Psycho Pass Impressions
noitaminA has been having a rough time lately. The ever hallowed time slot had been taken over by the likes of Black Rock Shooter, Guilty Crown, and Fractale. Thankfully a bit of a comeback tour went underway when Appolon and Tsuritama were shown followed shortly by Moyashamon and Natsuyuki. Moving into this season, we are given anime by two of the most beloved writers in anime. I’ve already talked about Robotic;s Notes, and now in turn I’m going to talk about it’s companion, Psycho Pass. Psycho Pass is written by, and I can assume the brainchild of, Gen Urobuchi. Over the past two years, the man has become a titan of writing in the anime industry, and for very good reason. Both Puella Magi Madoka Magika and Fate/Zero, two shows that are among the most popular and among the most highly regarded of the new decade. I personally count Madoka Magika among my favorite shows of all time, so I should no doubt be excited about Pyscho Pass, right/ Well, a long time without any synopsis or word on what this story is even about left me rather confused and not nearly as rabid as I was in regards to Robotic;s Notes. This is not a bad thing, as it allowed me to go into Psycho Pass without a massive bar to overcome. Thankfully, Psycho pass was kind enough to provide it’s own massively unattainable standard by being a moralizing philosophical cyberpunk police procedural.
For those of you who are either new to the medium or tend to gravitate away from Seinen, one of the most enduring popular and awe inspiring good anime franchises ever made pretty much uses Moralizing philisophical cyberpunk police procedural as it’s bread and butter. And while I have yet to see the rest of Psycho pass (obviously), I can tell you that it simply isn’t as good as Ghost in the Shell. The setting isn’t as rich, the cast isn’t dynamic or meaningful, and where GitS blends action, suspense, and deeper meaning together like it’s being made with a Blendtec blender, Psycho Pass in comparison looks amateurish. “But, Zabi!” some of you may cry out, tears staining your cheeks. “Don’t you think an anime deserves to be examined on it’s own merits? The GitS thing is at least a bit of a stretch, and Psycho Pass deserves the respect of a review as though it came into a vacuum.” Okay, I’ll take that hit and offer a small bow.
Psycho Pass is a good, if not a little overwrought, show that manages to make you think about the material that is being put on the screen, without sacrificing much in the way of action. We are introduced to a rookie inspector as she is tasked with bringing down a man who is accused of being a possible criminal. Her team is a pair of men who are themselves potential criminals who the government uses as foot soldiers on the war against theoretical crime. The show demands the viewer to question whether technical innocence of a real crime should interfere with the government doing what is needed to prevent real crime from happening. This is an interesting theme, and my only real problem with it is just how heavy handed the show was in siding in against theoretical guilt. I said I wouldn’t compare it to anything else, but I’d like to sue the example of Minority Report, a movie that seems to be in lock step with this show in regards to the major ethical issues in regards to punishing people for crimes they didn’t commit. As strongly as the movie sides against the government, it makes clear note of the fact that the policy actually does keep people safe. Billboards advertise to tom Cruise the fact that his organization as eradicated almost all murder from it’s jurisdiction, thus framing the dilemma as an ethical question, not an ethical stance. I would have really really liked that same option here.
The cast of characters is likeable, and the idea of the enforcers is an intiresting one, and one that the two cour run time of the series will receive plenty of breathing room to explore. It seems like after C Money of the Soul’s short run time blew up in it’s face, somebody realized maybe noitaminA shows sometimes need a decent runtime. Besides that, the only other big point I have to make about this episode is how hard it tried to be grim and gritty. The bit with eh exploding corpse reminded me more of terribad 90′s OVAs and Deadman Wonderland then it did GitS. In GitS the violence looked realistic but it never reveled in. It was all part of the realism. Here we are subject to splatter and almost stupid levels of violence. Why does the gun explode it’s targets? What is the practical purpose there?
So yeah, I liked Psycho Pass’s first episode, but it doesn’t look to be a game changer the way Madoka Magika and fate/Zero were. But hey, there’s time. We’ll see how things go from here.