Those CapableEpisode 2
In its second episode, entitled “Those Capable”, Psycho-Pass forgoes the action and thrill to focus more on its world and characters. The setting is further explored in a calmer, albeit very effective manner, once again through the eyes of Akane. As we accompany her daily life, we’re shown some very interesting and amusing things about this world. Such as, for instance, the fact that the houses only pack the indispensable furniture, the one people interact with, and even that is of the most basic design. All kinds of decoration are but holograms, changeable by the owner and solely present when the house isn’t empty. I doubt this packs much meaning in living costs reduction, since I’m sure such system is just as expensive as any adornments would be (or even more), but it surely would be nice to be able to change what your house looks like everyday, based on your mood. As if that wasn’t interesting enough, the clothes also seem to be holograms. That scene actually got me wondering what people dress. I believe the black suit Akane was wearing before changing was a real physical item, but having such a way to change into something completely different… People could walk outside naked without anyone knowing xD
Amusing issues aside, it is noticeable by the nutrients control that this system pays attention to both mental and physical health alike. To be honest, not only that, but everything we learn about the Sybil system in this episode actually sounds very organized and clean. That is, if we only think about the efficiency of society as a whole and not about the people as individuals with feelings, preferences and goals.
Such inconsideration towards individuality is elaborated on in a very interesting conversation between Akane and Kagari. Having watched this around 2 weeks ago, I don’t remember exactly how it started, but I do know it was a lighthearted theme that led into a conversation about how the Sybil system evaluates not only people’s inclination for crime, but also their potential for certain jobs. When dwelling in indecision, it is certainly helpful to have someone analyze where most of your potential lies. However, in our current world, we’re free do whatever we want with such information. That is not the case in Psycho-Pass’ society. What Sybil determines is mandatory. There’s no thing as tastes, preferences and ambitions to take in consideration. It mustn’t be nice, not having the freedom to choose what to do with one’s life. As such, having been labeled a latent criminal at the age of 5, Kagari’s reaction towards Akane’s insecurity about having chosen the right job is completely understandable. She had the rare opportunity to choose a profession, for she had high readings for anything and everything, yet she was doubting her choice. That’s something perfectly normal. I know from experience that when you’re opened too many doors, it’s hard to choose which one to enter, especially if all you have is a shallow description of what lies in the other side. Nevertheless, that always makes some people envious (humans are never happy with what they have, anyway), like Akane’s friends, as seen earlier in the episode. In this case, though, it’s highly justifiable, especially when we think of Kagari, who had all his doors closed and bolted at such an early age. The freedom of choice is yet another issue this system has. The most interesting part, however, is seeing how Akane, who wasn’t terribly hindered by it as pretty much every average person, seems to be the only one so far to question it. Why that is, I have no idea. It might have to do with her inexperience, though, and I hope the reasons for other character’s points of view will be explored later in the series.
Other less relevant, yet still important events happening this episode were the introduction of Karanomori Shion, an analyst and physician who’s also a latent criminal, and the small case solved with Masaoka at the mall. This last one in particular, had two interesting moments. One was when Masaoka told the rookie inspector her job was pretty much doing nothing. Simply observing is definitely not a fulfilling job, so her insecurities that shown in the conversation with Kagari may have been fueled by this earlier happening. The other interesting thing was he holographic outfits. The happy-go-lucky designs were definitely a stroke of genius by whoever had such idea. Giving the police such a friendly look must help a lot in keeping the area stress levels down when executing an operation. Needless to say it is yet another trick for psychological conditioning, but it certainly is a well-thought one.
Raising MannersEpisode 3
Episode 3 starts with a scene of Kougami, training himself. The photo he looks at seems to be that of the white haired man which was present at the opening scene of the first episode. Judging by the simple fact that he has a photo of him posted like that, it is very likely he’s seeking him for revenge. Revenge from what? No idea. What does seem possible is that such killing intent towards the mysterious man is the root reason for Kougami’s high Psycho-Pass. Last episode, in his conversation with Akane (which I didn’t mention above), he states a seemingly genuine desire to be a proper detective, albeit having a sense of justice which has gone numb due to (according to his claim) the rinse and repeat work of a hunting dog. Why would someone who wished for such be labeled as a latent criminal? I believe the answer lies with the white haired man.
