I feel so sorry for anybody who missed out on this anime this year because it was absolutely brilliant. Likewise, I also feel sorry for anybody who didn’t, because Urobuchi Gen ripped their hearts out.
The series is set in the near future in which it is possible to instantaneously quantify a person’s state of mind, personality, and probability of committing a crime, all recorded on an individual’s “Psycho-Pass”. When their “Crime Coefficient” index becomes too high, they are pursued and apprehended by police officers known as Inspectors, and their ‘hunting dogs’ the Enforcers; in this way, order is maintained. Unit One of the Public Safety
Bureau’s division of criminal investigation, navigate the system to uphold justice in their seemingly Utopian society.
Before anything else, let’s address some reasons the show received heavy criticism early on, and was subsequently written off because of it.
Inspector Tsunemori Akane: As a frequenter of tumblr, I saw so many people dismiss the protagonist of the series immediately after episode 1, and to that I say shame on you. She got a lot of flack for being naive and idealistic, but that was the whole point of her character development. Even more egregious was how much hate she got because of her design, and again, shame on you. Both the director and the writer explicitly stated that “moe” would be completely omitted from Psycho-Pass; there’s a lot of back and forth between whether Akane is or isn’t moe (though the pink jellyfish comes close), but you don’t hate on a character because of their haircut. And personally, I think she’s cute.
Too slow: I understand, the series does take it’s time in the beginning. Psycho-Pass doesn’t really reach the heart of its story until about episode 10. However, everything before this is time spent establishing the cyberpunk setting, the relationships between the characters, and setting up for an unbelievable payoff later. Every reveal in the series speaks to something that was established earlier (yes, even the HyperOats) because the writer is a master at foreshadowing and bringing his stories full circle. It is well worth wading through the cases in the beginning to reach the core of the story later.
Psycho-Pass is a ripoff of Minority Report: a 2002 film directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Cruise based off a short story of the same name written by legendary science fiction author, Philip K. Dick. And honestly, to this I have to say… so what? Having only seen the trailer, I could just as easily say that Pacific Rim is a rip off of Evangelion, but that doesn’t say anything about its merit on any level. So even if the series is derivative (and what material isn’t these days?), the two focus on different themes and tell totally separate stories; Minority Report is a commentary on human free will and choice where Psycho-Pass is a revenge story at its core and an examination of justice, taking place in the same kind of setting.
And the joke is on you, because Philip K. Dick’s work is actually mentioned in the series. It’s obvious, to the point of near literary pretentiousness, how the series pays homage to the themes and philosophies found in great written works. I can see how consistently name dropping George Orwell or Jonathan Swift might be annoying, but as a total classic literature nerd, it made me excited to pick up what they were alluding to in the books I have read, and inspired to hunt down the rest so I could understand the series even better (hard copies— because e-books lack character). Besides, an image of Heart of Darkness conveys just as much as a long-winded discourse about the descent into darkness and the true nature of humanity would. It isn’t always subtle, but it is challenging and elevates the show to more than just another crime thriller anime.
Before I continue lauding it, let me clarify: Psycho-Pass is bloody, violent, and disturbing, and not for the weak-hearted. This anime has cruel scenes, both physically and mentally, and the director joked that he wanted the kids in the audience to sustain trauma for life after watching. O_O But that is not why your heart will be ripped out.
Your heart will be ripped out because Urobuchi Gen helmed this.
Urobuchi-san (Fate/Zero & Puella Magi Madoka Magica) is known for writing dark, nihilistic themes and tragic plot twists into his stories, earning him the affectionate nickname “The Uro-BUTCHER”. Back when I wrote my original Madoka review, I had no idea who this man was or what he would do to my emotions. Lobotomizing yourself with a spoon would be less painful. If only I had known then…
The reason Urobuchi-san is capable of writing compelling stories is not because he’s heavy handed with the nihilism or because he shies away from current trends in the anime industry. There are two very good reasons.
1. He knows how to write people— realistic, human characters with attributes and flaws and personal motivations and incredible development (see: Ginoza Nobuchika). The audience doesn’t suffer because tragic events happen, but because they happen to these characters, whom you have grown to know and love and sympathize with (see: Ginoza Nobuchika).
2. He never writes standard black and white conflicts. The system in place which monitors people’s mental states for the sake of safety arguably takes way their free will, but without it the society plunges into chaos. The Enforcer seeks to bring down the main antagonist for personal revenge, not for the sake of justice; and yet if the anarchist wins, in theory, people’s wills are restored as long as they survive the crumbling of the system. As you watch his series, you might not know who you want to win, or whether they should, and it makes for deeply thought provoking entertainment. (The “Psycho-Scan” aspect of the series alone is provocative when you put it into the context of how mental health is approached in Japan.)
There’s a lot of commentary on human nature, the natures of societies, law and governance, good and evil. There’s tons of brain-candy to chew on here; Psycho-Pass is not a series to watch if you travel into anime to escape or like to keep your mind turned off. Although it shares similar themes and story telling elements as something like Madoka Magica, the complexity, the science fiction crime mystery genre, and integration of philosophy and literature makes it less universal in appeal, but all the more appealing for someone like me.
Knowing Urobuchi’s previous work had me worried. Hearing that the entire staff cried over the final episode had me very worried. But even with his bloody reputation preceding him, Psycho-Pass has proved that Urobuchi-san is master storyteller capable of being twisted and incredibly emotional, as well as demonstrating diversity and restraint. His name is one I’m sure to be following from now on.
Oh, and it also looked great. And sounded great. Production I.G.’s work here is wonderful, and they’re generally a top notch studio. Production knew when to hold back, so they could really deliver where it mattered later (the dog hunting scene was very dark and difficult to see, but “The Gates of Judgement”? that three something minute fight scene was unbelievable). The backgrounds were incredibly detailed and the series has a great look, managing to be extremely colorful and yet very dark. The integration of CG was also very impressive, and I’m glad to see they pulled it off so successfully since technology is a major motif in this 22nd century world. I might just be drawn to the style, but all of Amano Akira’s character designs look great (yes, even Akane-chan’s).
*jumps onto the soapbox* Episode 18, “Promises Written in Water”, came out totally derpy-looking because of scheduling issues. Even the director apologized, saying that in order to get the episode out on time, it would air incomplete. This is not just an acceptable drop in animation quality like we typically see from Gainax or Gonzo, just an honest to goodness time issue. Production on the episode will be finished in time for the home media releases and it will be just as quality as the rest of the series. *hops off the soapbox*
The score was varied, very synthy and they played around with different types of sounds to add in, but fitting with the futuristic setting and dark tone of the anime. There are some standout pieces on the OST, I’m rather fond of the main theme and a very pretty and somber piano piece reserved for the quieter moments. Psycho-Pass is guilty of playing Bach, stealing a leaf out of Evangelion’s book, but at least the high-brow pretentiousness makes more sense here. All the OPs and EDs were similarly successful, sporting beautiful animation (and a bit of foreshadowing), not to mention that many of the songs were written for the specific characters. “abnormalize” speaks to Kogami’s character, where “Namae no nai Kaibutsu” should be listened to with Makishima in mind. Also, I don’t think the fanbase will ever get tired of “cause I feeeeeeeellll” or “your never walk alonee” and neither will I.
In general, I struggle watching shows week to week because I prefer marathoning my anime and when I really get into it, I am incapable of doing anything else while waiting in between episodes (should have seen me after Ep. 19, it was baad). And I haven’t done this with any other anime of 2012, so it speaks to how stellar Psycho-Pass really was when I say it was the highlight of my week, every week, until the end. I’m going to go out and buy Proust right now. What an incredible ride.
I heard great things about Psycho Pass and it being compared to Death Note, I thought it would be great. But I didn't find the anime to be anything more than your run of the mill dark themed series. Before throwing off my review as a hated one, I would appreciate it if you guys just took a couple of minutes to read what I thought of Psycho Pass
Story - 7/10
The setting of Psycho Pass is a futuristic one in modern Japan, where people who have a high and cloudy Psycho Pass are either adjudged criminals or potent criminals. The ones who have a Psycho
Pass of above a certain rating are criminals who're judged dangerous and have no hope but the potent criminals can work as Enforcers with the police in order to catch the other criminals.
The reason I gave a 6 in story is because the first few episodes were pretty blatant with no real relevance to the plot. The episodes in itself aren't irrelevant, its rather the amount of episodes they wasted in doing so. But the story starts getting good around the 8 episode in the show and continues to be a good one till the 16 episode or so. Around that time, we have a confrontation between the protagonist and the antagonist. The show should have ended there with a few prior things explained before that 16-17 episode mark. The next 6-7 episodes are just stretched out and completely based on plot devices. I think I have spoiled enough for you.
Art - 6/10
The art of Psycho Pass is okay; it's nothing special really. It isn't overly good for an anime released in 2012. Compared to some of the other anime of that time, the art is not up to the mark by a long way. It gets really choppy at times and makes you wonder if this is an anime released after 2010.
Sound - 5/10
There isn't really any memorable soundtrack in this anime. I've watched the anime just a few days ago and I can't remember even one theme of the series. At best, there may have been a couple of decent soundtrack, but that was it. If there was one thing good about the sound of Psycho Pass, it would be the voice acting which was pretty good.
Characters - 5/10
The characters except for the villain, Makishima Shougo were shallow and the character that I hated most, the female MC, Akane Sunamori was just a jackass who got a sudden personality change in the last few episodes. She got a perfect opportunity to overthrow the Sibyl System but she doesnt do anything. She gets the chance to kill the antagonist 3 times and she's just too weak to do it. It was just plot manipulation to me. People say that she got a lot of development but she didn't She had a stale, weak personality throughout the entire series and suddenly becomes all brave and decisive in the last few episodes.
The male lead, Shinya Kougami is a smart guy who does what he wants for most of the series except some occasions where Akane tells her not to. At all such instances, he sighs and does what she says even though he knows that the opposite should be done. He doesnt listen to anyone and somehow listens to Akane from the beginning. (He doesnt have feeling for the girl either so that's not why he listens to her).
The antagonist is a good character but he is a Gary Stu. He is intelligent, thin but yet somehow manages to overpower Shinya multiple times even though Shinya works out and has a really good build. He also has surprisingly great endurance, healing really quickly without any supernatural powers. But compared to others, he's the best character and you're questioned whether his actions are good or evil.
Enjoyment - 6/10
Overall, I enjoyed the middle episodes of Psycho Pass the most. The start was okay but the ending was just ridiculous. The middle episodes were really good though, with some exciting scenes. The first few episodes were slow, boring, mostly irrelevant to the plot and completely illogical. The same with the ending. As I mentioned a few times earlier, this show should've been around a 14 episode show. It never really needed 20+ episodes because it was dragged on too much in the end, leading to a nonsensical ending and the episodes which preceded the conclusion to the show didn't have anything to write home about either.
Overall - 6/10
The show could have been really a lot better if there weren't so many plot devices involved and if they would've finished the anime around that episode 16-18 mark where both the males were brought to near death. Also, Akane really started to annoy me when her personality suddenly changed. I like character development and she didn't get any. Her character just took a huge jump in one episode from being a weak, scared officer who can't even use a real gun to shoot the enemy to a brave girl who's strong enough to make her own grave decisions.
There is nothing more undefined, blurry, and vague than the line that separates "good" from "bad". What complicates the matter further is the question of "is said action more bad/good than another?" Why do we consider the murder of an innocent person a worse offense compared to something like a bank robbery? Is a doctor who saves hundreds of lives more "good" than a simple volunteer at a homeless shelter? While Psycho Pass may not be a realistic representation of today's societal state, the observation of human morals, psychological concepts, and fluctuation of emotions can all be applied to our methodology of thinking and our
outlook on life itself.
The premise of the show poses an interesting scenario: what if we lived in a world where it was possible to determine the potential of a person through a simple cymatic scan, and judge/assign that person accordingly? You would be told your aptitude for certain jobs, the extent of your latent abilities, and the likelihood of mental instability and the capacity to commit crimes. This is the world that Psycho Pass is set in. The show follows the Public Safety Bureau's Criminal Investigation Division and the various cases that are assigned to them. Through their work solving crimes, we delve into conflicts of morality, the battle between the righteous and injustice, and the clash between different ideologies about the Sibyl System that made this whole lifestyle possible.
