Posted on 24 March 2013 with categories: Anime Reviews, Psycho Pass



Psycho Pass belongs in the category of series that base themselves on a futuristic world that center around a basic premise. Take for example Kaiba, in which people’s minds can be extracted from their bodies, Real Drive, with its evolution of the Internet or Himitsu, where people can download the memories of dead people. In Psycho Pass, it’s all about creating the perfect society without crime. Everyone is monitored and has their own “Psycho Pass”, and as soon as your mind starts to think criminal thoughts, you’re arrested. With that as a building block, it makes its story.

The story is set to explore this setting. I won’t spoil exactly how, but I will say that over its course, it shows many different opinions about this setting. And it doesn’t just try to answer whether the setting is wrong or right, but it goes more in-depth. Every character has some good or bad points to make, and every one of those points is open to interpretations. It’s a show that aims to make you think, and even the things it just spells out for you have a lot of depth behind them. This goes on for 22 episodes and I have to say that after Guilty Crown, this has really shown how a 2-cours Noitamina series should be done.

Especially at the end of the series everything comes together, and the build-up for the story really pays off. At the beginning of the series though, this series loses some points for focusing on the same things for a bit too long. The big problem is that it focuses too much on one particular aspect of the setting, so that it has to rush to get everything else in in its second half. It manages to do this somehow, but the transition could have gone smoother.

On the technical terms, Production IG delivered some really good choreography and camera angles that really make their impact when they need to. The soundtrack for this series also is really good, and it doesn’t just have one style. It just makes use of whatever track it thinks fits the best to the scene, whether this is classical music or techno. Oh, and that’s another thing that this series loves to do: quote some famous literary works. Call it pretentious. I call it interesting if it contributes to the story. Which to me, it did.

The characters in this series are perhaps not its most memorable parts, but even they have something to write home about. It’s got an excellent villain in the form of Makishima Shougo, who for once actually has some good and interesting motivation to back himself up. Akane also might seem out of place when you first see her, but she really shines in her character-development. The rest of the side-characters also manage to have their impact, even though this series does not have the “Let’s devote all our time to the backstory of this side-character”-episodes. Instead their depth is subtly woven into the story. If you like serious series and believe that anime is too cute nowadays, then this is one series that you shouldn’t pass up.

Note: I’m going to experiment a bit more with this review format, simply because of making the Storytelling, characters, production-values, setting”-list got a bit too annoying to write down every time.
One-sentence Review: Psycho Pass explores its unique sci-fi setting really well with thought-provoking dialogue, characters and a great plot, and mostly keeps true to its promise that there would be no moe included.
Suggestions:
Kaiba
Himitsu The Revelation
RD Sennou Chousashitsu

Posted on with categories: Psycho Pass

Now that actually was an incredibly solid ending. I think that I could not have hoped better from this series, because it formed a terrific closure here. My memory is not good enough to remember whether or not it answered every question or not, but it did succeed in wrapping itself up in many different ways.

It really dawned here to me this episode: this series doesn’t really claim to be right with any of its characters. All it does is present a lot of different viewpoints on its setting, every one of whoch has some good points about it. This episode was meant as a chance for everyone to give his or her conclusion to what they have been preaching throughout the series. I really liked that idea to base your ending on this, and everyone actually the opportunity to make their final point in the debate without simply reiterating themselves.

The personal conflict between Shinya, Makishima and Akane also got a great conclusion, also helped by some great cinematics. The soundtrack was as sharp as it has ever been, and fields of grain made for quite an atmospheric setting for Makishima to die. Shinya managed to kill him in the end. Or at least, I hope he did. The only thing I did not like about this episode was that sequel hook at the end. That was a bit of a cop-out.

But the actual end of the episode. I thought that that was pretty brilliant: ending with the same way that the series has started. a

Overall, Psycho Pass was a really big success. Sharp from start to finish, and consistently interesting to watch. And I have to say: the past year for Noitamina has been its best since 2010. Apollon, Natsuyuki Rendezvous and Psycho Pass were all delights to watch, Tsuritama was really fun, and even the lesser shows of Moyashimon and Robotics Notes had enough to write home about. Let’s hope that it will be back in full force after its hiatus!
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 20 March 2013 with categories: Psycho Pass

So, it’s time for the penultimate episodes again. Starting with Psycho Pass, which pretty much showed an example of such an episode done right. This definitely was a story headed towards its climax with the country at stake, but at the same time it never stopped developing its characters. In fact, it’s this episode where a lot of the characters come together, and get pushed further.

And this is for nearly the entire cast here. It’s because of this that the death scene made impact. Everyone can kill off a character near the end of a series. Making such a death count is an entirely different matter, but that is exactly what Psycho Pass did with Nobuchika here, and his relationship with the other enforcers. It fitted perfectly onto the buildup that he has had for the past episodes. But also Akane really surprised me as a really strong character. Plus Makishima Shougo again demonstrates what it’s like to be an actually good villain here. Yay!

