In the year 2112 Japan enjoys a state of unrivalled peace. Due to the Sibyl System monitoring every citizen’s psychological state people with criminal dispositions are easily singled out and contained. But not even Big Brother can keep everyone in line from behind a camera. As such, it’s the responsibility of the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division to respond to any threats made towards this perfect society. Though, how trustworthy can The Division be when it’s primarily made up of Latent Criminals who possess the same Crime Coefficient as the people they detain? Psycho-Pass follows Akane Tsunemori, the prime example of a model citizen, who joins Unit 1 of The Division as its newest Inspector, charged with keeping her unit’s Enforcers in line.
I had only ever heard great things said about Psycho-Pass, so I figured that it was prudent to confirm whether this widespread praise was justified. Without any inkling as to what would transpire throughout the show, I figured that at the very least the twists would be impactful. And there certainly were moments that blew my mind; moments that had my hands covering my face in shock. What at first seemed like an edgy police drama with the usual anime flair quickly established itself as a fantastic show with great character development, appealing visuals and an intriguing story.
Psycho-Pass’ setting is actually something that I don’t personally see too often in the vast ocean of school and fantasy-centered anime that exists. It also seems like it would be a very accessible entry point into anime, mainly owing to the fact that it could easily exist outside of the realm of Japanese animation. A cyber-punk future isn’t an outlandish notion at all when it comes to crime drama, but I am glad that this particular instance found its way onto the weeb screen. The whole atmosphere of the utopian city that is established and dissected throughout the season generates so much interest, and the show overall owes a lot to its masterfully crafted setting.
Most of the characters are young, but thankfully not so young as to have the crux of the story be which high school they will choose. Conversely, they’re at a point in their lives where drastic changes in views and ideals seem realistic. Without these character developments the story would likely fall short. Akane’s progression throughout the show was definitely the most interesting to me, which I can only imagine was intended. Starting as a naive, fresh faced graduate, Akane grows while staying true to her deep ingrained beliefs. She becomes increasingly driven as the show moves forward; the main factor her experiences and relationships. On the flip side, other characters are often left in the shadows, only becoming relevant when it’s appropriate to further Akane’s development. Unfortunately, characters such as Kougami seem to exist only as a plot device, but many others have moments that provide some insight into their lives before joining The Division, which helps to generate appeal for the show overall.
In hindsight, there were several moments where the terminology and certain aspects of the world that the characters take for granted had me stumped. While it would have been convenient for there to be a moment where the show pauses to clarify every little thing that’s going on, I can appreciate the fact that the show had me actively trying to sort out what was happening. That being said, I like to think that I understand exactly what a Psycho-Pass is and how a person’s Crime Coefficient is determined, but if I were to be put on the spot and demanded to explain in detail the structure of society in the show, I would be hard pressed to coherently do so. Aside from my constant exclamation of, “why?”, Psycho-Pass pulled through in the end with a story propelled by enthralling antagonists who expressed understandable viewpoints on the world.
The art style and animation was flawless. CGI was integrated into the scenes without drawing attention away from what was happening, and all the animations flowed beautifully without fault. Character designs were charmingly colourful without being eccentric, and seemed realistic for the setting. While not at all antiquated in sense of the word, I do honestly believe that Psycho-Pass was ahead of its time in many respects. Comparing it to some of the new stuff that you see today, I imagine that Production I.G’s masterpiece will be considered a staple in its medium for many years to come.
No matter what aspect of the show I talk about, I have so many positive things to say. I can’t express enough how much I appreciated the characters, the story, the setting, everything! Psycho-Pass provides social commentary on issues relevant to today’s society. Security and CCTV monitoring have been portrayed in several ways, and I feel like this show has done a commendable job in its depiction of these themes. Even without a meaningful message, the underlying plot that is present right from the beginning makes this show worthwhile. However, the moments where I was left to ponder what a truly “perfect” society was, the definition of “criminal”, and the risks of isolation only increased my overall enjoyment. Out of everything I’ve seen I’d probably most liken it to something along the lines of Darker Than Black, but even still, Psycho-Pass stands on its own as one of the great anime series from this generation.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.