The strongest selling point of Psycho Pass is its cast of well developed and intricate characters. We have Tsunemori Akane, a new Investigator of the Criminal Investigation Division, and her beliefs are what is most commonly defined as "righteous". She is the representation of the ideal yet naive mindset that justice is absolute and criminals must be punished. She holds the law close to her heart, and while very young and inexperienced, she is an intelligent person and attempts to see the good in people. Through her exposure to the more sinister side of society, we observe if she is able to withstand the challenges to her beliefs and how she changes as an individual.
Helping her solve crimes and doing most of the "dirty work" is one of the Enforcers under her, Kogami Shinya. As one that is familiar with the darker side of society and has accumulated a plethora of experience in dealing with criminal minds, he is calculating, intelligent, and physically adept. His outlook on justice and the nature of other people differs from Akane's, and this difference serves as a driving force for the show. While he is normally collected and logical, his emotions do cause him to act irrationally and puts him in precarious situations. His resolve and detective skills are put to the test and we are shown the lengths in which he will go through to reinforce his beliefs.
In addition to these two, we have Ginoza, a veteran Inspector with some very firm and rigid beliefs on criminals and potential and Masaoka, an experienced Enforcer who was a detective but was deemed a latent criminal and is a bit old fashioned. We also are introduced to Kagari, a easygoing Enforcer who was marked as a criminal at the age of five and has been an Enforcer ever since and doesn't think too highly of the Sibyl System and Yayoi, a former guitarist turned Enforcer trying to prevent others from ending up as criminals similar to how someone dear to her did. Rounding out our Unit One, we have Shion, the Bureau's analyst that aids the unit in solving crimes, and Joshu, the enigmatic Chief of the Bureau. The fact that none of these characters are insignificant or unimpactful enough to dismiss is quite a feat, but Psycho Pass gives each and every character depth and relevance to the main plot.
A debate that has stood the test of time is the question: are humans innately good or evil? Do we strive to side by justice because it is in our nature, our personalities, our entire being, or do we do so in order to simply create the facade of appearing as a righteous person? Are our actions a culmination of self interest, in that we do everything for personal gain? Forging relationships, creating bonds; are they simply methods to reach the end goal of personal satisfaction and happiness? Psycho Pass portrays and addresses this issue through excellent storytelling, proficient pacing, and a cast of realistic characters. From watching Akane attempting to defend latent criminals and trying to give them a chance to prove their innocence, to Shinya's drive based on personal revenge and his definition of justice, Psycho Pass keeps its audience consistently alert and interested, with plot twists and shifts that are unpredictable and wholeheartedly intriguing.
The art is bold and catches the eye's attention. From the casual conversation scenes to the dynamic and high tension fight scenes, everything is animated with a finesse that is incredible. While some may dislike some of the characters design, that is ultimately personal preference. The sound is appropriate for a sci-fi show. The OP and EDs are upbeat and catchy and will stick with you even after the conclusion of the show. They serve to build suspense and set the mood, and everything fits into the whole picture to deliver a well coordinated show.
Psycho Pass, I believe, can be considered a masterpiece. With thought-provoking dialogue and plot, an amount of drama and tension that is neither excessive nor underwhelming, and a group of characters that are just as complex as many of us, Psycho Pass delivers an action sci-fi show unlike one we've seen before.
After watching this series twice within a short amount of time (a month or so) and still enjoying it to the fullest, I felt compelled to finally write my first MAL review.
I will not bother writing a plot summary, you can read the essentials a little further above. I will, however, try to rate the plot. Psycho Pass will sometimes be referred to as PP.
The series is most of all a police-sci-fi set in near future. This sounds rather cliché put Psycho Pass manages to mix in a variety of genres in a non-confusing way. The near-future/sci-fi is at all time present, whereas
the police-element is sometimes very prominent, making the series almost a crimi/detectives series, and at other times more in the background, the series then focusing on either characters or the way the PP world functions. Likewise is it with the action, coming more in small bumps rather than being all-time present. The series offer only a limited amount of humour as well as a discreet hint of romance, but you can find these things in the series. However, if you're searching for romantic comedy PP is not it. Drama is often quite intense, sometimes even heartbreaking, this making it easier to both relate to the characters and understand the more complicated parts of the story.
The plot of PP consists of smaller arcs focused around the same villain. All of these arcs are quite flawlessly done and come together in the end in an almost perfect way. PP is a series with a masterful plot (imo nearly as good and well-written as Death Note). In PP things seem to happen for a reason, not just randomly. A few times it might get boring, but generally PP has a good mixture of genres in the right amount. PP is also a series where you, when watching, will have to focus. The story is definitely complicated and does, as every other really good series, leave you thinking. I sat all the time thinking 'would I want society to be like this?'. Your definition of justice is also something you might reconsider after watching PP.
All in all amazing plot, one boring ep. draws down, making it 9.5/10 for me.
Art is something I have a really hard time rating. For the character design itself is a matter of opinion, not fact. Therefore an anime's art must mainly be rated on scenery and the flow of the animation.
The scenery in PP is very beautiful. Buildings, parks, light, everything is done really great. The visuals will often leave you stunned. But even if it's very good, I have seen better (but not often in a series with such a good plot as well), therefore the scenery can only get somewhere between 8 and 9 from me.
The animation flow, on the other hand, is quite simply outstanding. Maybe I've not seen the right animes but never before have I seen as good 3D-look-a-like animation as in PP. Square objects are animated in a way that almost make them look 3D, coming out of the screen. Also the way it's sometimes insignificant everyday objects that are animated flawlessly, is both peculiar and perfect. Honestly, I found the animation breathtaking.
Another thing I noted, watching PP a second time, was the light reflection. Oh, it was beautiful. Often in the ending we see light hitting water, looking almost like a blazing sea. But it was not this that had me spellbound. It was the way the light reflected in the Characters' eyes. The light sometimes even changed he eye colour, giving the animation a very realistic touch.
Really, PP has some dazzling art if you look at the details.
Now on to the sound (what a huge review I'm making xD): 9.5/10
With openings and endings can be said the same as with character design, value is based on personal opinion, and therefore OP/END cannot be rated. I can, however, rate the lyrics and fitingness of the music, which I'll try to do.
Whether you like the songs or not, the openings and endings can objectively be said as to fitting perfectly with the series. Especially the first OP and END which I think is the most well-fitting pair of songs I've ever seen/heard in an anime. The lyrics were probably made for this series. I mean, seriously, they're just too well-fitting. In the first op the question of society, which is also asked throughout the whole series, is brought up. In the ending we get a song most well fitting for one of the characters.The fast pace these two songs also fits the action of the series, building up even more tension.
The next set of songs are good as well, but take on a more quiet, romantic turn, which I do not find fitting for the series.
Next up is the background-music. Generally the tracks are both good and well-fitting. There's one which is a bit out of place, and this definitely draws down on my sound-score.
Last is the voice-actor cast. Actually I don't really feel skilled enough to rate this, so I'll just say, that I was generally satisfied. I think most voice-actors delivered a great performance and the voices fit the characters. I will say, with my limited skill, that Makshimas' actor did a greeeat job. His voice was a perfect fit.
A last remark on sound is another bonus: something rarely seen, the ending-video not being the same each time, but not only that - different parts of the song were chosen to make the most perfect fit - and also - talking in-between two parts of the ending song. What I'm trying to say; the video and song was each time composed to fit the plot flawlessly. That also means: Watch the ending EVERY time, there might be important plot in the middle of it.
Last up is characters: 9/10:
The protagonist of this series is the young female inspector, Akane Tsunemori. Akane seems to be the standard cry-baby, full-of-justice, irrational, emotional, very annoying character. But I can tell you, she's not. Akane is a human, who acts very human. Who, for instance, is affected by stressed situations, and, who sometimes lets emotion cloud her judgement. Akane is bright, and has a strong believe of what is justice. She's a genuinely good person, who believes in this world, and for that, I don't think she should be punished. She is a newbie, who has to learn, and she does. The development of her character is different from what I usually see - and different from what I'd expected. She is not flawless, and yes, she's (as a character) a little cliché, but she's not stupid and her development is rather original.
The male hero of the story is probably Shinya Kougami, a subordinate of Akane and a latent criminal. Even if the story focuses on Akane, the real plot unfolds around Kougami; thus making him almost more of a main character than Akane. Kougami is on first sight, our typical strong, badass, grumpy male-hero. But like Akane, Kougami surprises. I will not say there's much development to his character, it's just us getting to know him. Kougami quickly turns out to be quite the genius, who is certainly skilled at his work but his life is solely focused on his own agenda. Kougami is hard to understand, and even harder to declare as good or bad. His decisions will leave you wondering about the very nature of his character. Even after watching PP twice, I'm still not sure whether I should call him villain or hero. But certainly, for most people, he is a very likeable character.
And then to the villain, Makishima:
I cannot say much about him without spoiling all of the plot. What I can and will say is that he fights for his own sense of justice, and therefore - as with Kougami - it becomes hard to declare him good or bad. He and Kougami are in some ways very a like. Makishima is a bright, interesting and also annoyingly likeable villain - he can maybe be compared a bit to Light ( of Death Note).
The rest of the characters are supports, and I will not write about them individually. As a whole the supports are, as usually, very different of personality. Therefore there is a character for almost anyone to like - and also the characters supplement each other nicely. Kagari, for instance, creates the bit of humour PP has got. I also think there is an appropriate amount of supports, enough to make the story coherent and few enough to not make the story confusing.
The characters have a few seen-before elements, but are all in all both likeable, sensible and make the story move forward = 9/10.
I will not put enjoyment as part of my rating, but I will say that I enjoyed the series a lot. Psycho Pass has become one of my fave series and is definitely worth a watch.
Thank you if you took the time to read this abnormally large review :), I apologize for any clerical/grammatical errors, I am not english XDD.
Crime is a constant in human civilization. Theft, murder, and countless other atrocities have been committed by people in every civilization throughout history; try as we might, humans have always had trouble preventing crimes from happening, let lone eliminating them completely. However, what if advancement in technology eventually provided a system that could accurately assess a person's capacity to commit a crime? That is the question posed in Production I.G.'s dystopian sci-fi crime thriller Psycho-Pass: a searing, violent, and ambitious exploration of crime, justice, and the system that judges which is right in a society. Filled with interesting concepts, it is unfortunate that the
show ultimately falls short of its great ambition.
Some have dubbed Psycho-Pass as the 'Minority Report' of anime, a very justifiable accusation. The basic premise of a system that can judge if someone might commit a crime before they commit it is something that Psycho-Pass shares with that Tom Cruz Sci-Fi flick (which itself is based off a short story by Philip K. Dick), but the systems in the two are quite different. Minority Report has psychic 'Precogs' that have prophesies of the future. Psycho-Pass has the Sibyl System, a grand sprawling technological network that monitors everything in Psycho-Pass's futuristic Japan through scanners and patrol drones. The Sibyl System scans and determines what are the 'best' courses for the lives of the citizens that live under it. In addition to that, the Sibyl System also scans peoples' mental health, tendencies, etc. to measure their probability of committing crimes; called their "Psycho-Pass". This is a complex, well detailed set-up that harkens back to classic dystopian sci-fi. At the same time, given how much control the Sibyl System has over this futuristic society, it could be argued that it is also too self-aware of a set-up. Despite so many of the characters saying how the current peace would be impossible without the system, it reeks of oppressiveness from the first episode.
The MWPSB is the law enforcement in this futuristic version of Japan; composed of latent criminals called 'Enforcers' and high ranking Inspectors that keep the Enforcers in check. The story centers around a new Inspector, Akane Tsunemori, and one of the Enforcers under her command, Shinya Kougami. While at first Akane seems rather uninteresting as the milquetoast rookie, she develops greatly as the show progresses. She starts off as wide-eyed, naive, idealistic but unsure of herself; surrounded by characters that look like they will outshine her throughout the show. However, as she becomes more acquainted with the uglier side of humanity through her work in the MWPSB, she begins to see that the system of justice she serves under is far from flawless, yet sees its necessity and can't find it in herself to outright betray it. She also struggles with the relationship between Inspector and Enforcer, as she learns from and values Kougami's input even as those around her advise her against it. Kougami's development is less remarkable. While he is certainly one of the more interesting characters in the show, being a resourceful and very capable former detective with a dangerous mystery to him, his development is limited to his growing obsession with the show's antagonist, Shougo Makishima.
