By Jeff Neuenschwander / February 17th, 2013
The following is a recap of the first four episodes of THE UNLIMITED – Hyobu Kyosuke. Spoilers will be involved.
THE UNLIMITED – Hyobu Kyosuke is the second anime series in the Zettai Karen Children franchise. But instead of focusing on the good guys, this series is done from the point of view of the franchise’s antagonists—one antagonist in particular.
No, it’s not Kyosuke Hyobu. I’ll get to who it is soon enough.
From watching the first few episodes of the anime, it feels like it does a decent job of being friendly with viewers uninitiated in the Zettai Karen Children franchise. However, it feels like there are a number of in-jokes that get lost in translation to someone who has never watched the original Psychic Squad series. So, let me give you a quick overview of the franchise as a whole.
Zettai Karen Children focuses on three girls with psychic powers—Kaoru Akashi, Shiho Sannomiya, and Aoi Nogami—as they are trained to use their powers for good by their instructor, Koichi Minamoto, under the Japanese government department known as BABEL (Base of Backing ESP Laboratory). I like to look at it as a sort of Japanese Charlie’s Angels. (I would say Powerpuff Girls, but since that was a kiddy take on Charlie’s Angels… You get the idea.)
Anyways, Kyosuke Hyobu is the primary antagonist in the franchise, heading a rogue esper group known as PANDRA (unsure what the acronym stands for). Kyosuke intends to round up all the espers in the world, including the three girls working for BABEL, and lead a war against “normal people.”
And this is where the battle lines seem to be drawn for this series. But for the most part, it focuses on the characters in PANDRA, rather than on any singular conflict. BABEL doesn’t even enter into the picture until the very end of episode 2, and that’s just as a teaser for the next episode.
The first episode of THE UNLIMITED pretty much deals with introductions. For new viewers, it’s an introduction to Kyosuke as he takes out wave after wave of military personnel, then voluntarily goes to an all-esper prison. For franchise veterans, it’s an introduction to the first of the new characters in this series, Andy Hinomiya. Andy is an esper with the power to disrupt other esper powers around him. He’s also a spy for an organization call USEI (again, don’t know the acronym). We’ll talk more about him later.
Another new character is Yugiri, a telepathic girl that was held in a large glass container for testing. She is a member of PANDRA that was never mentioned in the previous series. My best guess, she joined up with the faction and was arrested somehow between Psychic Squad and THE UNLIMITED. It’s also possible that she was a part of PANDRA before but was never shown.
We’re also introduced to a limiter pin that Kyosuke wears. When activated, it keeps his powers in check. When deactivated, he unleashes his true powers, causing devastating effects—or, at the very least, freeing his old companion Momotaro in the first episode. Since this device is exclusive to this series, it’s generally seen as non-canonical within the rest of the franchise.
As for story, it’s pretty much just Kyosuke going to a prison to free a little girl and his friend from a warden that I’m going to call Hitler. Why? Because he is bigoted towards espers, removes parts from espers to create his super soldier, imprisons a little esper in a small room away from everyone to perform tests on her, and… Well, you look at the picture and tell me he isn’t Hitler.
So they destroy the prison, freeing all the espers, and take Andy along with them. And because of his power, no one is able to tell what his true purpose for being there is. That purpose is to find some unknown object on Kyosuke’s ship, the Catastrophe. And that is pretty much where episode 1 ends.
Episode 2 begins with some more introductions (or reintroductions for franchise veterans) as we meet more of the PANDRA crew. The ones that are singled out are Shiro Magi—a middle-aged man who can manipulate the carbon in his body—Momiji Kano—a woman whose power is based on teleportation—and Yoh Fujiura—whose power comes from manipulating sound waves. All three were raised by Kyosuke as children.
Anyways, these three are instrumental in defeating a Mafia group that attempts to take out Kyosuke. The leader was a longtime partner of his. However, it seemed like he had enough and tried to take him out. However, with intended but unlikely help from Andy, Kyosuke turns the tables on the henchmen and kills the aging esper—and destroys a good portion of the city in the process.
