After a huge delay, I bring you the coverage of episodes 13, 14, 15 and 16 of Psycho-Pass. Episode 17 is now out and I’m more than ready to watch it, so expect a post on that much sooner than this one. Also… If you’re able to read this until the end, you deserve my congratulations, my thanks and a cookie. I’ll be back soon with episode 17’s coverage!
Invitation from the Abyss
Episode 13 finally gets back to what everyone had be waiting for since before the new year: the aftermath of the incident with Makishima Shougo. This episode delivered the answers to everyone’s questions, and what answers they were! I’m sure I wasn’t the only one surprised by how well she handled the trauma, redirecting her emotions to the right place, and putting her focus into stopping Makishima. Seeing as how Kougami’s crime coefficient went up after his own traumatic experience with Sasayama’s death, judging by how Akane reacted on episode 12, I certainly thought this would be somewhat of a breaking point for her, yet the way her psycho-pass recovers so easily is… rather interesting. And it becomes an increasingly interesting fact the more we learn about the workings of the Sybil system.
And as I must begin talking about this information-packed episode from somewhere, I guess I should begin from the start. Ginoza’s crime coefficient has been rising lately, having gone up by 7 points. It still bothers me that we really don’t know how to quantify it or the limit from which on someone would be considered a latent criminal. Yes, each reading we witness gives us a better idea about it, and I don’t mind being left to my own conclusions, but I hope that, at least later on, we’ll be explained some more conclusive aspects of the Sybil system’s mechanics.
Back to the scene itself, Ginoza is being advised about his Crime Coefficient having gone up, and he’s told that any further increase will have to be reported. All along we’ve known being an Inspector carried a greater danger towards one’s Psycho-Pass, being forced to witness the most ugly facet of the world. But seeing Ginoza actually having to worry about it, he who’s always been what I would consider a model Inspector by Sybil’s standards, actually brings a new light to the issue, and a way more noticeable one at that, reminding us that anyone who is as close to “the abyss” as they are (couldn’t resist a mention of the episode’s title) will be in danger of falling. And such a danger is actually why the Enforcers exist in the first place. Their Crime Coefficient is already that of a latent criminal so it actually doesn’t really matter if it goes up. And knowing this world’s circumstances, it’s definitely convenient having someone around to do the dirty job. Less convenient was the advice Ginoza got regarding stabilizing his Crime Coefficient, which despite not being an agreeable one for him, it’s one of the most obvious advices that could be given to someone, regardless of the type of trouble they’re into – talking about it to someone they’re close with. But Ginoza seems not to be close with anyone, his only family being his father, whom he’s not in good terms with. Now for who his father his, that had more than enough foreshadowing earlier on, so it wasn’t a surprise to see him talking to Masaoka about his problem. And this conversation was a very good one, for it had not only elements for character development, it packed yet more information about the setting, a setting that is growing increasingly fascinating with each episode that goes by without relying in explicit exposition, which is something not all series can boast of.
Of course Ginoza doesn’t approach Masaoka openly, rather asking him about how Akane manages to keep her Psycho-Pass so clear and her Crime Coefficient so low, to which Masaoka answered she wasn’t afraid of her own Psycho-Pass, simply doing what she believed to be correct as a detective, something he once started lacking after everything changed when the Sybil system was implemented. From this conversation we can see how simply doubting the system, doubting the job the system deemed correct, doubting one’s purpose in it, is enough to get one’s hue clouded. While I could see this as another inconsistency in the measurements, akin to Makishima’s extremely low Crime Coefficient, it’s not doing anything else than fitting its purpose – because by taking away the rights of those who doubt it, the Sybil system is truly capable of being a self-supported system. And that was probably the most interesting piece of information in this conversation. Besides the information about the system, we also got some backstory on Ginoza and Masaoka. It’s finally confirmed that the former’s dislike for latent criminals steams from the situation his family arrived at after his father was deemed one. It was nice seeing the current dynamics of their relationship in some more detail. I love how laid back and understanding of his past mistakes and current position Masaoka seems to be, having an awareness of the world fitting of a person his age and caring a lot without Ginoza, not letting the fact his son gives him the cold shoulder get to him. That is, of course, not to mention how Ginoza is just being a tsundere type here. Ah, I guess I really should try not to get as attached to the characters as I’m now getting. This is unhealthy in anything Urobuchi Gen writes…
So, leaving the father/son interaction behind, let’s get to Akane and her amazing stress management capabilities. She sure showed some great mental strength in her choice of submitting herself to a memory scoop – something like a brain scan where one relives one’s memories, allowing them to be retrieved. Let’s face it, this is way more efficient than simply describing the criminal’s face for a rough sketch to be made but… seeing her friend get killed once again… willingly… Akane really showed some guts there. But what I really liked about it was how that was simply sheer courage. Which means she still hurt the same. Relieving the trauma had the reaction anyone would have expected, even though she did it. Anything else would have been too much of a drastic change in character. This way it was a quite good development for her.