Majority of the characters suffer from the same lack of complex development. Not to say they don't get any development, in fact many of the Inspectors and Enforcers of the MWPSB get plenty of scenes and in some cases complete episodes dedicated to developing them. However, just as with Kougami, most of their development is too narrow in scope. To be honest, many of the characters are given too little to do, making any development they do get feel kind of extraneous or irrelevant. The silver tongued antagonist Shougo Makishima is an exception. He is well read, charismatic, and completely ruthless; in love with the ugliest facets of human nature. Makishima justifies his actions with a twisted rhetoric that the Sibyl System forces people to deny their inner desires and so those who live under it are not truly living; a somewhat convincing argument given how much control Sibyl has over society. Even still, he brings out the worst in people, convincing them to do the most horrifying of crimes.
Writer Gen Urobuchi pens the series with the sadistic shocks and twists he has become known for. With an intricate dystopian setting to serve as his playground, 'Urobucher' concocts many twisted scenarios; from a case that involves a disturbed 'artist' who makes her works from the bodies of her victims, to a demented game of survival in a subterranean maze. He then goes to grander mayhem of civil unrest and armed uprising, while simultaneously delving into sinister coverups involving the Sibyl System's true nature. It's unpleasant and discomforting in the best way; it is hard to turn away from the violent atrocities taking place before your eyes. However, Urobuchi's treatment of the show's themes is very heavy-handed. As mentioned earlier, the premise itself already makes the Sibyl System an oppressive force; Urobuchi pounds this in unnecessarily. When people are so brainwashed that they wouldn't recognize an act of violence before their eyes without help from the Sibyl System stretches believability of the situation. It doesn't help when the show (mostly Makishima) starts quoting classic books and poetry without giving a clear context to them. Some of the conversations between characters can at times also be a little convoluted, sounding less like natural dialogue and more like the writer trying to make a point of the conversation. This isn't to say the show's ideas are poorly handled, Akane's predicament and actions after she finds out the truth of the Sybil system proves the contrary, however it could have been handled with far more nuance.
Psycho-Pass is solid on the technical side of things. Production I.G. is known for well produced shows, particularly well produced sci-fi shows, and Psycho-Pass follows in that tradition for the most part. The character designs by Hitman Reborn mangaka Akira Amano are attractive, though heavy on the bishounen look. The high tech metropolis looks impressive as one might expect, filled with technological marvels and innumerable people. An early scene of Akane getting ready to start the day in her apartment showcases how advanced and integral technology has become in this future society, as well as being a pretty flashy scene on its own right. The visuals also often feel fittingly oppressive, with mechanical observers keeping an eye on the subservient populous. When the story calls for it, the visuals can be shockingly violent, depicting beatings and murders with visceral detail. There are a few production hiccups, most notably an episode which the show's production staff actually apologized for, but overall it is a really good effort visually. The music is mostly intense orchestrations with a few classical pieces (notably Beethoven's Ode to Joy), which serves the show's atmosphere very well. Though, there are times the music becomes overenthusiastic, blaring out and over-dramatizing a few scenes. The ending themes by Egotist are nice on the ears and are usually transitioned well at the end of an episode, but the two openings are more notable for their visuals than the songs they feature.
Psycho-Pass is a fine example of high concept sci-fi. While the futuristic setting has a decidedly dystopian feel, it is still very interesting and provides some nice food for thought. The show's attempt to explore the concepts of crime and justice through the overlord like Sibyl System is an admirable one, and through its central character Akane it draws some fascinating conclusions. Which makes it a shame the show can too often be needlessly heavy-handed, leaving the feeling that the show could have handled its themes with more grace and would have been better for it. The underwhelming development for characters other than Akane is also a bit of a detriment, especially since some of these characters get a good amount of screen time. Even still, Psycho-Pass is certainly worth the watch as a bleak, visceral, wickedly entertaining thriller.
What might be the first thing you see? It might be something like, “today in this peaceful community....police are looking for your help in identitying this suspect wanted for […]. If you have any other information, please contact your local authorities”.
Seriously, how often do you hear that? Most people who tune in the news daily probably would be half a dozen times a day. In the world of Psycho-Pass, the series takes crime to a whole new level with its advanced technology. Yet at the same time, hope and justice exists as the Enforcement Division uses technology of
their own to apprehend criminals and eliminate them as a threat to society.
Psycho-Pass is an original series that debuted on the noitamina network featuring a setting of a dystopian future. The series may be synonymous to the term, “psychopath” that reflects on a twisted individual's state of being. But any rate, the series takes place in a future where it has become possible to instantaneously measure and quantify a person's state of mind and personality. For that purpose, the term “Psycho-Pass” is used to refer the measure of an individual's being. In such a world, those with high Psycho-Pass levels are considered a threat to society and it is up to the Enforcement Division to eradicate them.
We need to think about this though:
Humans aren't perfect and we are all capable of making mistakes. The degree of these mistakes varies but all have consequences. However, should we really be punished before the action is committed? Should we be judged based on a system rather than morality? What if there is a flaw in the system and something goes wrong? It seems that some of these questions/ideas becomes a conflict for those who follows the system.
Essentially, the series makes an excellent pilot episode as well as the main themes of the series. The way Gen Uroboichi (PMMM, Fate/Zero S2, Phantom Requiem) handles this series traces down some of his other ways of dealing with his previous works. The themes of dealing with the future and thriller like moods are both present and beautifully executed. In fact, the series follows what police and the government can do in the future with technology like we have never seen before. It is quite an enthralling idea. Just think about it: reducing crime or rather, eradicating it before it even happens and prevent the damage. Maintaining public order in a dystopian world is never easy but the Enforcement Division is there to tackle the job.
Unfortunately, the series' themes tries a bit too hard occasionally with its philosophical and confusing speeches. In particular, the seemingly antagonist of the series stays in the background most of the time. More precisely, he is shown to be a humanist who embraces the idea of cruelty and the dark side of the human mind. It is possible that he even views himself as an immortal with the way he handles torture of his victims, either physically or mentally. He even makes twisted dialogues portraying a lot of old culture and seemingly becomes a distraction in occasional episodes with his Shakespearen-like monotones.
The themes of the series are also not new or too original as some people may think. The idea of a dystopian setting and working for a government in a futuristic setting can be traced in other anime series such as Ghost in the Shell and Ergo Proxy. In fact, viewers might even find some of its similarities so similar that it's almost like a season 3 of GiS. As such, police drama with cyberpunk and mysteries are involved. Even in live action movies, themes similar to Psycho-Pass exists such as those in The Minority Report, a film loosely based on Philip K. Dick. The point is that the although promising, it may or may not be new for veteran anime fans into the franchise. Regardless though, the series' idea is still interesting with its dark backgrounds and writing courtesy of Urobutcher.
As mentioned before, the series takes off with an explosive start and shows that such a dystopian world is truly dangerous. It does drag off balance a little though in the beginning episodes that seemingly may distract the viewers a bit. Examples of this includes the seemingly virtual world, stage attacks, and those fan service bits of Akane. However, it still maintains a high level of interest for viewers especially later on when new characters are introduced and some intertwined plots become connected through the criminal activities and mysteries. Some of the thriller endings are also capable of keeping a viewer at the edge of their seats as they make a viewer wonder “what will happen next?...”
Psycho-Pass continues to maintain its balance of character casts. They work together as a team with the unit because in the end, it takes teamwork and skills to finish the task. (and with a little help with the Dominator of course)
The main male protagonist in the series is a young man named Shinya Kougami who is tough, independent, and skilled in what he does. Ironically, he has a high criminal mentality himself but circumstances has allowed him to become part of the solution. Working with him on various assigned tasks is the female protagonist of the series, Akane Tsunemori. She joined the department for a different reason than Shinya but otherwise becomes part of the solution as well. Unlike Shinya however, she is more delicate who makes up the team with her intelligence rather than brawn. She seems to serve as the foil of Shinya and possibly even become a future love interest of his. The two shares an awkward relationship but it is clear that they care for one another, especially Shinya who seems to go his ways to help and protect her. The other characters of the team and cast also plays various roles although their spotlights are lessened in the series. Yet, they do balance out the team. We have the enthuastic and outgoing Shuusei Kagari who often makes jokes during the job that brightens the mood of the story. On the other hand, Yayoi Kunizuka maintains her calm composure during any situation and shrives to get the job done right. Then, there's Nobuchika Ginoza who has the most experience on the team and thus serves a sort of mentor for the others in order to ensure the success of a mission. Others such as Tomomi Masaoka and Shion Karanomori also play their roles. Ultimately, it's up to the entire team and their skills collectively as well working together to make the city a better place to live in.
The series is quite violent both physically and psychologically. Even in the very first episode, the criminals are shown to be merciless and violent. In fact, the very first criminal in the series that we see is a kidnapper, potential rapist, and possible murderer. It is no wonder his criminal mentality level is so high. The psychological part of Psycho Pass exists as well especially involving the main antagonist with his way of speeches. The way he talks through metaphors and expressing his ideas while having an English song being played can be a bit disturbing. It's not exactly something a viewer should watch before they go to sleep at night.
The way the series handles the fates of criminals with high level of Psycho-Pass is also brutal. Every time the Dominator claims a new life breeds a new scene of gruesome death, where the body splatters upon impact. The blood fills the screen and employs those shock values of violence and gore. Even when the target evades the move, it makes it seem it's just a matter of time they meet their ultimate fate. It doesn't stop there either. Fan service are also present especially with Akane and later on at school where artwork is seemingly portrayed as a way of sexualizing dead bodies where even cases of necrophilia is present. At some point, viewers will realize the various shock shown and what Psycho-Pass is as a series: a dark and gruesome presentation in the dystopian world.
The point? DO NOT WATCH if you can't take this. Trust me, you won't make it.
The artwork of the series is quite dark and I mean it literally. Even in the beginning episodes, it's hard to make out what exactly is happening until you take a closer examination. This shouldn't be a surprise though as in most dystopia series, such visuals are used to convey the serious mood and dark backgrounds. Koji Eto (Fate/Zero, Garden of Sinners, Steins;Gate) serves as the art director and the man gets the job done with his talents. With his already talented skills in crafting and directing darker themed series, Psycho-Pass brings those backgrounds of violence, cruelty, and darkness into the series quite well. The CGI usage of those dominator also shows the technology side of the P-P world. It's quite enthralling to look at and see how far everything has come through in such a futuristic dystopian setting.
Likewise, the soundtrack makes an impression. Yoshikazu Iwanami (Another, Koi Kaze, Deadman Wonderland) orchestrates the score and makes his skills known throughout the eerie sound rythyms in later episodes. In some of the scenes, English folktale music is used to reflect some of the moods of dark violence that expresses itself metaphorically. An example would be in one of the arcs where “Rule Britannia” is seemingly played during a rather disturbing scene. Employment of this is rare in anime series these days and makes some of the arcs that much more darker.
The opening song is performed quite well in general. Abnormalize by Ling Tosite Sigure plays a montage of the gruesome backgrounds of the series with some montages of the main characters. The lyrics “secret kills for you” is occasionally heard that brings the haunting words to life in the anime series. Likewise, Egoist makes their name known for their talent in both of their ED songs. Although not too realistic, it is catchy and fits within that P-P way, just the way it ought to be.
Ultimately, Psycho-Pass is a blockbuster series that can be quite a blast especially those into a futuristic setting involving police detective fiction. It's hard to say that the series is really for everyone especially those who have problems with the violence, gore, and psychological thriller themes expressed. It looks like P-P does try quite hard occasionally, but in such a world, there needs to be order. The series makes a great usage of its dystopia future while staying to the point without going off track too much. Science fiction often incorporates the package of alien invasion, going into a virtual world for conquest/domination, or time travel. Psycho Pass takes that genre and transforms it into a product that is appealing with its dynamics beyond those typical themes. However at many instances, I do feel that the series falls apart with its plot. Still though, it was a nice watch for me.
