Akane begins as a fresh newcomer to Division 1: a naively optimistic woman who believes that she can somehow make a difference. After achieving the top score in her final exams, Sibyl had deemed her fit for almost every high-level government job. Yet she chooses to work in the Public Safety Bureau because, out of all her year mates, she had been the only candidate recommended for the position. Every other position has one or two other candidates besides herself. With this in mind, she believes that she can somehow contribute something unique and find a purpose to her life.
Although she appears timid at first, Akane hides a fierce resolution to do what she believes is morally right. Her sense of justice goes above what the law has laid out in harsh, black-and-white terms; what she believes in is not the letter of the law but the spirit of it. It's for this reason that her actions as a rookie Inspector are seen as unconventional, but despite repeated warnings and criticism, she refuses to back down and accept the status quo.
Her initial attitude towards police work leads to plenty of friction with co-Inspector, Nobuchika Ginoza (see below), who finds it hard to accept her unorthodox way of thinking - particularly when it comes to their treatment of the Enforcers they work with. Although he is her senior in terms of experience, Akane isn't afraid to be firm about what she believes in.
"Are we here to solve crimes or protect our own Psycho-Passes? Which do you think matters more?! (...) You may be my senior, but I would appreciate it if you would refrain from questioning my ability at the workplace and in front of the Enforcers!"
-- Akane Tsunemori (season one, episode nine)
When it comes to fieldwork, Akane displays an unusual level of compassion for the victims of crime. The stress and trauma which comes as part of being an innocent caught up in a crime easily translates to a high Psycho-Pass. Such a phenomenon is known as a Psycho Hazard and usually ends with the victim needing to be paralysed by a team's Dominators. As an example: during Akane's first case, the victim panics out of fear and almost immolates herself in a puddle of fuel. Most Inspectors would have at that moment would have obeyed Sibyl's direction to shoot and kill her. However, Akane attempts to talk them down - and succeeds. As a result, she avoids the need for use of lethal force and they are able to take the girl safely into custody.
"You'd shoot a victim who hasn't even committed a crime yet? I can't accept that!"
-- Akane Tsunemori (season one, episode one)
It's her atypical approach to her work which immediately sets her apart from the rest of her team. She defies conventional methods while somehow still working within existing frameworks. She is unafraid to question practices she feels are wrong. She worries about co-workers whom model citizens of their society treat as pre-determined criminals. She is unlike any of the hardened, cynical characters we are also introduced to at the beginning of the series, but this makes her extremely familiar to many viewers. While a strong, moral pillar, Akane possesses many insecurities that viewers may also have ("Is this job the right one for me?", "Should I speak out if I see inexcusable behaviour, even if it's accepted/encouraged?", or even more simply, "I hope I can get along with my co-workers.").
It's a joy watching her mature as a character. There's a slow but clear progression as events harden Akane's resolve and shape the attitude that she will eventually use to try and change the Public Safety Bureau from within. Those looking for a strong, female role model need look no further, because she inhabits the perfect middle ground on a sliding scale between the 'uncompromising' and 'emotional' caricatures of female figures that are prominent in today's media.
Considering the very foreign world that we are thrust into, Akane is the perfect person to introduce a viewer to the outwardly simple but morally complex story that is Psycho-Pass.
In comparison to Akane, Ginoza exhibits a harsh, uncompromising streak that means he finds it hard to accept Akane's open-minded views. By the standards of their society, he is a model Inspector who maintains clear boundaries between himself and the subordinates he works with. But his stubbornness with regards to following procedure sometimes means he ignores suggestions from those he works with, particularly if they come from Enforcers.
Ginoza at first serves as a minor obstacle to Akane while she learns what her new job involves. At first he attempts to keep her from associating too closely with the Enforcers, yet she continuously argues with him over his attitude towards them despite his efforts. She cannot understand how he can treat fellow human beings as coldly as he does, and he cannot understand why she wants to risk the health of her Psycho-Pass by trying to befriend them.
