Psycho Pass is 2 season Sci-Fi psychological seinen anime based on the visual novel of the same name written by Gen Urobuchi, directed by Naoyoshi Shiotani and produced by studio I.G, a studio known for great animes such as Ghost In The Shell.
So far 2 seasons were produced, a first season of 22 episodes 23 minutes each, premiered in the fall of 2012, and a second season of 11 episodes 23 minutes each, premiered in the fall of 2014.
The acclaim of the anime earned it a movie sequel called simply Psycho Pass the Movie aired in January 2015.
The following review will be concerning only the first season.
So the plot takes place in a futuristic Japan, the technological advance made the line between a Utopia and Dystopia quite blurry.
In such setting we follow the newly recruited investigator Tsunemori Akane facing several cases that turn out to have one factor in common, the manipulating perpetrator, Makishima Shougo, a master mind cold blooded murder with quite the ambiguous motives that unravel slowly throughout the anime.
Along chief inspector Ginoza Nobuchika, inspector Risa Aoyanagi, executors Shinya Kougami, Tomomi Masaoka, Shuusei Kagari and lab analyst Shion Karanomori, they go about investigating said cases and getting closer to the truth but raising more questions with each one answered.
What exactly distinguishes Psycho Pass from a typical investigation thriller?
To answer that we need to get accustomed to the new method and weapon of investigation: The Dominator
The dominator is a futuristic gun introduced in the anime, with a safety trigger that only gives permission to the dominator wielder in one condition: the Psycho Pass must reach an alarming level.
The Psycho Pass, also known as Crime Coefficient, a value that the dominator calculates when aimed at a target, based on which the dominator then proceeds to transform into a certain mode and afflict a specific judgement, there exists three different modes:
- A non-lethal paralyzer mode to stun the target
- A lethal eliminator mode to explode the target (yeah, explode a human being, gory much?)
- A destroy decomposer mode to terminate a heavily armored target (rarely used in the anime)
The Crime Coefficient identification process and calculation is loaded from a large data base managed by a server called Sibyl System wielded and controlled by the government, and is presumed flawless.
But the data is measured on the spot when aimed at a target, it includes measurements of the target’s blood pressure, physiological state, psychological atmosphere, adrenaline rush and other factors, simply put, the system puts a value on the body language of the target and decides based on it the adequate judgement.
If the target disposes of a Psycho Pass lower than a paralyzer mode to be trigger, the dominator doesn’t release the safety mode, same case if the dominator is wielded by an unauthorized person.
So far, if you’re not a Sci-Fi hardcore fan, you’re not quite interested in the plot, so why would you watch this?
One word: the Villain.
If you paid enough attention, you’d notice I already mentioned that Shogo Makishima was a cold blooded murder, so the question raised is how does the Sibyl System measure and judge cold bloodedness?
This is the where the thrill kicks in, Shogo Makishima trained himself to control his body to obey him therefore he can virtually control his Psycho Pass even when committing gruesome acts such as murder.
The anime exploits this major flaw in the system while showcasing Akane’s whereabouts to unravel, episode by episode, the ambiguous and unsettling motives and goals of Shogo Makishima, at the same time searching for a way to defeat him without lowering herself to Shogo’s level by accepting his offer of an old fashioned gun and triggering the gun based on her own judgement and with her own will.
The thrill is limitless each time a case is revealed and more questions raised, schemes uncovered, plot twists unexpected and an oh-so-hard-earned a conclusion, and eventually an ending that confirms and justifies both Akane’s and Shogo’s ideals.
Reviewing a story of this caliber, I find of greater import to highlight the moral dilemma treated in this anime than to talk about the characters individually, in fact, it serves both purposes, I think when one is faced with moral dilemmas in times of distress, it’s the time we see their true metal.
A perfect example is an ultimatum proposed by Shogo directly to Akane with a costly price for doing the righteous thing yet quite easily solved once she gives in to the more logical and easier choice, I will give no further details about it as it is an unparalleled and powerful scene too mind blowing to be spoiled.
Overall, I give this anime a 9 out of 10 and not a perfect 10 to not exaggerate, I strongly recommend it for any type of anime fans as it is mind-boggling, visually and atmospherically aesthetic and none fails to entertain and attract attention.