Something else to point out about it is how much Kougami cared for her. At this point I find them a really interesting main duo and I really want to see more of both. They’ve both been getting some really solid character development and so has their relationship. And with the events of episode 11, they now have a bigger link binding them – how much Makishima Shougo affected them and their desire to capture him. Seeing Akane’s resolve rivaling Kougami’s was a treat. (Ah, what had I just written about not getting attached to the characters…? I don’t know what my reaction will be if either of them dies in… a bad way. Though I sure am guilty of loving tragedies.)
However, while both of the aforementioned scenes were really interesting, even if in different ways, I think the highlight of the episode was definitely Ginoza’s conversation with the MWPSB’s director. And that would be due to how much it was revealed about the workings of the Sybil system.
Ginoza’s submitted a report questioning Sybil’s judgement regarding Makishima, based on what Akane witnessed. He’s called out due to that, and while the director first tries to convince him him that for one reason or the other, Akane’s report isn’t trustworthy. That having failed, due to how obvious the truth is, she starts a very interesting exposition about the benefits and needs of the Sybil system. I’ve talked about its benefits and they’re undeniable from an objective point of view. They deny free will, as people have their life-changing choices made by the system, rather than themselves. It denies individuality, eliminates doubt and distrust and tones down motivation for one’s improvement. But if that’s the price to pay for a safe society in which people don’t waste time figuring out what they want or changing jobs, a society that employs people’s strengths and talents in the best way possible. The only drawback I see is really the lack of motivations in the workers, but still, by assigning everyone to what they’re more talented in doing, the system does improve the workings of the society in objective terms. It just has no regards for individual entities but for society as a whole. Now… considering the bigger picture, wouldn’t that be the ideal society? A crime-free one that has “achieved the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people”, to use the director’s words.
However, looking at it from an individual perspective, from the point of view of a human being, it’s wrong in all aspects. But that’s not what matters here. It works and people accept it. Through fear and what could be deemed as brainwashing, but they do accept it and live by it. And that’s the ideal to the director of the MWPSB. However, as she promptly confesses to Ginoza, the system isn’t perfect, even though such a society could only be kept up if the system was indeed perfect. Thus, it is of the utmost priority that people think the system is perfect. And for that, Sybil’s judgement is ultimately enforced by the Inspectors and the Enforcers. By humans, not machines. Sybil’s safety net is a minority of the people who have the very capability for judgement it denied to everyone else. And that’s why the resolutions to cases such as the Specimen Case are kept secret. Makishima’s extremely low case coefficient isn’t an unknown anomaly, but yet another case of “criminal asymptomaticism”. Because there are apparently people whose Crime Coefficients never go up no matter what. Approximately 1 in each million people. Which, if I may add the trivia, is actually the estimated ratio of psychopaths in our world. The existence of such people, who can commit crimes without ever being detected and subsequently deemed dangerous by the Sybil system, conditions the reliance of everyone in it, hence needing to be hidden from the public. That’s the needed basis for the system to work, and that is what Ginoza is entrusted to protect. Of course that gave little to no doubt he was being manipulated as a simple pawn, but that those words stand true is undeniable – that’s what it takes to support the Sybil system, and at this point, questioning it publicly would mean the end of the current stability, something that no one desires. Well, no one in the the MWPSB, that is.
On episode 14, Makishima finally moves ahead with his plan of making people aware of the society they’re living in and causing a revolution. The episode starts with a man wearing a strange helmet getting into a pharmacy and killing the workers for whatever substances he wanted. Up to the last moment, no one suspected him, regardless of his strange behaviour and the unusual fact that is someone going around with what seems to be a gas mask in his head. And that’s the proof of how much everyone trusts the system. There were scanners in the pharmacy. Actually there are scanners pretty much everywhere, with very few blind spots in regular areas. “If someone bears any ill will, the scanners will detect it and the drones and authorities will intervene.” That’s common knowledge and everyone’s absolute and unshakeable belief. That’s how perfect and omnipotent the Sybil system was made to be. Too bad that isn’t the truth and too bad such extreme measures were taken to make it pass as the truth.
