An Oasis of Thoughts

Psycho Pass Episodes 1 and 2: Freedom That Isn’t Free

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Faeries (Jinrui) + Gen Urobuchi = Absolute terror

Psycho Pass is that show where you just have to accept that the world these characters live in is truly godawful, and that the main character is always painfully unaware of the grim realities around them so everyone’s favorite butcher will come and tear the main character’s personality to shreds (see Kaname, Madoka and Emiya, Kiritsugu). Short and sweet, if you’re not a fan of Gen Urobuchi’s works then Psycho Pass really won’t change that at all.

I’ve always contended that Urobuchi’s biggest flaw is the characters themselves. This was apparent in Madoka Magica, but harder to disseminate in Fate/Zero, where the entire cast had its own fanbase and lessened the criticism of “under developed characters . But the thing about Urobuchi that is consistent is that he always presents a corrupted version of what would usually be a nice theme: In Madoka, it’s taking the notion of having your wishes granted, something that is famous with Disney movies (and thus, portrayed in a nice, wholesome light), and looking at the more darker nature of wish granting. Fate/Zero also had an aspect of granting wishes via a Holy Grail, but presented yet another side to it completely separate from Madoka. Psycho Pass starts completely fresh, but takes a look at the most widely known theme we all know about. Dystopian future, big brother, questionable ethics: that’s Psycho Pass in a nutshell.

Contrary to the staff’s opinions, Akane has some moe-vibes in her. Probably due to KanaHana voicing her (a moe goddess if there ever was one).

Our naive protagonist is Akane (Kana Hanazawa, how appropriate) who finds herself already tasked with supervising the “enforcers” – criminals who have been given the opportunity to forgo jail time in exchange for helping police track down criminals. Why she decided to take on the role when she clearly had a lot of options was her perception that because she was the only one who qualified, there was something only she could do. I’m interested in how the show views this “Sybil System”: the system decides what role is appropriate for you, but it doesn’t actually force that decision on you. In a way, it tiptoes on a thin line between personal freedom and none at all.

Thank goodness it wasn’t a cat.

Also, pay close attention to the first scene of episode 2: Akane can seemingly change her bland condo into practically anything, that also goes for her clothing. But while that sounds nice and all, she doesn’t seem very excited or enthusiastic about it, almost as if this changing of interior designs and clothing is just a daily routine for her. In the world of Psycho-Pass so far, you do have some options and a semblance of freedom, but no one really seems to care one way or another, setting up perhaps for a more hard-lined implementation of the Psycho-Pass system? Akane’s conversation with Ryuunosuke Kagari at the end of episode 2 was definitely the most interesting: on one hand you have the enforcer Kagari, doomed to live the life of a hunting dog since the age of two and Akane who had the free will to choose any job she could get, she could’ve easily chosen the life of a millionaire but decided on being an Inspector for the Public Safety Department. It definitely sets up a very black and white issue of freedom and choice in the grey world of Psycho-Pass, and I do hope this issue will continue to show with Akane’s other enforcers. There does seem to be some sense of freedom, but to me it feels very manufactured like the getup that Akane and Masaoka wore to catch the next criminal. I mean, if I saw a Pikachu costume come up to me and ask me to scan my Psycho-Pass, I’d probably get scared as hell and likely be marked for “contamination”.

Ethics and morals are something that seem very blurred and the way it’s being handled so far may annoy people due to Akane’s good-natured personality (akin to Madoka), but this is Urobutcher so expect Akane to suffer plenty of pain, tragedy and despair on episode 3 sometime soon. Psycho-Pass has a lot of promise and so far, I’ve been satisfied and impressed with how the world has been portrayed although I feel Shinsekai Yori did a much better job at fleshing out its world, but at the cost of character development. Still, I think it’s safe to say Fall may be the saving grace of 2012, and definitely it’s a much bigger improvement than Fall 2011, even including Fate/Zero.

Score: 4/5

OP: This is just trippy as hell.

ED: EGOIST? Why…Production I.G.? Why can’t you let the soul of Guilty Crown rest in peace? Good song I guess.

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