Now, what that's being said and done, season 2 may be on the horizon. Crime coefficient levels? Hell, if I'd know.
It has been a while since there has been a dystopian, psychological, police thriller of this popularity since Ghost in The Shell first aired. Writer Urobuchi Gen, famous for his works on the Fate/Stay Night series, and Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, decided to use his deft hand at writing and give us his own twisted version of the future. Psycho Pass is a dystopian crime thriller, centered around human morality. Is it right to sacrifice individual freedom, for safety? Is it right to condemn someone for something they might do?
Sadly, Psycho Pass falls short of greatness due to uneven pacing, some pretty poor
character development for certain characters and what I find to be a lackluster conclusion.
Story(7/10)- Psycho Pass is set in the future, where it is possible to measure the "soul" of a person using a device installed on each citizen called the 'Psycho Pass'. Using an advanced A.I. system called the ' Sybil System,' the police are now able to measure a person's mental state and the chance that they will commit a crime.
The first episode starts off very strong where we see the female protagonist, Akane Tsunemori, tackle her very first case and particularly gruesome one. The viewers are introduced to the obvious flaw of the Sybil System, that people under significant psychological stress are criminals. The episodes after that are very slow moving. Most of these story arcs are dreadfully boring and seem to drag on forever. It isn't until episode 8 where things really start to pick up when we are introduced to the antagonist, Makishima Shogo. It is only when he appears do the themes of Psycho Pass solidify and we see the potential this show truly has. Sadly, the poor ending ruins what could have been a great series. The producers of the show obviously wanted to leave room for a second season if the show did well enough, and that was to the show's detriment.
Now, I must give psycho pass credit, because all the themes were implemented flawlessly. For example, a big theme in Psycho Pass is emotional repression. The people in that society view expressing an type of emotion as negative out of fear that they will be punished by the Sybil System. As a result, the society is in a vegetative state, and act almost like zombies. They feel no empathy towards each other, they do nothing to help one another, all they are concern is about the state of their Psycho Pass. The world in Psycho-Pass is fleshed out to the point of believability.
Art(6/10)- The most obvious flaw has to be the animation. In this day and age, there is no excuse for the animation to be like this. It is often very choppy, and there are some poorly drawn characters. This does not make the show unwatchable by any means, heck sometimes the show looks great like in the first episode, but those moments are few and in between.
Sound(7/10)- The BGM wasn't very noticeable, and when it was, it didn't really add or take anything away from the scenes. The Opening and ending songs are very catchy though.
Character(7/10)- In a show like Psycho-Pass, characters are essential to moving the plot forward. If the characters are bad, then the show will fall flat on its face. Luckily, the cast of characters aren't bad but they are not as developed as I would have liked them to be. First we have Akane Tsunemori, a new and heavily idealistic detective to the police force. In early episodes, she comes off as a ditz, and relatively boring. It isn't until the midway through the series she starts to develop. Her confidence emerges as she becomes a more experienced and competent detective. Sadly, in the last few episodes, her personality does a complete 180 and she regresses to an even worse state than she was at the beginning of the show. The other protagonist, Shinya Kougami is literally nothing more than a foil character. He does cool things from time to time, and can spew George Orwell quotes like no tomorrow , but he is a relatively shallow character. He seems stuck in the past, but it is debatable whether the writers did that purposefully. The rest of the cast aside from the villains, add little to nothing to the show.
The crown jewel of this series has to be Makishima Shogo, the "villain," of the series. I put villain in quotes because it is up to the perspective of the viewer to decide if he is truly evil or not. His motives are always shrouded in mystery, making it hard to know what he will do next. He is calm, focused but never carries an air of malevolence like most of anime villains. Shogo vaguely reminds me of Johann Liebert from Naoki Urasawa's famed manga series, Monster. And that is no little accomplishment. It is a shame that his character was dragged down by the end of the show.
Is Psycho Pass a masterpiece? Not by any stretch of imagination. Is it a bad show? Absolutely not. Psycho Pass, if anything, is a sign of things to come. It is a sign that, hopefully, that there will be more anime with a message rather than generic harem or romcom shows. I give Psycho Pass a 7/10.
In a world where a persons mental state means everything, every action you make could mean a life in prison, or life as a slave to the new systems police force, If, you have talent for thinking like a criminal and solving murders.
This anime is fantastic, and for the first time in a long while the main threat is a perfect character. I am 15 episodes in and somehow this anime is still getting better and better.
Crime, action, intelligence and mental stability are all equally important in this story, and the plot is continuous and really showing a lot of growth in the
main characters and direction of the story.
All ready there have been back stories and even episodes solely dedicated to showing us how the characters are were they are.
Kougami is going to be a favourite of mine, and I am sure there will be others who will think the same,
Do you want to be emerged in a great plot with great characters in a world that is on the brink of falling into anarchy?
Where only a few can stop it?
Add in horror, action , mystery and crime and you have Psycho pass.
Must watch IMO.
Urobuchi Gen certainly made name for himself during last couple seasons. Known for his dark and edgy, sometimes nihilistic approach to writing that leaves trail of bodies and broken characters, it's hard to overlook his works. His works of Fate/zero and Madoka, that definitively left impact on anime scene for better or worse, coupled with Production I.G. creative history of making Ghost in the Shell franchise, made me hope that we would get darker, more Urobuchi-like version of GitS, something I would definitively enjoy a lot. Unfortunately, it didn't take too long to me to get disillusioned that such dream wouldn't come true due to
flawed logic and broken foundations of society that entire Psycho Pass world resides upon. Review will contain spoilers of series, so if you don't wish to be spoiled, turn away.
Psycho-Pass starts out nicely, introducing us to rookie Inspector Tsunemori Akane venturing into world of Public Safety Bureau, unit specialized for apprehending criminals and suspects judged by all seeing eye that is called Sibyl System. Under supervision of very same system, Bureau works to discover potential threats to society and solve various cases where rules of System have been broken. Hierarchy in Bureau is very clear; Inspectors, such as Akane supervise Enforcers such as Kougami Shinya, former convicts or outcasts of society that Sibyl System decided to recruit as manpower in upholding order.
Series continues in episodic way introducing us to world and some specifics in line of work of Bureau such as reliance on Enforcers' ways of solving cases; it takes a dog to hunt a dog. Another nice catch in dog-master relationship between Enforcers and Inspectors are Dominator guns, designed to target only people with high crime coefficient judged by Sibyl. That way it is ensured that dogs remain dogs and cannot rebel against System or endanger innocent people, while Inspector can always point gun towards Enforcer and pacify him due to his high crime coefficient. Psycho-Pass does a great job of introducing us to dystopian, or even utopian world, depending on interpretation, as well as people's concerns over it, both inside of Bureau and in outer world, such as when Akane's friends discuss about their concern with career that is predetermined by System.
Unfortunately, as series progresses it becomes clear that only way Psycho-Pass will hold viewer entertained is by adding body count. People we know nothing about, we care nothing about are killed by the same people we don't know/care, whose motives are vague and deluded, in horrible ways, kinda Urobuchi's trademark, but relevance of these events is practically nonexistent except perhaps explaining motives of Psycho-Pass main antagonist, Makishima Shogo and his views on current state of society. Show keeps on using shock elements, such as brutal murders, public chaos, blood and gore to keep up entertainment value. And it does its job well. On the flip side, it adds no intellectual or emotional value to story, but only pictures Sibyl System and Bureau as incompetent bunch, not being able to handle even minor riot started by bunch of renegades immune to Sibyl's judgment. Dominators, their first line of defense against chaos are worthless. Such system maintains lives of countless people across whole country and yet as very smallest problem and it becomes unsolvable until fatal damage has been dealt. But I'll get to juicy details of Sibyl being fundamentally flawed later. For now let's talk characters.
Series and Bureau have rather wealthy cast, and as such, it's not possible to fully develop every single one of them. There is more focus on our love triangle of Makishima, Akane and Kougami while rest of the cast are there merely to present view on Sibyl, or sometimes they even receive some development, but it's nothing to write home about, except Ginoza that receives some good development by the end of the series. Akane is easily best character in show and her development is well done. Transformation from rookie with shaking knees into full fledged Inspector with strength to stand for herself, being a guide to future generations of Inspectors to come is really impressive. Makishima would be so proud of how much she changed since their first meeting. Speaking of Makishima, I'm kinda iffy on him. He does represent man with strong sense of individuality, wanting to liberate people from System's *evil* control. If that's the case then what is point of enjoying watching people suffer and messing with others' lives? And on occasions he transforms from *poet* into mindless shounen antagonist wanting to kill everyone in his path. Inconsistent characterization much? What could have been great character was reduced to your random unmemorable guy. Kougami also received great deal of exposure throughout the series and his character is well built. As he degraded into state of mere hound he relies a lot on his instinct when solving cases giving series a lot of dynamics. Coupled with aggressive, if I may say rash approach in solving cases and strong believes towards his own justice rather than relying on Sibyl's judgment, he is definitively entertaining character to watch and works well as main male character overall. One character that I found to my liking despite having lack of screen time is Tomomi Masaoka. He represents the old way of thinking about detective business and due to him being unable to adapt to Sibyl he became Enforcer. High crime coefficient or not, he still remained good person despite Sibyl's tag on him and a good father. This is way to off character and have impact on viewer, (as well as Ginoza) not some nameless, faceless dolls that served no purpose in the first place.
That being said, there is one hidden gem in characters, one that deserves special mention for breaking the show. Yes, it's everyone's favorite Sibyl System itself. We can tag it as character, no? It is understandable that Sibyl wants to recruit people that they cannot judge as it would add another dimension to understanding similar type of people as well as lengthen duration of System itself. Brains don't last forever after all. But how in the world would such system came into existence in the first place? From what I see recruits and members of Sibyl are people with strong individuality, different view on world or in another words, social outcasts, people that must not exists in world by Sibyl standards. Such people, treated as junk, criminals and defects would then form a cornerstone of what is meant to watch over country and ensure that everyone is judged by same standards with fairness? Really? After all, same society treated them like trash, and now they are here to ensure those very same people live happily ever after? Did Urobuchi become too soft or what? If I were one of them I sure as hell know where I would send them to. And even if what I said is hypothetically not true, we have living recruit of the System. What did Makishima do when he was invited to join? Yeah, exactly that. Smacked Kasei, broke few bones or circuits and gtfo'd away. At this point in series I was actually hoping Makishima would join into Sibyl and work against it from the inside rather than trying one man army entire System himself. It would make sense seeing how much freedom is actually granted in system just by talking with Chief Kasei, who was his old apprentice. He could have noticed that man behind mask isn't collective mind of Sibyl but rather an individual that he actually knows and can recognize his personal traits. He could have easily seen that individuality still exists inside Sibyl and work from there, especially considering how much authority is given to you, going as far as to change Dominator readings, as seen when Ginoza was meant to shoot Kougami. Easy way to mess up entire system in eyes of common people, working from inside. But no, he decided to solo the world, and that task was pretty easy actually, considering 99% of food for country is produced on one field and he only needs to mess food production. What was purpose of this again? To make one mutation or one disease (or one Makishima) to wipe out entire food supply of a whole country? I call that sloppy writing. And how did Sibyl ever come into existence? Following the same trend – sloppy writing.
Sloppy writing aside, technical parts of the show are ok for the most part. Animation, albeit inconsistent at times does its job well by showing Psycho-Pass world as it is. Action sequences are well done, not much complains. Character designs are fitting to dark mood of series and technology is designed pretty well, especially Dominator guns. Sound is another strong point of series as all openings/endings are catchy themes with fitting lyrics to set mood of show and are also choreographed well. Sound throughout the series is good, from sound of bones breaking to musical background fitting to scenes and it's used well to improve overall atmosphere. Special award for best voice acting goes to Hanazawa Kana for voicing Akane. From her shaky starting lines all the way up to her confident self, voice acting remains great and always fitting Akane's character.
Ending of series was done very well with some things left open to interpret as seeing fit, but after dust settles all we have is another sci-fi anime that didn't use its premise well, but rather used fanservice named gorefest and Urobuchi's name to sell. If you like to see body count rising and people suffering, chances are you will end up loving Psycho-Pass a lot. Police business and individual cases are interesting, and it's fun to see how characters have to actually use brains here and there to solve cases. Action is decent throughout the whole show, and overall experience of show is pretty positive, but if you actually wanted something that can use full potential of given setting, you might be a bit disappointed in presentation. I only hope that Urobuchi becoming too mainstream won't affect his writing too much in his future works, but seeing trending of mainstream things, inside or outside anime industry, it feels like rather ominous sign. Then again, it might just be me reading into it too much...
"It's not the final judgement of "good" and "evil" that's important. What matters is that you come to that decision yourself. That you agonize over it and eventually accept it." -Akane Tsunemori
Psycho-Pass is essentially a psychological-action anime with a sci-fi based setting driving the story line.
The Story: 9/10
Psycho-Pass is set in the future where you are able to easily see the mental state of one's mind. This is given a number, a number relating to one's contingency of creating a crime, called the 'Crime Coefficient' if it is over the normal rate. These persons are apprehended, if not disposed of if reached too high.
Inspector Akane Tsunemori and Shinya Kougami are both part of the Public Safety Bureau's Criminal Investigation Division, which is in charge of maintaining order with the use of the Sibyl System. Sibyl connects with the Dominators Enforcers and Inspectors use to hunt for the latent criminals. On her first day Akane Tsunemori meets with Inspector Nobou Okura and the two, with the Enforcers are labelled to take down the cause of the Area Stress level. Nobuchika Ginoza, Shinya Kōgami, Shūsei Kagari and Tomomi Masaoka are introduced as the first Enforcers seen in the story.
In the first episode, you will feel slightly information-dumped with the expectation that you will remember each person’s name. After getting into this series a bit more, you will conveniently find that this is not the case. The producers have made it very clear and easy who’s communicating to whom. The rules or what you can and cannot do with the Dominators are shown over time in the series and the motives characters are very well defined in the story. There are small side stories within the anime, but they all intertwine at a point within the series in some way or another. The links between each case is put together very astutely. Execution of this concept is what made the story very interesting in such a way different to other anime with a mystery and crime genre. There are a couple of episodes slightly not as fulfilling, maybe only two. But don't let these ones deter you away from the anime, they're just very dialogue driven and provide more insight into the characters.
The Art: 9/10
The animation here was very well done. Background effects brought a dark feel to the even darker plot. It enhanced the experience of the story in such a way that it felt very real. Either foreground of background the designs of objects, characters and material were very well done. Character designs in the anime were all very different. None of the characters art looks like it had its shape copy/pasted and put different things on. This includes the supporting characters- of which there are many. Dark color shading to every object will undoubtedly annoy some people to not see a change in texture, but because of this the theme of Psycho-Pass is reinforced.
The Sound: 8/10
The sound here seemed to have high audio quality. EGOIST and ryo are great choices for creating the composition for Psycho-Pass. The visuals to make the OP for Psycho-Pass must have, undoubtedly taken quite a bit of time. The meaning behind the lyrics is very deep; it accompanies the art used to make the opening and ending scenes substantially high in quality. But, despite this it isn’t as addicting to listen to after finishing the actual anime. To get a clearer picture, you really must have the visual aid of the music segment while listening to enjoy it to its full extent. The voice acting was favourable, despite the voice mostly being in a serious tone. Understandably, because Psycho-Pass has a dark theme, there wouldn’t be any times when main characters were lively. In turn the voice actors could not express their skill fully in the anime.
The Characters: 10/10
All of the main characters have their stories straightened out in Psycho-Pass. There is none, or, at the least very little times that you would question the past of one of the main characters. Shinya Kougami. He's the main male Enforcer in the story where there are 5 other Enforcers and 2 Inspectors working with him. He's enemies with Makishima, actually the villain of the story because of his connection with the Specimen Case. He tries to guide Akane onto the route of being a good Inspector while also looking after her- even saving her at times while trying to hunt for Makishima. He’s not much of a diverse character. Once he has made his mind of doing something he sticks with it. Akane is a bit of a tricky one. At times it seems like she has ‘feelings’ for Shinya and other times not as much. Her past is clearly defined in Psycho-Pass. She's a good strong one, who just needed a kick start to developing into a versatile character. One thats progress throughout the story can be seen very clearly. Makishima Shogo is the main villain in the story. He’s a sadist to the extreme degree, while maintaining his twisted views on the world where they would stay at the same point. His choices are well characterized and his logic and thoughtfulness put into each of these is very intriguing. The side characters are all entertaining and likable in some form. Each of the members in Unit One contributes greatly to the story line and helps to push it forward, while also relaxing tension in between scenes.
The Enjoyment: 10/10
Others who enjoy a morbid feel in anime will most likely enjoy this. Personally, watching this was something new to me as I had not explored this genre before. I’m surprised how amazing and tense it can make you feel. I’ve only watched this series once through, and a couple of sections while writing this review. To me, it feels like a one-time-only anime. Unless you like to re-watch things, re-watching this won’t bring anymore enjoyment or chilly feelings as much as going through it the first time through. It would be a lot staler in its mystery and plot twists, as well as those climatic moments. After watching this quite a while ago, I can safely say that it’s actually not that memorable. After the first few days, for sure it will be in your mind after watching. But this thought will soon go away.
Overall with the solid ending and neat epilogue it makes this anime very worthwhile. As this anime has a very unique setting and plot, it’s recommended for those who can bear the heaviness this anime has.
The Butcher strikes again with an intense action set in a chilling dystopia that, regrettably, is one of his weakest works.
In early 22nd century Japan, it has become possible to analyze a human mind with a startling degree of accuracy using a network of scanners and an incredibly powerful supercomputer known as the SIByL System. To this end, the judicial system is no longer required for law enforcement. Police use the SIByL System’s abilities to judge a person’s mental state and depending on the situation, either arrest them so that they can undergo therapy, or carry out executions on the spot. Into this world is
thrust the brilliant but inexperienced Inspector Tsunemori Akane. We follow the inspector and the rest of the Public Safety Bureau as they investigate the tenacious shadow of crime that haunts Japan, and learn more about the truth behind their “paradise.”
One thing that caught me off guard, which viewers should be aware of is that despite being an anime about police detectives, it is most definitely NOT a mystery. The pawns and masterminds of crime are made known to the audience quickly (read: in the intro). This is a fast-paced action anime much more than it is a mystery. An action anime that is quite dark and violent at times. Although Psycho-Pass does not thrive on gratuitous gore for shock value, it’s definitely way too much for younger audiences or those with a weak stomach.
The first thing you will notice about Psycho-Pass is that the story is served up on a silver platter of fluid animation and solid, yet disquieting music. Psycho-Pass’s presentation of the future transitions between sleek and gritty, but never boring. Be it the character designs or some high-tech contraption, there is always something pretty to look at. It’s no secret that Production I.G has a lot of money, and they obviously dropped big bucks to make this title look good. Unfortunately, Production I.G has acquired a nasty habit in recent times: making some parts of anime dazzling (especially the beginning) and hiding some less-than-outstanding work throughout the series as it goes on. This creates the perception that an anime is gorgeous, and once people have that impression in their minds the studio is free to be a little lazier when nobody’s looking. You can see this habit at work in other anime like Suisei no Gargantia and Shingeki no Kyojin. I noticed several conspicuously still backgrounds and simple designs especially in the middle-late part of the anime. These are the sorts of things I would consider run-of-the-mill in a typical anime, but it is precisely because Psycho-Pass is such an attractive anime that these lapses are so irritating.
But the substance behind the style is what really makes, and breaks, this anime. The setting of this anime is particularly excellent. The society we see at the beginning is safe, happy and free. But as Psycho-Pass continues, we learn that the pillars holding these values are actually rather fragile. Social problems, isolationism, unreliable technology and oppression lurk in the unilluminated shadows. This dystopia is definitely authoritarian, to the point of dictating possible jobs to people based on their abilities. But there are several examples of how it is not an Orwellian “Big Brother” society. The citizens are happy, without being brainwashed, quite reminiscent of Philip K. Dick.
Therein lies the problem, Psycho-Pass is the world of Philip K. Dick, if they didn’t flat-out admit it in the anime they might almost be accused of plagiarism. Psycho-Pass is brazenly derivative of several other works, even anime. More than once I had to ask myself if I wasn’t watching Ghost in the Shell or reading Gulliver’s Travels. Psycho-Pass doesn’t even care if you know, in fact it wants you to know; it’s positively stolid.
The setting may be a little stale, but Urobuchi makes it work, the real point is what goes on in that setting. The Public Security Bureau may be the sword-arm of SIByL, but they do their job because they care about protecting people. As they are faced with a string of brutal crimes, it gradually becomes as obvious to them as it is to the audience that there is a connection. The focus of Psycho-Pass is not so much what is behind these crimes, but why. At first, it seems the only motivation is the sadism and insanity of distasteful malcontents, but the more complex picture is gradually revealed. In this sense, the story is very well put-together. Forced storytelling is nowhere in sight; I was fully expecting one of the detectives to produce a totally rectally-derived solution to an investigation, but to my delight, it never happened. There are no plot holes and the elements of the story come together strongly as nobody is “right” or “wrong.”
The characters are flawed and very compelling, compounded by excellent voice acting across the cast. Even side characters have believable thoughts and motivations. The three main characters are all superb. Tsunemori’s development can be a little jerky and opaque at times, but she shows tremendous, yet believable, strength of character. She is presented with several difficult decisions and her reactions are all reasonable, earning her praise and scorn from others. Kougami struggles with his ideals against his feelings and past, which is satisfactorily explored without being too excessive. He has little faith in the society that shuns him, but embittered though he is, he tries to do the right thing.
Makishima is a spectacular villain. At first it seems he is merely an evil psychopath, which he most definitely is. However, his motivations and methods reveal an intricate character, almost noble in some ways. Some viewers may even root for him at some points, and not just those who support the bad guy to be edgy.
One of the biggest problems with Psycho-Pass is the sometimes incomprehensible rationale behind it. The science (often pseudoscience) of the show is extremely confusing at times. The technology is especially baffling, particularly the Dominator weapon system. I will refrain from spoilers, only I think that it must be designed expressly with storytelling potential in mind, with any practical concerns neatly cast away. There are also a few times when the characters are equally obtuse. I recall a small squad of police bursting in on an injured and unarmed criminal and shooting him without hesitation. One character promptly wonders aloud who the criminal was talking to and whether he was working alone. Apparently it never once occurred to him that he might get that information from the man himself. This infuriating quirk only gets worse as the anime goes on.
Psycho-Pass is very pretentious at times. It asks some moderately philosophical questions, but like the setting, nothing even approaches originality. It wants to provide dumbed-down action without sacrificing its air of deepness. Psycho-Pass isn’t a “bad” anime by any stretch of the word, in fact it is quite entertaining. But it isn’t nearly as intelligent as it thinks it is.
*Somewhat spoilerish materials in this review. I will try to fix that as I continue to grow as a writer!*
By now I have watched many anime shows that covered almost every theme you could possibly think of, almost. Yeah, I say almost because once in a while an anime show in particular rises above them all. A show that introduces an idea in a new way. A show that diverges from the other dozens of shows that air along side it. But what makes an anime stand head and shoulder above the others? Could it be the story, characters, or (if you are like me)
even the soundtrack that makes an anime outstanding? What if there was an anime that incorporates all of the above? Now that is an anime worth anybody's time.
And that anime would be Psycho-Pass.
Set in a futuristic Cyberpunk setting we dive into a high-tech and self-sustaining Japan where law and order are maintained by an all-powerful supercomputer dubbed "The Sibyl System." By this system all people of Japan must obey and follow its every command and judgement, whether you consider it fair or not. However, all governing bodies aren't perfect. Everything has its flaws and imperfections, but when the very people who uphold this system's "justice" start to find out about these imperfections what would happen?