As we see the second offense taking place – a brutal murder of a woman in the middle of a street, right bellow the nose of a street scanner – people’s lack of reaction becomes quite apparent and extreme. It’s not that everyone just stood by and watched. They stood by and watched as the killer would bring down the hammer time and time again as without understanding what was going on. That and the drone reporting the rise in the victim’s psycho-pass without doing a thing regarding the obvious crime it was simply unable to recognize was way more disturbing to me than the murder itself.
With the trust society itself places on the Sybil system, there are no means left for solving this kind of cases, as Akane very accurately notes in the first crime scene. Soon after, we get to hear Ginoza telling her a story of the past a.k.a. our real world society, where peace was based in distrust and caution. Has sad as it seems when put that way, I think a society as reliant on something other than humans themselves is way sadder, for having lost their individuality and not being used to analyze situations and make decisions by themselves, people are completely powerless in face of an unforeseen situation. It’s a case of the old saying that “ignorance is bliss” and it ultimately comes done to which situation you’d prefer to be in. I know my answer.
As more cases are reported, it becomes obvious that rather than his quiet experiments consisting in giving the tools to people with motives in order to study their nature through the exerting of their free will in committing crimes, Makishima has now massively distributed a free-pass for undetected murder with the clear intention of upsetting society’s balance. The current system has no means left to deal with a crime in which the criminal can keep his psycho-pass clean, let alone a series of these crimes. Thus, chaos starts to spread throughout the city.
The second half of this episode is spent with our MWPSB team solving the street murder case. Once again, by itself, the case isn’t very interesting, as they simply go to the suspect’s house and find him there. But that wasn’t the point anyway. What was supposed to be shown (and effectively is) is that the person in question had a motive for the crime, which makes this more than a random crime and takes them close to realizing Makishima’s intentions and actions. The most important thing, however, is the discovery of how the helmets work. That was still a mystery by then, since if they simply blocked the scanner, an alarm would go out, as a human whose psycho-pass couldn’t be scanned was impossible and had to mean some kind of tampering. When they find him, the man has his helmet on they can’t fire the Dominators due to the very low readings, yet when he escapes, Kougami points his Dominator at Akane, finding out that the reading is exactly the same, which leads them to the conclusion that the helmet picks up the lowest crime coefficient among the surrounding people, making it quite the amazing device in a world where the authorities are only armed with a weapon reliant on such readings.
That lead to a very interesting (though the correct word here would probably be “cool” instead) chase that focused on getting the suspect away from any crowd, leading him into an abandoned factory where they managed to corner him. There, the lowest Crime Coeffiient around was Kougami’s, thus finally activating the Dominator and making it possible to shoot the guy with the Paralyzer. What actually interested me the most here was how Masaoka asked about Kougami’s high Crime Coefficient. He answered he felt like killing the guy with his bare hands, hence the high number, but the helmet is supposed to pick up on the lowest Crime Coefficient around, so Masaoka’s should be even higher. I don’t know if that’s something relevant or not, but I found it worth noting.
Finally, the episode ends with Makishima surrounded by some guys who talk about how awesome the helmets are and mock Makishima for being so careless and carrying those around like that. Then, they proceed to attack him, presumably to get the helmets for themselves and profit by selling them, to which Makishima replies they’re supposed to be a tool to make society fall into awareness of themselves and the surroundings, rather than live their lives as “lifestock” and those guys are just the same. I’ve got to confess I’ve never thought Makishima would be that good with fighting, but it seems he isn’t bad at all, as he easily dispatched those guys, once again creeping me out somewhat when he hammers the baseball bat into that guy’s mouth.
The Town Where Sulfur Falls
Episode 15 marks the true set in motion of Makishima’s plan, as the citizens finally begin realizing that the crimes that were starting to be seen all around weren’t mere plays or anything of the like, but real crimes, which would obviously shaken their belief in the Sybil system. In the beginning of the episode we see Makishima distributing the huge pile of helmets to people who presumably had a motive either to kill someone, hurt someone, or simply cause some wreck around the city.
