This is the second of my reactions to some of the latest anime of this beginning season, Psycho-Pass is a new release from Production I.G and Funimation, and with characters designed by Akira Amano (Katekyo Hitman Reborn!), and written by Urobochi Gen of Madoka fame.
This show casted a whirlwind of different opinions into my mind
What if there was a way to predict future crimes through psychology? Would it be finite? Can people change? Are personality traits unavoidable? Answers to those (and other) questions, and a host of other things make up Psycho-Pass, the cyberpunk detective anime. In the show's first episode viewers are introduced to the MWPSB, a department of inspectors dedicated to preserving the peace by observing citizens' crime coefficient, a.k.a their psychological likelihood of committing crimes, and then solving the problem, whether its stunning the suspect and then taking them in for "corrective" therapy, or eliminating those who are without hope, oftentimes these arrests are done with no other evidence, or even before the crime is committed (like a Minority Report sorta thing). Soon after we discover this, we meet our hero of sorts, Akane Tsunemori, a gifted young woman, assigned to be an inspector at the MWPSB, and soon she learns the job of an inspector, is really just keeping people called the Enforcers under control, not as comrades, but as laborers (essentially), however she doesn't treat them like that to say the least. Anyways, Enforcers are people whose crime coefficients are too high, but are drafted into the MWPSB to help solve these crimes, instead of sitting in jail, the catch is, these enforcers seem perfectly alright, and don't come off as criminals, yet. As the series progresses (as far as 5 episodes takes you) we see different, and sometimes criminal sides of enforcers, and people, and Urobochi clearly wants to make the viewer think about what they're watching, as we encounter tons of different sides of many of the characters, especially our other protagonist, Kogami Sho, who seems to be channeling every anti-hero of all time, with soft, cold, intelligent, and savage sides.
The opening should do an adequate job of describing what I failed to say, Akane is the girl, Sho is the guy
Psycho-Pass' premise is honestly quite brilliant and unique, the closest thing I can think of is Minority Report and yet these two are quite different, but unique doesn't neccessarily mean good, and luckily Gen-san has fleshed out the story to the point where it really does succeed, so many characters stand out, and when there's a mystery to solve, I was usually quite engaged, especially in the net avatar killer case, which was really, really good, the execution of the labyrinthian chase of a man killing internet celebrities, and the clear complications made for some of really brilliant science fiction. The typical episode or arc consists of two parts mystery, one part action, where a case leads up to a satisfying action packed conclusion, where everything just goes crazy, and the savagery of some of the enforcers goes on full display, which manages to add to the mixed messages Psycho-Pass tries to send viewers.
Although the show's premise, and stories are really quite well done and fleshed out, the setting and themes often create a conflicted image, and the underlying themes really get confusing at times. Psycho-Pass thematically often tries to show the world as if there's no black and white, and where criminals are some huge gray, and this psychological system is wrong, and while I agreed with this, and think it's a well done plot device, the surrounding stories and other themes create a show that often seems like it's just trying to preach about something in a bad way. For instance, Kogami Sho, whose crime coefficient indicates he is a criminal comes off as a really intelligent and somewhat mild character, but then when the violence starts he gets absolutely savage and becomes a killing machine, so why would they say otherwise? Perhaps Gen is playing devil's advocate against himself, and Sho's inner turmoil is quite interesting to say the least, but when every criminal the MWPSB investigates ends up being some demented evil soul, beyond redemption apparently, the opposing message of there is a black and white becomes more clear, and I often can't tell just what the show is trying to say, and while I doubt the show is literally trying to preach messages, I feel that the opposing themes can often distract whats going on in the show, and while this juxtaposition happens throughout the series, overall its not enough of a distractor to stop Psycho-Pass' blend of Detective Conan and Minority Report, and honestly, I think it's a good thing that the show isn't telling me what to believe.
