This is review number one hundred and sixty five. This is part of the Fall 2012 lineup. I want to finish everything I can from 2012 before I tackle the shows of Winter 2013. I need to catch up on my ever growing backlog (which includes every anime in a f*cking lineup). Anyways, the anime I’ll be reviewing is Psycho Pass. It’s a twenty two episode anime about society and government and some people blowing other people up. Trust me, just watch the damn show. Let’s read on.
The anime is about a futuristic Japan. The country has developed a near perfect system in governing its people that involves almost no human element. Everything is run by machines and the found a way to capture criminals before they do something bad. They have devised a system that measures your “Psycho-pass” and alerts authorities if it ever gets dangerously unstable. The anime follows the everyday activities of the Division I Public Safety Bureau of the Ministry of Welfare that apprehends people who are considered criminals. Inspectors and Enforcers work together to capture these outlaws before they do something bad. The Psycho Pass system isn’t perfect though and one criminal is dead set on exposing the near perfect system’s cracks.
Taking the Pants Off
This is that anime where the chief director promised to have no “moe” in it. Japanese cuteness aside, I think I died a little inside when I learned that the guy who wrote the story of the anime is Gen Urobuchi. He is the person that gave us a dark themed magical girl anime that still soundly resonates in the fandom. He is a guy who loves risky topics, controversial even, and creates an anime out of it. It didn’t take much for me to excitedly watch the anime because a simple equation of Gen Urobochi + Production IG + no moe is pretty much all I need to enjoy this anime. I didn’t really know what I was going into and after finishing the anime, I think it very well maybe the best anime of 2012. I’m seriously calling it even though I still have a handful of anime from this year I haven’t seen. Psycho Pass is so good that it is easily the best anime of the year.
First of all, the anime has a lot of terms in it and the viewers are asked to piece the information together. The story flows without interruption so certain things are just explained slightly but then it’s applied to the story. The show is about the people that catch criminals called the Inspector and the Enforcers. The Inspectors are the ones that supervise certain mission and give authorities for the Enforcers. The Enforcers are like detectives but the catch is that they are also deemed criminals. For someone to be considered a “criminal”, they are judged by their Psycho Pass and Crime Coefficient. A Psycho Pass is like a measurement of your mental state and your overall wellbeing. The Psycho Pass gets “cloudy” when your mental state is poor and if it gets too cloudy then you might get arrested or detained. A Crime Coefficient is the measurement of whether you have committed a crime or will commit a crime. I think the average is 160 and above that requires serious attention. Most criminals have over 300 Crime Coefficient so you have an idea of how dangerous they are.
Inspectors and Enforcers carry a gun called a “Dominator” that authorizes them to shoot a person whose Crime Coefficient are dangerously high. If they point the gun at some with a low coefficient then the gun is put to safety mode and will not fire. If they point at some with over 160 then the gun is unlocked and they can fire either ‘non-lethal paralyzer’ ammo or lethal ammo that kills the criminal. I’m being too nice. They don’t just die. The criminals implode and their blood covers the walls which looks goddamn horrific. For the criminals, it sucks but this ideal system guarantee a safe environment for the people of Japan. As long as you don’t let your mental stress build then you’re pretty fine because the system will take care of you.
The Sybil System is like a super advance governing system that takes care of its people. As long as you follow the rules then you will be happy for the rest of your life. The advancement of technology covers everything from food, security, and even jobs. The Sybil System is designed to give people happy lives and a worry free existence. It can truly be called the perfect governing entity ever. It can predict crimes, apprehend law breakers in an efficient way and provide comfort and security to the citizens in a direct and effective way. Or is it?! (dun, dun, DUNNNNN!!!!)
The anime is pretty dark. It’s almost a guarantee that certain things in the anime will often be hard to watch. The characters chase after criminals but these aren’t the typical robbers or kidnappers. These are deranged and dangerously insane criminals with a bit of a psychological twist to them. There are certainly a lot of graphic scenes in the anime that are a bit unsettling to see. There are stuff like dismembered bodies, people burned alive and people beaten to death with a hammer. I personally don’t get fazed by this much and they give the anime a bit of a shock factor you so rarely see in anime but they are still graphic. The first half of the anime especially deals around these obscene criminal acts. The members of the Public Safety Bureau chase criminals who are in the deep end of the pool.
I actually like the first half of the anime because it reminds me a bit of Criminal Minds. It’s a US TV show about serial killers. They also chase after criminals and they use their superior minds to do so. This anime is the same. The characters use detective work to connect the dots and capture the criminals. It’s actually a bit exciting as well because there is a step by step revelation of the mystery that viewers can easily follow. The use of psychological elements and the advancement of technology made for a pretty interesting crime show. It also offers the side of the criminals which was nicely done. The viewers don’t just follow the detectives catch the criminals but they also get a glimpse of what goes inside the minds of the criminals. It’s really nicely done and the nice touch of realism in the stories made the show a lot more interesting.
