Thanks to the Sibyl System, the mental states of society can now be measured on a numerical scale. Using these "crime coefficients," a culprit can be apprehended before they ever commit a crime. But is it a perfect system? For Inspectors Kei Mikhail Ignatov and Arata Shindou, that remains to be seen, as their career with the Public Safety Bureau's Crime Investigation Department has only just begun.
Shindou and Ignatov are assigned to investigate the crash of a ship carrying immigrants, but they begin to suspect that it was no mere accident. Meanwhile, a mysterious group called Bifrost is observing them from the shadows, but they aren't the only ones who have taken an interest in the two new Inspectors...
This is not a review of Psycho-Pass 3—no—this is a story. The story of a man. A man named Tow Ubukata.
In light of continuous offenses on seemingly all fronts of this man’s involvement with the anime production industry, many are wondering—and I even saw them wondering on this very website—why even hire him on as a writer? Not to be facetious or rhetorical, but seriously WHY hire on someone whose writing has simply never been critically well received. Well, because it has. Tow Ubukata is no mere anime guy. He’s a multimedia, multimedium creator whose made no shortage of money for no shortage of
publications, be they on behalf light novels, manga, video games, or later on, even feature films. While his big start and long time sustainer, Black Season, was only really acclaimed as the amateur project it was and only really recognized because of the Kadokawa’s young novelist Sneaker Award which it won, he continued keeping himself relevant with work on cult classic video games like Shenmue and more serious, less pulpy works soon after like Tenchi Meisatsu, a historical piece based in Jōkyō Era calendar making. That said, one of his biggest claims to relevance within the industry—if not in the community itself—was his Newtype Magazine column, A Gambler’s Life. A Gambler’s Life was a long running expository comedy strip that ran for years on end, keeping the audience up with himself while also being something of a printed stand-up comedy piece about his life and the wittiness he could derive from it. Now, this modest column was nothing on the level of the multimillion dollar vlogging channels you see all over YouTube nowadays, but it also wasn’t obscure, and even if the actual community didn’t find it endearing or entertaining at all, the industry players at large saw it as a confidence inspiring PR move. It’s like how job interviewers this day in age are beginning to recommend applicants to have a social media presence. It’s not so much prospective employees’ sociability is relevant at all to the job at hand, but more so employers can place more confidence in a hire whose quote on quote resume goes beyond the monotonous paper that is the genuine article. And Japanese companies eat this kind of stuff up all the time. Specifically Production IG, in fact, has fallen ignorant victim to this misconception of the relevancy of public figures to such a skewed degree as to willingly pay out of their own pocket to get dying artist Marty Friedman to preform the ending theme for B: The Beginning, because the project was made in association with Netflix, an american company. It’s crazy, and Tow Ubukata is just one of the many who get to ride the coattails of his own preconceived social perceptions—whether or not they still even exist, or whether they died back in ’96 after the world at large forgot about this nobody who got a big head for winning an amateur award against a bunch of highschoolers this one time. It’s the same reason we’re being inundated with isekai all over again. It’s not like people actually want more isekai, it’s the fact Re:Zero reproved the prospective earnings of the genre in 2016 after the original Sword Art Online isekai boom was thought to have long since died down, but the production cycles for all these Re:Zero-pushed adaptations took a few years, so only now are we getting hit with the brunt of it: the brunt of a marketing ploy three years late for a genre cash-in inspired by the success of an anime which was only as successful as it was BECAUSE IT BROKE ALL THOSE TROPES. It’s irony to it’s most practical extreme, and it’s why Tow Ubukata can write for people the caliber of Production IG despite being a widely known hack amongst actual fans, and despite the point I’ve been holding onto for a hot minute now, beating his wife. I’m legally obligated to tell you the judge dropped his domestic violence charges, but I’m also morally obligated to tell you he did so only because the wife didn’t want to press charges in fear of further jeopardizing their marriage, not because the poor woman actually redacted her initial claims to the police. After all, as Donald Trump proved to the world over in the 2016 American Presidential Election, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
But, unfortunately, there is such thing as bad writing. Tow Ubukata had once said he believed a portion of human psychology could only be exactly understood through the act of gambling. The analogy he used was games like roulette and poker. He felt the draw of these games is the player has to decide how much to put down even before the game begins, and only after that do they have the privilege to think about a possibility at victory. To him, taking that initial responsibility for what you can afford is very bold and honorable. While I myself agree with his analysis of the game, I find it more reasonable to attribute that “responsibility” to thrill. You’re not putting your money on black so you can feel good about yourself when proudly forking out your cash as the ball lands on red. You’re putting your money on black so you get the adrenaline rush of not knowing where the ball will land, and doubly for the serotonin spike within that victory should it be yours. But disagreements be as they may, this is actually kind of a phycological goldmine. If this is how romanticized of a viewpoint this man has on the world and human action, it no longer stands as a surprise he writes characters the way he does. A needlessly enigmatic shadow-villain with the scripting and design sensibilities of a fourteen year old would be hella cool if you held on to the belief their initial plans paying off somewhere down the line validated their character—whether or not they were actually developed into human beings or characterized at all along the way, and despite all the time of yours they wasted spouting mysterious codifications you had no reason or wherewithal to care about or become invested in other than the blanket reassurance that: they sounded cool. And it’s that attempt at looking or sounding vaguely cool that Ubukata has defined himself with since the dawn of his career. Even the man’s so called name, Tow Ubukata, is a pointless pseudonym he put in place because: all cool authors have a pen name, right? Looking back at all his work scripting for video games, his character writing is some of the most blatantly self-insertable I’ve ever seen. Chaos Legion is the creme of the chuunibyo indulgent crop, and while Shenmue is beloved by many people, Ryo just IS Ubukata before he let his hair grow out. The idea Ubukata’s personal fanboyisms can be traced as deeply as his influence over things as detached from the actual script at hand as character designs might be endearing if he was, lets say, talented, but the fact his works are so bad leave developments as boldfaced as this looking little more than juvenile and embarrassing. If you want to know his thought processes behind his first mass market success, Mardock Scramble, look no further than said design work therein. He stated in consideration of the action sequences, should the work ever find itself being animated (which it did), he was aways at odds with the dilemma of bangs. In action scenes, he thought if a character's hair is long, their face will be hidden by it, and by hiding the face, a sense of mystique is brought out because the viewer doesn't know what emotions the character is feeling. On the other hand, he wondered—shockingly out loud, without the shame of self awareness—if the villain's emotions are completely visible, they lose their quote on quote mystique, so he simply couldn’t give them short hair. In staggering light of this, his quote, “if it’s written in a way so that each staff member can interpret the text their own way, work can't be done,” stops sounding like the objectivist preachings of a craftsman and starts sounding more like the self-serious whines of a man child clinging so tightly to his own predisposed ideas as to look like a baby getting potentially relieved of his precious pacifier.
You see, this obsession with the stereotypical “cool” is not something I derived from that gambling story, but something I derived from his life. The gambling story was a good segue which just happened to give insight into the eyes of a man clearly interpreting reality in something of a different way than the average joe, but what came before his bold and honorable gambling and wife beating was his birth. Tow Ubukata is Japanese, but he was raised prior to his highschool years in Singapore, and later Nepal. All this while though, despite citing his authorship of an edgy story like Mardock Scramble to the quote on quote feelings of frustration and resignation felt by his generation, he very diligently and traditionally practiced honing his skills and general proficiency with the Japanese language more than Malay, Mandarin, or Nepali and felt a great amount of pride keeping his heritage alive within himself in this way. This was his original fixation with writing, but when he finally got to return to his homeland, he—by his own admission—became terrified by the concept of katsuji-banare. Katsuji-banare is what—for lack of a better term—Japanese boomers who resent the millennial generation for their disinterest in literature use to refer to the phenomena of their collective doing so. To Ubukata, the ubiquitousness of this phrase said a novelist, let alone an amateur novelist, would be out of demand soon enough, and he thought it prudent to put his writing career on the back burner and use his exposure from the Sneaker Award to instead get into the video game and anime industry, scenes he thought more viable and future-proof. When put into this perspective, it makes no shortage of sense a man who pursued a field of work solely on the back of job security paranoia would take to the trends like a kite in the wind, because what else would seeing the success of overly indulgent video game schlock do to a creator—a creator so already ostentatiously sure of his own ability as to drop out of university the second he won an amateur award and received ANY recognition beyond himself he is, indeed, talented—than reassure them that’s exactly what the consumers are out to spend their money on, and moreover, that’s exactly what they should spend the remainder of their career churning out. After all, even after getting serious with his first apparently critically accepted work, Tenchi Meisatsu, Ubukata was still writing for the likes of Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard.
