Welcome, one and all, to this month’s anime review. After finally picking up a copy at this year’s Hyper Japan, I’ve been working my way through Psycho Pass Season One. But … was it worth the wait?
Background: Production I.G. (Ghost in the Shell: SAC, Eden of the East) handle the production here. The series is an anime original inspired by multiple live action films, most notably Blade Runner.
The story follows Akane Tsunemori as she begins her job as an inspector; this basically means that she trawls a dystopian future world where people’s likelihood of committing a crime is monitored by the Sibyl System. If the system decides that you’re at risk, the inspectors come in with their enforcers (those with high crime coefficients who work with the law keepers) and some futuristic weaponry to clean things up. Of course, things are far form simple …
The Good: I was a little worried going into this. It had been recommended to me by numerous people, multiple times, and so I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to the hype. Thankfully, I needn’t have worried. The futuristic setting is a natural progression from our own society, but with governmental monitoring ramped up to eleven, and it comes across in a very realistic manner. The dark, dingy backstreets and struggles of the Public Safety Bureau’s CID are very well executed, and really make the world a thoroughly believable one.
In terms of characters, we spend the most time with Akane and her enforcer Shinya Kogame. They actually work really well as an on-screen pairing, with Akane in particular given plenty of space to breath and grow as a character, while we chip away at Shinya and his goals. The rest of the team are also interesting characters, and they all get their chances to shine in terms of revealing who they are and what they’re focussed on. That makes for an enjoyable cast of heroes. Meanwhile, series head villain Shogo Makishima is a fascinating anomaly for the world to deal with. What makes him especially well-rounded is that his goals are grounded in what should logically be a good thing: freedom. His world view is in some ways in line with our heroine Akane’s, but they both tackle their lot in different ways.
From an animation standpoint, the series is stunning. It really lives up to the Blade Runner link in terms of visuals, with the architecture in particular providing a really nice mix of downtrodden and modernised, especially at night. Meanwhile, the action is well executed and the characters all have very distinctive looks. The dominators, futuristic guns used by the team, are really nicely envisioned too, and look suitably sci-fi. Though the series does feature one of my least favourite animation tricks – CG randomly added into the traditional looking animation – it manages to pull it off without it being too much of a distraction, so I can’t really complain.
The Bad: If you dislike bloody violence, you’ll struggle at times here. When Psycho Pass wants to get gory, it does so to 90’s anime levels. Being a fan in that era though, it doesn’t bother me at all. If I’m being honest, I would say that the first few episodes were good, but not a patch on what came along when the main story really kicked in. That the ending left the fate of one character up in the air was also quite frustrating, so I’m hoping that that gets broached in season two.
Subbed or Dubbed: I’ve seen some subbed, but mostly watched the dubbed version. This was one of those cases where the subbed cast were good, but I preferred the dubbed cast. I know, sacrilege, right?
Final View: Psycho Pass is a cyberpunk tour de force that, once it gets going, sinks its claws in and doesn’t let go. Definitely one for fans of dark sci-fi with a dystopian edge.
Final Score: 5 / 5