I found one of the most interesting scenes in this episode to be right in the beginning. The choice of conveying the masses’ thoughts and opinions through the scrolling online comments was one that worked really well, managing to give the viewers an understanding of the whole range of reactions in a short amount of time and in a way that felt really natural. The reactions themselves ranged from the ignorant and naive comments of absolute disbelief, even ridiculing any other possible views of the happenings, to the exaggerated conspiracy theories about the Bureau being the ones behind the events, passing by the genuine curiosity and doubt regarding the system and those sure of the facts they were witnessing giving advice on means of self-defense and claiming the failure of the system.
And that’s the important spark in here. To all those people who were used to living as “livestock”, to use Makishima’s words, Sybil acted both as a safety net and a shackle. Generally speaking, no one would do anything Sybil would deem wrong because they couldn’t escape the omnipresent street scanners and no one would think anyone else would do something for the same reason. As people set aside the need to think for themselves, they set aside the need to protect themselves. Therefore, when such a need arrives so suddenly to such a peaceful society… the result can’t be good. And it certainly isn’t.
The events in this episode surely reminded me of Shiki, as the people use the excuse of self defense to carry out the ugliest deeds. It’s quite the pessimistic view of the human nature, but nonetheless a rather realistic one, all the more understandable knowing the kind of society those people lived in. The victims become the aggressors and the aggressors become the victims to the point where who is who is but a matter of self-perspective and the whole thing turns into some kind of all-out-war as riots rise everywhere. As the self-defense excuse turns more and more into an excuse and less of a need, I actually can say I started emphasizing with the helmet-wearers a lot more than the former “victims”, for they at least had real motives such as having been deemed to an unsatisfying life in a job they didn’t desire, simply because they’d have better aptitude for it (or wouldn’t have aptitude to do anything better or more rewarding). That’s not to say they were right in the slightest, but that the citizens who claimed to the MWPSB that they were only defending themselves were just as wrong or even worse. What I did find quite disturbing about the helmet-wearers’ actions was the attack on the students. For some reason I simply hate any crimes based on jealousy towards someone who isn’t at fault of having the privileges they do and didn’t even ask for them. The students’ reactions actually surprised me as well, even though it only fits the little thesis on human nature this episode tried to pass on along with the interesting plot development. I think all of that was very well shown.
Anyway, the specifics aside, in general, all this events prove us the huge importance of the Sybil system being believed to be perfect, just like it had been pointed out in episode 13. Now that the belief is broken, the foundations of the society are shaken, and those who were supposed to act as the safety net for the system are way too few to deal with such an unforeseenably widespread situation, as the Sybil system’s implementation was thought to have erased any possibility of riots among citizens. The few people working in the MWPSB are given orders to stop the riots, and as the helmets block the efficient use to the Dominators, they’re given old tools in the stun batons and electromagnetic pulse grenades, being that the later are amazingly useful, for they tamper with the helmet’s mechanism, allowing the Dominators to function as they should. Unfortunately, though, their numbers are limited. And so, due to the limited personnel, all of the MWPSB agents are deployed to stop the riots around town.
Of course Makishima’s plan wouldn’t be such a simple one as freeing people from their conformist, passive and uncritical attitude. As Kougami very cleverly notices, the riots, happening all over town except near the Ministry of Welfare building, left such an important place completely unprotected. Choe discovered that unlike what was advertised and what would be the common sense conclusion, the Sybil system wasn’t comprised by a bunch of separate servers scattered around the city but, at the very least, had a central point, as all information processed by the scanners passed by the Ministry of Welfare, which also had some shady power consumption for its functions. And with that, this episode sets the stage for a dramatic confrontation in an interesting place to be explored and for some nice revelations that will probably come.
Now, what this episode left me wondering was about the Sybil system and Makishima’s methods. Right now, with what we’ve been revealed so far, it’s not exactly easy to take a stand on the matter. Sybil gave birth to a solid, stable and safe society which enhances productivity to its best. But as I’ve mentioned earlier, I don’t believe it is for the best, as individuality and motivation are not only good for a society, but important parts of human beings. It’s like the society evolved with the price of the people devolving. However, I can’t agree with Makishima’s methods, as efficient as they may be, even if I do agree with his stance on the Sybil system based society.
