In a Winter season that left much to be desired, the saving graces were the 2-cour shows from the Fall season, and among those, Psycho-Pass is one of the two that stood out for me.
In a Winter season that left much to be desired, the saving graces were the 2-cour shows from the Fall season, and among those, Psycho-Pass is one of the two that stood out for me.
So, episode 17 may not have been the action-packed awesomeness last episode was but for me it felt like the shortest episode we’ve got so far. And when you spend 20 minutes looking at a screen and end up astonished at how that’s what how your watch registered the 5 minutes you were sure to have passed… well, you know you enjoyed something immensely.
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
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.
Episodes 1-9 – wrap up
Despite the lack of coverage on this series since episode 8, it’s my goal not to let myself get behind in conveying my thoughts on such a wonderful series.
Throughout its first-half episodes, Psycho-Pass has been a slow builder of its world – both setting and characters included. However, despite taking its time to do so, what it showed us was a detailedly though futuristic society, with an interesting balance of advantages and shortcomings, though the later ones are more objectively noticeable, while the former tend to need a little more thought on human’s desire for comfort and the relief of the lack of responsibility pending over one’s head.
From the brutal display of how things can go wrong and how the Sybil system’s judgements of one’s character can lead to further disturbance of behaviour rather than prevent the display of one’s tendencies through the moral conditioning of what’s accepted as right and wrong in a “normal” society to the more regular showcase of how a Public Safety Bureau’s day usually is, we’ve been led, through seemingly unrelated cases, to a non-spoon fed understanding of the setting, the workings of that futuristic society, and what would hypothetically be the reactions of the masses to the evolution of technology.
Good examples of that are the arc of the social network and the one in the only girls school. Regarding the first one, it made me wonder quite a bit about how some people were completely living in the virtual world and of the virtual world. Seeing as now, some people, such as myself, feel way more comfortable in the virtual world, often isolating themselves from reality, imagine to what extent they would go with the range of endless possibilities offered by the virtual reality chatrooms shown in Psycho-Pass. With such an immersion and the possibility of economic revenue, living in the virtual world can become a self-sustainable lifestyle with no need to interruptions. That’s quite fascinating, even if probably not the most healthy possibility to be available, due to how dangerously tempting it seems to me.
Besides the aforementioned theme and questions, this single arc also presents us with one other issue, the one made obvious by the respective episode titles: the possibility of building one other personality and releasing yourself from expectations on following your usual behaviour. Of course along with that comes a new establishment of expectations, a new social prison. The more the popularity of such people (or in this case, of their avatar), the bigger the pressure of maintaining their trade-mark image, something which relates closely to the expectations over people seen as idols in our world. Can you remember a situation in which a band got bashed by fans to no end over changing their musical style? The reason people don’t understand the artists probably want to try something new and enjoy themselves is beyond me, but that happens, and Psycho-Pass does an amazing job of drawing such a parallel. Being forced to keep playing a facade must be an exhausting thing… The fact that the killer was a fan who didn’t want his beloved role models to stray from their roles was yet another pertinent point.
As for the school arc, Ouryou Rikako was quite the interesting character, as her crimes were the product of the twisting of her taste in arts by her sentiment of revolt towards the Sybil system due to what happened to her father. Once again, this is yet another interesting insight over the consequences of the system, this time not the intimidating reality of the system scans, such as the first two arcs, but the forced passivity over the citizens due to their life path being entirely decided by the system, rather than by their will, tastes and ambitions. Apparently, the excess of stress therapy can lead to a condition that reminds me of the Apathy Syndrome in Persona 3. Such is an exteriorization of their full acceptance regarding the passivity the Sybil system forces upon them, choosing the entire path for their lives and judging their minds without regard to circumstances.
Of course the most interesting thing in this arc was the much awaited full debut of the series antagonist, which had been dealt nothing but a few seconds long appearances thus far. Makishima Shougo is the one behind all those cases, previously described in this post as “seemingly unrelated”. His appearance brings another perspective to the table. His crusade is a twisted search for entertainment with a coldness of a psychopath, but it’s also one that focus on understanding the human nature in a era in which situations that call out the two extremes of impulsive actions and rational thinking are rarely ever evoked. For now, he doesn’t step too much into grey area, which is something I’m actually enjoying, as in while he has a definite distraught towardsthe system, that’s far from being the main, let alone the only, reason for his crimes. In that, he’s a true antagonist.
