April 1, 2015
About the author : Project manager by day, crazy cat lady by night. Emily's first love is J.R.R. Tolkien. She's also into Walking Dead, video games, Doctor Who, and anime. When she isn't knee-deep in her latest fandom, she's usually sleeping.
Psycho-Pass is set in a future in which Japan as achieved a perfect society. The Sibyl System efficiently controls every aspect of everyone’s lives. An aptitude test determines what job is best for everyone. Food production is automated and self-sufficient, keeping Japan isolated from the rest of the chaotic world. Crime is even stopped before it happens.
Every individual has a crime coefficient, which demonstrates whether that person has committed a crime or is likely to commit a crime. All citizens are subject to routine scans. If your crime coefficient is above a certain number, you’re labelled a latent criminal and sent away for therapy.
Some of these latent criminals are deemed beyond help. They’re kept locked up in a ward and subjected to therapy for the rest of their lives, thus ensuring the safety of everyone else. A few select latent criminals are judged by the Sibyl Systems to become Encforcers–the hunting dogs of the law. They’re the people who do the dirty work for the police, allowing the Inspectors to maintain safe crime coefficients.
A series of murders a found to be connected to a three-year-old, unsolved case. As the police investigate, they realize that while the murderer is different in each case, the orchestrator is the same. All they have to go on to hunt down this orchestrator is a blurry photograph and a name: Makishima.
As the plot progresses, the team realizes that Makishima is more than just a sicko who enjoys watching violence without dirtying his own hands. He has a deadly advantage against the Sibyl System and a plan to exploit it.
Akane Tsunemori scored a nearly perfect score on her aptitude test, allowing her to enter any job she likes. She chooses to become an Inspector. Although she excelled at the academy, she struggles to come to terms with the harsh reality of her job.
One of the latent criminals who works under her, Shinya Kogami, on the other hand, embraces his role of hunting dog. He is single-minded in his determination to eliminate criminals from society. He’s also a brilliant detective who can not only connect clues to form a clear picture of the situation, but also predict the culprit’s next move.
Nobuchika Ginoza is Akane’s partner. Even though they’re the same rank, he considers himself her senior because of his years of experience. Ginoza is as straight-laced as they come. He stays emotionally distant from everyone, but particularly the Enforcers; he barely considers them human.
Tomomi Masaoka is the oldest Enforcer on the team. His years of experience have jaded him, but not so much that he doesn’t appreciate Akane’s moral, hopeful perspective on life. He helps guide her through her first experiences as an Inspector.
The plot is amazing. This review is spoiler-free, so I couldn’t get into it much. It’s fast-paced and engrossing. While the plot twists aren’t exactly mind-blowing, the show does keep you guessing.
Nearly all of the characters are compelling. By the end of the first season, Akane had become one of my favorite female characters ever. The secondary characters are endearing and most have interesting back stories.
As if plot and characters weren’t enough, the show asks a lot of tough questions about society, law and morality. It doesn’t give any definitive answer (which I appreciate), but it does present how different characters answer the question. Psycho-Pass takes a more realistic look at a carefully engineered future society. What effect does it have on human beings? Is it really good for society as a whole? What is more important, justice or order?
As if that weren’t intellectual enough for you, the anime makes a lot of literary references. From Jonathan Swift to Pascal to Philip K. Dick to the Gospel of Matthew, it’s clear that a lot of thought was put into the dialogue. You almost feel smarter watching the show, but it goes deeper than that. It’s almost like all of these references to philosophers and novelists is how Psycho-Pass‘s writers contribute to the conversation.
The show is rated MA for good reason–there’s a lot of brutality. The guns the police use–called Dominators–don’t just shoot bullets; they can actually blow a person up (or portions of a person’s body), depending on the setting. The crimes are brutal, too, as one would expect.
Even apart from the violence, Psycho-Pass isn’t a light-hearted show. It deals with some heavy questions and difficult concepts. Some of the characters go through hell. I was definitely crying during at least one scene.
Psycho-Pass is dubbed on Netflix (which is how I watched it). The first four episodes are currently available for free on Funimation, both dubbed and subbed. The first season is also available on Blu-Ray and DVD in two volumes.
Season two finished airing in Japan in December 2014. It’s available subbed on Funimation if you have the Exclusive subscription (which I am now compelled to buy!). I’m sure season two will find its way to Netflix and Blu-Ray/DVD in a year or so.