My first Anime spotlight was on Ghost In The Shell Arise, this time I look at Pyscho-Pass Season 1.
Pyscho-pass is set in the year 2112 in a dystopian Japan. Japan has once more isolated itself from the wider world. In this Japan all citizens mental state, personality and the probability that they will commit a crime is measured using a “cymatic scan” by the Sibyl system. The result of this scan creates a citizens Pyscho-Pass and resulting Crime Coefficient. If a person’s Crime Coefficient which is the likelihood that they will commit a crime, goes above a certain level then the authorities intervene. The level of the response depends on the Crime Coefficient, the higher the Crime Coefficient is, the more severe the response up to and including killing the citizen.
Season one focus on Akane Tsnermori a new inspector with the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division’s Unit One. It is with Tsnermori that we are introduced to the way in which justice is enforced within the authoritarian Sibyl System. Her first insight into how things work, is when we are introduced to the “Enforcers”. A group of latent criminals that in exchange for some freedoms, agree to work for the police hunting other latent criminals. The enforcers along with the inspectors carry a smart weapon called the “Dominator”. Dominators are controlled by the Sibyl system and can only fire on targets it deems as a threat. The Sibyl system can control the power of the weapons blast in order to deal with the target. From a low yield stun shot, that renders a person unconscious to a full powered blast that can destroy even the most heavily armed targets. The populous, including the members of unit One believe that the Sybil system is infallible. This believe is called into question when Unit One, meet a criminal Shogo Makishima that the Sybil system and the dominators can not judge. Makishima somehow manages to keep his crime coefficient so low that sybil doesn’t register it even when he is committing the most heinous of crimes. This ability to commit a crime and have a low crime coefficient is called criminal asymptomatic. The story over the season one arc follows Unit One as they pursue Makishima, and in doing so uncovering the hidden secrets of the Sibyl System. The team handles the revelations that this creates in different ways, and changes the lives of some of them forever.
Pyscho-Pass is an interesting and thought provoking story. It shows what it would be like to live in a society that has no crime, but has had to give up all freedoms. One of the story’s influences is Minority Report as stated by director Naoyoshi Shiotani, and you can certainly see that especially with the idea of stopping crimes before they happen. No one in the world of Pyscho-Pass is tried, because the guilt is determined by the Sibyl system. This makes the criminal system controlled by a single entity that can and does deal out “justice” as it sees fit. The Sibyl system also seems to make it a crime to be a victim of another’s crime. One of the first cases that Unit One investigate is a rape. The victim of the crime is so traumatised that her Pyscho-Pass becomes clouded, and Sibyl instructs the police to terminate her. The whole show raises the question of the value of human live. In a world where even the possibility that you may commit a crime can result in a death sentence. This leads to the people in the world of Pyscho-Pass to try and achieve mental beauty, as much as physical beauty. People fear emotions that are considered to be socially wrong, such as sadness and anger. People can not feel these emotions outside, because they fear been scanned and labelled as criminals.
The animation is high quality, and the characters are well designed. There is a lot of action sequences in it, that are well thought through and designed. The pacing of the show is good with consideration taken to how much time to spend exploring the ideas of Sibyl as well as the action. The show at times can be disturbing, especially with the way that the death sequences are constructed. The show also doesn’t shy away from showing the gruesome results of violent crimes. The relationship between the main protagonists are well done, and grow over the series. The three dimensional characterisation of the main protagonists is a stark contrast to the two dimensional way in which the Sibyl system judges crime. The shows biggest plot twist did come across as a little cliche. It also made some of the aspects of the story harder to understand if not taken on faith. Over all though I did find it very engaging and enjoyable to watch. The psychological aspects, mixed with the science fiction and action made for a well round series. If you don’t mind the violence, which can be gruesome but isn’t that often, it is certainly a good introduction to Anime.