Tow Ubukata’s self-proclaimed inspiration to even write fiction in the first place was an occasion on which he lied to his friend about his apparent understanding of Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and it’s alleged Christian symbolism when he was completely unfamiliar with the religion on all levels. Earth-shatteringly ironic given his found success with something as confusingly vapid in it’s attempted religious symbolism as Le Chevalier D’Eon years later, but this explains a lot, and now that I’ve laid a historical foundation for you to profile this man of your own accord, so does everything else I’ve typed here. Mamoru Oshii was able to write Angel’s Egg not because he had a pang of wild inspiration, but because his parents were Christian zealots who inundated him with their religion until it was engraved in his very bones, only for him to grow up a realist, realize all religion is horse shit, and then spend years of his young adult life grappling with the crushing nihilistic realization the egg is, indeed, empty. Chiaki Konaka was able to write Serial Experiments Lain not because he thought computers were super dope and smoked a bunch of weed one time, but because he programmed games, websites, and forum bases before half the Earth knew what the internet even was, let alone tried to use it. Tow Ubukata’s Le Chevalier D’Eon was a nonsensical clusterfuck of retarded assholes yelling and screaming at each other, because he was too busy slave driving the Production IG staff into getting the fabric details on the character’s clothing right to worry about the pile of still unfinished theming and scripting haunting the story’s core. His Psycho-Pass 2 was a masturbatory concept fetish forcing a pseudo intellectual writer’s power play upon an audience too smart not to see it’s inconsistencies and illogicalities, because the production cycle was fucked sideways and instead of using his limited time to write a modest story sound enough to hold the series over on behalf of the main team who was making a movie, he pestered the main team to death—now disrupting the movie’s already shaky production cycle as well—to ask the series’ actual writer, Urobuchi Gen, what he was allowed and not allowed to do with all his cool concepts for the soul purpose of executing said masturbation with cyberpunk ideation he could never dream of coming up with on his own rights. His Ghost in the Shell: Arise was an otherwise innocuous—if criminally boring and artless—installment to a franchise which has set every bar in the medium of animation as high as it is at some point in it’s history which was lampooned all the same for misunderstanding not only what previous, more competent, creative staff had used in the past to hit those bars so damn high with the series’ potential in the first place, but for disrespecting the very foundation they’d setup only to deliver a version of his own making so unceremoniously not bad as to be offensively heinous by any comparison. However, what makes such bastardizations truly deplorable are the terribly misguided reasons he was made able to do so in the first place. He was able to write for Le Chevalier D’Eon, because his work with Shenmue, which—remember—was a video game so seated in his own male power fantasies it’s main protagonist was designed to look exactly like him, had convinced President Ishikawa and his producers who were already assured by Ubukata’s deceiving community presence he could write a historical adaptation, even if seated in incest fetishes, inaccurate historical timelines, and symbolism so non-sequitur as to be comedic. He was able to write for Psycho-Pass 2, because his work with Mardock Scramble, which—remember—was a cyberpunk whose crowning conceptual jewel was a talking rat who was actually the Architect from The Matrix Revolutions, had convinced President Ishikawa and his producers who were already assured by Ubukata’s deceiving community presence he could replace a writer ninety times his caliber on a project he didn’t even have a part in building. He was able to write for Ghost in the Shell: Arise, because his work with Fafner in the Blue Sky, which—remember—was an Eva Clone IG paid for to cash in on the Evangelion craze but cared about it’s production and reception so little they outsourced every frame of it to their subsidiary studio Xebec, had convinced President Ishikawa and his producers who were already assured by Ubukata’s deceiving community presence he could write something at all meaningful to carry on the franchise’s already dying legacy now standing as little more than a hollow specter of it's past self, a once-great intellectual property merely sustaining itself on prestige it no longer deserves. And what’s he doing now? Butchering Osamu Dazai’s epoch defining