Can dead franchises tell new tales? That is the question I sought to answer, or if you prefer my perspective, when coming back to Psycho Pass, after many years. Do we have a team ready to bring some new life to this world, or are we looking for the second coming of Psycho Pass 2, the one that killed the series for several years?
First, it is important to establish why the series was so relevant in the first place, the place where people’s fond memories of the series always came from. The quality of its first season was on its boldness, in presenting tough questionings of reality, in this dystopia where crime was gone, but the system took most of our freedom alongside it. The setting committed and thrived on the idea of how far we are willing to go in the quest for safety, to control risks, and eliminate negative consequences, having on the other side the meaning of that search, in regards to the end in freedom of choice.
What particularly fascinated me on the Psycho Pass world was how it puts mental health as one of its primary issues. Now the aspect is the new defining element of status, worth in society, your chances of finding relations, having a job, future and perspectives all hinged on this. Bringing alongside a new kind of anxiety, need for control, and many issues about mind-altering drugs. Those never-ending conversations on Hue, and psychopass, referencing the same idea.
Sure, the series is hardly innovative, or has something new to say on any given topic, you can find similar, but more though provoking content in works like Clockwork Orange, or Minority Report.
Nevertheless, the way Psycho Pass mixed the theme exploration with pulpy bloody action was really fun. The show never seemed sure, if it wanted to be a noir series, filled with style, gunfights, explosions, and epic action set pieces every episode, or to more directly portray ideas, and the subject matter. While those conflicted ambitions never truly worked well together, they made for a complex surface, which is cool enough regardless.
So if you miss the old mixture of sci-fi exploration, with the fun bullshit of a thriller detective story, you better forget about it, because the writers clearly did the same. This movie is extremely straightforward on its choices and topics, and on how it tries (and fails) to only be a fun crime story. Please do not think of only this observation as a death sentence (even though, yeah the lack of ambition is part of what kills the movie).
This is the textbook example, of a narrative that goes through the basic motions, while barely trying something new. If you have seen a movie before you know what to expect, you have tired twists, a couple of cliffhangers, the constant whodunit moments, and the well know questions on what is really happening. Coupled together with the generic sadistic villains, the strong cool dude, accompanied by the women preaching her ideals in long monologues.
You could make an argument the standard story is intentional, the movie is trying to carve a new status quo, dynamics and characters for the upcoming series, after a long hiatus. Even on this regard, how little is achieved is hard to forgive. Our main characters, which are supposedly the thing the movie means to establish, come off as simples as they could. Ginoza is now your tough noir detective dude, and Mika is the irritable brat, trying to prove her worth, and showing real competence when the time calls for. Basically those typical stereotypes are our “new” mains, the movie never allowing much interpersonal conflict, to emphasize their conflicting worldviews and ideologies.
So what is left is a movie treading no new ground, giving us only a new institution, which is meant to exemplify another contradiction in the system (like we do not have enough of those already). Not even its few actions scenes are memorable, leave much impact, or thrill. Ginoza fighting a mech, might come off as cool when watching, but is no Motoko Kusanagi taking out a tank with her bare hands.
The movie is not a complete waste of time, however. The aesthetics are beautiful, placing the story and events in a scenario of dreamy snowy mountains, and mines. So, not much of the flavor of now tiresome oppressive dystopian cities (The blade runner standard aesthetic for the genre). Again we are introduced to the ludicrous never working Sybil system, that appears to malfunction in every episode. Psycho Pass always presented a fun world, with the crazy talking gun, whose job consists of judging people and turning them to bloody pulp, the weird new technologies. In addition, it brings back the old all-seeing lady, which is the personification of the totalitarian system, while always being clueless to everything happening.
In conclusion, the anime never managed to answer my desires, or gave me anything to hope in regards to the series to come. Perhaps there is still a narrative to be told in the Psycho Pass universe, one which progress its concepts, world and characters, but this was certainly not it.
Also, the guy who though this new OP, and ED were a good idea, has no notion, of what he is doing. He managed to both remind me about the better older show, I preferred to be watching, while managing to make the original songs way worse, with the remixing, so fuck you.