"They say that fools learn from their experiences while the wise learn from history. I hope you're not a fool."
-- Nobuchika Ginoza, warning Akane (episode 3, season 1)
There is a reason for his hard approach though: Ginoza had been a young child when the Sibyl System was first implemented. He witnessed his own father, at first a stellar police detective, grow disillusioned with Sibyl's new justice and eventually become labelled as a latent criminal. At the time, the stigma of having a family member as a latent criminal placed a lot of pressure on Ginoza to exhibit himself as a flawless, law-abiding member of society. He made sure to regularly attend therapy sessions while distancing himself from his father (and all other latent criminals) in a bid to demonstrate that there wasn't a single shred of possibility that he could become a criminal himself.
But it is not only his father who has caused Ginoza to become the way he is. Before Akane, Ginoza's partner (and friend) was a man named Shinya Kougami. Kougami had been, in some ways, similar to Akane. He had an easy, laid-back attitude towards the Enforcers he worked with. Unfortunately an Enforcer he was particularly close to was murdered and Kougami became obsessed with finding who had killed them. Refusing mental therapy, Kougami's obsession eventually led to his Psycho-Pass rapidly worsening and culminated in Kougami's demotion from Inspector to Enforcer.
"Damnit! Everyone leaves me behind and heads over to the other side as they please. Do you and Kougami want to be allies of justice that badly?!"
-- Nobuchika Ginoza, to Tomomi Masaoka (episode 19, season 1)
Having been twice betrayed by father and friend, we can see why Ginoza is so harsh on Akane for trying to forge a positive relationship with Enforcers - their 'hunting dogs', as he terms them. For better or worse, his father's seeming lack of care about his criminal status, and his former friend's choice to pursue an old murder without regard to his mental health, have turned Ginoza into a man obsessed with not following in their footsteps.
Kougami is a former Inspector, now an Enforcer for the Public Safety Bureau. Despite his casual manner and dry humour, he hides a bloodthirsty side to him that only emerges when he's hunting dangerous criminals. He makes an instant impression upon Akane when the van of Enforcers first arrives, being one of the first Enforcers she works with on her first job, and she in turn leaves an impression upon him.
His story is one we are constantly reminded of as the first season proceeds. From the outset, we are shown the subject of his obsession: a man named Shougo Makishima, who Kougami claims to be responsible for the murder of an Enforcer he once worked with, Mitsuru Sasayama. There had been no proof of this man's involvement, or any proof of his existence at all - save for one blurry photograph taken by the now-dead Sasayama. The case goes cold, but Kougami doesn't give up on Makishima and continues to hunt for leads on him in his work.
As one might expect, obsession is one of Kougami's key characteristics. He is a perfect example of this quote by Friedrich Nietzsche: "Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster... for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you." Fellow Enforcer, Tomomi Masaoka, recites this in reference to Kougami. It is his refusal to let go of his personal vendetta which worsened Kougami's Psycho-Pass - 'clouded his Hue', as it is known as - providing a very appropriate allegory.
Outside of his obsession with Makishima however, Kougami is fairly even-headed. He handles unexpected and high-stress situations without panicking, and is able to form ad hoc plans to ensure he comes out on top. He has no qualms about acting on his own to do what he feels is best or necessary, even if it means ignoring his own health.
Yayoi: "Have you recovered already?"
Kougami: "I threatened my doctor. I told him that I'd set fire to the room if he kept me there any longer."
Kagari: "That's the Kou we know and love."
Kougami: "I was kidding. I persuaded him."
-- episode 13, season 1
His tendency to act first and ask questions later leads to him being hospitalised the most out of anyone in the season. Whether that's from being paralysed by an Inspector or because he earned his wounds on his own, Kougami seems to have little regard for his own safety. This is particularly the case where other people's lives are in danger, or when a criminal has shown themselves to be especially dangerous. Though he claims otherwise, Akane makes this note of him after one case:
"He said that he wanted to be a detective, not a hunting dog. But the look in his eyes was unmistakeably that of a carnivore which had cornered its prey."