In the second half, the story slowly changed gears though. The show got a lot more serious. The story is soon about a mastermind that generally embraces anarchy. It’s a bit hard to explain without spoiling a lot. Basically, this villain challenges the system and is determined to expose the flaws tucked inside the Sybil System. It has a deep story about the law, the governing entities and the individuals who are caught in between. The story soon evolved into one that challenges the integrity of every government that establishes laws and upholds it. How reliable is a ruling body? Can people live without law and order? Does this ruling entity have the right to control people’s lives? Can it censor anything it doesn’t like? Does a normal human being have the ability to stand against unjust thing even though it upholds the peace? Can it live on knowing how corrupt its rulers are? I really want to rant on about this goddamn brilliant story the second half told but I’m holding myself back. It really told a powerful story though about the Sybil System and the secrets it holds. As the anime progresses, it just gets more exciting as you watch how the characters handle this pretty heavy issue.
The characters in the anime are so well done. They start out as simple people with a single role. They get a nice transformation though that nicely complements the story. Each character also nicely gives a different perspective to the heavy issues explored by the anime. The main characters are Shinya Kougami and Akane Tsunemori. Kougami is an Enforcer with an incredible mind for solving crimes. He has an intuitive look at things and he can deduce things fast that people often just stand in awe at how he thinks. He is a guy that loves chasing down criminals and he isn’t afraid to breaking rules to complete his mission. Tsunemori is a bit different from Kougami. She is a newly assigned Inspector that has little idea of the inner workings of the place she works in. She has an incredible way at coping to things though and she looks at things pretty objectively. Her role started out as a fumbling newbie that is still green but, as certain things unfolds, she takes a massive transformation that made her role a lot more important to the story. The rest of the cast includes Nobuchika Ginoza, Tomomi Masaoka and Shusei Kagari. Nobuchika is the other Inspector of the Public Safety Bureau Division I. He is the colleague of Tsunemori. He has an interesting role in the anime because he really upholds the law. He puts it above anything else, including basic human common sense. It’s a different time so the detective work that Kougami does is a bit outdated. He upholds Sybil because he cares for the people. He is soon stuck between a rock and a hard place when he discovers the secrets behind the law he so proudly stands for.
Tomomi Masaoka is a seasoned veteran. He is an enforcer with a pretty good understanding of the people and how the world works. He has a nice perspective to things as well regarding some of the heavy issues in the anime. Like most of the cast, he was very little role but it explodes upon the second half. Kagari is another enforcer. He has very little role but his insights on this was also taken account. He was considered a criminal when he was five years old and now he works as an Enforcer who grew up without any of the promised happiness the Sybil System proudly tells its citizen.
Then there is the main villain of the anime. He has an interesting personality to him. His motives aren’t really that clear but he has a deep rooted hate for the rest of the world. He believes that the Sybil System is doing more harm than good and the people should be informed. He is always two steps ahead of the characters and his plans are always so precise that it flows pretty smoothly. He loves using people and seeing them does terrible things to others. As the anime progresses, we soon realize just how scary this guy is. The scary part is that his perspective on the issues of the anime was also pretty understandable. He doesn’t trust the government and he wants to crush it but he doesn’t do it straightforwardly. He doesn’t just get a crowbar and starts bashing things. It’s the wonderful thing about this guy. He takes everything into consideration, devise a plan, and convince other people to do the heavy lifting and he sits in a chair watching the whole thing unfolds. He has a deep understanding of how the world works and damn it, it’s not that hard to agree with his views.
The beautiful thing about this anime is that it tackles on a pretty heavy issue that the viewers can easily relate to. A technologically advanced utopia that provides the perfect system but has cracks upon further inspection is an easy concept to grasp. The anime doesn’t just tell the viewpoint of one character though. It tells each and every possible reaction and viewpoint that concerns the certain issue. The characters are so wonderfully done and their role is so effective because they really blur the line. Is this good guy really good? Is this bad guy actually bad? Is his take on the matter actually that bad? Does this person have an interesting take on the matter that I didn’t even know possible? You may start to side with one character but you’ll soon realize the others have a few good points of their own.
It’s pretty amazing how the anime was able to build up its story, offer graphic scenes along the way, develop the characters and the various relationships and explore a thought provoking topic without skipping a beat. I’ve seen powerful anime like Death Note or Code Geass slow down a bit but this show was able to build itself and keep being intense as it progresses. That is pretty hard to do considering how many anime have failed miserably in maintaining its risky topics and containing the emotion until the end. This is really beautiful writing and something that so rarely happen. As TPAB, I’ve seen close to one hundred sixty anime and wonderfully crafted shows like this one happens so rarely.
