a mysterious mech, known as the creature, starts show up that is seemingly causing Japan’s natural disasters. After several bouts with the “creature” and several attempts on Mizuki’s life by DC, she is transported to a mystical land by this pilot. She was thought dead, but her reappearance and her mysterious story shake up things. Nobody believes her at first. After DC having a few more bouts with this creature and having Mizuki’s story confirmed, we get to the main part of the series. DC suddenly becoming more militarized and a war between the people that left DC and the outer shell of DC that is more devious the anything else.

I once described Psybuster as Captain Planet with Giant Robots on twitter and that’s only partially right. A major point of this show is about saving the environment, this true. Also, there are warrior robot gods of Fire, Water, Earth, and Wind. No heart though, because how do you create a heart mech? All four of these mech can have their powers combined to save the planet. (Two planets to be exact, but who is counting?) No, they don’t form a Planet Mecha. That would be awesome. This vague ability is only used once as well, so that just sucks. For all the problems that I have with Psybuster, this one is the least offensive.

Characters

psybuster characters

Let’s talk about the most interesting characters first. The four main characters of interest are Ken Ando, his father Ryuzo Ando, his sister Sayuri Ando, and his best friend/love interest Mizuki Kamijo. Ken Ando is our hard-headed protagonist. He seemingly can’t think for himself at first and is extremely dedicated to DC. This causes him to have conflict with his dad, Ryuzo, because the two cannot agree with Ken being apart of DC. Their conflict is even worse than that though, because Ryuzo NEVER explains why he hates DC to his own son, something to do with the mom’s death and DC plots. In the end, it’s a pointless conflict that happily gets reconciled eventually. The character that keeps the hateful father and son together is Sayuri. Sayuri has a pure heart, but she suffers from asthma, which brings the problem of Japan’s bad air quality to the forefront. The two love Sayuri too much, which is why this family functions somehow. There is Mizuki, Ken Ando’s longtime friend. She is the one that always butts heads with Ken and yet is also interesting in Ken at a romantic level. Ken eventually gets to pilot Psybuster, which means that Mizuki and Ken’s game of always competing with each other comes to an end. It’s interesting to see how she reacts to this.

Then let’s dig into even worse characters. Our main villains, the female DC Director Saphine Grace and the head of DC Shu Zoldark are terrible villains. They have an interesting backstory of how they were kicked out of the mystical land that Psybuster is from, but they never get more developed then that. Maybe their hatred of their situation and that mystical land was expanded on a little bit, but that’s it. These two, who are portrayed as evil and conniving, are really stupid. There is nothing subtle about their plans. Maybe if they took more time with their ambitions. Their quick hiring of mercenaries and their mechs suddenly using weapons is nothing but off. The two don’t even treat anybody in any sort of good manner either. Shu and Saphine hate everyone that isn’t them. Even the mercenaries they hire, which they use as test subjects after a while. I mean, their testing leads to many of their deaths. Even an interesting character like the head mercenary Dallas was lost in their stupidity. Nobody falls for their plans that they they say are about cleaning the environment after that. More and more people leave DC as time goes on and even the mercenaries don’t follow them after a while.

Then there are all the non-characters on the protagonist side. Psybuster has too many characters. Masaki, the one who was originally piloting Psybuster before is moved over to another mech, is more of a plot device then anything else. Lyune Frank, who at least has some character because of her backstory. Lyune father who used to control DC was murdered and now she stubbornly does everything her own way to get DC back in order to it back. Of course, Lyune constantly puts everyone at risk because she never learns anything at all. Then there is a female character that does nothing but hang around the protagonist group, a instructor that is nothing but a dog for the main villains until he finally has the brains to question something, and whole mobs of characters that don’t have any memorable lines and are either there or not there. Psybuster has too many characters.

Art/Animation

psybuster mech.png

This is yet another area where Psybuster is lacking. For a series that aired in 1999, it looks like something from the 1980’s. While the art does give the sense of doom and danger, it’s done very cheaply. Especially with wooden backgrounds that are faded out without any deal, buildings that aren’t well detailed, copy and paste mechs from time to time, and just so many plain and boring details. While the character designs are pretty complicated for what this show has to offer, there are so many times when their colors are washed out. I really don’t know why they did that, because it doesn’t add anything to any scene besides me noticing it.

The animation is bad too. There are so many scenes when all the walking is cut out. Also a few repeated bits of animation from the same mechs doing the same moves all the time along with a copy and paste scenario when it comes to producing groups of mechs of the same type. Did I mention that there are barely any character walking moments at all? They are usually just at one place and then boom, just another. It’s all lazy. I do have to give this show for having no digital effects though. Probably the last show from the late 90’s to not use them in any capacity.

I do like the mech designs though. The Mech Warrior Gods are pretty neat looking and have fun elemental abilities, which is a lot of fun. Then there are the Earth Mechs. Each one of them is pretty grounded and walks realistically when there is movement. You can almost see the pounding on the ground when the time arrives and their general movements and everything. I just wish they were apart of a better show.

Other Issues

Another complaint that I have is that there is no episode flow. While there is a general over all plot, each singular episode doesn’t help this. Villains can say one thing during one episode and then do something else during the next episode which goes against what they said. The same could be said for main characters. Or what about how things just happen? You know, two important characters may be in the middle of something on another world, yet the others just happen to get into fights? I can’t count the amount of times that happened with my two hands. It’s just bad writing that seems way too formulaic. Can’t they switch it up more often?

There is also a theme in this show that I don’t like. Science vs the Environment. Big spoilers here, but you probably don’t care. At some point, our villains are given some backstory. It turns that they were held in between dimensions by the world they wanted to destroy, because they wanted to use actual technology. Not rely on the spirits like the rest of that world does. The villains started rebelling with their science stuff and things were getting destroyed. Then they were throw into a dimensional prison original Superman Movie style. This is why they are angry and wanted to destroy the world they came from. There is a big anti science message in this show that I do not appreciate. And no, this doesn’t make me like the villains any more than I did throughout the show or make me understand them more. They are so terrible that it doesn’t matter. Science doesn’t mean the destruction of the environment, people. Don’t believe this show or the many anti forest movies and stuff. Uuuugh.

Final Thoughts

I think writing this review just increased my anger for it. Still, it was refreshing. Writing out my thoughts and frustrations somewhere else is always refreshing. I highly recommend writing angry reviews. Anyway, don’t watch this show. Psybuster is a no name show that should remain being a no name show. There are some interesting concepts that are used and even cool things like black hole weapons, but the content around it isn’t worth going through to see it all. Maybe I shouldn’t have written this review, because now you know about it. Oh well, hope you had some fun reading this after all. That’s worth it, right?

—-

Moving on from this disaster of a series, I had fun with the next installment: New Dominion Tank Police. See you next Friday!

(Since I didn’t have a way to screen shot these photos, since my computer doesn’t have a disk drive, all of those photos are from searching google images)

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