THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
"The law doesn't protect the people, it's the people who protect the law."
"It's not society that determines the future of its people, it's the people who determine the future of their society."
Psycho Pass 2 is best described as a political / moral discourse about the right and means of judgement, thrown into a thrilling plot and a cast of underdeveloped characters. Now don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved season 1 of this series, but I thought that while season 2 was an interesting extension of what happened in S1, it didn't do it enough "justice" (oh the puns).
I have come to the conclusion that I should judge Psycho-Pass 2 collectively, and not individually as a standalone series (hence, the rating does not go below 5).
+ Strong main character
+ Good moral discourse towards the end
+ Sensible resolution
+ Great animation and art
+ Great background music builds suspense
+ Gripping and exciting plot development
- Mess of underdeveloped supporting characters
- Useless and stupid supporting characters
- Unnecessary and unimportant plot events
- Many, many unexplained plot holes
- Overpowered antagonist character
The plot is split into 3 main plot arcs, excluding the introductory arc, and they are the mental care facility arc, the drone base arc and the final train hostage arc.
The introductory arc starts off very well, cutting right to the chase in the middle of a crime investigation where we begin to see all the new characters being introduced (Shimotsuki, Togane and Hinakawa). While the criminal was apprehended very easily, we begin to see traces of how this crime is not as simple as it initially seems, from the final scene of episode 1 where the main antagonist reveals himself and manages to kidnap an inspector and kill off one of her Enforcers. (+1 for excitement)
Things start to get really interesting from there as Akane, the main protagonist, begins to get clues about this "ghost" known as Kamui, who apparently bypasses all cymatic scans and can live in society without actually existing. One particularly scary / exciting part was when Akane, in the midst of searching for clues, finds the words 'WC?' scratched on the wall of her apartment building - a very shocking revelation. Later on, it is revealed that this does not mean that Kamui cannot find a bathroom, but that Kamui is asking Akane, and subsequently Sibyl, what colour they are, and further on, what colour he himself is (since he can't be scanned by Sibyl). (+1 for development)
The amount of depth that they actually put into the thought process behind Kamui is actually very impressive - from how he was the lone survivor of an airline crash to becoming part of an experiment to join 184 different body parts (aka personalities) together to form a human being that essentially represents a collective group of people, the only other collective group being Sibyl itself. While it would be obvious to point out that joining 184 body parts together to create a live working human is far from possible, at least the anime itself points this out by expressing Saiga's doubt so I'm not deducting any points for that plot flaw. Kamui then proceeds to represent these 184 different people, and begins to start his grand plan of "making everybody clear" which is actually better phrased as "going to judge Sibyl". I found that the amount of moral and political discourse about omnipotent beings, collective judgement and perfection / ideals within the anime is quite substantial so kudos for that. (+1 for depth)
Also, the main idea of the story was quite simple - put a collective entity in the system so that Sibyl must judge itself, so nothing too complex there. A collective Psycho-Pass would mean that groups of people could be judged as dangerous even though each individual was clear, or that people's Psycho-Pass could change when within different groups, or like the twist at the end with Kamui - who claims that the person holding the Dominator becomes collectively part of Sibyl when pointing it at Sibyl itself.
Unfortunately, this twist doesn't make much sense no matter how you look at it. If Kamui points at Sibyl and Kamui is part of Sibyl, and it shows a value of zero, why would Akane, who is much clearer than Kamui, make the result any greater than zero? This would most likely make Sibyl go into the negative, if anything. Nice try, but that twist doesn't work.
Unfortunately, while there is an overarching plot, the 3 main plot arcs within didn't make sense. All Kamui really wanted to do was to point a dominator at Sibyl and to force them to judge themselves. There was honestly really no need for all the subsequent killing after he got a hold of Shisui's Dominator during the first episode, and there was nothing else stopping him from walking right up to Sibyl's front door except explaining to Akane why he needs to do so. And, I believe, Akane would have immediately obliged, seeing as how she did so at the end of the anime anyway. So, everything that Kamui plotted, all the people he killed after the first episode, in my opinion, was grossly unnecessary and only serves to heighten the "suspense" that would end up turning on itself at the end of the anime.
The plot attempts to explain that all of the other crimes were to "test" the functions of the Dominator - whether it could judge inspectors, other enforcers - and then to whether he could use it with the inspector's eyeball, then to just getting more Dominators for accomplices he didn't need, to carry out the train hostage taking plan that he didn't really have to carry out. The mental care facility arc was apparently to see if an inspector could be judged, but with Kamui's intelligence, this could have been done simply by pointing the gun at Shisui. The final train hostage arc was to overload Sibyl system and hence find out where Sibyl actually was - but in the end Akane brought him there so that was plain useless. So basically the plot could have been shortened to just episodes 1 and 12.