The first reason his bigger involvement on the story is a good development in Psycho-Pass being already explored, there are two more I’d like to mention. The second and most important is definitely the character development for the main characters. That’s another field in which Psycho-Pass had been taking it slowly, but as more was revealed about Kougami’s past as an Inspector who became obsessed with a case in which an Enforcer he was in charge of was brutally murdered, having his readings increase to latent criminal levels and being demoted, the more Akane’s thoughts and concerns regarding him took a specific shape, and their interactions began to be truly interesting to watch. But I’m not referring simply to this duo in this claim. The urgency of the case triggered some more revelations about Ginoza’s personality and his reasons for hating latent criminals, including the Enforcers, and due to his apparently exaggerated lash with Masaoka, I still believe the later to be Ginoza’s father. In summarizing words, the character development is playing out quite well ever since it finally began to take a definite shape.
The third reason couldn’t be a simpler one: the amazing arc we’ve just been delivered. Episodes 10 and 11, which I’ll talk about in detail in just a few lines, seem to be marking the beginning of the serious stuff in Psycho-Pass. Too bad episode 12 will only air on the 11th. Tempest is always taking a break (albeit shorter) in broadcasting, which makes me wonder if that’ll end up becoming a trend. I certainly wouldn’t like it.
Episodes 10 and 11
Episode 10 marks the first time Makishima actually commits a murder by himself, rather than simply providing the means for others to do so. This is of course because, as he mentioned in the end of episode 9, his interest is now focused not on a criminal, but on Kougami. Therefore it’s not a criminal he must test this time.
As such, and with the purpose of driving Kougami into his trap, he kidnaps Yuki, Akane’s friend, sending a message from her cellphone and obviously getting Akane worried about Yuki’s whereabouts. As seemingly predicted by Makashima, Akane asks Kougami for help, and both go looks for her, yet it’s obviously Kougami who gets inside the decrepit building, with Akane staying outside and giving directions, guiding him according to the building’s prints and a locating system. However, as Kougami proceeds inside the building, Makishima interferes with his communication device, sending his own instructions through a digital rendering of Akane’s voice, and blocking her own. It turns out the prints were wrong and the building connected to an ancient subway, one in which Kougami gets on board only to find a very scared Yuki who had no idea of what happened with her.
Of course this was a simple setup by Makishima to isolate Kougami from Akane and test him however he wanted. Which he does. Actually, his twisted knack towards testing people by putting them into extreme situations is what makes him such an interesting character and such a fitting antagonist for this series. The problem we’ve seen all along is how everyone is way too reliant on the Sybil system. How they’ve forgotten (or were forced to forget) their individuality, their conscience, their sense of responsibility and conformed with blindly following the decisions of Sybil, a system that apparently ranks as the supreme authority in this society. As such, the regular human insecurities have no need t exist, neither does the courage to take risks with one’s judgements and course of action. What better way is there to observe such important characteristics is there than forcing them to surface due to the current situation? This is what Maikishima does. His goal is simply to study the human soul, which, according to him, only has value when acting upon its own will.
Him driving Kougami to this situation had no other goal than subject him to such a test. One I would say he passed whit flying colors. Actually, and very ironically, Enforcers are the ones with the most freedom. They don’t need to try and keep their hue as white as possible, as they’ve already been deemed as latent criminals and potential threats to society. They may have to be under supervision of the Inspectors all the time, but in the end, they’re the ones who are free to speak their minds and act according to their instincts. Kouagmi is, in my opinion, the best example of this, which is probably the reason Makishima took an interest in him.
But Kougami wasn’t the only one being tested in the episode. Senguuji, his right hand up until then, was in the same boat. Unknowingly to him, Makishima made the “hunt” a lot fairer. Yes, Kougami was being pursued by scary cyborg dogs and Senguuji himself, who, unlike him, was in the possession of a gun. Yes, he had Yuki with him, slowing him down and even making the huge mistake of grabbing that bag. But it’s not like he couldn’t win. Makishima did prepare a way out he Kougami cleverly figured that out. One of Makishima’s goals was to see if Kougami would abandon Yuki to achieve freedom himself, which is actually suggested by the girl. But Kougami is both kinder and smarter than that as he understands that she was the key to getting out of there and ends up discovering how the batteries for radio they had pick up were hidden in Yuki’s underwear. To be honest, this scene was actually funny. His bluntness and coldness in asking her to undress without telling her exactly what his hunch made me giggle. Perhaps because he doesn’t have the most harmless appearance, she must have definitely found that demand a bit on the scary side. Anyway, funny moments aside, Kougami manages to finally, using the radio, contact Akane and the rest of the team she had called once his signal on the location system started acting strangely.
