Psycho Pass

Psycho Pass is a dystopian cyberpunk series created by Production I.G and written by Urobuchi Gen who you may know as the writer of Fate/Zero and Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Being overly optimistic isn’t one of my failings, but I have to admit that that little fact does give me hope for this one. Let’s check it out.

Our story takes place in a futuristic Japan where everything is run by the Sybil system. The system can check the career you’re best suited for and scan your brain to determine how likely you are to commit crimes. This has resulted in a society in which “latent” criminals are caught and separated from society before they commit crimes when possible. However, that isn’t always a possibility. So a special enforcement division works to solve crimes and bring criminals in or slay them according to Sibyl’s judgment. The story of Psycho Pass follows this division as of the moment young Tsunemori Akane joins as the newest inspector. The story goes through several incidents, some of which are connected in ways that aren’t readily apparent, before moving to the main plot. The hunt for the enigmatic Makishima Shougo who has some responsibility for multiple criminal acts including one that’s haunted one of Division 1’s enforcers, Kougami Shinya. No, that isn’t a spoiler. They give that much away pretty quickly. I actually have nothing negative to say about the plot. Shocking, I know. The story is well-paced. It’s interesting. It has some excellent twists. The morality is questionable and forces you to really think. The ending is strong. The major themes of the “isolating age,” “emotional repression,” and the time motif are all well handled. The story is also highly engaging, challenging the viewer not only with the morality, but with various mysteries and motifs. Nothing that happens is irrelevant. It all serves a purpose either thematically or as a factor in the main narrative. Actually, most do both. The world itself is very interesting and well constructed.

The characters aren’t quite as strong as the story. Most of them are complex and well developed. I particularly liked the fact that the story managed to make both the protagonists and major antagonists competent. It’s all too common to see a crime narrative make the protagonists act like idiots so that the antagonist will look stronger until the very end when they manage to find their brains. In Psycho Pass, they all come across as intelligent and any mistakes that either side makes are understandable under the circumstances. It makes the dramatic tension and narrative all the stronger. The more minor characters still have verisimilitude and feel developed, even with the limited screen time they get. My only criticism in this area is that the antagonists lacked developed motivations. You get a basic sense of why they’re doing what they’re doing, but it is somewhat weak.

The art is really well done and nicely detailed. That being said, there is some very violent and dark content. So the series certainly isn’t for everyone. The futuristic tech looks interesting, I especially liked their depiction of futuristic chat rooms, and the action sequences really flow well. The character designs are nicely varied and well done.

The sound in this is really excellent. The ambient sounds and background music are both effective at building atmosphere. All the actors give good performances. The overall best were probably Nojima Kenji, Hanazawa Kana and Sakurai Takahiro. Even though there aren’t any weak performances, those three are excellent.

The ho-yay factor is a 4/10. Yayoi and Shion are romantically involved, although you don’t see much of their relationship. There’s some in Yayoi’s backstory and there’s a case where they go to a girl’s school which has some.

That was Psycho Pass. How does it compare to Urobuchi’s other works? Well, it isn’t quite as strong as Madoka, but it’s stronger than Fate/Zero. It’s a very interesting piece with a lot of depth, strong characters, a developed world and it ranks among the best dystopian works. My final rating for it is an excellent 9/10. I would recommend seeing it under the caveat that it does have quite a bit of violence, some of which is sexual. If that’s going to be triggering or a general problem for you, you should not watch it. That isn’t to say that it’s handled badly, it’s not. It’s well-handled and respectful. Still, you don’t want to expose yourself to that if you can’t handle it. Next week, Watashi ga Motenai no wa dō Kangaetemo Omaera ga Waru… I’m just going to call it Watamote.

3 thoughts on “Psycho Pass

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