piece of literature into a superpowered anime action spectacle set to dubstep and further eviscerating Production IG’s beloved and beautiful Psycho-Pass, devoting an industry crowning display of modern animation production prowess to a plot delving into the aftershocks felt by a country shifting from isolationism to immigration, despite the fact said country was established such that having it do so betrays the entire fucking intelligence of it’s institution and—more importantly—even after poor Makoto Fukami already proved with Sinners of the System he could very well handle the franchise without Urobuchi Gen around to make it a true masterpiece and most certainly didn’t need this hack around either to desecrate yet another god damn season even when back in the hands of the godly animation staff who birthed it.
Thank you for reading.
Citation Notice: I was meaning to properly cite all my sources for this piece—as there were many—but recently I got myself into some hot water with my Carole & Tuesday review and all the fans of the work who reported it. One of the things I learned in that incident was you cannot post links in reviews. I’m doxing myself here, but I had done that in reviews for purpose of discussion prior to Carole & Tuesday, and those links are still in those reviews, but I’m dubious to put them into reviews from now on, even if I’m merely citing sources. So, since I don’t want to give the kids another reason to report my writings, but I’d also feel like a poser without in some way citing my sources, please just know I consulted the following for my review.
- Anime News Network // dot com // English
- The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction // dot com // English
- Tow Ubukata’s Personal Website // dot jp // Japanese
- Newtype USA Magazine // physical copy // English
- J’Lit Books from Japan // dot jp // English
- Media Arts Database // dot jp // Japanese
- Otaku USA Magazine // physical scan // English
Although the hype around the series has died down due to the very long wait between seasons, there were definitely a few longtime fans who were excitedly following the news that Psycho-Pass was finally getting another season. As one such fan I was quite pleased that one of my favorite series was getting another expansion, even though I was worried it might be a letdown like season 2 was. However, a few things set this season apart from the prior season which led me to increase my rating for the show this specific season, although not to the heights of the first and greatest season,
I will expand on these things in this review.
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
The first thing I would like to mention happens to be the characterization between the 2 new main characters. It becomes fairly obvious within the first episode and even before it if the viewer watched the sinners of the system movies for Psycho-Pass, which I highly recommend one does before they watch this season, that there would be a fairly large time skip involved. One thing I did not expect however was that Akane Tsunemori would be entirely replaced as the main character by 2 new inspectors, Shindou and Ignatov. At first, I was apprehensive about getting a new set of lead characters especially since the movies hyped Kougami returning to the cast, however the 2 new characters grew on me over time. They both had great chemistry on screen, good backstories on why they joined the bureau, and their decision to partner up despite the Sybil System recommending otherwise was definitely a nice touch. There were some things I did not like such as Shindou having what appears to be borderline magical powers in recreating people’s actions and decision making and having superhuman reflexes that greatly surpass any human shown in the series thus far. However even though flaws like this existed I managed to get past my initial apprehension, and it was definitely worth it, if you are looking for strong leads with great chemistry taking over our favorite sci fi cop drama anime then you will definitely be pleased with the 2 new inspectors.
Something else the show excelled at was amazing fight choreography, all the fight scenes were incredibly fluid and the hand to hand fight choreography is definitely some of the best I have seen out of 100s of action anime. At times the fight choreography does get ridiculous, for example the characters try fighting an actual combat robot hand to hand even though their dominators should have a lethal decomposer mode and the show also has scenes where characters choose to fight hand to hand over using the paralyzer mode. Despite this the fight scenes were so good it makes it possible to not question the decision making of the characters and to overlook this bad writing during those scenes.
