|Overall||Art||Animation||Character Design||Music||Series Story||Episode Story||Reviewer|
Gotta love a nice dystopia anime that keeps you hooked from start to finish. Here, Psycho Pass depicts a dystopian future for Japan where a computer system called the Sibyl System regularly monitors the mental states and conditions of the citizens to determine the likelihood of any of them committing a crime. If their mental state gets to a high enough point, they get labeled "latent criminals" and are isolated from society to either receive treatment at mental facilities (that many have little chance of even getting out of) or become Enforcers tasked with hunting down other criminals who are active in committing various crimes. |
Psycho Pass makes use of its setting to explore the extremes of a strictly-regulated society and human free will. In the case of the show's society, Psycho Pass explores the flaws of heavily entrusting technology to service human society at large as the Japanese human populace have left the Sibyl System to control and influence just about every element of society at large, from media control to terminating criminals without putting them through a judicial process to deciding career paths for a person that best benefit society. This could also be seen as a criticism of Japanese society's mentality of servicing group needs over the individual, as the series depicts that the Sibyl System was made in mind mostly to aid in servicing and benefiting society while overlooking human factors of the individual such as desire and morality. This especially becomes prevalent in later episodes when some pretty shocking secrets concerning the true nature of the Sibyl System are revealed.
The exploration of free will's extremes come in the form of the title's main antagonist, Shogo Maskishima. Throughout the series, he is depicted as a humanist with extreme beliefs in free will where humanity gives into their darkest desires with no hindrances, as he is shown to be the major influence behind the criminals that the Enforcers and Inspectors of Unit One confront in the show's earlier episodes. While knowing how flawed the Sibyl System is, Makishima appears to believe that there should be no regulatory body that exists to allow one to truly express themselves. Obviously, this mentality is flawed in that man will descend into chaos without some sort of order to keep humanity's darker impulses in check.
Moving on from breaking down themes, Psycho Pass does do well in taking its time to explore its plot and characters. The first half of the series is focused on Akane and the members of Unit One dealing with several criminal cases that are eventually linked to Makishima and the second half explores the group trying to halt Makishima's activities with the mentioned shocking secrets on the Sibyl System eventually being revealed. The show takes the time to explore the backgrounds and relationships between characters within Unit One, even including how the Sibyl System effects the mentalities of many within the group. Akane gets some considerable development throughout the series as her character gradually changes as she becomes exposed to the realities of both being an Inspector in Unit One and the reality of the society that she is supposed to protect.
In terms of mood, the series is consistently depicted as a dark and violent one thanks to the heavy themes that the series dabbles into and the intense violence the show shows at points, which is especially notable when the Dominators of Unit One come into play to reduce criminal targets to a gory mess. The show's not even afraid to kill off civilians and even members of Unit One thanks to the shady characters seen throughout this series. As a result, this will certainly not be a series appropriate to show to younger audiences.
The show does have a few minor issues for me. While an interesting villain for the series, I did feel Makishima was more a symbol of the mentioned free will theme than a character as he never got any fleshing out for why he behaves as he does and why he believes in his extreme humanist beliefs. In addition, the series appeared to have an incomplete feel as life goes on with the Sibyl System controlling Japan and the fates of a few major characters are left unclear.
Visually, Psycho Pass made for one of the better animated titles I seen from last year. There is plenty of detail shown in the Tokyo city landscapes and character designs with darker color tones made use of to emphasize the dark mood and themes of Psycho Pass. Character designs are diverse with each character having differing facial designs and clothing styles to complement the type of person they are. A good amount of CG animation was made use of in the designs of vehicles, robots and the various technologies used in the future world of the series, which does stick out prominently at many points in the series. Movements in Psycho Pass were very fluid for the most part with characters walking or running at a natural pace and there are a good number of engaging fight scenes that take place throughout the show between Unit One and other criminals, through either hand-to-hand or use of weapons.
Overall, Psycho Pass may very will be one of the best titles I seen from 2012 with its excellent look into a dystopia future for Japan that has affected the populace on an individual and societal level and the engaging developments that members of Unit One face with their personal morals and confronting latent criminals throughout the series. If you don't mind a dark story with graphic violence depicted at points, then Psycho-Pass is a definite watch to look into.
Last updated Friday, March 22 2013. Created Friday, March 22 2013.