-- Akane Tsunemori (episode 3, season 1)
Despite his single-minded drive towards his work, Kougami is aware that he might endanger others by drawing them too much into what he does - even more so because of his former partner's obsession with keeping their Psycho-Pass clear. Therefore he tends to keep his distance from everyone else and interact only as needed, limiting the amount of friendliness he extends towards them. He finds himself opening up to Akane in spite of that, as she proves time and time again how resilient she is to stress and hardship.
In essence, one can describe Kougami as a wildcard. He acts in a way that will deliver the necessary result, regardless of protocol. While considerate of his co-workers, ultimately his only care is attaining justice by any means necessary. If attaining justice means stepping outside of the law to do so, then he will do so without a second thought.
From the moment he is introduced, one may think that Kagari slots in amongst the 'young and hot-headed' stereotype. As the most vibrant on the team in more than just personality, there's no question that he's the one who cracks the jokes, flirts with pretty women, and brings colour into the lives of his co-workers. You could easily say that Kagari is very much the 'child' of the team, what with his teasing and attempts at light banter that go largely ignored by the others. He seems to take things less seriously than the rest, although when he works, he does display a more business-like attitude. He is still more carefree compared to the other three Enforcers on the job, but he usually doesn't act too recklessly or endanger his life.
In his spare time, he can frequently be seen playing games on a handheld console or surfing the net. His room is a testament to his love for games: various kinds of pinball machines can be seen in his living space. His workstation at the office is also the only one with colour, contrasting with everyone else's typical office clutter (small personal items, empty beer cans, ash trays, file binders, and so on). It's clear that he likes to be different and that he likes to express himself - a trait that can possibly be traced back to his past.
Kagari was identified as a latent criminal at the age of five with no hope of rehabilitation and confined at an isolation facility. This event is the source for his underlying bitterness towards Sibyl and towards all people who take their freedom for granted. When Akane confesses to him that because she had been the only one in her year recommended for the MWPSB and that she felt she could find her purpose in life by working here, Kagari scorns her words. He mocks how she must have agonised over her decision when latent criminals like him never had the option of doing the same.
"I don't know. What makes you think that someone like me would understand? You could have become anything. You could have chosen any kind of life. You even agonised over it, right? It's incredible; you're just like those people from before Sibyl was created."
-- Shuusei Kagari, to Akane (episode 2, season 1)
His resentment doesn't stop them from working together as colleagues however. Perhaps because Akane quickly proves herself to be more than capable of doing her job and taking responsibility for her actions. From that point on they become fast friends.
In the end, Kagari rarely stays unhappy for long. He is the source of humour on the team, a fun-loving 'younger brother', you could say. Even if the reason for it is to hide his cynicism towards Sibyl and society at large, he genuinely enjoys the work he does because it allows him more freedom than he could get behind a glass wall.
Tomomi Masaoka is the second of the two who worked with Akane on her first job, and he provides her with an overview of what to expect while working at the MWPSB. His cool-headed approach to apprehending criminals and jovial personality means that he is one of the easiest to work with. So much so, in fact, that Akane has to double-check to make sure he is really a latent criminal.
Before Sibyl's implementation, he had been a police detective. However, Sibyl's new method of delivering justice had not sit right with him, and his increasing dissatisfaction with the system eventually led to his Psycho-Pass worsening beyond recovery. Now an Enforcer, Masaoka acts as a solid, reliable pillar for the rest of the team. His prior experience as a detective means he is a veteran when it comes to field work, and he reads and reacts to extreme situations according to that experience. His strategies tend to be aimed at diffusing a situation, unlike Kougami who tends towards quick action.
"Using an old man and a newbie as a decoy, huh? You sure have balls, don't you, Kou?"