So after we get the introductions out of the way for PANDRA, we get the (re)introduction of BABEL members Minamoto and Shuji Sakaki in episode 3. In this one, PANDRA kidnaps Princess Sophie Grace from the Kingdom of Monarch (love the country name, by the way). However, this isn’t for any dark motive; this was to prevent the assassination of an esper supporter. And strangely enough, it was a plan executed at Yugiri’s insistence.
The assassination attempt is thwarted as BABEL figures out who the suspect is (being inadvertently forced by PANDRA when Sakaki steals a flash drive Kyosuke had on him). And we also see the connection between Yugiri and the Princess: Sophie Grace visited an orphanage that Yugiri stayed at briefly. (It was apparently one that the Princess frequented.)
So with that out of the way, we have episode 4, where we get one final (re)introduction of the BABEL team as PANDRA makes their way back to Japan. Here, we see The Children—Kaoru, Aoi, and Shiho—and Fujiko Tsubomi, an energy witch. And, for the most part, the episode just feels like pointless action.
Well, it’s not exactly pointless. BABEL apparently wants an unidentified object that is currently on board the Catastrophe. In order to obtain it, they capture most of the crew members and install a chip that locks out the remaining crew members from steering the boat. Eventually, PANDRA breaks free of the chip, flies (while in the boat) over the blockade, and enters Japan. That’s pretty much it. This one seemed like an episode entirely for fans of Psychic Squad, as it seemed to feature all the familiar characters from the previous series.
Now, about that new character…
Andy is the point of reference in this new series. He was raised in the US, even serving in their military, before ending up in the esper prison. At least, that’s what he tells Kyosuke. From what I can tell, after he was in the military (if he was even in the military to begin with), he was recruited by the USEI (which I’m guessing is some sort of United States esper agency).
As for his power, we’ve already gone over his ability to disrupt esper powers just by being around them. However, he can also completely disable them by coming into contact with them, as shown in the fight between him and Fujiko over control of the boat.
Nothing was said about what USEI is all about. The only thing we know is that they want the thing that’s on the Catastrophe. But there’s also something else to note. During the battle with BABEL, Minamoto gets in a fist fight with Andy. Minamoto notices something about Andy’s fighting style, so much so that he’s worried about Kyosuke at the end of the episode. So it will be intriguing to see where this plot point goes.
As for his interactions with the cast, he just watches them act as mostly nice people. Yoh and Momiji are shown as caring for the crew—though not necessarily for one another—and Magi, acting as the de facto majordomo, is compassionate towards the youngest of the espers on board.
Even Kyosuke is shown in a primarily positive light. Yes, you can say that it’s odd that’s he’s rescuing children and has a Lolita complex. The rescuing of children comes from wanting to shield young espers from the hatred he felt when he was younger. As for the Lolita complex, that only really shows up when he’s around BABEL’s Children—Kaoru in particular. The only thing I can’t defend him on is his obsession with Kaoru, calling her his Queen and the eventual leader of the espers in a war against “normal people.” He even named his boat after her—Queen of Catastrophe—and considers it her ship.
However, he still does care for his crew, particularly the most vulnerable. His relationship with Yugiri is evidence of this. It may only be a few episodes, but it’s coming off as something of a big brother-little sister relationship between the two (or, perhaps more accurately, considering that Kyosuke is an ageless-looking 80-year-old, a father-daughter relationship). He may have planned the abduction of the Princess, but it was because Yugiri wanted to save her. Sure, it may be on a different level than other actions, but wouldn’t a father do whatever he could to please his daughter?
So, what do we have to look forward to in the rest of the season? Well, for starters, whatever that object is that everyone wants will probably be revealed at some point. Then, there’ll probably be more fighting between PANDRA and BABEL. We’ll probably see some of the other factions from the franchise show up, as well. And perhaps we’ll see a revelation of what the USEI is and why they’ve infiltrated PANDRA.
But for now, this has been an interesting, though somewhat confusing, opening for THE UNLIMITED. Hopefully, we’ll get some answers—and less confusion—in the next few episodes.
THE UNLIMITED – Hyobu Kyosuke is developed by Manglobe and published by TV Tokyo. You can catch new episodes every Monday afternoon at the simulcast on Crunchyroll.
animeHyobu KyosukeManglobePsychic SquadThe UnlimitedTV TokyoZettai Karen Children