Speaking of which, we has yet another very interesting moment in the episode involving Akane, Ginoza and Masaoka. Ginoza’s first analysis of the situation once Akane call him saying she had lost contact with Kougami and his signal had disappeared from the building is actually that Kougami has probably tried to run away from the Public Safety Bureau. As his claims about it get surer and bolder, Masaoka starts getting annoyed and gets to the point of hitting him. My hunch that he might be Ginoza’s father (and that’d be a huge death flag hanging over his head), gets more and more supported by each of their interactions, though this really was an unexpected and specially appreciated one. Ginoza really deserved that for such partial judgement and quick drawing of unfounded conclusions. I find his extreme reliance in the system both interesting and annoying, as despite having once been Kougami’s partner he doubts them to such an extent simply and solely due to his crime coefficient. Such a heavy reliance on Sybil will certainly bring him problems one day…
Back to the strange warehouse/basement/whatever it was, I just have to point out how amazing the action scene in which Kougami fights the cyborg dogs, destroying one of them. From how good his strategy was to the awesome choreography of the fight, it surely was an amazing scene. Of course the awesomeness of our badass main lead doesn’t stop there, as episode 11 follows though with his fight for his and Yuki’s survival.
Knowing Urobuchi, this tenth episode’s grim setup and its lightly toned closing scene screamed nothing but tragedy to me. As such, I went into episode 11 expected something heavy. I was n0t disappointed in the slightest, as it delivered what I was expecting in a somewhat unexpected way. But let’s get to that later.
First of all I’d like to mention how precious the intervention of the rest of the main cast proved to be in assisting Kougami, having delivered him a Dominator, which allowed him to defeat both the second dog and Senguuji. However, not knowing that Senguuji was a cyborg was a huge problem for Kougami – a problem that conditioned the following developments of this eleventh episode. There isn’t one living person that can promptly and accurately fire back at the shooter after losing one arm. But Senguuji’s brain is the only remaining part of the body he was born with, as he has replaced everything else by robotic metal parts. As he can’t feel the pain of having a flesh and bone arm torn off, his immediate shot catches Kougami off guard, piercing his abdomen. Kougami falls and manages to run off, later defeating Senguuji through quite the risky yet brilliantly deceptive plan of stuffing himself inside a barrel and rolling down an inclined surface, while using Yuki as a decoy to attract Senguuji up and get him from behind. As a bit of a side note, I can’t help but think the OST during the scene Senguuji was looking for Kougami up to his death worked really, but really well.
One thing that brought a smile to my face, only to make it harder to take in what would happened later, was Yuki’s line saying she almost wanted to become a latent criminal. For humans who know nothing but passiveness and quietness, the thrilling adventure she has just lived through might very justifiably led her to thinking that. It’s just as Senguuji had mentioned to Makishima not too long before his death: that brutal moment in which he saw his friend’s head exploding besides him was the moment he felt more “alive”, which became his reason to pursue the kind of activities he did. Feeling alive is what many characters in this series subconsciously seek, and it’s something Makishima understands the importance of.
But poor Yuki can’t say much more, as Makishima quickly grabs her as a hostage, openly declares his interest in Kougami and leaves the scene. Soon afterwards, Akane and Masaoka finally arrive just to see Kougami in quite a bad shape. As Masaoka prepares to give first aid to Kougami, the later tells Akane about a second person who took Yuki away.
And as Akane pursues Makishima, we finally get to the highlight of the episode. As she reaches him and uses the Dominator to scan him, his crime coefficient turns out to be quite low, and the gun obviously keeps unactivated. Here, what Makishima says to a confused Akane, from teasing her for her inexperience to questioning the Sybil system and to proudly declaring his own intentions and ideal, all of that is important. Important, thought provoking and quite clarifying as well.
