There’s no easy way to describe the Psycho Pass franchise. To put it together it simply, the story becomes a complex tale to tell in a dystopian world. Just think about it: imagine if you feel like being watched 24/7 in a Big Brother style surveillance society. How would you feel about that? Fearful? That should be a normal feeling considering every person is measured by a state of being known as ‘Psycho Pass’. It tells the limits of a person’s mental state and their probability to commit a crime. This may sound all cool and dandy but in reality is a system with so many possibilities. Psycho Pass 2 serves as the direct sequel of the first season to bring those possibilities into chaotic levels.
The second season revolves around several changes. Technical wise, Production I.G. is no longer in charge of the project (oddly enough, they are still involved with the movie production). Instead, we get Tatsunoko Production directed by Kiyotaka Suzuki. Secondly, the series only runs approximately half the length of the first season. That’s right. 11 episodes and apparently, the show is confident enough to craft a story based on the setup of the premise and what it has shown us from the first season. Make no mistake though, certain characters do make returns while new ones are added. Finally, there’s an absence of Shinya Kogami. There’s obvious reasons why he doesn’t appear in this sequel especially for fans who have seen the first season. In regards to these changes, this sequel brings a different picture to view.
From the start, the second season offers a story involving a new mysterious case. To end, it also adds a host of new characters as well as returning ones from the first season. Protagonist and inspector Akane Tsunemori returns after learning the truth about the Sybil System. Her choice is to obey the system by following a philosophy of doing the right thing is in her mind. Joining her includes Ginoza, Yayoi, and Shion as part of the new police unit. They also get some new helping hands including six new characters who plays a variety of roles in the second season. While the show still retains their state of duty, the season is left without Kagami, a man who dealt pivotal blows against the system. At the same time, the Sybil System itself reveals startling new revelations that may change the story forever. For Akane, this season is also about her own personal battle and against another mysterious individual. This can easily be seen at the conclusion of the first episode as we meet Kirito Kamui, a mysterious antagonist who tampers with the Sybil System.
Let’s get a few other things out of the way. The absence of certain characters is something that season 2 suffers from when it comes to expansive development. Fans who have become attached to Kogami will surely feel disappointed with his lack of presence. And to make it worse, we no longer have Makishima Shougo (for obvious reasons). He was a complex character with a dark personality and a difficult antagonist to replace. It’ll take time for people to get used to a guy like Kamui despite their similar dark personalities. Still, there’s also a mistake about the second season with the addition with Mika when it comes to her characterization. The first episode leaves no time to depict her character as someone who is literally a complainer desperately trying to defend the Sybil System. Her ignorance and opposition against her own boss Akane is something to that can be on the line of hair pulling annoyance. At some point of the show, it would come as no surprise if most viewers label Mika to be an idiot.
Despite the additions of such a foil character, the new season still has enough to keep fans involved and eagerly await each episode. I can say this with confidence as some episodes leaves off with thrilling cliffhangers after a built-up of events. It’s also easy to interpret the show that is shrouded in mystery with secrets and foreshadowing. There are also parts during the season as we witness Kamui commence with his plans in secret with hidden motives. It’s easy to tell that he is the type of man who is careful with his moves after he kidnaps and seemingly brainwashes Mizue Shisui, an inspector from Division 2. His smooth talking tells us that he is quite a manipulative character who uses words as his primary weapon to get people to join his side. Not only that but he seems to be personally interested in Akane, a contrast to Season 1’s Makishima Shougo where he is disappointed at her actions. Like I mentioned before, Akane fights on personal terms with her internal struggles as his friends, family, and comrades are put in danger. Season 2 exploits many points with twists of fate with a grim sense of purpose.
There are definitely some problems with the direction of the episodes in this season. In particular, one episode introduces a group of new characters from another unit; a direction that I feel as inappropriate with the lack of characterization already on the current roster. But let’s make this worse. This one particular episode turns into a sour blood fest after some choices are made based on the behavior of the Sybil System. And if you want to guess, Mika is as useless as ever while Akane herself does little to secure the problem. What we get in the end is nothing more than more exposition and graphic violence to add to the shock factor. There’s also the situational ‘cat and mouse’ gimmick that returns in this season as the new police unit begins to hunt down Kamui. Guess who is Tom and who is Jerry. Still, the main part of the show’s problem revolves with Kamui’s methods to manipulate people. A part of his past connects with events of the present that deconstructs the way the Sybil System work. Unlike season 1 that is focused on the flaws of the system, it now becomes a shallow writing with terribly mishandled concept. Honestly, if that is the method that Kamui uses to manipulate people, then this season is doomed. You’ll have to watch it yourself to discover the stone cold truth.
Character relationships are of minimal impact and nothing on par with Akane and Kagami’s development from season 1. There are also strange twists thrown in revolving around with Tougane as well as Mika learns of a terrible fact. Otherwise, most of the other new characters lacks any depth with their characterization. Even Ginoza becomes less interesting despite his initial impressive introduction in this season. I say this with a potential romance angle that was doomed from the very start. Finally, don’t forget about Mika. Or perhaps, I think it should be in best of interests to forget her as much as possible since she is so focused on her own ideology. (even after being exposed to the truth) It’s hard for anyone to feel sorry for her to be honest.
I’ll warn you right now. This show can be a bit of a pain to the stomach at times to watch. If you’re not used to gore and blood fests, then some of the episodes will not be suitable enough. For shock value and blatant attempts to illustrate the grim society of this show’s world, we get graphic violence. With total uncensored footage, there’s bodies exploding with blood raining down that makes this Fall Season’s Terra Formars’ violence look like a joke. On top of that, the show’s visuals downgrades a bit on some episodes with character expressions. You won’t notice it much since it’s not as explicit as the actual violence. Nonetheless, the artwork is only decent with the setting and character designs. I do give some praise to the action sequences though except some parts that are lazily coordinated.
Soundtrack is perhaps a stronger aspect of the sequel. While it doesn’t surpass season 1 in any way, there’s a good measure of coordinating the cryptic OP song to illustrate its themes. Not only that but the OST remains top notch during key moments in this season. Unfortunately, character voice mannerisms becomes a concern at times especially with people like Mika and Sho. The season’s soundtrack does rebound this back though with some of the expressive tones during climatic moments, usually thriller endings that makes the audience hunger for more.
By the end of this season, I scratch my head to wonder what went wrong with the second season. It had a good momentum from the beginning with the introduction of new characters and antagonists. We also found out more of the season’s motives especially involving Akane. Then somewhere down that road, the season decided to turn into bloated writing of its former self. It becomes a shameless example of how not to do a sequel. And in this case, the characters too follow down a road of deconstructing formulation. Now, this season isn’t garbage though especially when it comes to some action and technical features. The initial few episodes in the beginning had a solid momentum and almost every episode leaves with a feeling of thrills; to keep the audience in their seats to look forward to more. There are moments that makes me hunger for more but in the end, it still remains meh.