I don't know about you guys but for me, cyberpunk is life. It’s becoming increasingly rare to see an original anime rise from the ashes of the hell that is the contemporary anime industry. Everything of late is derivative and unoriginal. Occasionally we get a manga or light novel adaptation that isn’t complete garbage but even then, it’s not an original anime. Psycho-Pass is one of the better anime originals to come out in a while that is not only of quality, but doing well. Too often we see a series that deserves to be nothing but hung from a tree with an umbilical cord and then beaten with a severed lamb's leg until it's lifeless become ridiculously popular for no apparent reason (I'm talking about Erased). But anyways, let’s talk Psycho-Pass.
Psycho-Pass is written by Gen Urobuchi who you may know for writing Fate/Zero and Puella Magica Madoka. The character designs are drawn by Akira Amano who’s best known for her manga Katekyo Hitman Reborn. With the animation done by Production I.G, Psycho-Pass is as beautiful as it is well written. Psycho-Pass currently has two seasons and one movie. The ending of the latest movie would suggest that it’s building up for something big, so while there is no news of a new movie or series, I’m confident there will be one.
Very briefly, Psycho-Pass takes place a futuristic Japan where the country is governed by a system call Sybil. The Sybil System has the ability to measure personalities, a person's mental stability and likelihood that a person will commit a crime. Psycho-Pass is a story of a group of police attempting to live by the system and keep the peace in Japan. Inspectors oversee Enforcers who are sometimes former Inspectors. The series also has one of the coolest looking weapons ever called: the Dominator.
Season one is 22 episodes and the strongest point in the series. It does a great job world building and properly establishing its characters. The ethics and morals of the Sybil System are called into question quickly. You can tell that it seems perfect and essential, but slowly, as the show progresses, more flaws are shown. This is a system that can find your perfect mate, job and keep society regulated. But the loss of choice and freedom are gone in a world like this. Sure humans are foolish and chances are, left ungoverned they’ll do nothing but destroy the world but that’s the point. We’re imperfect, we’ll never be perfect and you aren’t really living life if you’re constantly being told how to live it.
Season one also produces the series best antagonist and arguably one of the best antagonists in anime in general: Shogo Makishima. He’s a criminally asymptomatic person that can’t be judged by the system. His goal is to liberate the country from the Sybil System because he believes it’s turning the populous into mere sheep. He’s able to commit horrific acts and his Psycho-Pass still remains clear. He’s trained well in combat able to match Kogami one of the main protagonists who’s a more than capable combatant. In addition to that, he’s extremely knowledgeable about literature. Shogo is also very philosophical and thus has been the deepest most noteworthy adversary the protagonists have had to deal with in the series.
Season two is the low point of the series. The war with Makishima Shogo was not without loss. One Inspector becomes an Enforcer, one Enforcer escapes Japan, lives were lost and a new set of characters arrive. All of these characters are extremely forgettable and pale in comparison to the cast of season one. The main antagonist offers an interesting twist and idea when it’s fully explained but still, nothing as engaging as Shogo. The second season also has lots of moments where the characters almost, purposely make the worst decision possible so that we have a story when there was a simpler solution.
While season two was easily the low point for the series it wasn’t all bad. First of all it’s short. It’s only 11 episodes. And while this season had nothing but forgettable, C list characters, it pushed the development of the main character: Akane Tsunemori. A character I hated season one. In an attempt to tempt some readers to watch the series, spoilers will be kept to a minimum but, in season one she did something pretty unforgivable. She went from a gullible, clumsy, somewhat cheerful girl to a hardened more serious detective. Her deductive skills and proficiency at keeping the peace becomes top notch. She trained her mind and body well and has become a respectable character. Most people dismiss this season but it was okay to be honest.
The Psycho-Pass Movie was good enough to make up for season two. It perfectly ignores all the bad things about the series, brings back all the good about it and expands the Psycho-Pass world with new concepts. This movie actually takes place outside of Japan and we get a glimpse of the outside world. The state of the world seems pretty bad so you almost appreciate the Sybil System. Kogami makes a return and brings back some much needed badassery the series was missing for a while. The interpersonal relationship between Akane and Kogami also got increasingly more intriguing.
The movie should be praised for its animation, action sequences and near blatant ignoring of season two. I mean aside from just barely seeing some of S2 characters, pretty much all the call backs and references are from season one, the true season. The Sybil System is trying to spread outside of Japan and spread its influence to the world which brought up untold amounts of potential for the remainder of the series should it continue.
Most people like to judge this show and shows like this by season. While I can judge it like that I still prefer to look at it as a whole. It’s one connected story that’s being told seasonally. Season one had the best cast, antagonist and great start for the series: 9.6/10. Season two was the low point but had a few things to offer, most notably the character progression of Akane: 7.2/10. The Psycho-Pass Movie did well with the action, callbacks and expansion of the narrative's concepts: 8.8/10. Overall that makes the series approximately 8.5 out of 10.
While no one is inclined to agree, for the time being, Psycho-Pass presents itself as one of the best new original anime we’ve seen in a long time. It’s not Kill La Kill, it’s not Little Witch Academia, it’s not whatever else you fools are into, it's Psycho-Pass. A phenomenal cyberpunk story that takes place in a dystopian society where humans are governed by a type of mechanical, artificial intelligence. Brilliant work, I hope to see more in the near future.
Written By: Nya Hemmingz
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