Now that the series is nearly over, I’d say that Psycho Pass for me ranks above Blassreiter, Fate/Zero and Madoka Magica as a Gen Urobuchi series, and below Phantom. Although out of all his stories, I do think that this is the strongest. Blassreiter mostly stood out through its CG. Fate/Zero had some pacing issues (which to me, Psycho Pass didn’t really have that much…), and it’s longer than Madoka Magica, allowing it to put more detail into its setting. Phantom had a weaker story, but its characters still made it as my favorite Urobuchi Gen series.

And yeah, it’s a shame. But in a week we’ll have no more Noitamina for the next three months. Bummer.
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 11 March 2013 with categories: Psycho Pass

Aha, a great type of episode so right before the climax of this series: one that nearly entirely consists out of people talking to each other and exploring the ins and outs of the setting here. Discussing the advantages and disadvantages of the Sybil System. With this episode it’s clear that the creators knew full well what kind of flawed system they created with Psycho Pass.

I really liked the atmosphere of this episode, especially at the time where Akane was talking to those canned brains that make up the Sybil System. This episode also revealed that just about every pair of brains there comes from some kind of latent criminal, some of which did even worse things than Makishima Shougo did. That explains why they took an interest in him. It creates this interesting paradox here: when they contribute so much to society, does that make up for their actions when they still had a body?

And I wondered about this many times, but with this episode it’s really clear to me that the lack of security is intentional. Gen really intended this to be a criticism of modern society, and the way in which it’s heading. Having everything done and decided for us makes us lazy. We don’t take any insurances for the worst case scenarios, we don’t think for ourselves.

So this seires will get more epic and all, but there is one point that this episode stressed that I really like about it: destroying the Sybil System isn’t going to solve anything. It’ll just create chaos and nothing more. This is not a case in which we can just kill the evil big bad guy and have things automatically fixed. Also, since Makishima Shougo is far more interesting than your average villain, this is one finale I’d really want to see.
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 5 March 2013 with categories: Psycho Pass

This episode earned a lot of points for me. It’s a build-up episode,but instead of being boring it actually makes very good use of its time. Most notably: the characters try to look inside the mind of the villain. Instead of heading towards the next climax they speculate what he will do next, and how his mind works. That’s not something you see often, especially with most series having villains with… rather simple motivations and plans.

Also, I’m really beginning to think that Psycho Pass is about a society that has evolved into the wrong direction. My biggest theory here was that there was a point at which the Sybil System was given too much influence, and that it transformed the society as monotone as possible, as free from outside influences as possible, and as safe as possible. What we saw in the first half were the exceptions that slipped by. I really became convinced of this when this episode revealed the crazy idea to have the entire food production of a country depend on one single type of crop. They’ve just completely eliminated variety. We’re not in a 1984 setting in which people have no privacy, but there are more and more similarities.

I think that that is one part that I would have done differently: the first half of this series was all about different psychopaths, but it did not show much about the setting: it didn’t colour the world as well as it should have, so now this series suddenly comes with details like this, this late in the series. If we had known this earlier, I think it would have made an even bigger impact.

The plot of this series really is fine, by the way. This episode again had a good balance of twists, and attention to the characters. Kagari suddenly receiving the attention of the Sybil system with her good behavior… I can buy that, and it will give her an even more interesting role in the story when she learns of what’s going on. Also: this episode stressed something. Kougami has some eerie similarities with Makishima Shougo, but Kagari does as well. Most notably with how her Psycho Pass stays the same.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 25 February 2013 with categories: Psycho Pass

So I already read that the animation of this episode would have… issues. So how did it turn out? Well, it was definitely noticeable For some shots, it felt like the cleanup-animation work was not done, and I suspect it was a case of an outsourcing company that did not make its deadline. Still, it wasn’t that bad and this episode did get across what it wanted to do, and it was a building-up episode anyway. I have seen much, much worse, many times before.

The strongest scene of this episode was where Akane shot Kougami. It was a bit of a strange move in which the Sybil System lacked a lot of subtleties in hiding their true intentions, but still: at htat point they probably believed that nobody could do anything against them and it was worth the risk. Akane has grown much more than what I expected her to do and I loved how dependable she has become.

The inner politics of the police force were really interesting in this episode. And yet again, I have to wonder why the police force is so small and why it’s so difficult to get replacements? I mean I get that there is less crime and all, but society has to be pretty screwed if there can be hardly any capable policemen in the case something goes wrong (like in this episode, where an enforcer starts to think a little too hard). I mean that is the big fault with the Sybil System: it doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of insurance. Did Urobuchi Gen do this intentional?
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 19 February 2013 with categories: Psycho Pass

This was one of those delightful episodes that I think shows Urobuchi Gen’s writing at its best: it just kept coming with its eloquent dialogue that makes you think, on top of throwing in a bunch of big plot twists that completely turn around the plot, as hinted in the previous episode. It’s where the series changes completely.