I would agree that humans only have individual value if they’re acting like individuals, or, in other words, if they’re acting according to their own will, dreams, aspirations and emotions. The Sybil system voids that by telling them such is not needed nor desired. It’s efficient to build a stable society, but not efficient in providing a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment to their citizens. Meaning that while it’s actually focusing so much in mental health, it’s actually been degrading it. People comply due to how it brings such peace and due to fear. Those motives are fully proved by how they react to Makishima’s little experiement. Once such perfectness of the system is proved unexistent, doubt strikes everywhere and the mental unstability of the masses shows, a lot.
In the other hand, the more I think about it, the more I perceive this as a bloody revolution to take down a dictatorship, (as it has even been lampshaded, despite it being so obvious, that this is at its core a fascist system), and I don’t remember having many problems with those, even though I have my country’s (Portugal) history as proof that one can bring about drastic revolutions without bloodshed. So I do agree with Makishima, but I can’t vouch for his methods. I also can’t avoid how the remaining characters affect my objective view due to the focus of the show in them. Which means I think my opinion might be a bit biased against him. But also makes this one of the issues I most want to see resolved: The main characters are the Bureau guys, that’s obvious. And we’re seeing this through their view. But not only do I agree with Makishima’s views, he’s actually being portrayed as generally being right in the series. So I really am wondering how all of this will turn out.
The Gates of Judgment
Episode 16. This is where we start getting to the real deal. This episode was probably the main turning point of the story, judging by the events that take place in the Ministry of Welfare. I hadn’t seen this kind of massive 5/5 percentage in MAL’s episodic thread polls since Madoka Magica episode 10, and man, does this episode deserve those numbers. It might not have been as revealing or game-changing for the series as the aforementioned episode was to its series but it was a very interesting one in which much happened and many of the characters’ positions and circumstances changed, even though to where those changes will lead is still anyone’s guess.
The episode starts with Makishima and Choe trying to figure out which of the two places with the most power-consumption in the Ministry of Welfare is the one were the Sybil system would be stationed. Such a deduction isn’t hard for them, as it seems they ought be hiding something in the basement, as what the early blueprints showed as having 20 floors was only listed as having 4 in when they access the electronic system of the building. When they decide where to go, Choe notices how a car from the PSB is already on its way there, to which Makishima replies it must be Kougami. This turn of events was obviously in his calculations and he chooses to head to the Radio Tower instead of the bottom floor, where Sybil would be localized. I understand that it was obvious Kougami would come after him and that would diminish the threat for whatever they wanted to do down there. However, I don’t see Makshima has someone would would fully trust someone else to carry out his plan of utmost importance. Therefore, I believe there was a meaning in his actions of running upstairs to attract Kougami.
Soon after, the team composed by Kougami, Akane and Kagari arrives at the Ministry of Welfare, only to see with their own eyes how right they were about the intruders. With Shion’s help cracking into the building’s security (I gotta love how she actually recorded Akane’s words about taking full responsibility for the cracking as a means of insurance. That was surely a nice little quirk xD), they get access to the prints for the building, giving them the navigation advantage. As Makishima expected, Kougami went after him along with Akane, despite knowing that whatever they had been planning was to be executed downstairs. Something I like about Kougami, which is actually one of his flaws as well, is how he doesn’t act purely objectively, much on the contrary, but finds objective and plausible justifications for his actions before acting. Ideally, things should go exactly the other way around – decisions should be based on objective points rather than objective points being raised in function of already taken decisions, but I really like that about him all the same. Makes his character a nice mix between hotheaded and calculating, and a very relatable one at that.
As they head towards the Radio Tower in the elevator while Kagari goes down to the basement, Kougami points out to Akane that they need to capture Makishima anyway, for he’s the mastermind behind all the happenings so far and he’s the one who must be stopped at all costs: without him, they’ll never get their questions answered, and if he escapes, even if the current issue is solved and his present goal is stopped, he could very much just put some other ingenious and successful plan in motion, so not letting him do so is actually a very prudent choice, whatever motives it might have been based in. Still in the elevator, seeing as they’re going to fight men wearing helmets with Dominators, Kougami comes up with quite the clever plan of having Akane wear a helmet so the other helmet-wearers couldn’t pick up her low Crime Coefficient. Now, despite having just said it was a clever plan… this is probably my only qualm with this episode: how come Kougami forgot about Makishima? It’s equally or even more unbelievable that not one persona in the staff hadn’t noticed how strangely plot-convenient that decision was coming from a very perceptive and smart character. Thus I’ll just assume they thought the range wouldn’t be big enough to pick up Makishima’s Crime Coefficient since he’d be higher up in the building.