Interesting show so far. The common thread that runs through the stories seem to be: How do you catch a psychopathic killer by thinking like one and yet not become one? This was a concept touched on by such movies as Manhunter. The action in the show feels somewhat like Koukaku Kidoutai STAND ALONE COMPLEX, high-tech, yet gritty and extreme.
Last updated Monday, November 12 2012. Created Monday, November 12 2012.
(All episodes watched):|
Psycho-Pass was a show which knew how to grab my attention and interest me. The characters flesh themselves out with talk (with one conspicuous exception), and we are introduced to the highly technical and questionable system of law enforcement (called 'Sibyl') that is in effect in the Japan of the future. People may be declared 'latent criminals' and presumably punished even before they have committed any crime. PP looks neat, with good visuals and animation. It was without doubt the most imaginitive and well written series of the season. It is not a sadistic show which just uses high tech violence to entertain the viewers, no, it tells an interesting story about interesting people in an interesting situation. The story has complete priority and the violence is relatively rare, which perhaps makes it even more disturbing when it finally happens. An American, what with our shoot-em-up perception of justice, will probably notice how reluctant the level-headed Japanese are to participate in violence of any sort. I assumed early on that a romance would develop between the main characters, female Inspector Tsunemori and male 'Enforcer' Kogami, and it would be the main element of the plot, but no, that never happened. An intriguing bit in which we learn about how Kogami came to be an enforcer thrilled me, perhaps because it made him more understandable and likeable. Bits and pieces of the story come together as it progresses, and it turns out that even seemingly unconnected early episodes play a part in the main plot.
One thing that confused me a little was that for all the marvelous technology of the Sibyl system, there are still plenty of messed-up people around. You would think that in order to prove the system worthwhile the majority of the population would be enjoying a blissful state of mind, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Somehow the bad guy keeps summoning up psychopathic people at will to do his dirty work--how have these people gone undiscovered by Sibyl for so long? Maybe since we are dealing with law enforcement, after all, we only see the dirty underside of society. But I wish we got more examples of how people in this future city think and act which is different from the present-day. I was curious about what effect Sibyl was having on the average person, and was a little disappointed that the show didn't really go into that topic much. It's like the main cast of inspectors and enforcers are 21st century people transplanted to the future. But since we spend the bulk of our time with them, we have little idea what the average person thinks. All of a sudden in episode 14 we are told that ordinary people are so unfamiliar with violence that they don't even know what to think when a woman is mercilessly beaten to death right in front of them. Yet they gleefully turn to rioting when the system temporarily breaks town. So, we seemed to be getting mixed signals. Other than the gizmos, not all that much seems to have changed, which seems like a missed opportunity to me.
Another thing which annoyed me was the chief villain, Makishima. The show seemed to be shouting 'look how cool this guy is, with his rebellious and radical social philosophy'! But he just seemed like a sadistic bastard that I hated, rather than having some understandable goal which made some sense; or at least that goal wasn't explained well enough to stick in my memory. If it had been, and he had been developed better, he might have seemed like a much more interesting 'dark hero' rather than the despicable person that he was. As it was, I thought that the scene in episode eight where Makishima recites poetry while a murder takes place was extremely corny and made me roll my eyes.
Still, I looked forward to each episode of Psycho-Pass, to see how the interesting characters would deal with the problems that came up. As the series enters it's second half a good deal of effort was being made to flesh out supporting characters, which was interesting. The cast must be careful that the stress of their jobs doesn't reduce them to latent criminals themselves. And it turns out that the Sibyl system isn't anywhere near as foolproof as had been assumed. This revelation was intriguing, but I wasn't all that startled by the previously secret advantage which Makishima has. Was how this came about ever explained to us? Did the system grant him a sort of exemption to the rules? Since the effect of the supposedly infallibile Sibyl system hadn't been emphasized all that much in previous episodes, I wasn't all that shocked when the chink in it's armor turned up. Episode 18 makes clear why friends and partners Akane and Kougami are liable to wind up as enemies before long. That was pretty neat; although the villain could have been better, the characters on the good guy side of the story were handled well.
The climax and ending were good in some ways, with believable and mostly satisfying outcomes for the survivors. But one villain, ultimately much more serious than Makishima, is still at large. It is implied that the story will go on, at least as a manga. Psycho-Pass was a fun show; yet I couldn't help feeling that it was a little unfocused and didn't live up to it's full potential.
Last updated Tuesday, October 14 2014. Created Thursday, October 18 2012.
|Official Japanese Series Web Site||http://psycho-pass.com/|