Monday, March 25, 2013

Final Notes: Psycho-Pass

Year: October 11, 2012 - March 22, 2013 | Directed by Naoyoshi Shiotani | Episodes: 22 (2 cour)
Written by Gen Urobuchi | Studio: Production I.G. 
Roundup Rating: A-

If I have to compare notes with other reviewers and anime viewers we would probably clash with our opinions with regards to Psycho-Pass. I obviously do not share their same love-hate relationship, loathsome struggles and constant bickering - in terms of the show's delivery, just because right from the start I know what I want from the series and I do not have very high expectations when it comes to the story either. What I am after for is the sheer entertainment and the intellectual stimulation I get from the show each week.

I love to read. I do it every chance I get especially when I'm not feeling lazy, but I don't consider myself very well read since I have ADD. I am familiar with the philosophers and writers whose names was referred to by Gen Urobuchi in Psycho-Pass, but I have to confess that I have no idea about the contents of their works, with the exception of Philip K. Dick. In a way, I am thankful that Urobuchi have thrown several book titles, put footnotes and quotes from those people because every episodes encouraged me to do my own research and those informations added up to my richly growing vault of knowledge.

We all know that Psycho-Pass shared a lot of striking resemblance from the Sci-fi works of Philip K. Dick, especially to Minority Report and Blade Runner. But I have already pointed this out in my blog and made an assumption that Urobuchi wrote and added their ideas with the intention of having Psycho-Pass as an ode to his favorite writers, and not as an act to copy them for the sake of making something up.

The constant philosophizing also became a problem to several viewers, not everyone of course, but to some it was a rather mediocre attempt to intellectualize the show. However, when you have a villain that prefers to read books printed on paper while everything else is made digital it is plain as day that he doesn't share the same enthusiasm over the modernized world.

Makishima is a nonconformist who takes his philosophy to heart. You can call him a romantic, an anarchist or a crazed murderer, in fact, he can be all of the above, after all he is the guy that made the series completely interesting. But I always thought that the strength of a show relies on its antagonist never from its heroines. The lead characters have a tendency to follow their predictable archetypes, they are the good guys and the one's with the preternatural ability to solve the problems. Villains, on the other hand are not fashioned to be good people, they lie without remorse, they can kill without guilt, they think out of the box and they never fail to surprise you just when you thought that you have them figured out. They are more or less the salt and pepper of the show. Makishima reminds me of John Doe (from Se7en), Joker (the Heath Ledger version from The Dark Knight), Hannibal Lecter and Red John (from the Mentalist), all with smarts and are brilliant strategists, their only disadvantage is their being crazy. They think before they act so even when their protagonist counterpart captures them it's because they willed it to not because the good guy already did something spectacular. I would not classify Kougami as the latter since in the episodes nearing the conclusion he became an outlaw - ready to take the justice with his own hands.

It's like in order to become a good detective you need to have a touch of evil, which reminds me of Orson Welles' film of the same name. Hank, the corpulent detective (played by Welles) somehow indicated that in order to catch your criminal you have to think like them; he's been doing it for far too long only to find himself as corrupt, sick and deranged like them. Kougami has a touch of evil; he is the only character who is at par with Makishima, he can predict his actions, and he can imagine what he would do at certain situations. So whether he may or may not go towards anarchy is a little vague in my opinion, but since Akane saved his life from the hands of Sibyl there is a possible redemption that he would prefer to live a quiet life than involve himself with anything Sibyl related.

Akane, the believer of everything good and that "people protects the law" is your typical protagonist. Most of the time I hated her, especially when she let her friend die than shoot Makishima with a shotgun. That was a very Se7en moment and obviously "Pride" was her deadly sin. She had a choice (although she always believe otherwise), but she chose to stand stiff and let her friend's neck get sliced by an asymptomatic rather than be sent away by Sibyl if only for the sake of helping her. Although Akane has shown improvement after that episode her blind optimism for a system that only renders unfair discrimination is frankly stupid. Instead of blasting the room and those brains in order to stop Sibyl she made a decision to wait until someone more capable could do it for her. Just imagine those people who lose their lives for a system who opresses rather than protects its citizens. Akane has the opportunity to change the world and yet she let it all go to waste. What a coward!

My favorite subplot of the series is between the strained father-son relationship of Masaoka and Ginoza. Their scenes together is probably the only side of the show that supplied us some real human emotions. Although there is an obvious death flag raised in either the two of them a resolution in their relationship is still one of the few things that viewers really look forward to. And I am glad they made it happened on the last episode.

Until this day I am baffled by Kagari's death. It doesn't seem right to me. The lack of closure is an injustice to him and his character. Sibyl explained that they killed him to protect the secret of the system, but Akane should have at least requested the retrieval of his body from those icky brains.

There is a question in every one's mind if Psycho-Pass is going to have a second season considering that the conclusion seems open-ended. But in my opinion that's it for the series. I have always expected it to end that way. I mean with Akane being Akane they won't be able to eradicate Sibyl overnight. At least Kougami shot Makishima in the head preventing Sibyl from scooping his brain's to be part of the system. Psycho-Pass managed to end in a realistic fashion - where everything ended the way it began. The loop continues: Kougami killed Makishima only to take his place, Akane is now seen as the earlier Ginoza, (only less brutal with the newbie), Ginoza became an enforcer like his father, and of course there's a new inspector. Nothing changed much only the names of the people in the cycle. So yes, Sibyl continues.

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