Psycho-Pass starts off by introducing Tsunemorie Akane, a new Inspector for the Public Safety Bureau which upholds the laws set by the Sibyl System. The system that runs the country by judging every human mind individually, evaluating its talents, weaknesses, and even its potential to commit crimes. Through this system life is practically dictated to the civilians of Japan creating a Utopian society devoid of criminals and even potential criminals. But when Tsunemorie and Unit 1 stumble across a case that blatantly defies that very system they swore to protect all hell breaks loose as the very foundation of society is shaken by one man.
The story of Psycho-Pass is the meat of the entire show. The common theme of what's right and wrong is tossed around quite a bit. Even with that common theme being the backbone of Psycho-Pass it still found an entirely new way to present this overused theme. If society accepts or allows certain things does it make that certain thing right? Good? The Sibyl System just sounds too perfect...
If we all followed something unquestionably than wouldn't that make you no better than a pet? An animal that simply listens to what it is told? When man loses his will and ability to decide for himself can he truly be called a human? All these themes and questions ring loud and clear in Psycho-Pass. It was a true joy to see these old themes dressed and presented in new and compelling ways . Ways that would make me bite my nails and rock my chair back and forth until the next episode.
Being a show with such a deep, dark, an mature story we are given a cast that really showcased just how much potential the show really had. Shinya Kougami was that classic old-school protagonist that you just couldn't help but admire. He just screamed Spike Spiegel to me (which is a really good thing). An old-school classic character is always welcomed, but I always wanted to watch a show that had an antagonist that was cool, level-headed, dark, sinister, but yet a man an audience can sympathize with.
Enter Shougo Makishima.
Now I know plenty of you guys went through that, "Hey! They totally stole my idea!" Moment at least once when you watched a movie or show, well when I saw Shougo in his full glory in episode 11 I couldn't help but scream that out at the end of the episode. I finally found another show that diverged from those cookie-cutter antagonists that were always evil and had no sense or reason. Shougo had his reasons, and they were pretty damn good reasons too.
But we can't forget the mighty Akane Tsunemori. Though she played a small role for the first half of the show she finally had her due spotlight at the closing of the show which I greatly appreciated. She was a good breath of fresh air from all those other female protagonists out there (Yes! I am looking at you Inori). But I know half of my love for Akane comes through her God-like seiyuu, Hanazawa-chan.......I am a softy for cute and soothing voices, which are very much welcome in such a show as dark and gloomy as Psycho-Pass.
Along with the other inspectors and enforcers the cast was a big reason for this shows incredible story. (Give a shout out to that Yuri love with Shion and Yayoi!.....Sorry, I just couldn't let that go unsaid)
Music and Animation
If you haven't guessed already I tend to put a lot of value into animation and soundtracks. What makes those climax scenes, transitions, fight scenes, and even scenes with characters randomly staring up in the sky even more epic? Get Yoshikazu-sama to be your Sound Director! Come on people, this is the guy who had his hand in Baccano! The Main theme for Psycho-Pass is played through out the show on a piano, violin, and synthesizer. Each version played with their respective scenes flawlessly. The soundtrack gave so much life and definition to the anime that it just couldn't be ignored. Animation goes hand in hand with the music and Psycho-Pass hit it right on the nail. Though the art got choppy in later episodes (for understandable reasons), both were produced to masterful levels of brilliance. When the I saw the Dominator in action I couldn't help but desire one for my own personal use. Along with those artful explosions of blood and guts, we tend to see the insides of many people. This is rated R for a reason people, so try not to watch Psycho-Pass during your lunch break because you just might get Dominated! AHAHAHA, classic...Ahem, in any case, Bravo Production I.G.
When an anime presents us a strong and emotional story line complimented by intricate and complex characters backed up by an art and music style that resounds with epic simplicity but yet amazing profoundness we find ourselves with a jaw-dropping anime: Psycho-Pass. The story and characters flesh out what makes a man a man. Conforming or reforming, mature themes that are tough to swallow. With a story that has so many things going on we can't really see the line of good and evil. That's were the beauty of Psycho-Pass lays hidden. This isn't a show that tells you what is right and wrong, this is a show that makes you decide. Decide for your own life, don't blindly follow things or people without reason. It is a good reminder to not get lost in today's world with so many conflicting views and accepted norms. What makes you human? Your Psycho-Pass? Or what YOU make of YOURSELF? But then again
"The SIByL Still Continues..."
A sequel that has the possibility of retaining or even surpassing it's predecessor? Sure as hell hope so.
*This being my first review I thank you for reading it. Feedback and friendly criticism is welcomed! Once again, thank you.*
To me, Psycho-Pass was great largely because of its world. The basic premise is "What if we could tell criminal minds apart from normal ones?", and in the show, the conclusion of this is that the governmental Sibyl System aggressively monitors your mental state, so that they can arrest or execute you provided you are sufficiently criminal.
Using the same scanning techniques, the state is able to assess your aptitude for different types of work and employ you accordingly. This is all nice on paper, but quickly leads into murky waters - is it really fair to deny someone the opportunity to try their hand
at (say) forming a band because you know they wouldn't be any good at it? If this makes them unhappy and eventually criminal, is punishing them really completely fair?
To its credit, Psycho-Pass does raise some of these questions. However, they are usually avoided because most of the show's criminals are portrayed as complete monsters for the sake of narrative convenience. When the show raises the question of whether we can equate the Sibyl System with justice, it is somewhat hard to take it seriously, because virtually all the criminals we have seen at that point are completely without redeeming qualities. I feel like the show could really have used a few down-to-earth criminals with relatable motives.
My second main problem with the show is its main story, and specifically the ending. Obviously I can hardly go into it without causing spoilers, but put shortly I was really disappointed by how some of the final reveals were resolved. Also, I really didn't care much for the main antagonist. Despite occasional flashes of brilliance, he struck me as a worn-out mix of standard anime tropes.
Though I guess I have been mostly harsh on the show, I overall quite liked it. The world itself is immensely interesting, and my main problem is that I hoped the show would do more with it. Even though it doesn't, though, it still manages to pull off 22 very entertaining episodes with virtually no downtime or filler, and it makes for a very satisfying mix of action and horror. Provided you aren't looking for a hugely cerebral show, I would definitely recommend Psycho-Pass.
In short, "Psycho Pass" is a weak, pretentious and utterly misguided show. There are two main reasons for that. First - very general failure of the show in constructing a sensible futuristic vision and second - its not exactly superb writing.
At first Psycho-Pass looks like a clinical example of a generic work. It rips off "Minority Report", "Dredd" and many other SF stories. It has generic dystopian setting, generic art style, generic soundtrack - neither of these special nor particularly bad. Just not very promising. But then the basic premise of the story degenerates quickly. Decent dystopias in fiction generally should be at least marginally
plausible and even if they are extremely bad place to live in it should be shown that they benefit at least some individuals in some way. Or at least it should be revealed gradually that they are nightmarish, nightmares being hidden behind idyllic appearances.
Ignoring that, Psycho Pass from the very beginning presents its world as pure hell on earth. It is a close relative to Nazi Germany, apartheid South Africa and Stalin's USSR. After realizing it I counted on some in-story justification which would make me believe that this world (overseen by computer algorithm called Sibil System), evil as it is, has any sense. None was provided. The citizens of this world have absolutely no reason to endure living in such place. There isn't even any privileged caste who benefits from the system and there is no overwhelming force which keeps everyone in check. Literally nothing holds the system together. In any even marginally realistic scenario it wouldn't stand a chance of going on for longer than a month without big social turmoil and bloody rebellions on a massive scale.
And it should be apparent not only from the outside perspective, to the viewer, but, inside the fictional universe, also to the characters themselves. In fact the entire cast of protagonists not only should notice on rational and political level how evil is the system they are protecting - the story gives them also every emotional, ethical and psychological reason one can think of to openly rebel. Yet they don't, they choose to back up the system instead. Which makes them automatically unconditional villains. And simultaneously complete morons, their choices and actions are so thoughtless and harmful to themselves it's almost beyond belief. It's also the reason why one loses all interest in their fate and in their fight against so called crime.
Then we meet an antagonist. For a change, he rebels against the system. By being a psychopathic murderer with a higher goal. As a result he is moron as well - many of his actions are done only for the fun of bloody carnage and are actually harmful to his ultimate plan. Although he is better and a little bit more relatable character than protagonists, still in the end the whole story is about moron villains fighting other moron villains. I simply could not care less.
All of that alone wouldn't sanction such a bad rating. But, as I mentioned, on top of that the show was really badly written. Some characters are portrayed inconsistently - our main male protagonist oscillates between an apathetic cynical criminal, hunter obsessed with only one goal and sympathetic obedient detective entirely on the whim, without any justification given by the story. Causes of his intense hatred of main antagonist are also left unexplained, as are many reasons for his actions. Similar applies to main heroine, but because she is a rookie, it's justifiable to some extent by character development. The relationships in the hierarchical environment of police force are portrayed equally incoherently - the superiors and inferiors interact with each other from scene to scene so randomly one gets the impression writers haven't thought it out at all. The show has many underdeveloped characters and plots which looked promising, were played with but were ultimately abandoned in favor of the main story. There are some twists and climaxes later on, but they are unconvincing or fail to incite any emotional reaction. The latter is actually inevitable when you have unrelatable characters. Oh, and the series' lackluster ending is a sequel hook.
The other glaring flaw of the show is its frequent violation of the "show, don't tell" rule. It spends enormous amount of time on explaining to the audience what exactly is going on, on delivering pompous speeches on philosophical topics and on quoting famous works, does it have a sense or not. "Psycho-Pass" insults the viewer with its explanations so many times that at some point it even begins to be funny.
Another problem arises every time when show tries to be insightful. The writers are trying to discuss serious issues, but everything they achieve is scratching the surface of the problem. The aforementioned pompous speeches are pretentious, shallow and often without actual content. It also looks like writers couldn't decide what exactly they want to discuss, they often raise an issue and then almost immediately forget about it.
Nevertheless I hesitate to call "Psycho Pass" a complete shit. It really tried hard to be non-trivial, mature and thoughtful. It tried so much that although I really didn't like the show I finished it anyway. Unfortunately all of its strengths lay in its potential, actual execution is a miserable failure. All what is left for the viewers is to hope that Gen Urobuchi will write some day as good story as he once did.
I'm gonna keep this brief: Watch this series. Fortunately I wasn't someone who started watching the show when it first aired, because goddamn, the hype and cliffhangers from episode to episode would have driven me crazy. Anyways, if I need to justify why this series is very good, here ya go.
STORY: Set in a futuristic city, 99 years in the future, the mental health of citizens can now be measured through Psycho-Pass, where it can be quantified. High Psycho-Pass means you're more likely to commit crime, low Psycho-Pass means the latter. Something that pleasantly surprised me was that the series deals with morals and
philosophy quite a bit, it really felt well geared for the kind of show it is. The Sybil System which is an AI that looks over the Psycho-Pass of everyone in the country is a particularly interesting side of the exploration in the story. Great story.
ART: The art was very good in my opinion. The city looks very beautiful, and the character designs, while not being ground breaking, were very well designed. The series takes a lot of good scenery changes which was welcome, as you can only awe at a blue and black city for so long. You can definitely tell that the budget was well spent.
SOUND: First things first, I goddamn love both of the openings and both of the endings. They were all truly kickass. The in-show music however, never really captured me the same way though. It served it's purpose though, and I thought the inclusion of classical tracks was refreshing. Good stuff overall, but lacked that extra push.
CHARACTER: The two MC's of the show are Akane Tsunemori and Shinya Kogami. Their personalities and views differ a lot, but they really develop into a great team. I liked that there was no shoehorned romance between them, because it would've been pretty easy to do. With supporting characters, you've got Ginoza Nobuchika and Masaoka Tomomi along with several others, but out of the supporting cast, those two were my favorite. The antagonist of the series is Shogo Makishima, who for the record is very, very interesting. Sadly, telling you why would be spoiler heavy, but he serves a awesome role. I loved the characters of this show.