Sweet glorious cyberpunk, oh how I revere thee
Despite mixed themes, Gen and Amano did a wonderful job on crafting some layered and believable characters, Kogami, veteran detective Masaoka, to Ginoza (Akane's fellow inspector, who does not share her views on the enforcers), they feel fleshed out and real, and many characters still have sides we haven't seen yet, as the show continues to show that the enforcers may not be as innocent as we were led to believe. However, our leading lady Akane is a huge exception in this nice cast of characters, because she just isn't believable at all. Viewers are supposed to believe that Akane is some sort of genius when she often acts like an idiot in general, and has no clue what the world around her entails, and it's not just because she's new to the system; Akane's background is that her career evaluations were so high that she could've been a higher up in the government etc, but she chose the MWPSB because it was unique to her, but I have a hard time believing that these "foolproof" psychoevaluation machines picked a girl like that for this job, she clearly isn't strong enough (mentally of course), and constantly acts ignorant and second guesses herself, and we're supposed to believe she's some genius. Luckily, much like Mushi-Shi Akane is just someone we follow to keep everyone else mysterious (like Ginko from Mushi-Shi), and the plot still stands strong, but it could be worlds better.
I have nothing but good things to say about art and sound
Grey, green, black, the colors of Psycho-Pass, and while that probably doesn't sound good, the show's art shines, the art almost always suits the mood, white and red for a factory murder, the green and black city streets on a dark night, the bright colors on the internet diving segments, the art just clicks with me, and a lot of the credit should go to Akira Amano's character designs, as her love of the business suit carries over into Psycho-Pass. Moving on, the animation and backgrounds of the show are both smooth and simplistic, yet complex, as futuristic cities feel plausible, and real, an accomplishment in itself. Finally the soundtrack to the show is quite well done, and the mix of rock to orchestra feels pretty right, and the voice actors aren't slacking either.
Voice acting never really bothers me in general lately, you be the judge I suppose
Speaking of judging its time for:
Psycho-Pass stands out as an outlier in my mind, using only the good conventions of the cyberpunk genre (thought provoking, plausible sci-fi), and succeeds in it's mystery elements, and the art and soundtrack only help. However be wary about mixed messages, and a questionable protagonist, but maybe this is all on purpose, only time will tell, and for now, Psycho Pass is pretty good.
Song of the Week(#1):
The fifth opening of Naruto, Seishun Kyousoukyosoukyoku! By Sambomaster, I won't always be doing Japanese music here though
Is Psycho-Pass worse than Madoka? Should we just get more Madoka? How did Madoka get into this discussion? Are the mixed themes in the show a bad thing? Am I an awful reviewer? Am I being to hasty with my praise? Does cyberpunk suck? Drop me a comment! Share my articles on your Facebook and Twitter if you're so inclined! Fap My blog from time to time! Read my other articles!
About CharismaJustice One of us since 7:05 PM on 09.30.2012
Hi I'm Hamilton and I have opinions on things! I'm from the south (lets keep that on the down low), I read lots of manga, and watch anime (less than I read manga), I also play way too much video games and like RPGs and Shooters.
Follow Me on Twitter @Im_Hamilton if you wish
Stuff I Like:
Some of my favorite manga(s?) I've read are(in no particular order): Berserk, Zetman, Fullmetal Alchemist, Soul Eater, Gantz, Blood Lad, Air Gear, Black Jack, Naruto, the first few Bleach arcs, One Piece, Gintama, Hunter X Hunter, Ratman, Black Cat, Gamaran, Shingeki no Kyojin, Cage of Eden, Fairy Tail, Magi, Slam Dunk, Akira, History's strongest Disciple Kenichi (I've Read way more but this list is getting long)
I like anime too!: Most Ghibli works, Eureka Seven, [C], Samurai 7, Casshern Sins, Gurren Lagann, Trigun, Hellsing, Durarara, Dragon Ball(and Z)
Music I like: Arcade Fire, Radiohead, Oberhofer, Modest Mouse, the XX, Matt and Kim, Crystal Castles, No Age, Pavement, Neutral Milk Hotel.
Games I Like: Fallout 3, Chrono Trigger, Dark Souls, Skyrim, Minecraft, Day Z, Portal 1&2, Counter Strike, Street Fighter, Marvel Vs Capcom, Assorted final fantasies.