I haven’t watched a lot of “good” sci-fi anime, for instance, Ghost in the Shell. Because of that I can’t really preach in this department. I have, however, seen a couple of works by Gen Urobuchi, so I kinda expected your average themes to be turned on their heads in the dark and thrilling anime that is Psycho-Pass. But does it live up to the reputation?
Set in the near future, law and order are maintained through the Ministry of Welfare Public Safety Bureau. Behind the scenes, however, is the all-knowing Sibyl System, a complex system that can quantify any person’s state of mind or personal tendencies. Once this number, one’s “Psycho-Pass,” becomes cloudy in hue and their “Crime Coefficient” reaches too high in count, you’re pretty much screwed.
As such, simply thinking about crime is enough to earn you a lifetime behind bars or even death.
Justice is served through the Dominator, a destructive weapon connected directly to the Sibyl System’s judgment that can either stun or instantly blow someone to smithereens if fired. Though, if Sibyl deems one’s Psycho-Pass clear or low in number, then the Dominator will enter safety mode and ceasefire.
Two divisions exist between maintaining this peace: Investigators, who are tasked with unraveling civil cases and Enforcers, contained criminals who chase down the target(s) in the Investigator’s stead so that the Investigators’ Crime Coefficient remains a healthy number.
Akane Tsunemori is a newbie to the PSB. She lives a simple and idealistic life granted to her by the Sibyl System, yet slowly begins to question its judgment throughout her career as an Investigator. Even though she can be naïve at times, Akane never comes across as weak, as she quickly adapts to the new, shady lifestyle as a detective.
Many people ignored Akane, dismissing her because she was boring and dull – realize that this was Urobuchi’s goal! In the beginning, she is meant to represent your average, clean citizen. But like anyone would, she changes as she discovers the secrets behind Sibyl. I was drawn to her scenes and found Akane to be a very great lead character.
And yeah, her eyebrows are jacked up and her haircut is styled kinda funny, but people this is anime – at least she has a few stand-out characteristics instead of being some indistinguishable moe chick.
The male lead is hunting dog Shinya Kougami, a rough young man who was once a talented Investigator, but because he got too invested into a case regarding the series’ main villain, his Psycho-Pass became cloudy. As a result he was demoted to Enforcer status.
Akane and Kougami share a unique and respectful relationship, for the two get close enough to understand each other, yet never get romantic or lovey-dovey either. In the second half or rather last few episodes, Kougami splits off from the crew in an act of challenge against Sibyl to hunt down the antagonist, Shougo Makishima. Because of that, along with her recently acquired knowledge of the truth behind the Sibyl System, Akane must step up her game as a leader. I am quite fond of both Akane and Kougami’s balancing act.
The rest of the PSB’s Unit 1 include Ginoza, the statistical Investigator who follows the Ministry of Welfare Chief’s commands, usually no matter how messed up; Masaoka, a worn-down Enforcer who receives gracious amounts of screen time despite his roll; Yayoi, an ex-musician who only gets an episode to herself then is tossed to the side; Shion, an analyst for the PSB who is presumably a lesbian; and finally Kagari, a rebellious joker who lacks any kind of characterization besides one scene with Akane, in which we find out that he was taken in at age five.
Yep. You heard me. He could barely read and write before being written up as a criminal. Messed up sh*t, this system is.
All in all, the cast is well supported, giving off a vibe similar to that of Black Butler’s characters. My only problem with them is their lack of background information, though it’s not really necessary to fully enjoy the show.
The animation by Production I.G does a great job at drawing the line between the cleanliness of this utopian society and its corruption behind the scene. Action scenes are well choreographed and quite entertaining. The concept art for the Dominator is deadly yet sophisticated, too!
Thing is, as a whole the animation tone is quite drab. Neutral colors are used so often that no other emotions pop out. I suppose it does its job, but it could have shown more color (for example, all people have the same pasty white skin).
On the other hand, the OST enhances drama, suspense, and all of the action. The OST includes everything from dubstep and techno for fights, blues for laid back moments at HQ, and thoughtful, curious beats for mystery. Hats off to “Kansatsugan.” Excellent stuff.
The show’s first opening, “abnormalize” by Ling Tosite Sigure, depicts rapidly flashing visuals reminiscent of Guilty Crown’s opening. While this first opening captures the law and order side of Psycho-Pass . . .
The second opening, “Out of Control” by Nothing’s Carved in Stone, questions that same justice, and instead focuses more on chasing down the enemy.
These are very fitting openings, as they accurately symbolize both halves of the show.
Half one establishes the laws and rules of society, what is wrong and what is supposed to be right. Build up is met through confusing mystery cases that try to establish mood, setting and characterization.
The latter half dives into the burning question behind Psycho-Pass – what is justice, and what is humanity willing to risk for a utopian world, if even achievable? Makishima, the mastermind of all evil, seems to be able to bypass Sibyl’s judgment by containing his emotions, even though he commits multiple crimes and murders. Is it really that simple to undermine the great and mighty Sibyl?
Psycho-Pass is a show that, although implies a very cool setting, never manages to reach the heart of things. It encompasses a powerful system of understanding and is even a likely future for humanity, that is, if we just go along with society’s ways. I just wish there was more depth to this anime – in all categories.
Nevertheless, Psycho-Pass is an outstanding and notable piece of science fiction. It does contain a fair share of gore, however, so it’s not for everyone. Otherwise, I recommend this series to those willing to challenge the boundaries of the human mind and psyche. It’s thrilling to the end and I enjoyed every bit of it!
Part One and Part Two of Psycho-Pass, with a nice dub by FUNimation, await the order from the Sibyl System as to whether I should blow up my own brain after watching this series to protect its true identity . . . “Your Crime Coefficient is above 165; Destroy Decomposer enabled. Carefully aim and destroy the target.” – Dominator
Whew! I had a lot to say about this anime. Thanks for reading and hit that like button if you, well, liked this review! Follow for more reviews and until next time, this has been
– Takuto, your host