ENJOYMENT: I was on the edge of my seat every episode, and I can't say that about a lot of shows I've watched. It was a great ride, and it's not over yet with Season 2 in the works, which I'm very excited for.
OVERALL: Watch this show. It was so much fun to watch, and made me think. The action was never just to be there, and the exposition was well paced. Hell, the whole show was well paced. You're missing out if you skip this one.
Morality is illusory. Art is dead. Talent is lost. True relationships are almost non-existent. Such is a world governed by the Sibyl system.
I have rated this series 9 before and after rewatching the new edited version I give it 10, simply because the extra scenes are very important and add great context to other scenes and flesh out characters better.
Psycho-pass is a crime fiction thriller whose idea is highly influenced by Philip Dick's "Minority Report" book series. Now despite the basic plot, this series is full of implications and hints. The writer does not give you what you want on a silver plate, he
does not let you see what's truly going on, he wants you to see it and comprehend it on your own.
This is a very complex show, but where does this complexity lie and how do you find it?
The staggering point is that in a cyberpunk futuristic anime, what is most emphasized here is the hatred for technology. Technology stripped the world of meaning, stripped the world of values, stripped the world of genuinity, originality,creativity. Humans lost the motives to seek their most cherished ideals, purpose.. freedom.. truth. This is the most important concept that is implied within the show.. It's not about applying justice and eliminating crime as most people might think, it's about the foundation of human nature.
Another important argument is the free will debate, this illustrates our misapprehensions about ourselves;
What are we after all if we don't act on our will, what is our worth, are we still human individuals, or are we then sheep within the herd..?
Are you still authentic if you don't act from your own center?
Now i know this might sound like I'm throwing all Makishima's thoughts onto the writer himself.. But as i see it.. I would say Makishima is Urobuchi's mouthpiece in Psycho-pass. The complexity and uniqueness of Makishima's character demands a great devotion in thought and effort.. Most of the episodes in the uncut version starts and ends with Makishima's words..
Another main character is Kougami Shinya.. He is the ultimate badass of the show but he's no hero. Kougami has a sense of justice but does not believe that the law is just, and thus he wants to act on his own to conquer evil.. Yet somehow, deep down, he doesn't think Makishima is evil.. deep down he knows how right Makishima is even if he doesn't agree with the latter's ways. He knows how similar they both are, no matter how much he denies it on the outside..
Kougami's strength is "anachronistic and classical". He is far more deep than the abyss he eternally gazes into..
I want to point out one other thing.. why the main female character who "supposingly" the story revolves around, acts in certain ways throughout the series, is because of her character not a plot flaw.. In the beginning she behaves like an inexperienced little girl because her character is an inexperienced little girl. although she undergoes a good amount of transformation, she still makes mistakes based on poor judgement and concrete idealism. Nonetheless I think she's very relatable and honest.
I find the characters well balanced and interesting. The gore isn’t gratuitously silly and serves as an excellent plot device. Both the OST and voice acting are amazing.
All in all I think Psycho-pass is an outstanding anime because it delivers so many expensive thoughts and concepts and still leaves room for more thought. This anime is both a serious work of thoughtful art and a wild entertainment.
“This is a disease called serenity...a form of death that people wished for.”
A world that keeps people under control breeds monsters, in order to keep an equilibrium. Psycho-Pass could have been just another action anime with a cute main girl and attractive bishonen cast, fortunately, that wasn't the case. I would describe this anime as having an unique approach on a detective/ futuristic setting, borrowing a variety of concepts from various medias and forming its own world.
In a world dependent on technology, which seems so guarded and secure, the human psyche has never been more endangered. This world is marked by the existence of the
“Sybil System” (that is unquestioned by the avearge citizen, thus making you doubt the fairness of the system) which was a system created to improve the human society, by sorting out those who have a "clouded Psycho-Pass", (which means they have criminal tendecies) from the "good sheep". “Mental contamination” is presenting itself as a big issue, coordinating the future of its inhabitants. The degree of how "contaminted" is your psychic health, is being measured by the "Psycho-Pass" device, hence the name of the show. This is a world where humans chose comodity over personal freedom, which is only a very well camouflaged illusion.
The screen play was written by Gen Urobuchi (Nitroplus), the one and only creator of the thought-provoking Madoka Magica, he's the reason for the popular themes that attracts the masses while still delivering intriguing and imaginative themes. The first episode opens with the newly appointed young inspector Akane Tsunemori that has as her first case the dangerous mission of catching a criminal. As her "assistants" she receives in her care a few "enforcers" who are described as latent criminals who are allowed into the outside world with the sole purpose of flushing out criminals just like themselves : "They are hunting dogs. They're beasts used to hunt other beasts." At first, Akane is intimidated by them, but soon finds out they are victims of the society they live in. They are seen using cool-looking weapons, called “Dominator" that adapt to the owner's psychological data, which in my opinion is an ingenious concept.
I should add that action-driven, detective-oriented animes aren't my cup of tea (with the exception of Detective Conan, but that anime has less action and more analytical thinking), but in Psycho-Pass' case it is more than that, I was compelled by the waving of the plot and the philosophical aspects. They are smartly integrated in the plot, such as the existence of a dystopian future, how far can we grasp the mysteries of the human psyche, the thin line between right or wrong, the purpose of justice and law, the human need for comodity, which empties the human potential etc. Another strong point of the series is its social commentaries, using themes such as inequality in the society, fear of confronting reality by immersing yourself in the internet world, the existence of numbness and insensitivity of humans to stimulations since their reason of living had died out, as well as the opposite, people who want to outlive others by resolving to turn into androids. There are concepts borrowed from all over the place, from the science fiction novel " Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by Philip K. Dick (which is also mentioned by Makishima Shougo,the literature-loving killer), to George Orwell's famous "Nineteen Eighty-Four" to William Gibson's cyber-punk universe.
There is a particular scene that I think is very relevant to understanding the degree of how the existence of the Sibyl System and Psycho-Pass affected the society: A man walks in a crowded street and randomly chooses to attack a woman, cowering in fear of the consequence of having their psycho-pass be clouded, the audience watches apathetically as the woman is being hit numerous times with a hammer/ gavel while being undressed. As if it weren't enough, the spectators even film the scene, seeming to enjoy it tremendously. Approaching her, comes a robot that advises her to go see a doctor, since her psycho-pass is clouded (due to the beating). This scene shows the irony of the society they live in, on the surface the government pretends that they guard the citizens, but when something like this occurs, no one interferes A character commented:“They said they couldn't understand what was going on. Someone being killed right in front of you,the idea wouldn't even occur to you. All these people lived up until today without even considering that something like this could happen”.
There are flaws with the plot which is pretentious and it does have an intellectual approach, however, it does not always succeed in actually being that, having more of a superficial "intellectual feel" to it. The anime has good flow until episode 11, after that it begins to be unfocused and starts prolonging unnecessarry story lines (however in the final episodes it returns to the original formula). It is ironic that the best part of the story was the beginning which didn't have so much plot, but managed to maintain its good points, the episodic villains not slowing the plot but preparing it for the climax.
If you watched series such as Ergo Proxy and Ghost in the shell you may not find the story so innovative. However, if you haven't watched these great shows you'll be able to enjoy the story more than I did.
I have to say, the first thing I noticed looking on this anime's Mal page, was the design of the characters, I was like :"Are you sure Amano Akira-sensei that did Katekyo Hitman Reborn didn't drew the characters?" And I was right, you can't believe how happy I was since her drawing style is one of my favorites in manga. The art is very good, the designs for the characters are appealing and eye-pleasing, the scenaries are beautifully drawn and give the feeling the staff put a lot of effort and care into them, as well as in the technological devices. The animation is smooth and it flows naturally, giving a feeling of realism, while still keeping an anime feel to it.
The sound is great, it has catchy rhythms and lyrics as well as atmospheric backgroud music.I remember a certain lyric from the ending song "God....Where did you go?", which I think suits this society.
The characters are likeable, even the main antagonist. At first, I thought Shinya Kougami was a suicidal maniac, that seeked redemption by being killed. However, that's far from the truth, the audience discovering that he actually wants to live in order to avenge his murdered colleague. I find Shinya's character easy to empathise with (which is always a good thing), he is also interesting as a character, possesing superior observational skills which remind me of Will Graham from Red Dragon, who tries to enter the minds of criminals (at one point we see him reading a book called "Heart of Darkness", which presents the exact same situation he finds himself in, a conflict between the "lower", un-advanced humans and superior, technology-users ones).
Akane's physical appearance makes her seem younger than she is, but her personality is far more reserved and mature. She is at one time regarded as “mental beauty” because of the degree of her self-control. One character stated about her that: “She accepts things as they are. She forgives society, acknowledges it, and accepts it. On top of that, she doesn't mind taking risks, so it's not like she's just going with the flow”. However, her relationship with Shinya is almost non-existent even after 20 episodes, which really annoys the hell out of me.
Now, time for the most interesting character in this series, and the reason why this anime is so higly regarded, Makishima Shougo. In a world that humans aren't actually “alive”, as their lives are dictated by the Sybil System, Shougo wants to live life to the fullest. When people are given free hand to commit atrocious murders, they don't hesitate and grasp the chance. This is what Makishima really is in my opinion, a trigger that determines other people to go against the norms of society, fulfilling their destructive desires. He uses his natural leader skills to manipulate other criminals, being like a flame that attracts moths, ending up burning them, him being the only one left standing. His superior talents make him search for his equal, someone he can measure up against without ever getting bored. He represents the ultimate contradiction, his consciousness being crystal-clear and pure while committing heinous acts. He thinks of himself more of an artist than anything, a conductor that orchestrates the destruction of the world he lives in. There is beauty where there is suffering and chaos, only that way humans realise the importance of being alive. The exchange of words he has with Shinya adds to my enjoyment, as I can clearly see the chemistry between the two characters, each being the reflection of the other, the only thing that separtes them is the side of the coin they are on.
Nobuchika Ginoza is one of these characters you either love or hate. It is interesting to see his inner conflicts, having to choose between obeying the system or aiding his friends. I find intriguing the fact that he strives to be the perfect inspector, since his own father failed as an inspector and became a latent criminal, disgracing his family. His fear of not wanting to became a latent criminal like his father is smartly crafted, though I would have enjoyed to see more of their relationship. There is also the tensionate realationship with Shinya, his former collegue and friend, who betrayed him like his father did, becoming a latent criminal, and for that, Ginoza never forgives him.
However there are flaws with the characters as well. Even if Akane is the main character I would have liked to see more of her, the amount of information we receive about her is unsatisfactory. That doesn't only happen with her, but with Shinya as well, since we don't know anything about his background other than that he was an inspector.
This anime is worth watching, it does deserve some of the praise it gets, even if it had its flaws. It is however one of the most well-made anime in the winter-spring season of 2013. I will end quoting Makishima, 'cause I liked it a lot: " Just like God? That might be pleasurable in its own way, but unfortunately I'm not into umpire or referee, as I can't genuinely enjoy the game if I were one”.
In our modern world, society is essentially the dictator of all law and judgement. A justice system, in reality, is merely a representation of what we as a society believe is "right" or "wrong". People who step outside this box, are often penalized - at the most extreme point, we refer to these people as criminals.
Obviously, the justice system today, has it's flaws. It's not uncommon to see innocent men and women being framed for crimes they commit - our judgment is not perfect.
But what if we could determine instantly, the criminals of the future, predetermining criminals before they commit their crime? Would such a
system be deemed as "perfect"?
Such a question is something that I absolutely love when posed by an anime - a question or idea that challenges the foundations of our society itself, and challenges it's viewers to ponder upon the question it beholds before them.
Psycho-Pass, essentially bestows such a question upon it's viewers - it poses them with an impossible society - one that possesses instant judgement of criminals prior to their crime, and then explores that system's flaws, asking the viewer to think for themselves what is best. The system itself, is referred to as the Sibyl System, a judgement system capable of placing a number on an individual's criminality, or as the anime calls it, their "crime coefficient". People are then punished not based on their crime, or their motifs, but rather, on their crime coefficient. Such a system is quite efficient - "judgment" comes in the form of a gun aptly named the "Dominator", and based on their coefficient, an individual can be instantly eliminated, or alternatively, paralyzed and dealt with later. This, is the center of Psycho-Pass's setting - a futuristic, dystopian cyberpunk Japan, where everything, including job aptitude, is determined through the Sibyl System.
