This review contains spoilers.
Anime Name: Psycho-Pass
Genre: thriller, sci-fi
My score: 9/10 – impressive (brilliant setting, nice characters, fine story, awesome guns)
I had a Psycho-Pass rewatch as looking for some inspiration for sci-fi characters, and that was a smart move.
If you’re looking for a thriller with a nice setting and philosophy without being slow-paced or abstract, Psycho-Pass is what you’re looking for.
There are many things that shine, so, let’s see them all.
A Neat Near Future
We’re in a future where people are judged before they act: technology can ascertain their psychological status, and, from that data, their “crime coefficient“, which gives their likelihood to commit criminal acts. The difference with “Minority Report” is that the system doesn’t predict the future, it just evaluates your psychological status, and that’s enough for you to be judged a criminal.
This makes sense, as it actually says how much you’re dangerous for others, and the setting depicts a society in which risk is out of the ordinary. This environment self-sustains, as it’s much more difficult for instability and criminal intent to rise from good roots. There are also scans all across the city that evaluate the status of each area, and, in particular, their stress level, to avoid the arousal of psychological disorder.
The system has also the ability to evaluate the potential of each person in each professional area, with the support of some kind of test. It then matches them to their options, which are the jobs they can suit in.
This “neat” future is kept at an expense, which can be summarized in two main points:
- People that naturally tend to be dangerous are given clinical treatment, but always end up being cut off from society, with the best future being becoming Enforcers (see below)
- People cannot choose a job they’re not good at, no matter what. The system just doesn’t allow that. This means that only the talented people have a broad choice.
The good thing is, these problems are not the plot driver: the anime addresses a criminal case that the system cannot manage. This is an important plus, as there is no commonplace preconception about technology, which usually comes whenever revolutionary things are introduced.
Realism and Technology
The speech given by the ministry of construction is a really good insight into the role technology will possibly have in our future, and which frontiers it would address. The points he brings to the table are:
- We are going to replace our biological body with an artificial one. Those two won’t be as different as we expect.
- This is not strange, as we already delegate “responsibilities” to techonology, which are very close to our world: we use devices as “an extension of our body”. This is just going to evolve.
His speech, which shares base principles with transhumanism philosophical movement, is still on the background.
Psycho-Pass is, in fact, a thriller, based on the management of a situation which the Sybil System struggles to manage by itself: it’s a story of men doing what the system can’t.
The plot, is, in this sense, particularly realistic, and focused on investigations, chases, gun fights and operations. Again, this is a really good point, making technology something that is present in each shoot – see chapter below – but never to the point of getting the focus out of the plot and genre.
Tools to Dominate Evil
The “Dominator Portable Psychological Diagnosis and Suppression System“ is the only weapon each member of the Public Safety Bureau is allowed to use. The item has three modes, which depend on the Crime Coefficient:
- Crime Coefficient below 100: the Dominator is locked if the Crime Coefficient is below a threshold (100).
- Crime Coefficient between 100 and 300: paralyzes the target, and this happens when Crime Coefficient is high, but still “recoverable”.
- Crime Coefficient above 300: one uses electromagnetism to make the target explode, and this happens when the target is really dangerous, and has intent to harm/kill.
- Artificial Threats: the last one is used to destroy things, and this is activated mainly against artificial threats (which may be unaffected by the electromagnetic explosion).
This makes the item a really interesting objects, and caters the attention of the spectator. A really good plus for the series.
Talking about “tools”, latent criminals (having a Crime Coefficient between 100 and 300) serve the Police Safety Bureau as enforcers: they are like the society’s watchdogs, and have the role to be the front line and annihilate threats. Their Crime Coefficient gets compromised by this activity, but they pay this price to avoid a future made of (usually unfruitful) recovery.
Inspectors lead the investigation and “watch over the watchdogs”.
Both inspectors and enforces do the needed paperwork – there is no escape for that, even in the future. 😥
Good Characters in the PSB Office
I was close to forget to talk about characters. As anticipated, we have two “classes” of characters: inspectors and enforcers. This separating line works in making the former the “lawful” ones, while the latter the “chaotic” type.
Relations in the office, of course, cross the line. The one between Akane and Shinya is a really good one. Again, Psycho-Pass avoids the “lovey-dovey” couple cliché, still building a conflicted but great friendship between the two. They both keep their individuality and point of view, and this often leads them to conflict, and this conflicts emerge since the first episode. This is great.
The secondary characters are good too: each one have a backstory that goes beyond their role and development in the workplace.
Psycho-Pass has also a good, albeit maybe not particularly original anti-hero antagonist, which works fine to help the clash of values take its share of the show.
Psycho-Pass first season have the strengths from a really good sci-fi setting and a high-paced thriller, without the weaknesses of the setting slowing down the story, or, even worse, being a commonplace antagonist. It has great main characters, good secondary characters and antagonist, and oh, it also has nice guns. I want one of them too.