In regard to the sound track and music of the series, the openings of Psycho-Pass have always delivered, and this season is no exception. The OP consisted of a great song, with excellent foreshadowing visuals that that I am sure any fan pf the original Psycho-Pass would be satisfied by. Some other noteworthy aspects were careful reuse of the old soundtrack specifically when Kougami finally showed up in the show really had a strong impact. The sound is definitely a high 8 and lives up to the original series entirely.
One other thing that improved was how the side characters and antagonists were dealt with, most of the notable side characters got a decent amount of screen time, some new characters were fleshed out fairly thoroughly with the help of the sinners of the system movies and most of them got their time in the spotlight. Although the characters in the show do lack the depth of the characters in the first season, especially since there was no strong antagonist like the first season, the new antagonists and cases were still fairly easy to watch and made for a strong cop show.
As far as the story is concerned the lack of a truly strong antagonist really getting the viewer to question the system was definitely something that this show lacked, although the current organization opposing Sybil is interesting, there aren’t any particular noteworthy characters representing them. Season 1 was great because the audience was rooting for the antagonist at times and really growing to despise the system yet at the same time at the very end of the show understanding why Akane chose to preserve the system and relating it to the necessary security state many people in real life live in. This season did have moments throughout every episode where characters questioned why the system worked the way it did and if it was fair, but overall the entire show was focused on suppressing the enemies of the system and not really taking a serious look at flaws of the system itself like the predecessor seasons did. Most of the antagonists were clearly bad people who lacked any good reasons on why they are causing problems, there wasn’t any focus on the system oppressing them, in fact most of them were high up in the system. Near the end of the season there were antagonists who were acting for the greater good to some extent but the means they took were not only to extreme, they were straight up bad ideas that wouldn’t have been effective, the antagonist in the first season had considerably better ideas. The story overall is still good and definitely flowed better than most of season 2 however it still pales in comparison to season 1, right now the series is a good sci fi action show, but it is no longer a philosophical thought provoking series filled with flawed characters and ideas of justice like the original.
Production IG has outdone themselves with the art and animation of the series, the backgrounds of the city were spectacular to look at and really built up the sci fi atmosphere. All the detailed touches to the streets, buildings, waterfront, food stalls, hotel lobbies, and everything else in the background really immerses the viewer in this futuristic world that is both an exciting wonderland and at the same time a terrifying view on a society plagued by an all encompassing and dominating police state. As mentioned earlier the fight choreography and animation were great and despite the longer episodes on a weekly release schedule the animation quality remained strong throughout. Fans of the series can look forward to good visuals, good fights, fluid animation, and a variety of interesting looking characters.
Overall these improvements do vastly improve the show for the viewer in comparison to season 2, however it stills pales in comparison to season 1. If you are a big fan of this series then it is a must watch, but if you are not then it is essentially a regular solid sci fi action show, so if that isn’t really what you want to watch then you may not be into this. I would give this show a score of 8/10 as it was something that is quite enjoyable to watch, and it did not fail at delivering any important technical quality.
-Note: English is not my native language, I apologize for possible mistakes. (This review does not contain spoilers)
After the enormous emptiness that excellent villain Makishima Shougo left us and that great first season of PP, we finally have an acceptable sequel that tries to bring new things, new characters and similar airs, but not the same. Although of course we will always miss our dear and handsome Kougami, right? Well, at least in my case if I love it too much.
I generally liked how it was carried out this season, without making the mistakes of the second, without using protagonists of the previous season for
a long time and using new protagonists, it has allowed the story to develop acceptably, something that the second season failed to start with the villain that without offending was and felt like a cheap copy of the first villain or at least I felt that, and I think a good percentage too, without demeriting the good things that the second season has, that there are.