Last episode I said that there were two possibilities: Shougo escapes, or he doesn’t. In the end the first turned out to be true, but he did it in a really good way: I really thought that that woman would end up being the main villain of this series, but instead the creators intended Makishima to be the one. His arrest was really meant to show the truth behind the world, along with how he really is a special person who can overthrow the society.

The soundtrack also really helped. The thing is that this series does not have a coherent soundtrack: it uses just whatever the hell track it pleases, and this does result in that you can’t expect what kind of thing it will pull next. That worked really well in this episode. The voice acting also really helped with the really long monologues throughout the airtime.

And yet, there is still that one question that makes me wonder: why does nobody in this world believe in security? Just… something to prevent things from going horribly wrong. I keep seeing more and more in this series that everybody seems to act under the beliefs that everything will go right.
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 11 February 2013 with categories: Psycho Pass

This was one heck of an episode for Psycho Pass. Just like Robotics;Notes, actually. The point where everything gets turned around.

Unfortunately I had been spoiled that someone would die in this episode, and as the episode went on it was pretty clear who would be the poor victim. The way in which it happened though, I totally did not see that coming. I loved the end of the episode because of that. In fact, this episode pulled lots of surprise twists that were just awesome. Makishima Shougo being apprehended by his own pride by not taking into account that Kougami didn’t come alone gave Akane a great moment for herself. I also love how she didn’t give in, and just apprehended the guy, instead of giving into her emotions. Now that’s a strong female character there who knows her own limits.

It’s very interesting that the main villain has now been apprehended though. From this moment there will be two possibilities: he’ll escape, or the main protagonists will somehow aid him in bringing down the Sibil System. I mean, Kagari’s death will be a trigger for a lot of things for Kougami and Akane, however you pull it. The Psycho Pass will become useless in one way or the other, the question now is “how”, and “what will that lead to”.

Production IG also rocks lately with their animation. First there was this string of excellent fight scenes that I’ve missed for so long, and then there was Jousei Kasei’s image as her skin was removed. That was a really powerful image for her. I loved the framing and the impact it made, and it was just perfect for that scene. Why she’s an android at this point is anyone’s guess, but it made the setting here even more interesting.

For a while I wondered why there was so little security in the building, if something really important is hidden there that absolutely cannot be found by anyone. But heck, I believe that this is the result of people’s Psycho Pass: apparently nobody with a clear conscience could live with something like what went on in the Sibil System’s core, whatever the hell it may be, so the maintenance and security of that building just had to be replaced with robots out of necessity. I guess that that’s why the police operates with people with a high crime hue: because this leads to less free people in the police force, and a smaller chance that one of them will find out about the tower and act on their impulses: like this episode showed, they can be easily killed off by a dominator that way. Whether this was the most efficient tactic for this though…. I have no idea.
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 6 February 2013 with categories: Psycho Pass

It’s getting more and more clear what the creators wanted to show with the setting of Psycho Pass. It’s not just that they wanted to show that a society based on the Sybil System would work. That was just a method to get to what it really wanted to show: a society that has not known crime for a for a long time. And what if those people were suddenly handed the means to get away with crimes?

This once again was a very good episode. The animation for example had some very interesting shots, in which you could actually see the depth of the character-designs. This is quite hard to do in HD, but this episode was full of those scenes here.

I also really like Makishima’s long dialogues as he explores the flaws of the Sybil system and talks with others about it. On top of recommending a few good books (quite good to see so many interesting references here to compare this setting with), I like his conviction to see what lies at the center of the Sybil system, and I can understand why people want to follow him. I don’t often have that with nameless goons from an evil organization (yeah, the main villain may be a psychopath for wanting to destroy the world, but who in their right mind is going to follow them?).

What surprises me: how little police there is in this city. I mean, the engineers behind the Sybil System made a number of really big mistakes. Security through obscurity is another one: it is the belief that as long as you don’t tell anyone what your system looks like. That works fine, until someone actually finds this out. The police has been decimated, to the point where the people in charge believed that they weren’t necessary except for the extreme cases.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 28 January 2013 with categories: Psycho Pass

And the system just continues to break down. Previously we were introduced to the rare case in which someone kills whilbe being perfectly mentally healthy. This time the dominators are limited even more by devies that mimic the Psycho Passes of others. I can only see this escalate and get better.

Also kudos to the directors in this episode. First of all, the gore in this series really hits the mark, especially the part where that woman was being beaten to death and how everyone just looked on. It most of all showed how desensitized to problems and violence this society is, and I was really at the edge of my seat. Later, when Makishima started kicking ass I noticed that we’re really talking about Production IG here: it’s been a while since they’ve done a fight scene like that, but I really like the style of trying to be as realistic as possible. That only makes it hurt more.

The one criticism I do have is that everyone is lumped together in this series. I would have liked to see in the minds of those bystanders for example, and why they found it interesting to film that incident. That really was the first time where we really got a good view of what was wrong with the Psycho Pass society, but it’s not in much detail. I’d like some attention on tha in the next few episodes, because it also serves as a good backup for Makishima’s motivations.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

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