Besides such insight into Kougami’s character, this episode offers us a detective case. The case itself was rather uninteresting and predictable, but what it showed about the setting and characters was anything but that.
It seems like even in such a perfectly controlled society, where cameras are everywhere and street scans analyze the mental health of all passersby, there are crimes left unchecked. This time, it happened in a facility in which drones are fabricated. As it is such an important job, communications with the outside network are completely cut off, to prevent hacking. This measure of security, however, means that the workers have little means of entertainment. (At first I thought – “Hey, what the hell? Can’t they do anything without Internet?” – but then I realized I don’t have much to do without it either… So in a futuristic society, that’s pretty much a given. Silly me.
So, in such an isolated environment, someone was killed by a drone and the Public Security Bureau is investigating whether or not it was murder. The suspects are obviously the workers, and the job couldn’t be too hard for our team, since the Dominators could simply read the Psycho-Pass of everyone. The problem is the place being offline. Apparently, the Dominators need to be in contact with the Sybil system, sending it the information and receiving its evaluation. Moreover, it seems like bureaucracy is still alive and well, so the manager has absolutely zero interest in wasting work hours or in facilitating the work of the detectives to let the suspects be checked outside.
It was to be expected that in a system ruled by pure logic, such personal interests wouldn’t be so prominent, yet I’m sure it’s naïve of me to think every single person of high influence thinks of Sybil as the absolute power to abide by.
Despite the manager’s refusal to let his workers be checked, there are still the periodical Hue checks to try and spot some incongruities. Delving a bit into the terminology, it seems like the Psycho-Pass check isn’t something instantaneous, and has to pass through the Sybil system to be measured, with the Dominators being able to cut in line and get almost instantaneous readings. Hue checks, on the other hand, are something more generalized – they’re performed easily by scans and measure the stress on the person in question. While analyzing the hue values for the workers, they notice something quite peculiar in the history of the scans – all the readings are pretty good, despite the supposedly stressful nature of the job, but there’s always one worker who gets a worse reading as time passes by, that worker being then reallocated somewhere else. Such situation is the result of bullying, which is not only allowed, but encouraged as a form of entertainment.
As there had been no reallocations in the last three years, while the hue of one worker would get progressively worse only to reset, Kougami started suspecting him as the killer, being that he was the one being bullied too. This isn’t too interesting a revelation in itself, since it was obvious who the killer was, but it triggered some very interesting character reactions and interactions. Ginoza states he doesn’t abide by circumstantial evidence and that they should just leave things as they are if they can’t have access to Sybil’s readings while Masaoka believes they should act like old-school detectives. As things heat up between both, Akane wonders if something happened between them in the past, even going as far as to bluntly ask them that. Well, she’s not the only one left wondering, though. I hope we’ll get an answer to that later on.
And finally, to make up for the previous episode, which lacked in the action department (though still being amazing in mostly everything else), the action sequence in this episode is really well executed. Kougami puts a plan into motion to identify the killer, quickly and violently putting pressure on top of the bully victim, forcing him to act on instinct and reveal the fact that he was the killer while desperately trying to conceal that by killing Kougami and Akane. Following that, we have some flashy action with Kougami’s fighting prowess and the fantastic Dominator. Speaking of which, based on this sequence, I believe it’s safe to say the Dominator has two ways of evaluating its course of action, one being the target’s Psycho-Pass and other being the threat assessment. I believe both the deathly mode and the decomposing mode are activated through the second way of analysis, or the sequence we saw wouldn’t make much sense. Especially comparing with the first episode’s people Psycho-Passes. Not to mention those things were robots.
All in all, Psycho-Pass continues to brilliantly build up its setting, and I believe its episodic approach will soon come to an end. So far, I’m pleased with the ride.