First of all, he asks a question that has been in my mind (and I suppose in the mind of many other viewers) for quite a while. We know the Sybil system judges people by calculating their Psycho-pass. But what exactly does such calculation consist in? I couldn’t make out whether that was a rhetorical question or the characters really don’t know the specific answer to that either. Regardless of which of those two options is the correct one, Makishima said with certainty that it doesn’t take people’s will into consideration, hence his Psycho-Pass being on such low levels when he intended to kill a person all along.
So… What he’s asking Akane is what a criminal is. How such a status is decided. According to his explanation, the system figures out how a person’s mind works by “analyzing a bio-organism’s force field read by a cymatic scan”. Yes, quite the vague explanation, but what matters here is that what seemingly weights the most in the measuring on one’s crime coefficient is the thought process. That’s why people who can get into the minds of the criminal, understand how they think, inevitably have a high Psycho-Pass. Regardless of what they do with such skills. Regardless if their “will”.
When he handles Akane the shotgun and threatens to kill Yuki, he just puts on more pressure. The Dominator is locked due to his low crime coefficient. Akane can’t shoot it, which also means the Sybil system deems Makishima to be an exemplary citizen. Yet he’s about to kill someone; he declared that himself. Akane’s mind was probably going through a huge conflict there. She had always relied on the Sybil system for everything. The feelings of indecision and the weight of responsibility were something she had never felt before. Because she didn’t need to. The Sybil system would always decide for her and its decisions would also be perfect so there was no reason to worry. Nothing was on her hands.
But at that moment, everything was on her hands. The life of her friend, and the life of someone her instinct deemed to be a criminal, but the system saw as a normal person with an outstandingly pure mind. Having never experienced the subjectivity of ethics, having always lived by an absolute moral code, that must have been something that confused and scared her to no end. Because shooting him would imply taking a life by her own will. Out of impulse, she does end up trying to shoot Makishima when he slices Yuki’s back. But not only does she probably not know much about shotguns and had never felt heir recoil effect, she also refuses to let go of the Dominator. Which is understandable, seeing as letting go of it at that moment was the same as denying her faith in the system, which is equivalent to denying her entire way of life until then. She holds on to it to the final moments, where it shows Makishima’s crime coefficient as being “0” right before slicing Yuki’s throat.
As for why Makishima’s crime coefficient went down the closer he got to killing Yuki… It’s hard but to speculate about it. After all, we’d have to know exactly what the Sybil system measures to point out a convincing reason. I’m pretty sure it would have to do with some kind of conscience, as he truly believes not to be doing anything wrong. To be honest, I do agree with him regarding the worth of the human soul. It only has value if it acts on its own will. Thus, I understand what he’s trying to do, and forcing people to experience what it’s like to act on their own will sounds like something awesome to me. However, his twisted means are quite the creepy and hateful thing.
With last week’s episode, we are now halfway through Psycho-Pass. With this eleventh episode’s bang in both plot, setting-related revelations, brutal scenes and traumatic developments for the character, I see no reason for this to slow down now. The most intriguing thing at this moment is what will happen to Akane and her Psycho-Pass, specially considering the fact that has also always been quite “white”. Will her hue get clouded? Will her change her views while keeping the same low measurement? Will this simply be a first trigger to a chain of gradual changes? Whatever it is, I’m really looking forward to what more thought provoking ideas and engrossing narrative Psycho-Pass has to offer us from now on. And I’ll certainly be here to talk about it in two weeks.
Nobody Knows Your Mask
Nobody Knows Your Face
Episodes 4 and 5
Episode 4 and 5, “Nobody Knows Your Mask” and “Nobody Knows Your Face”, respectively, featured a quite original and strange arc, since most the case this time tightly related with chat rooms. Chat rooms in that age are actually some very interesting small virtual realities which people visit. Once again, it’s just as our world, except to an extremer degree, as the possibility of impersonating an avatar allows for an even realer experience and secluding from real life personal contact. I still find it really interesting how Psycho-Pass touches these little points with its murder cases. The people whose avatars were idolized by everyone and anyone yet rarely left their rooms in real life. The way an idol becomes an icon rather than a person, with its personality being a known façade, a mask that’s worn and once established, can’t be betrayed. Those parallels are all true and probably the main reason creating expectations regarding anything doesn’t sit well with me. Besides that, there’s the simpler reason for me to love this. The sheer creativity put into this, both art and plot-wise is quite the treat.