Furthermore, we look at Kamui's incredible powers of persuading people through the use of drugs and holos, arguably his two main skills in this anime (aside from teleportation of course, but we'll get to that later). I'm fine with Kamui being an expert in a certain field, but in multiple fields, this becomes less and less likely. So we start with Kamui being an expert at Psycho-Pass-reduction drugs, that make people be able to kill anybody they want after taking some injection or aerosol medication. Sure, but Kamui can also program holograms of himself. Not only that, but it seems like he has 184 different holograms, all of whom are himself, and all of whom are "aged-up" versions of his dead friends. Okay, let's suppose he can do that, what about being able to hack into the Ministry of Defence and MWPSB's systems and to take control of ALL their drones? Okay, what about being able to find escape route for a mental care facility that was supposed to be locked down already? Can he teleport now? Oh wait, I forgot that he is also a bomb expert who can program his bombs to be overridden and controlled only by him. Next, he can also apparently produce synthetic retinal layers so that his accomplices can use Dominators under Shisui's name too, without any background in materials science. He also happens to be a drone expert and can remove the impact absorbers of drones cleanly. Amazing! Really, the amount of things that this guy can do is so over the top, it's a mystery why this man hasn't managed to locate Sibyl yet with all the time he seems to have on his hands, learning about all these things.
Next, one of the key things I really hated about the plot this time around was about the whole Togane Misako and Togane Sakuya plotting to turn Akane black. We already know that this is not possible. While Akane is not criminally asymptomatic, from S1, we know that her Psycho-Pass NEVER gets clouded, not ever. And if anything, Sibyl should already know this. The entire plot twist about Togane being the secret antagonist and trying to cloud Akane's Psycho-Pass was incredibly unnecessary and annoying. While it did add some dimension to the plot, it didn't have any convincing motives whatsoever - all Togane said was "This is my reason for existence" - and neither did it progress the plot in any meaningful way. So Akane's grandmother was killed for no reason whatsoever, that's just sad and cruel and doesn't do justice to one of my favourite characters of this anime.
Other huge plot holes include Inspector Shisui, who changes very suddenly from having her eyeball taken out to becoming super loyal to Kamui, as can be seen clearly in the final two episodes where she fights almost to the brink of death for Kamui's cause. The only possible way to explain how a person who was kidnapped, then strapped to a chair with a gun pointing to herself, then seeing her own eyeball outside of her body, change so suddenly to having so much affection for her kidnapper to the point of saying "You can use my body as well" (during the drone base arc) or to even agreeing to kill / endanger her own former partner, Aoyanagi, is that she was brainwashed with some of Kamui's drugs - but this was not even mentioned, so it's definitely a plot hole. Not to mention that I know Kamui is an expert at drugs but it just because he himself went through 184 body part surgery doesn't mean that he is anywhere near skilled enough to perform eye surgery in the first place (oh wait, I forgot he has an infinite set of skills).
There were also a whole load of other unexplained plot junk like Kamui's killing of a lot of "illegal aliens" during a dinner banquet, Shimotsuki suddenly having the freedom to go and expose Togane's secrets to set the audience off on a red herring that everyone in the audience knows is fake, Akane's grandmother having her ear cut off instead of being killed in the first place (and then getting killed again eventually), Kamui getting help from so many people, Sibyl able to identify inanimate objects like drones based on their threat level and them killing people, but still having immense trouble figuring out whether a person who just killed another person is a "threat" based on cymatic scan. All of this is glossed over in the anime and simply overlooked, as if the writers hoped nobody would ask questions and just accept them as it is.
Next, character behaviour during some plot events were unnatural. Shimotsuki's reaction to learning about the Sibyl system, plus Sibyl choosing to reveal the reality to her in the first place didn't make any sense whatsoever. Togane mentioned that Shimotsuki could be used as a "test subject" to see how citizens would react if faced with the reality of Sibyl, but Shimotsuki's reactions were that of a person in denial and that is by no means a valuable test subject. If I were Togane, I would have simply killed her immediately because she adds no value to the society, and even less to the plot (but more of her uselessness later - see character section).