-- Tomomi Masaoka (episode 1, season 1)
As the oldest, Masaoka makes a point of looking out for everyone else. He frequently gives advice to those who are troubled and attempts to smooth over arguments after they occur. Despite appearing to have accepted the new reality of Sibyl and its brand of justice, he understands that sometimes you can't follow the letter of the law when the law is unable to exact justice. To that end, he has no problems in assisting Kougami's pursuit of Makishima. Nor does he try very hard to dissuade Akane from trying to understand Kougami's obsession, saying that he can't stop her if that is what she really wants. He warns her that doing so will raise her Psycho-Pass, but ultimately leaves her to make the choice.
All in all, Masaoka serves as something of a father-figure to the team. If he hasn't already offered his advice, others come to him asking for it. He looks out for everyone and makes sure that they understand the consequences of their actions, whatever they may be. Although at times his actions are counter to what Sibyl approves of, Masaoka, in his own way, is doing what he thinks is best for the rest of society.
That is, after all, the duty of the police.
Perhaps the most stoic of the Enforcers of Division 1. It is hard to elicit strong reactions from Kunizuka. She displays an expressionless face most of the time, making it hard to read her thoughts. This doesn't mean that she is incapable of emotion however - rather, she lets what she feels show through her actions.
Kunizuka is a former musician, the guitarist of a Sibyl-approved band which used to play regular gigs. During that time, her involvement with a non-Sibyl-approved musician leads to a gradual rise in her Psycho-Pass, resulting in her being confined to a rehabilitation centre. She remains there for at least six months, eventually growing frustrated by repeated knock-backs of her request for the guitar string she needs to continue her music practice.
Eventually she is approached by a younger Ginoza and Kougami - the latter still an Inspector - and offered a position as an Enforcer. She refuses at first, but when she discovers that the musician she had befriended is part of an anti-Sibyl movement, she joins the Division temporarily in order to confront her friend.
The meeting does not go well; unable to reconcile their difference in opinion, they separate. Shortly afterwards, Kunizuka decides to accept the job as an Enforcer in the hopes of finding them again and delivering proper justice.
That sequence shows very little other than Kunizuka's motivations, but her personality shows itself in subtle ways outside of it.
Akane: "Um. Excuse me, are there any other tablets?"
Kagari: "Enforcer Kougami is using the spare equipment."
Akane: "But, um, Kougami..."
Kagari: "--was shot by a Paralyser and is undergoing treatment! Ow!"
Kunizuka: "Here. Use mine."
-- episode 2, season 1
Later we see her approaching the close friend of a murder victim in order to comfort her...
"Cry while you can. If you don't, your Hue will cloud."
-- Yayoi Kunizuka (episode 8, season 1)
From these small gestures, we can see that although Kunizuka is hard to move to extreme emotion, she does not need prompting to be thoughtful or compassionate towards others. Her lack of visible expression does not equate to a frightening or stoic personality. In fact she may be the kindest of the team, a quiet but dependable supporter who does not let emotion colour her work.
Shion Karanomori - analyst and medic
Karanomori provides Division 1 with technical backup during jobs and also oversees their medical needs. She is rarely seen outside her laboratory, a place from which she is able to monitor both the activities of the Crime Investigation Division and the hospital ward. Her job is to analyse crime scene data which the teams gather.
A first impression of her is that she is flirty and playful. She often mixes irrelevant comments into her chatter as she works, and can be sidetracked easily if allowed. Her first conversation with Akane devolved into her complaining about working conditions at the MWPSB, with Akane needing to remind her about her original reason for visiting. That said, her chatter is by no means an indication that she skimps on her job: she is a skilled computer technician who can easily find the motivation to work quickly if she finds enjoyment in a task.
"I think the same programmer wrote the code for both [the drone and Holo overrides]. I'd bet the bra I'm wearing today on it."
-- Shion Karanomori (episode 6, season 1)
Beyond her flirting and complaints, there is a genuine concern for others. The physical health of the Bureau's employees is her responsibility after all, whether that's as a medic or remotely operating computer systems from her station. She is very quick to shelve her jokes and innuendo when she perceives the situation to be serious. Her role may only be a supporting one, but she is a necessary part in Division 1's smooth function.