While Kougami and Akane were climbing up the Ministry of Welfare building, Kagari was descending to the basement, only to notice that the there were plenty of stairs leading way bellow the supposed four floors the place had. He still manages to inform Shion, who doesn’t have the floors in her system, of it but soon after the communication is cut due to some kind of electronic jamming the bottom floors seem to have, which leaves Kagari completely on his own without anyone to give him directions. Soo, on his way down, he meets up with one of the helmet-wearing man who shoots him in the shoulder with a nail gun. And let’s just say they had a really nice and eyecandy fight, one of the few we had this episode. Of course that was far from being the highlight of this scene. Instead, the best part was surely his talk with Choe in the intercommunicator he took from the guy he defeated. Kagari being an Enforcer, Choe tries to convince him to instead join their side, with the prospect of freedom.
But as expected, Kagari refuses. And oh boy, can I say how much I loved his attitude? He was totally awesome in his answers, not to mention how perfectly reasonable they were. For someone who had been deemed a latent criminal at the age of 5, losing his freedom while still in his childhood, someone who hated the Sybil system, a hate that was apparent from the very first few episodes in his conversations with Akane, it was but normal to feel good in knowing how those deemed to be good citizens were now taking each others’ lives like animals.He knew those people were in the wrong and he knew it very well. But he also knew who had been the cause for that and despised them as much as he despised Sybil. So seeing both of them destroyed would be the ideal scenario for him. From his composure in face of the situation to his loyalty to his friends and his rather strong sense of justice, what he showed in this episode made me wonder why he had been deemed a latent criminal, as he packs so many positive qualities many others lack. Or maybe those points were actually what made Sybil deem him one. It’s still not clear what the criteria for the measurements are, but it’s clear that Sybil has a purpose and an ideal in its ruling, a self-sustaining purpose and one more subjective than it’s publicized to be, so it could very well be possible.
Back to the action, we’ve got a few more scenes in this episode, all of them featuring Kougami. As he and Akane encounter the first obstacle on their way up, the young Inspector is shot in the leg by a nail gun, as the Dominators didn’t work against the target, despite the helmet trick, due to Mikishima being in pick-up range for the helmet. Kougami proceeds up the stairs and takes the guy out with a very impressive German Suplex after barely avoiding taking a nail to the face. The obstacle removed, he’s worried about Akane getting shot but she tells him firmly to keep going, as she’ll be there once she stops the bleeding. I seriously doubt that at this moment there’s any viewer who doesn’t see her as the great character she is. But more on that later.
As Kougami proceeds up the stairs, we find ourselves looking at the same location shown in that little prologue in the beginning of episode 1. He fights not with one, but two helmet-wearers. The first one, a hacksaw, catches Kougami by surprise, injuring him in the abdomen, a wound that really seemed like a hindering one. Yet Kougami manages to gain enough distance to discharge the whole nail gun in the guy, taking him out like that. As he tries to head up, another man with a helmet attacks him, this time with a Buzzsaw. Trying his luck with the Dominator, Kougami doesn’t seem to have any, as the helmet is clearly lose enough to pick Makishima’s Crime Coefficient. That said, Kougami manages to send the man flying down the building, blowing up his head with the Dominator as he falls down. Something interesting to not here is helmets block the scans, which means the Crime Coefficient read should be Kougami’s rather than the helmet guy. It’s not exactly relevant, but I always find these details worth noting, specially case, where it clearly reflects Kougami’s intention of killing Makishima when he finally gets to him.
Which is something we didn’t have to wait too long to see. As Makishima goes down the stairs, praising Kougami for his fight, it’s completely obvious we really have gone full-circle back to that first scene. I’ve got to say I’ve always loved when a story is clearly planned out from the very beginning, and this being the case only raises the points in its favor. I still found the “You’re *insert name here*” trade-off a bit awkward but this time round I totally couldn’t have cared less. And it’s not only because I know how Urobuchi seems to like this kind of scene (he did the same with Kiritsugu and Kirei in Fate/Zero), but mostly because the build up to it was so good, and the prospect of the fight to come so exciting, that I couldn’t care less about a two little sentences feeling out of place. Specially since the rest of their dialogue, on the other hand, was quite good, with the Pascal quote and Kougami’s retort (I never thought he’d be versed in literature as well) followed by the declaration of his intent to kill Makishima and the exposure of his reasoning in face of the other’s question about his detective values. It was nice knowing Kougami couldn’t care any less about Makishima having spared his life before. Specially since it’s obvious the later’s intentions in doing so weren’t the best.