Still, at the very least the key premise of the plot made sense - that Sibyl needed to change to accommodate the collective identity of Kamui, as well as itself. It prides itself on "evolving" continually to improve but honestly it was all Akane's doing and persuasion that convinced Sibyl that anything needed changing at all. I'm horribly saddened that a collective of 100+ brains could not see this and needed Akane to give it a lecture. Then again, aristocracy is not perfect, so whatever. (+1 for believable assumptions)
I do have on final note on the interesting sniper-dominator weapon that one of the protagonists from Division 3 used during the second arc to "shoot through" the wall and accidentally hit Aoyangi, basically killing her. This calls into question the design and specifications of the Dominator in the first place, as it is a key plot device that is never really touched on or explained. We do know that it does have a fixed number of shots, thanks to Togane's random quibbling about how there are only 3 Destroy-Decomposer shots during the drone base arc, but other than that we still have no idea, after two seasons, of what exactly it fires and where it gets it's power/ rounds from since there obviously isn't any reloading going on. They definitely need to get down to some explaining of how this thing really works, and then on to explaining how it's actually possible for such rounds / pulses of energy to be able "shoot through" walls and if so, what material / how thick and how reliably so? Plus, the cymatic scan is shown many times to be able to "bypass walls", so honestly why can't it bypass humans as well (all the countless of times the psycho-pass clear people block a Dominator by standing in front of an enforcement target) - especially when the human isn't technically completely blocking the person behind.
The plot really suffers this time around, not so much because of the main plot line but because of the general incoherence and unnecessary twists and events that felt very pointless at the end of the entire anime. I did, however, like the conclusion because at least it sensibly resolved the entire conflict in the most reasonable way possible. (+1 for overarching, resolved conflict)
The art design and concept behind this anime is just so good.
OP Sequence: 2/2
ED Sequence: 2/2
OP Theme: 1/2 - this OP really suffered from all the horrible high pitch vocals, though the backing track was very upbeat and exciting
ED Theme: 2/2 - good ED theme in general
Background Music: 4/4 - very good background music that really built up suspense throughout
Additional Themes: 0/2 - There were no additional themes, so no points here.
My favourite character definitely has to be Shinya Kogami. Lol. Even though he wasn't even featured as a main character throughout S2, his cameo appearances were enough to make me love him because his lines are always impactful and game-breaking. And he is so cool! :D
Anyway, we move on to the main protagonist, Akane, who has grown from being just an innocent, fresh police inspector to a mature, sharp, quick-witted and decisive woman who is pretty much the best boss anyone could ask for. She's understanding, calm, efficient and she gets her hands dirty when she needs to. While she doesn't show much growth throughout the anime (she's already grown a lot S1), her character development continues to pull through - from her recent smoking habit to the way she handles her new, annoying colleague Shimotsuki, to her talking with Saiga and her final face-off with Sibyl and Kamui. Akane is a character with such strong presence and courage that it's hard not to like her. She's also the one-of-a-kind natural master of her own psycho-pass. (+1 for bravery, +1 for uniqueness)
Many people didn't like how Akane's only reaction to her grandmother's death was just one scream - but just hold that thought a while. The way Akane recovered from the initial shock and emotion, and finally went to rationalizing the whole thing - realizing that it was not possible that Kamui would target her grandmother - was not simply because of "her nature". The specific cutscene shows Akane remembering Kogami's words, "This is unlike you... didn't you try to stop me (from killing Shogo Makishima) because you believe in (the law)?" Akane was clearly distraught but she managed composed herself by recalling her past experiences in S1. Since I view S2 in light of the events in S1, I know that it's not that Akane is emotionless or lacks any human feeling in her, it's that she bravely makes the decision to suppress them to uphold the law, and to protect all of society, not just the people important to her. (+1 for character depth)
The next pretty damn cool character is Saiga, the one everyone is slightly afraid of because of rumours that anyone he talks to gets a clouded Psycho-Pass. But he's actually a pretty friendly and straightforward guy who's also so sharp that he basically unravels most of Kamui's intentions just by looking at him. He is also one of the best partners to Akane because she is immune to his "clouding Psycho-Pass" effect and becomes a caring mentor to her whenever she turns to him for advice and help on the case. (+1 for intellect) Too bad he's also just supporting cast so he doesn't get much attention.
Of course, at this point we have to mention Kirito Kamui, the main antagonist who is basically going the huge roundabout way of doing things. We get to see a lot of his backstory before the final arc, when his surgeon talks about how he was patched up from 184 different body parts, and his subsequent life and motivations from there, so that was really good and was actually believable - the idea that he could become so invisible that he basically felt non-existent, which drove him to ask the question "WC?" in the first place. I loved how this thoroughly explained his motives behind the overall plot, even though it didn't really justify all that killing. It's also great to see how he actually has good intentions to change Sibyl system as a whole, and was willing to sacrifice himself for his cause. (+1 for depth, +1 for courage)
The other main antagonist of course, Togane, was just a mass of bad intentions and poor plot points. Sure, he had some backstory, but they basically said that he was synthetically created, had a mother complex, and likes to kill people by turning their psycho-pass black. None of this is remotely human enough to make me consider him as a character, he's more like just there for 2 key reasons, a) a deus-ex-machina to make a uselessly complex plot and b) to remind Akane of Kogami. Akane should have just let Kamui killed him when he had the chance - he totally deserved to be disintegrated for beating up a poor old granny like that.