I don’t really see a lot of flaw in the anime. It managed all of its components pretty nicely. Nothing was sloppily presented and no short cuts were taken. If you have to split hairs then I guess the ending of the anime will be a bother. It does contribute to the clashing viewpoints in the anime. I bet there are people who hated how the anime ended and there are some, like me, who thought it was a decent way to end the show. It doesn’t matter though because the experience is one that is truly unforgettable. I really urge everyone to try this one.
Sight and Sound
The character design is pretty amazing. It has the typical bishie looks for the guys. There are a lot of handsome guys in the anime with messy hair and handsome body builds. It’s complete with the trademark Production IG eyes that has so much detail in them that you don’t see them blink. Their looks nicely complement their personality which I really admire. The female cast also has the typical bishoujo look to them. They have beautiful faces and some sexy curves to them. The dark and gritty atmosphere of the anime prevents their sexiness from oozing out though. There is no fan service in the anime. There are girls being forcefully raped but no one gets a boner from that. Well, not everyone, at least. Tsunemori nicely stands out though. Her face is a bit different. She almost has a droopy face and her eyes aren’t round, it’s like a D shape so she often looks a bit lackadaisical. I’m not sure if it’s intentional but it does bug me at times. I also don’t like seeing her side view because her face looks a bit weird. A little bit flat on both sides. I eventually got used to it because the story was too awesome to let weird side views distract me.
The anime has some graphic scenes. There are people being hammered to death, some people shot, others get their throat slashed and other kinds of graphic scenes. They’re manageable though if you’ve ever indulged in other gory stuff. The details in the scenes are pretty nice though. It nicely captures the brutality of the scenes with nice effects like blood and the scared faces of the victims. No one just dies by falling to the ground. They scream first, some struggle in one way or another, and then they eventually die which makes some scenes pretty uncomfortable to watch. They are undeniably awesome though.
The background of the anime is pretty amazing. It nicely portrays a futuristic setting complete with cyborgs and holograms. It still has the look of a city with a busy population and the technology was nicely added in. The dark atmosphere of the anime made for some pretty nice scenery in the anime. Nothing that is visually heart shattering though but it’s still enough to call the scene “beautiful”. The dark tone of the anime also made the CG designs blend well in normal scenes. CG is often stiff but the ones in this anime were pretty awesome. The design of the gun and the various cyborgs in the anime nicely blends in the anime.
The animation in the anime was pretty great as well. Cmon, it’s Production IG. They don’t do bad animation and their ability to make scenes look amazing is part of the reason why they are a mega animation studio. There are some nice stand out in terms of animation like some shooting scenes and even a one on one fight scene that is pretty amazing. It’s smooth and the framework was pretty good. The animation was pretty awesome that it helped deliver the strong story of the anime.
The anime had two OP and two ED. The first OP is “abnormalize” by Ling Tosite Sigure. The song has really nice instrumentals to it. The nice piano arrangement and the guitar riffs in the song are pretty awesome. Ling’s voice was also pretty nice. It stands out despite the impressive instrumentals. The OP sequence features the two main characters, Kougami and Tsunemori, and it ends with the two of them in a standoff. The second OP is “Out of Control” by Nothing’s Carved in Stone. It was sung in English so it was a bit hard to get used to at first but the song is really nice. The singer has a nice high voice and the instrumentals in the anime were awesome as well. The OP sequence features all the characters with oddly bright colors and it nicely captures the scenarios unfolding in the second half.
The first ED song is “Namae no nai Kaibutsu” by EGOIST. It’s nice to hear this band again. After Guilty Crown, I never thought I’d hear them again. I guess Production IG wanted redemption after GC and they had Egoist do songs for PsychoPass. The song is nice. It starts slow and picks up pace and bat as it rolls along. The singer has a really nice voice reminiscent of the awesome soundtrack in GC. The ED sequence features the characters in still poses. Nothing complicated. It also has a montage of the futuristic city the characters are in. The second ED is “All Alone With You” by EGOIST. Again, freaking reminiscing of the awesome soundtrack of GC. The singer really has a really lovely voice that you rarely hear. It’s the ultimate eargasm. The ED sequence features the characters and a montage of certain things being warped. I think it symbolizes the complexity of the story in the anime.
8/10 “Outstanding anime with thought provoking themes that made the anime experience a pretty amazing one.”
Gen Urobuchi strikes again. Magical Madoka, Fate Zero and now Psycho Pass, this man is incredible. This is a solid show full of graphic scenes, psychologically deep elements and some interesting topics and characters that delivers an incredible anime experience. I highly recommend this anime.