Japanese Title: Psycho-Pass
Related: Psycho-Pass 2
Watched in: Japanese & English
Length: 22 episodes
- Engaging exploration of cause and effect in human crime.
- Interesting cases driven by complex villains.
- The future and tech aesthetic.
- Protagonist is the weakest of the cast.
- Some audio lets the team down.
In the 22nd century, Japan enforces and prevents crime by way of the Sibyl System, an objective network that determines a citizen’s Crime Coefficient (CO) by analysing their mind, their Psycho-Pass, for criminal intent. Some say the system is too objective. Inspectors carry out the judgements of Sybil against those whose coefficients rise to dangerous levels. However, the Enforcers (former Inspectors with high CO given life in exchange for service – a Suicide Squad) do all the dirty work, keeping Inspectors clean. Judgement usually means death, for no criminal mind may infringe upon this perfect society.
Psycho-Pass predicts the criminal rather than just the crime like in Minority Report. In Minority Report, a chain of events lead an individual to want to commit a crime, and the system predicts this for prevention. Psycho-Pass takes a step further, or rather ten steps backwards, to before a crime even occurs to the person, to the seed of “wrong-think” in the individual.
Perhaps an office worker is passed over for promotion in favour of another and he feels resentment for this injustice. Now, he doesn’t wish harm upon the other worker or the manager, but that resentment is enough to elevate his CO into criminal levels. One can be scanned at random anytime. The worst part – and most interesting – factor in this system is that if you are the victim of a crime, unable to cope with the trauma and wish for justice or revenge (as is understandable) against the criminal, solely in your mind, Sybil brands you a criminal as well. It’s an infinite loop of self-fulfilling prophecies in the world of Psycho-Pass. And I love it! Acknowledging this flaw in the first episode told me I was in for something great.
We navigate this 1984-style society through the eyes of Inspector Akane, a young woman with a heart for truth and justice. Alongside her is Enforcer Kogami, a realist who will shatter her idealistic view of the system. On the front lines with her team, she sees first-hand how just and fair the system is, bringing all she thought into question. Their dynamic is an interesting one and plays well. However, this is largely due to Kogami and the world itself; Akane is a bit too much of a blank slate. She’s not harem protagonist bland, but we never get a sense that she is someone beyond her job. Even a workaholic should have influences outside the job.
The plot structure is a crime serial with several smaller cases and an overarching major villain entering the picture several times, similar to Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. I don’t know if there is something in the air or water at sci-fi crime studios, but they always seem to have excellent villains. Psycho-Pass is no exception. These villains complement the central theme of humanity and free thought perfectly, sometimes through twisted means. No case was boring. That said, they aren’t quite as clever as GITS: SAC.
Lastly, the tech and world design are awesome. From the neon lights of this pristine city to way the guns transform between non-lethal and lethal modes to, my favourite, the augmented reality HUD in one’s eyes, Psycho-Pass boasts a well-thought-out science fiction world. I would live in this city in the future – barring the Sybil system, of course.
At this point, I can’t say anymore to convince you to watch Psycho-Pass. It’s by no means a perfect anime, but what it does right is handily worth your time.
Art – High
Good art and animation blend CG nicely with lighting and filters such as rain. Love the world design. Despite the dark settings, the city’s neon lights create a nice colour contrast.
Sound – High
Good in both languages, but I – quite predictably – prefer the Japanese thanks to Tomokazu Seki (Kogami) in his iconic stoic character designation. While the electronic music fits the show, the OPs sound drugged – unless that’s for theme, but Sci-Fi drugs aren’t relevant here. Also, a high-frequency screech almost made my ears bleed at times.
Story – High
In the future, a central system scans citizens’ thoughts to pre-empt criminal behaviour, leading to a perfectly rigid society. Minority Report fuses with 1984 to create an engaging crime serial in Psycho-Pass.
Overall Quality – High
Recommendation: Must watch, unless you don’t enjoy crime shows. Psycho-Pass’s concept alone warrants your attention, at least for one season.
Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)