Monday, April 27, 2015

Psycho-Pass Anime Review

Psycho-Pass Season One
Saiko Pasu
Funimation
Complete Collection - 4 discs
550 mins - 22 episodes
$159.98 (2014) Blu-Ray
$64.98 (2014) Parts 1-2/ea.
ISBN 704400094309
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Katsuyuki Motohiro/Naoyoshi Shiotani
Studio - Production I.G

Synopsis: The year is 2113 and Japan has achieved a peaceful society through the use of an advanced technological system which predicts the probability of a person committing a crime through neural scanning.  The Sibyl System is unique and uses a crime coefficient to determine whether at any time a person will be likely to commit a serious crime.  Cymatic scanners are honeycombed throughout each city to read the 'Psycho-Pass' of citizens and detect latent criminals.  The Public Safety Bureau's Criminal Investigation Division is in charge of hunting down these latent criminals to remove them from active society.  A non-cloudy Psycho-Pass is a badge of honor in this society and proves an individual is highly stable.
Akane (driving) is a rookie Inspector with Public Safety
and her partner is Ginoza
The Sibyl system also performs aptitude tests and determines the vocational ability of citizens.  Some are graded to menial labor while others with exceedingly clear Psycho-Pass scores are given prestigious jobs.  In this way a new class system governed by a computer system has emerged.  When the Criminal Investigation Division hunts latent criminals they are armed with a special handgun called a Dominator.  These weapons are linked directly to the Sibyl System and are able to read the crime coefficients of anyone they are pointed at.  When they are pointed at someone with an unacceptably high coefficient score then the system arms them with an appropriate sanction response.  These range from stun to complete annihilation for those given an extreme sanction order.  This is a society where you are punished for crimes you may someday commit and lawfully killed if the your crime coefficient is high enough.
Akane is paired with the Enforcer Masaoka who was an experienced
detective before being labelled a latent criminal by the Sibyl System
Latent criminals are typically apprehended and sent to rehabilitation facilities where they are treated to reduce their crime coefficients and eventually rejoin society.  The success rate is not very high and many find their Psyco-Pass scores going even higher.  Some latent criminals are drafted by the Criminal Investigation Division to become Enforcers who assist Inspectors in apprehending more latent criminals.  The Enforcers are still incarcerated at PSB headquarters and only allowed to move in public under the supervision of an Inspector.  Both Inspectors and Enforcers can carry Dominators.
The Dominator is a variable handgun settings ranging from
incapacitation to complete cellular annihilation 
Akane Tsunemori is a rookie Inspector with an incredibly low and stable Psycho-Pass.  She scored so high on the aptitude placements that she could choose any profession and chose the Criminal Investigation Division.  Her naivete as a rookie is highly apparent, but she is determined to do a good job.  Working with Enforcers for the first time is a shock.  She's never been around latent criminals and society assigns a massive stigma to them.  She's surprised to find they are just like regular people yet have high crime coefficients.  She works with Unit One and struggles with the moral questions posed by trusting in the Sibyl System.  What if it's not perfect?  Can it be fooled?  These questions haunt Akane as she gains more experience investigating crimes and dealing with latent criminals.
From left - Shion, Kagari, Yayoi, Kogami, Akane, Ginoza, and Masaoka
Unit One is made up of:
  • Akane Tsunemori - bright and shining new Inspector with an incredibly clear Psycho-Pass.  What will happen to her perfect mental state when exposed to latent criminals and those who have passed wholeheartedly to the dark side of human nature?
  • Nobuchika Ginoza - senior Inspector to Akane and tasked with training her in dealing with the Enforcers and hunting latent criminals.  He treats the Enforcers as second class citizens and warns Akane to limit her association with them or risk clouding her Psycho-Pass.
  • Shinya Kogami - intense, passionately driven and an adept detective.  He's obsessed with solving a particularly gruesome case from the past which caused his Psycho-Pass to become permanently clouded.  
  • Tomomi Masaoka - an old school detective with skills to rival Kogami's and a prosthetic cyber-arm.  He's honest and becomes a mentor to Akane which makes her begin questioning the accuracy of the Sibyl System.  He describes the Enforcers as hunting dogs for the Inspectors.
  • Shusei Kagari - a spirited young man who was determined to be a latent criminal at the age of 5.  He is good-natured and enjoys teasing Akane.  
  • Yayoi Kunizuka - she is the calmest member of Unit One despite being a latent criminal.  
  • Shion Karanomori - analyst and support for Unit One, she is also a latent criminal
Unit One is sent to investigate a series of murders at a drone factory
which is completely cut off from the outside world
Several new and disturbing crime trends have recently started and Unit One is very busy investigating them.  They include popular online avatars being taken over by a mysterious killer, a copycat serial killer with links to the case Kogami is still trying to solve, and the appearance of a technology which may be able to fool even the Sibyl System.  Who is Makishima and what are his links to these seemingly unrelated crimes?  Akane, Kogami, and the entire Unit One will be put to the ultimate test to determine whether the Sibyl System is truly foolproof.
Kogami fires his Dominator
Pros: Interesting premise based on psychological profiling to regulate society, great characters and their interactions, opening/ending theme songs are really good, animation quality is top notch, some major plot twists which build up to the first season ending, Makishima is a worthy opponent (loved all the literature quotes and references), the relationship between Tsunemori and Kogami is powerful, Tsunemori's trials and character development are strong by the end of the series, there's a second season
Akane talks with virtual celebrity Spooky Boogie
Cons: Only 22 episodes (typical TV series is 24 to 26), currently only an over-priced complete collection ('limited edition') available (this should change as an economical box set is released in the near future), ending was a bit too philosophical
Akane, Shion, and Yayoi discuss a case
Mike Tells It Straight: I'd heard good things online about Psycho-Pass and decided to check it out (definitely not buying the over-priced, limited edition complete collection that's out right now).  It was a great mix of sci-fi and crime detective stories.  The animation was good, soundtrack was excellent (opening/ending themes plus background music during episodes), mix of characters was interesting, and storyline progressed to a decent conclusion.  There were quite a few plot twists thrown in there which kept me guessing and I dug the philosophical topics the series presented.
Who is the enigmatic Makishima?
The premise of having a society run by a supercomputer that judges people on potential outcomes was novel.  Akane seemed like a weak character when she started out as a rookie, but really picked it up by the end of the series.  She gets put through the wringer big time.  The antagonist, Makishima, is a worthy foe and he was a great character (loved the literature quotes and references he mentioned).  The varying crimes Unit One investigated were curious and used a two-episode style (introduce the crime in the first episode and then resolve it in the second).  The second half of  the series focuses on the Sibyl System and apprehending Makishima.
The sudden appearance of this group of helmeted thugs spells disaster
It's a dark show at times with serial killers and gory deaths (the Dominators can literally blow people apart).  I thought the guns were a bit gimmicky, but they served a distinct purpose to the plot.  The characters were good although practically no development happened outside of Akane.  The pacing is great and I liked the moral questions posed (judging criminals before they have even committed a crime).  Some good suspense and drama with a distinct conclusion.  I heartily recommend this show and it's well done.  Sure, there's plenty to nit-pick with the plot and the ending could have been handled better, but I found the series engaging.  Looking forward to checking out the second season when it's released.
Is Akane truly cut out to be an Inspector?

TO BUY and Recommendations: