Monday, May 04, 2015

Psycho-Pass


I watched this Japanese anime show on Netflix called Psycho-Pass, and I have to say, I think it’s my favorite one so far. The story premise is a futuristic, isolated Japan which is ruled by the Sybil system, which is a massive computer that can scan and calculate a person’s potential to commit crimes. People who have a high criminal potential become second-class citizens because of their psychological imbalance, called “latent criminals.”

But some latent criminals with a good aptitude become secondary detectives in the police force. Their sociopathy comes in handy when apprehending other criminals in society who have already committed crimes. It enables their inspector superiors to keep their criminal potential lower since the latent criminals are the ones who do most of the violent work in capturing or eliminating the criminals.

The Sybil system has created a utopian society that has not been exposed to much violence or crime, but this lack of moderate stress in their lives makes them especially sensitive when crime does occur. Often victims in a crime will have their psychological criminal potential rise until they themselves become latent criminals. It’s a paradoxical system.

I guess I really like it because of the psychological issues raised in the storylines and also the socio-political themes that run throughout the show. It’s more than just a commentary on society or on psychology. Like typical Japanese shows, the ending isn’t quite as pat and final as American movies—there’s ambiguity and a socio-political question raised that doesn’t seem to be intended to be fully answered by the show, but to be pondered over by the viewers.

The show can be incredibly violent, but it doesn’t have the sexual overtones (called “fan service” by anime viewers) that a lot of other anime shows have. On a tangential note, I’ve stopped watching several anime shows because of the fan service, because I find it degrading to women. I also think that it indicates the mindset of how women are viewed and objectified in Japanese society, in a different way than in American society.

Anyway, Psycho-Pass doesn’t have that kind of fan service, which is a relief because it would have just detracted from the excellent writing and characterization. The heroine was a bit weak in the first episode or two, but I really saw her growth as the show progressed until I was incredibly impressed by her by the middle of the season. The changes in the other characters was also very well done.

I enjoyed Psycho-Pass so much that I bought season 1 (extended edition) and also season 2 on iTunes—they have the original Japanese version with subtitles, which I prefer. I enjoyed season 2 as much as, if not a tiny bit more, than season 1, even though the main male character in season 1, Kogami, is mostly absent from season 2. I think it’s because I really enjoy the main female lead, who is deceptively small and feminine but with a strong psychological core that makes her sympathetic, and the parts where Kogami appears are really quite good.

I think I want to read the book, The Minority Report, because it has a similar story premise, just to compare it. I already saw the movie but now I’m interested in the book the movie was based on.

Did any of you read The Minority Report? What did you think of it? I haven’t read anything from Phillip K. Dick.

2 comments :

  1. Sounds like an anime I'll have to check out though I haven't seen it yet.

    Have you seen the Japanese anime "Girls und Panzer" or the American anime "RWBY" I recommended to you yet? If so, what did you think of them?

    I've recently started reading an interesting manga "Arpegio of Blue Steel".

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    Replies
    1. No not yet, although they're on my Crunchyroll queue! I loved Arpeggio of Blue Steel! The manga, at least. The anime show is ... okay. Not as good as the manga!

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