This, is the setting for the anime - a dystopian Japan in which criminals are instantly judged and prosecuted, and from this, comes the amazing storyline that I found myself so indulged in. I absolutely love the idea of a non-white and black storyline - it makes for such a more interesting story, and allows for viewers to be varied in their position regarding the storyline. At an extreme extent, Psycho-Pass really doesn't have protagonists, nor does it really have antagonists, at least in the general sense. Rather, it has what I'd call "perspectives", different views upon a centralized topic, with both sides possessing conflicting views. Like I said, this is really what makes the story shine - a story that is in fact, not black and white.
Personally, however, what made the storyline so stunning for me was it's implementation of sociology. Like I said, it doesn't just place a black and white situation and portray it through multiple battle scenes, or random storyline elements that don't really make sense, it really asks the viewer a question, one that they can not only apply to the series itself, but to their own lives, and our own so treasured society. Like Serial Experiments Lain, it really challenges our beliefs in our society, and for me, strengthens my ideas of the flaws in our current general justice system. Ironically enough, Psycho-Pass's implementation is done mostly by what could be seen as the antagonist, further adding to my point that Psycho-Pass is not white and black at all. A lot of Psycho-Pass's references to sociology also recognize various authors who have written about society - George Orwell and his 1984, a novel which contained a society with many parallels with the society represented in Psycho-Pass, is referenced a few times, as are the works of Marcel Proust, Phillip K Dick (I'm sure the entire series was based on his short story The Minority Report, actually), and Jonathan Swift and his Gulliver's Travels. This, like Serial Experiments Lain, is a series in which it is possible to write an academic paper on. Psycho-Pass itself is almost like an academic paper, it poses a question, a thesis, and arguments to support it.
Of course, a storyline is nothing without it's characters, and this is another place where Psycho-Pass does relatively well. At first, it seemed like Akane wasn't quite fit to be a protagonist of the story, but I know that for myself, I was very satisfied with the role that she played and the development that went into her character. She was very well realized. Actually, come to think of it, every single character was very well realized, there wasn't a useless half-assed character in sight. Naturally, Psycho-Pass does have characters that play a minor role, but come on, which anime doesn't? Obviously, the minor characters are not really the ones I'm trying to praise here, it's the main roles that really shine in Psycho-Pass. There is a cohesiveness in the relationships between characters in Psycho-Pass that simply gives value and meaning to every single character - the storyline benefits from this, as the majority of characters not only add depth to the storyline, but also meaning, and gives the viewers something to attach and relate themselves to. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that Psycho-Pass makes really good use of it's cast, and proves to be able to utilize them to develop it's already-excellent plot. One thing that struck out to me was that it wasn't only the protagonists that I agonized over. I agonized over every single character, they were all so well played out that I didn't find myself disliking any of the characters.
As with any anime, Psycho-Pass suffers from at least some form of minimal flaw, and in this case, it's the animation. It was good, yes, but this is one area where Psycho-Pass could be much better. I know that to some people, this would seem really picky of me to dissect and criticize Psycho-Pass to such an extent, however, I'm sure that I'm not alone. What I'm speaking of here is quite literally the animation. There were some instances where the animation was slightly choppy, and not quite as fluid as I would have liked. Granted, such a flaw is definitely acceptable, because right now, we've only got the aired TV release, I'm sure the animation will improve greatly once the Blu-Ray release comes out. Even if a BD release doesn't come out, the occasionally choppy and slightly derpy animation doesn't really deduct from the anime at all. The characters are still pretty well drawn, and stylistically, the animation gives a nice feel to the anime that really matches both it's setting and plot.
One thing that I truly found enjoyable for myself, was the opening and ending themes. Not only were the songs chosen very fitting stylistically, they were also very fitting in meaning. If you read the lyrics to the first opening, I'm sure you'll see some parallels between the meaning of the song, and the anime itself. Personally, if I were to dissect any aspect of Psycho-Pass's choice of music, it would have to be the final ending. I know I found myself enjoying the final ending theme, however, I also know that it's a fact that the song is definitely a "love it or hate it" kind of thing. Some would argue that it's not very fitting for the anime, and I'd agree with them, stylistically, it doesn't really fit. It's not like it's a bad song, it just doesn't fit like the rest of the OST does. On the other hand, it's a pretty good song, and even if it doesn't fit, I don't think I ever found myself skipping the ending theme.
The actual sound, as in background noises, I suppose, was also pretty good. All the background sounds felt in place, and had a sense of realism to it. Never once during the anime did I find myself noticing either a serious lacking in the background sound's realism and presence. It seemed to be pretty well thought out. The BGM at some points also proved to be very fitting to the scene itself - a lot of the more epic scenes are augmented by their respective BGM's. It gives a bigger feel of suspense.
I know for a fact that this anime was well-received. I also know that sometimes, animes that bask in the light of critical acclaim, aren't really deserving of such acclaim. Psycho-Pass, is not one of these animes. I for one, truly believe that Psycho-Pass has earned it's right to it's critical acclaim - it really was a great anime. And I'm sure I'm not alone in believing so.
~ Note ~
If you, the reader, ever find anything in my review that you would like to revoke, or anything that you either just don't agree with, or maybe just have another opinion on something I said, please, by all means, drop me a comment or a message, criticism is definitely welcome, and if you just want to have a chat, by all means, that's very welcome too. If you're going to deem this review "Not helpful", it would be really helpful, for me, if you told me why, so that I may be more helpful the next time around. Otherwise you're basically thumbing down my review just 'cause.
When I started watching Psycho-Pass, I knew next to nothing about the series, save for two things: One, that it was made by the infamous Urobutcher, and two, that it came highly recommended all around. This conflict puzzled me to no end, but soon it all became clear...
Let's talk about the story. My favorite genre is sci-fi/cyberpunk, so it's no surprise, that my favorite author is Phillip K. Dick. I've read every single one of his books/novels, so it's kinda strange I didn't realize until the last few episodes, that Psycho-Pass is a homage to many of Dick's works, most notably "Minority Report" and "Do
Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?". Aside from the main plot, there is a strong underlying theme questioning the nature of human existence, reality and society. Psycho-Pass introduces a "perfect society" where the populace is fully controlled and sedated into a constant state of complacency by a totalitarian artificial system. Free will is all but abolished, the central system SIBYL decides everything for everyone including aspirations, job aptitudes, entertainment, it practically plans your future for you. Everyone is monitored via the "psycho-pass", a system that constantly monitors every person's state of mind and stress levels using a color and hue scale. The system also calculates the person's "crime coefficient", a number that predicts the chance of the person committing a crime, so the authorities can remove unwanted and dangerous elements from society BEFORE they commit said crimes (much like in Minority Report). Everyone, who's psycho-pass levels deviate from the norm at any time (their passes become "cloudy") are sent to therapy and in extreme cases even incarceration or execution. The system's judgment is absolute and there is zero tolerance or chance for appeal. Once you are deemed a danger to society by the machine, you are labeled as a "latent criminal", even if you haven't actually done anything illegal in your life. But, what happens when the system fails? What happens when it doesn't?
It's very hard to admit, but Urobuchi Gen is the perfect person to bring Dick's world to life. They share the same nihilistic, ambiguous view on right and wrong, human existence/behaviour and they both question the values of society. Psycho-Pass spends an equal amount of time on fast-paced, gory action and drawn out dialogues and moralizing, which this time around are both integral parts of the experience and never overpower each other. Many people criticize the pacing of the story, but there is actually way more in the "slower" episodes than meets the eye, and all of it is part of the build-up and character progression, and it all ultimately leads to a satisfying payoff in the end.
Psycho-Pass is a heavily character-driven piece, and many things can be said about the "Urobutcher", but he is without doubt a master of writing intriguing, life-like character-world integration. The characters themselves standing alone are nothing special, even bland and empty, but when placed into the world, they "click" into the story like missing puzzle pieces. As in Dick's stories, there is no clear cut "Good vs Evil", the protagonists and the antagonists are all well-rounded characters with their own goals, motivations and reasons for doing things. A story about beautiful lies and ugly truths, deplorable heroes and noble villains and you are never exactly sure which is which. It keeps turning the tables on the viewer as the story progresses and you get to know more and more about the characters. It's refreshing to see a series that keeps you on your toes, where you can never be sure what's behind the corner.
The art direction seemed a little weird at first, especially the characters themselves, but it quickly grew on me. The mix of CGI and traditional animation is very well suited for the sci-fi/cyberpunk theme, and it's never obnoxious or overbearing, all firmly rooten in a realistic setting. There is a huge attention to detail regarding the world and it's inner workings. All the technology and the environments seem plausible and doable with enough research, there are no "magic wands" or "deus ex machines". It's nice to see a grounded sci-fi every once in a while. The sounds and the music is pretty unremarkable but serves it's purpose.
All I can say is, that I'm eager for more, and I'll be waiting for the second season. I'm very intrigued as to where this story will go...
I was really, really irritated and upset, when I had watched the first episode. For all those around who have the same hate for whacky characters - brace yourself and you will be rewarded. Believe me.
Starting with anime itself. I really feel like writing a review on two titles (both sequel and this one) could be an option, but I still see them as a collective entity. Thus, my opinion is based on watching both seasons. The only thing I can say about them now - they have the similar idea, but take a different approach on expressing it.
Psycho-Pass has it's own unic way of
showing the society, which is ruled by Sybil System - the ultimate and perfect (but not completely) judge, who dictates the law and makes the accusation and the same time. The ones who serve justice and find the guilty ones, however, are still humans. This 'human factor' sometimes leads to unexpected incidents such as the one in that notorious first episode, where Acane makes a debut appearance.
I personally think she is not the brightest and best character in this show, but I felt sympathy for her own way of dealing with criminals. She protests about killing humans, knows the value of life and tries to do everything the peaceful way, if possible. I could really tell that she had improved quite a lot throught the show and dumped some of the annoying features of her character.
Slowly making our way to Kougami and Makishima. They are both quite similar in their judgement and views, which makes them feel obsessed with each otherat the end. Kougami wants to fully understand Makishima, Makishima finds a perfect rival for himself, fair enough.
Kougami is brutal, manly and suited for the job of the enforcer, but he also has outstanding abilities as a detective, which made me admire him quite a bit.
The one thing that made me love this show was, in fact, a genius antagonist. Makishima is not the same as all those typical 'all-around evil' guys, who just hurrdurr at everyone, built towers and try to capture the world, failing at the end. You can clearly see Shougo's motives, and I can even say, that I'd feel the same urge to cast down the system as he did. He seems to somewhat enjoy killing people, but does it mainly to find the flaws in Sibyl's judgement. ...I was really amused when he refered to Orwell and Dick and said, that "e-books lack characters" too.
The second season also has a unic antagonist, who wants to shake the society and judge the entire system, but his is more, how do you say it, middle-classed and normal. He still has amazing knowledge in some aspects, but is more about empathy and revenge. No quotes from Shakespeare either.
Other characters were mainly to fill the plot, but they are very well-written too, especially Ginoza, which comes a loong way from an annoying wonnabe-dictator to a caring and tolerant person.
The other good point of the show is it's unbelievable atmosphere. The first season is more about bright colors and showing the life of suburbans becoming really dark and even scary when it wants to, which may shock some people that don't expect such gorgeous contrast. There were some amazingly well-made scenes of hysteria not only amongst individuals, but also amongst the citizens, which made me freeze on spot and just watch things happen with an open mouth.
The second season, however, is dark from the beginning, all the more messy and violent, so you quickly get used to it (if you ever can).
Openings and endings of both seasons represent not only the overall attitude of shows, but the state of mind of main characters too.
Overall, I enjoyed Psycho-Pass a lot and even digged some information about the show's plot in order to understand some motives and events. The show has left some matters to think of and discuss, so I consider it a good aftertaste.