I was very sad that I didn't get to see Ginoza much though, because he definitely grew a lot from S1 too, but the writers didn't let him get enough screentime and demoted him to a supporting character. In fact, it's depressing that so many of the supporting characters just got sidelined and none of them were developed to any considerable degree even though I could tell that they were really interesting characters - people like Yayoi, Hinakawa, Shion and even Aoyanagi (who really didn't deserve to die in such a horrible fashion).
The character that I really, really hated though, definitely had to be Shimotsuki. She has got to be the number one most useless tryhard character ever. From the beginning, she gets on the nerves of everyone in Unit 1, she annoys the audience constantly by trying to get Akane removed as an inspector, her lack of understanding and naivety to every situation leads to most of the time spent "on standby", and her lack of any form of courage continues throughout the anime, even to the end where she continues to remain in denial. She has minimal growth despite having so many chances to change and become more mature, and she has also ZERO backstory (nobody really knows where she comes from) and she also has minimal character development - she exists just to be an obstacle and a hindrance to the overall plot and to Akane.
The anime tries to justify Shimotsuki's necessity within the anime by referring to her as the "ideal citizen" that would accept Sibyl's true reality when the time comes for the secret to be revealed to the rest of society. While that is a good attempt of representing the useless people in society, that's not main character material! If she was just a supporting character, I would be fine with it, but nope, she has more screen time than the other cooler characters like Ginoza and Saiga. She really doesn't deserve the main character status if the reason she's there is to merely represent the unthinking, passive portion of society.
Finally, we have to talk about Sibyl as a character. Sure enough, Sibyl manages to get a bit of growth, essentially killing off it's more "insane" minds such as Togane Misako and keeping only the select few who were less criminally chaotic in nature, which is basically the most sensible thing to do. Sibyl does have so many flaws however, that it is insane to think how it can live with itself knowing that it has this many flaws all this while. (+1 for slight growth) I really loved how Sibyl turned its back against Togane Misako at the end though, that mess of a character totally deserved some punishment.
So, all in all, most of the character really lacked growth and development, though I think Akane as a character really stood out among everyone. Too bad it was only Akane and everyone else kind of just fell short of what it truly means to be a solid character. The entire plot was basically being carried by Akane alone, and that can't ever really be a good thing, can it?
As much as I hated the plot and I despised many of the characters, I have to say that I was excited enough to watch through the entire S2 in one sitting, so that probably means that it did well in the suspense department, especially in the initial few episodes of the anime where they kept with the lingering question on whether it was really a ghost or not. (+2 for suspense) I also felt that the action scenes were fast-paced enough to enjoy amidst all the crime-solving excitement that really kept my blood pumping. (+2 for excitement).
The gore in this anime is also really one of its key characteristics - to be able to show all that blood and chaos, all the face smashing and beating and to treat it as a natural outcome in the eyes of Sibyl. This is really one key feature that keeps you transfixed to the screen and constantly telling yourself "Something is really wrong with this screwed up system." (+1 for thrill)
Overall, there was good pacing and not once did I feel bored. The action scenes were clear, sharp and crisp, while all the slower scenes did not feel too dragged out. I also felt that all the moral discourse with Saiga, Akane with herself and finally with Kamui, all of it actually made a lot of sense. It was especially interesting to think about the idea of Sibyl "judging itself" as an "omnipotent" being that was achieving omnipotence and absorbing anything that it didn't have power over. (+3 for pacing)
This anime receives a bonus 1 point for not having any filler episodes. (+1 bonus point)
This anime really fell short of my expectations for it. My rating for the previous season was a 9, so dropping 2 points really means a major disappointment, but at least it was an enjoyable watch for me nonetheless. At this point though, I'm pretty certain this anime is not complete without Kogami Shinya as a main character.
After reading through many of the Psycho-Pass 2 reviews on this site, I was shocked to see how many people have rated this anime so low just because of the hate and disappointment they felt from having their expectations of this show crushed. I honestly do not think this show deserves any less than a 5 (the bare minimum), despite the sub-par plot and character development. The show was, on the animation and screenplay side, pretty solid and I think we should at least give credit for that. I also believe that the only reason it's getting so much hate is because many people's "Psycho-Pass" is being clouded by their own emotions. I will stick to my score of 7 because just like Akane, if you remove your emotions from the picture and think clearly, rationally, you will no doubt pass fairer judgement.
"Sibyl, what is your colour?"