As for the fight itself… Well, it has to have been one of the best fight scenes I’ve seen. Guns, swords, crossbows, knifes… all of those weapons are really cool. But for me, nothing beats a good old fist fight. Specially if it is as amazingly choreographed and well animated as this one. With the fluid movements and realistic body stances, this fight was truly a huge treat to watch. All the fight scenes in this episode packed the aforementioned qualities, but this was the one that showed them to a greater extent. It’s not all the time that I talk about the production values of a show, but I gotta say this scene really impressed me for the best.
Animation aside and on to the content of the fight, Kougami lost, as I expected after knowing Makishima was no weakling and seeing how Kougami was actually badly injured. He still put up a good fight, and that was nice to see. He still lost and as Makishi was presumably about to kill him (and I say “presumably” here because I don’t believe that was his intention – more on that later), Akane shows up from behind Makishima, hitting him with a helmet in the head. As Makishima fell unconscious, Kougami requests for Akane to kill him, which she does consider as she lifts up the helmet, ready to strike. This scene really hit home for me for several reasons. The first one was that I wasn’t sure what Akane would end up doing. Usually, the main character would never do something such as kill someone while what she should do is arrest him, but with this writing style, everything is a possibility, and I really was left wondering what she would do, for she had all the reasons to actually want to kill him. And she did feel like it. Which brings me to the second reason I really liked this scene: the emotion it carried. Not the kind of melodramatic, manipulative emotion that is written with the main purpose of making the viewer cry. No, it was more of a heart-wrenching one, for I could almost feel Akane’s pain as the flashbacks passed by and her tears started flowing. The scene was both really well written and really well directed and I could really admire Akane’s decision of arresting Makishima rather than killing him because it felt like a painful decision taken by a real person, rather than a simple matter of upholding some sort of morality standards that can’t be broken no matter what. That’s why I like her so much as a character. She has developed a lot since the very beginning and has had one of the best characterizations I’ve seen. She was a rookie, but definitely not useless, she has her values and is determined, and staying true to herself and her wishes is something she seems to value a lot, as she builds up her resolve through the events that take place in the previous episodes, her courage becomes noticeable, but her fear is never forgotten. Her reactions to her surroundings and the events that happen feel natural and real, and… well, she’s just that great a character.
Either way, I couldn’t believe the caught Makishima so easily. A guy like him would have notices Akane approaching. A guy like him wouldn’t have let the most crucial part of his plan in someone else’s hands. In other words, yes, I think he let himself get captured. Which is good. I just want to know why now. Maybe he’ll try to persuade the PSB to join his cause. That’d be good as well.
What isn’t exactly good is what happened down there with Kagari. As we see him, badly wounded,meeting Choe at the Sybil core, both of their faces of surprise say but one thing to us viewers: the Sybil system is not what we thought. As for what it is, I have no idea. There have been some theories I saw around the Internet about it being a biological supercomputer made of real humans, and I actually find that a very likeable possibility given Kagari’s reaction and Choe’s claim that to bring down the system it was enough to simply leak the information to the world. And that’s when the director appears, holding a Dominator and shots Choe. Now, Dominators weren’t supposed to even function down there, which means she bypassed the need for confirmation. But the biggest surprises had yet to come: she’s a cyborg… and she shoots Kagari. The Dominator was set to the Paralyzer, yet she bypassed the system once again and it turned into something that looked like the Decomposer from episode 3.
The episode then comes to an end with a blue-ish light shining over Kagari’s resigned face.
Now my question would be…. What the hell just happened here? Who is the chief? Is she an AI serving Sybil’s purpose or someone like the hunter guy who was a complete cyborg with the exception of his brain and conscience? I’m not even sure. I had the idea maybe Sybil was indeed controlling the cyborg, but that would imply Sybil has the ability to judge the criminal asymptomatic people. Which would be strange. The image of that woman seeming so satisfied with the prospect of Makishima having been identified by the end of episode 13 still flashes in my mind now.
I just want the next episode now. And that’s what I will watch. Expect a post on episode 17 way quicker than these last ones. Maybe even tonight or tomorrow morning.