Invitation from the Abyss
This week some of the 2-cour series from last reason resumed airing… and we got teased a couple of times. Psycho-Pass is but one of those.
While this episode sure didn’t do what almost everyone certainly expected it to – showing the impact letting her friend be killed and having her beliefs shaken to the core had on Akane – it was by no means a bad episode, as it revealed yet more of the world, strengthening even more the cohesive setting Psycho-Pass has built so far, and showing us the background story of Yayoi, one of the members of the Public Safety Bureau we least know about. I’m still unsure what to think of this episode’s purpose, though, as it’s a fact that she hasn’t had any relevant influence on the plot so far. Its placement seems to have the goal of keeping viewers in expectation about what happened in episode 11, but its existence better be justified. However, as that is something impossible to find out right now, I’ll move on with talking about the episode, though I must say that after this, I do hope we get to see more of Yayoi in the present time.
As already mentioned, this episode follows the background story of Yayoi and how she became an Enforcer. Apparently, until being taken in for therapy due to her hue having become clouded, Yayoi was a “Sybil-approved musician”. That single expression shows us just how far the art-censoring (first mentioned in the story of Ouryou Rikako’s father) goes in this society. It apparently isn’t only based in the content of the works themselves, but in the people who create it. Seeing the approved musicians looking down on others was unsurprising, but Yayoi didn’t seem to share their mindset, at least since a girl from an unapproved band gave her the tip of painting her nails to avoid them breaking while playing guitar.
We end up having no idea if that was part of the reason her hue became clouded (as someone who seemed to be part of her band warned her) or if it was simply due to her “addiction” to music, as Sasayama discussed with Kougami when they were trying to get her to work as an Enforcer. I’m inclined to think the later, especially due to how her Psycho-Pass went up when her order of guitar strings was once again not delivered. If that is the case, then it’s yet another really interesting point raised by this series. It’s truth that passion for an activity has the power of moving people, but is that alone, without any kind of real intent, enough to justify them being excluded from society? While many viewers have been pointing out the flaws of the Sybil system, I’ve been starting to think of it in a slightly different way. In fact, the only flaw if the system I’ve seen so far was the mistake in Makishima’s readings, which is a technical flaw and not something directly related to the society set up in itself – or, in other words, the idea behind it. Now, this may be a bit controversial for me to say, since I’m going to admit I agree with what the guy who was holding a girl hostage in the bar told Sasayama before getting shot by the Dominator. The present society in Psycho-Pass is essentially a fascist one. The only difference is that it’s supreme ruler isn’t a human, but Sybil. And that might be what makes most people accept it in an easier way. And to be honest, that isn’t such negligible a difference. While this society is definitely not a corruption-free one (see episode 2), Sybil is an objective entity, rather than a puny human whose priority is his own benefit.
And that leads me to ask myself the following question: “Is everyone as stupidly blind as they seem?” And my answer has to be “no”. I can think of several reasons to accept the system. Yayoi’s reason being one of them. She told Rina everything was fine and she just wanted things to stay that way. And it is so. As long as it isn’t so hard to follow the system’s orders, it’s way more comfortable and beneficial to the self to maintain one’s lifestyle than to risk it to try to change it. But there’s also a less subjective and cowardly (though I admit I’d probably fit in such a category, when I think harder about it) to accept it. And it’s one that brings us back to the previous Urobuchi work and our beloved hatefully cute mascot and his half-assed entropy explanation. Just like Kyubey’s actions were awful when one thinks of his own self and the small known world around such friends, family and acquaintances, but completely understandable from a more broad point of view (with more 6 billions total individuals, what does the life of a couple mean? specially if their sacrifice allows the avoidance of the universe’s end?), the commercial in this episode made me think along these lines regarding the Sybil system.
The society portrayed in Psycho-Pass maximizes production by giving each human the job they’re most talented for, and avoids every risk of criminality as early as possible. While it’s truth that some of the scan seems to be oversensitive to the point of many judgements seeming completely wrong from an ethical point of view, once again, from a broader view, minimizing the risks as much as possible seems like quite the valid option. All in all, while lacking the powerful propulsor that is human motivation, the Sybil system-based society is a solid and stable one, and while not perfect, it is way less flawed than it first appears. In fact, I’d risk saying it’s actually better than our current one.
Back to the episode’s happenings, there was one more thing about the setting that we were shown this time. Since the first episode, when that guy was scared from therapy and kept uttering that his life would be ruined, that I was curious about learning more about this therapy. Well, it seems he had his reasons, since it seems only a minority gets back into society. According to Kougami, most simply gets used to living in the facility, while some also get worse and are executed, almost no one being able to get back to their regular lives. That said, becoming an Enforcer seems to be quite the nice way out, and being appointed by the Sybil system as having the potential to become one is quite the fortunate event. I wasn’t surprised to see Yayoi ending up joining, even though it must have taken quite hard to try to shoot Rina, even though she couldn’t due to not being registered. That was a really smart move by Kougami if I must say so. It was perfect, both for them to test her and for her to realize how she wanted, and needed that power.
One thing I loved about this episode was how it managed to show more about Sasayama, the guy whose death made Kougami’s Psycho-Pass rise due to his obsession with solving the case, and who had been described as a douche, without him even being the focus. Well, it seems like he really wasn’t the most agreeable guy, after all. Rather, he was someone who had completely embraced the system, for bad or for worse, and just had his fun following it. I couldn’t manage to hate him either, since… well, simple-minded people always get the best out of these situations, so the guy’s mindset wasn’t all that far from a reasonable one. Regardless of my opinion, it was good to see some of him without having an episode focused on a dead character which is rarely the best of choices, especially if his main influence to the plot is in his death and nothing else.
Content aside, a beginning of the second half marks a new OP and ED theme. I have to say I preferred the last OP all the way – an unusual song with amazing and creative visuals, but this one ended up not being as bad as I thought when I first heard the song one or two weeks ago. It’s actually ok, and I also like the visuals, though not as much. The ED, being once again by EGOIST, doesn’t sound too different from the previous one, and I’d say it’s around the same level once I take into account that I have only heard it once, which is great, since I really liked the last one.
Once again, I’m really looking forward to next week. I don’t know if we’ll get back to the main story and see Akane’s reaction to episode 11’s happenings (which I’m totally eager to see) or if we’ll keep drifting for a while more. Either way, I like how this series is even managing to make me torn in even completely dismissing an obviously ethically wrong system through its objective analysis. Seriously, I can’t agree with Sybil, but when I think about it, I can’t deny it has its advantages. Despite not being what I expected, this episode was yet another good one, so I just hope this quality can be maintained until the end.