Yoshiko SakakibaraMasumi AsanonoitaminAPsycho-Pass
Psycho-Pass 2
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2014: P-Q
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2014
Director: Kiyotaka Suzuki, Naoyoshi Shiotani
Writer: Tow Ubukata, Jun Kumagai
Actor: Kana Hanazawa, Ayane Sakura, Hiroki Touchi, Kazuhiro Yamaji, Keiji Fujiwara, Kenji Nojima, Marina Inoue, Masumi Asano, Miyuki Sawashiro, Noriko Hidaka, Ryohei Kimura, Shizuka Itou, Takahiro Sakurai, Yoshiko Sakakibara
Keywords: Psycho-Pass, anime, SF, dystopia, noitaminA
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 11 episodes
Url: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=15513
Website category: Anime 2014
Review date: 31 July 2015
psycho pass
It's the second season of Psycho-Pass, which some fans of season one have been luke-warm about. Personally, though, I hadn't been blown away by season one, so I thought this was okay. Not a lot of difference. It's still Psycho-Pass. It's still a clever, chilling thought experiment that you'd recommend to people who like intellectual SF. It's also maintaining its usual level of likeable characters (1) and sense of humour (none).
It's the 22nd century and Japan is ruled by the Sibyl System. This is technology that can read your emotions and have you arrested if you've committed a crime... or perhaps if you're just thinking about crime, or even if you're sufficiently upset or angry that the system has decided you're a risk factor. Thus everyone in society is happy and relaxed. Mental stress is illegal and can have you taken away for rehabilitation.
This actually works quite well, so long as there are no bugs in the software. Guess what!
The most important thing about Psycho-Pass, I think, is the intellectual content. This is one of the few anime about which the most important thing in fandom's eyes is the writer. Gen Urobuchi wrote season one (and the 2015 movie), while this second season is by Tow Ubukata. Season one was full of philosophical speculation about what it would mean to live under the Sibyl System and what it would do to its citizens. That gets continued here, so I'm happy. That's the important thing. Admittedly I'm not convinced Tow Ubukata brings alive his philosophical explorations quite as effectively as Urobuchi did, with that Omnipotence Paradox perhaps feeling a bit abstract rather than something that the audience has been made to care about. There's also less of a sense that both sides have strong arguments, with Mika Shimotsuki basically being Little Miss Wrong. However there's still clearly a debate going on and it's being put front and centre. I value that.
Stuff like drama, character, etc. are less important. It's Psycho-Pass. If you want to care about characters, you're watching the wrong show. Akane's got a heart, but that's it. I don't think it's significant that there's perhaps a higher action content here, or that Akane gets to do more detective work.
However it is worth noting, I think, that it was the villains who really kicked the first season into gear. (The heroes are pretty boring.) Season two sees a step down in Big Bad, with Kamui being nowhere near as lurid and psychotic as Makishima. He's a nice guy. He causes multiple bloodbaths, but he's a calm, well-spoken chap who's always willing to listen to a reasonable argument. That's less exciting. However there are also Supporting Jerks, including the Sibyl System itself (still regarding its own safety as society's number one priority), Little Miss Wrong and a complete raving psycho who's entertaining to watch when finally unmasked but also a loser who fundamentally doesn't matter.
Little Miss Wrong (i.e. Mika Shimotsuki) is the most interesting of those, I think. She's not a villain, you see. She's another cop. (We first met her in season one as one of the schoolgirls at Oso Academy when those serial killings were going on, by the way.) I had no sympathy for her whatsoever, of course. She's so stupid. She's wrong about all things, she gets innocents killed and she's a seething ball of resentment towards Akane. Mika gets so angry about Akane's habit of thinking for herself that she writes it up into reports, trying to get her sacked. (No, I'm not joking. That's what can happen in a society like this, when the Sibyl System decides everything and so relying on one's own judgement instead can look almost suspicious.)
As a person, Mika is a waste of oxygen and I didn't care. Bad things happening to her are funny. Her eventual traumas should perhaps have been gut-wrenching, but personally I was cheering them on because she's a total twat. She keeps insisting that things are impossible, for instance, even after the existence has been proved of other things she'd been similarly insisting were impossible. She's also terrified of talking to this universe's equivalent of Sherlock Holmes because he tends to provoke dark emotions and obviously that's a higher priority for any good citizen than, say, stopping a killer. However I think she's still interesting despite this, as an embodiment of her society's worst tendencies. I was laughing my head off at the ep.4 massacre. She's the inspector in charge at the scene, but she does nothing because if she acts and it goes wrong, it'll be her responsibility and she can't handle that. Shortly afterwards, Division 3 turn up and gun down all the "criminals" (i.e. innocent victims) in one of the most blackly funny bloodbaths you'll see all year.
Almost as comedic was her shock when Division 3 took away her position as the inspector in charge of the crime scene. She'd been doing nothing! Priceless.
Season one characters tend to be underused, apart from Akane. This wouldn't have been such a problem had it been easier to tell the cast apart, but unfortunately I found myself wondering at one point if Ginoza had really been offscreen all this time or if I'd been getting him confused with Togane. There are three main female characters and the only distinguishing feature for any of them is the fact that Akane has huge alien eyes like Droopy.
You see, anime characters can tend to look the same. The traditional fix for this is to give everyone distinctive hair and clothes. Here, though, everyone has a non-hairstyle and wears a dark suit. Combine that with a lack of human connection from almost all of them and you've got a recipe for confusion.
One slight niggle: Dominators can only fire three Decomposer shots. Why?
It's perhaps a bit like Judge Dredd, except colourless and with no sense of humour. You're cheering for the bad guys. Akane's a strong, intelligent heroine and you're happy to follow her investigations, but the show's at its best when the cops are murdering innocents because that's what the system is telling them to do, or perhaps the villain has tricked innocent people into being cop-killers. That's always a laugh.
The supporting cast are perhaps a bit more distinctive than in season one. That's not saying much, but I liked the nerd and I approve of giving Sherlock more to do. (I exaggerate. Jouji Saiga's not Sherlock Holmes, but he's capable of similar observational deductions.) Kogami's gone completely, of course, but that's no surprise given the end of season one.
There's an interesting thing I didn't notice, by the way! Apparently the opening title sequence evolves subtly over the course of the season, with lots of foreshadowing and cool stuff. However I didn't like the theme music enough to sit through eleven title sequences, so I kept skipping them.
Is this a great show? No, but it's still interesting, in a cold, detached way. Season one is more exciting and has more dramatic villains, but on the other hand I don't think season two ever bored me. It's not front-loaded with a bunch of random police procedural episodes starring cops who couldn't find their arses with both hands. The Public Safety Bureau's actually fairly competent in season two under Akane. What's more, I also think this year's cops are more human. In season one, they tended to be moody hard men with the personalities of toothpicks. Mika Shimotsuki might be a Compass of Wrongness, but so was Ginoza in much of season one and at least Mika always seems like a human being.
It's okay. I didn't mind it. It's still trying to say things about its ideas, which is the important thing.