Also something to note is that each episode at the beginning has excellent fighting scenes and animated choreographies with incredible quality, and those scenes are in almost every episode. It's great and more considering that it lasts twice as much as the rest of the animes per week, 50 minutes per episode which was a surprise.
I can criticize things, such as the small participing of the old protagonists although I liked it, felt this somewhat forced, there are also many loose ends from the beginning, events that occurred off-screen that keep the viewer's doubt at all times, especially when dealing with Akane Tsunemori.
The series comes to feel somewhat episodic at certain times and very detective with various cases that do not stop feeling a bit like "Normal Cases" can be said that there are too many sub-plots developing in Psycho-Pass 3, remembering the anarchist Makishima in the entire first season of Psycho-Pass, this was touches more philosophical themes, not at all compared to the most detective theme the series has had since its second season.
Here we are presented to Bifrost a criminal and clandestine organization that operates through this indirect gambling game for elitists to gain and power in the shadow of Sybil and the change of social paradigms. Makishima instead wanted to demolish social foundations and "faced Sybil" head on. However, the plots of past characters converge with that of the new ones to reach a climax, I love these kinds of stories, they do not stagnate with only one protagonist throughout the story and they explore the rest of the characters in depth to create tangles and secluded frames that are focused at the end for one thing in common.
As a personal point, I want to write about Mika's character, I didn't like Mika much in Psycho-Pass 2 but she's quickly become such an amazing and funny character starting in the first Sinners of the System OVA & continuing strong throughout Psycho-Pass 3. Definitely one of more entertaining characters.
As for the animation and the OST are excellent, if there is something that stands out a lot in PP, it's this incredible soundtrack which is always at the top, and as I said before its animation and especially its fight scenes are very remarkable.
Finally, I think that Psycho-Pass 3 despite having twice as many minutes per episode, needed more chapters to be able to elaborate a story at 100% conditions.
With Urobuchi gone, I didn't expect much of this season. It still failed my expectations.
I expected to, much like the second season, for it to try and explore the themes set out by the first season at the base of Psycho Pass' world. Instead, we have a plot centered around the introduction of a completely new entity, Bifrost, that contradicts the position Sybil appeared to have when Urobuchi.
I expected it to remain grounded in the world set out by the previous seasons, but, after 8 double-length episodes, Arata still appears to come up just short of clairvoyance, the perfect control of the Sybil System is
contradicted by the existance of intentional gaps in it's control, and the politics of Sybil controlled Japan, which were previously stated to be a sham, are suddenly an institution with actual power and influence, and all changes going unadressed.
I expected the main characters from the previous season to be a constant presence in order to continue their stories. Instead, Shimotsuki appears to have undergone significant development almost entirely offscreen, and, for the longest time, Ginoza, Akane, and Kogami occasionally show up as barely a cameo, mostly to hint at further developments.
I also found the plot overall harder to follow than when Makishima discoursed at length on philosophy and Sci-fi references for several minutes at a time. That might have to do with having to wrap my head around the inconsistencies in world building. The characters of season 3 can spend several minutes discussing the implications of a political elections and just leave me scratching my head, wondering why, under the totalitarian control of Sybil, that would be important.
As a minor gripe, I wish we had seen the Dominators being used more often, but I guess that's a symptom of the smaller presence of the Sybil System in the world of Season 3. We did get some nice looking fist fights, but it's jarring for the inspectors, representatives and arbiters of Sybil's ultimate will, to have to engage in punch ups when any intent to beat an inspector to death should cloud one's hue enough for them to be justifiably used. I'm not sure we even saw the non-lethal paralyzer being used at all.
In short, I doubt I'll be back to this series. My expectations were low, but the contradictions in worldbuilding, the lack of a concrete continuation of anything set by the previous seasons, and a complete lack of any conclusion amount to a complete lack of justification for the existence of another entry to the series. Considering the way the last episode felt, the post-credits scene, and the name of the next movie indicating that it might be a prequel, everything just make me feel like the intent here is to slap the Psycho Pass name on an unrelated sci-fi detective series rather than continuing what made it interesting back in 2012.