Anyhow, the case in itself is, just as the previous one, not of much interest or mystery, as a one dimensional criminal is once again found to be the culprit. The interesting villain will, of course, be the white haired guy who’s seemingly behind everything (scratch the “seemingly”, he’s revealed to be behind everything in episode 6). However, one-dimensional psychotic criminals aside, what the cases keep adding up is world-building, which is something I appreciate very much. Join that with the parallels to our society and you have something that can keep entertaining me for the whole season. Of course it’d be disappointing if there was no real plot to develop beyond this, but the fact that there is seems to no longer be a guess.
As the character’s personalities are revealed, with Kougami’s past and the fact that he used to be an Inspector being of particular interest, it isn’t hard to realize there is a lot of room for both character and plot development.
Return of the Lunatic Prince
As previous episodes hinted at and episode 6 makes rather obvious, that mysterious white haired man seems to be the reason behind the increase in Kougami’s Psycho-Pass, or rather, his wish for revenge on said man is probably the reason. Apparently, according to the information Akane manages to get out of a cute drunk Kagari (that’s what happens when you boast about enjoying old-school pleasures xD) and that is later complemented by what that analyst says, there was an unsolved gruesome case in which an Enforcer, named Sasayama, ended up as a victim while working on a totally unrelated case. What resounded more in my mind here, was how Sasayama was an Enforcer, not an inspector. As Ginoza and that other lady (their boss?) were discussing Akane might still end up like Kougami, parallels were drawn between Kougami’s empathy with Sasayama and her current concern for Kougami. That might be one of the reasons Ginoza is always advising her to keep her distance.
In that same conversation, the root for Ginoza’s apparent hatred towards the enforcers is also slightly touched upon, as it is implied that someone in his family had a high Psycho-Pass. Whether said person was a criminal or not and how that might have impacted Ginoza is yet another issue that picked up my interest and that I’ll definitely be looking forward to seeing resolved.
As for the case introduced in episode 6… While, forget what those workers said, I would totally put a sculpture like that in my room! (And I should really be careful about my reputation and stop saying things like this…) But really, if you forget that it’s actually is a corpse, it truly is a work of art. I believe Caster would totally have agreed with me (Urobuchi really seems to like this kind of stuff…)
The criminal this time seems to be quite more psychotically interesting. Yeah, that girl is batshit insane, but in a rather more… elegant way. Her conversation with the white-haired man at the end of the episode was actually rather interesting. I like it when people see things in a logical perspective. Yes, a skewed one when you take your human values into consideration, but nonetheless logical when based on their own moral values. Which is… way more interesting than some desperate guy killing off people with robots.
Speaking of which, it seems the white-haired man was also behind that incident. As well as the chatroom one, though that had already been shown. “The intent and means to kill… To create a crime by bringing those two otherwise separated things together. That’s his goal.” Kougami’s proclamation was bold since, as Ginoza pointed out, he doesn’t even know for sure whether such a person exists. However, it does seem to be right on the mark. I can’t wait to learn more about that guy.
I actually wonder how he managed to earn all that power an influence, but there’s no doubt he’s quite the resourceful man. The variety of killing means he has provided the variety of supposedly safe havens he’s meddled with… That doesn’t seem like something just anyone would have the means and talent to do. I wonder how the system handled (or didn’t handle him). Was he told to live his life in a way he didn’t want to? Or has he been outside of the influence of the Sybil system for longer than that? He doesn’t need to even be introduced to pick my interest. His simple existence in such a controlled society is already a point worth pondering about.
Speaking of said society, as interesting as this case seems to be on different grounds than the precious ones, it also offers yet some more world-building: the setting this time is a school. An all-girls school with the selling point of… Completely isolating them from the outside world and any other kind of problems, which would avoid any Psycho-Pass contamination. But the question here is… wouldn’t that just make them more frail, naïve and easily influenced individuals? Well, I guess that’d also make them easier to control and fit perfectly into such a society, but it’s yet the same dangerous point of counter-productivity.
All in all, Psycho-Pass keeps building-up a quite thought-provoking view of the world, and has more recently added to that a promise of good character development I’ll be looking forward to.
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.