Reviewby Rebecca Silverman, Apr 12th 2013
Episodes 12 - 22 Streaming
Makishima Shogo has made his move, and now there is no way that the MWPSB can ignore him or his reign of terror. Each member of the team is affected in a different way, and Akane must come to terms with the fact that her reaction may differ from those of her teammates. As they pursue the criminal, the team is forced to consider whether or not his points have any merit as all of them, Akane specifically, come to understand just what the truth behind the Sybil System really is.
Where do you draw the line between “free will” and “it's for your own good, dear?” Should people be allowed to do as they please even if it might not be best for society at large? Psycho-Pass' second half, while still filled with crime-fighting action, asks these questions without delivering any firm answers as Akane and the rest of her team at the MWPSB pursue Makishima Shogo while he tries to take down the Sybil System that runs their futuristic society. Whether or not the system should exist is addressed, but the ultimate question of free will versus a protected society is not, and the series ends with a presumed resumption of the cycle on which it began, with each of the main characters playing different roles. As a commentary on nanny states and the potential future of technology, Psycho-Pass is chilling, but that message is somewhat diluted by characters' seemingly unbreakable habit of standing around psychoanalyzing each other and the world at large, an issue which looms large in this second set of episodes.
We pick up just after the horrific death of Akane's friend. This becomes the catalyst not only for a redoubled effort to stop Makishima, but also for Akane's development as a character. With each senseless death, Akane further distances herself from the bright-eyed rookie she began as, recognizing the flaws in the system while not being entirely certain that she can be the force for change in it. This is a relatively gradual evolution in her outlook, with small things driving her closer to the edge of a decision each episode. Not the least of these is her relationship with Enforcer Kogami Shinya, who seems to play the role of brawn to her brain. Not that Kogami does not consider his actions – it is perhaps more accurate to say that he is not afraid to act on his thoughts, to work outside the system, while Akane prefers to change things from within.
The idea of a system that brooks no opposition is at the heart of these eleven episodes. At one point Akane's partner Ginoza comments that the real heroes are on the other side, meaning those who work outside of the system are the ones who are really fighting the good fight. This is an interesting statement on several levels – and once the truth of the Sybil System is revealed, viewers may find themselves questioning it even further – and the key reason is that it calls Makishima's status as “bad guy” into question. Could it be that his goal of bringing down Sybil is praiseworthy and only his choice of method is wrong? Who are these “real heroes” anyway? This ambiguity is perhaps expected of writer Gen Urobuchi, to say nothing of the dystopian genre, and it does make for a more engaging viewing experience. Psycho-Pass is not a show to be thoughtlessly consumed – it calls for active viewing as you puzzle through the logic, character development, and questions of morality. Regretfully this active viewing would be much more effective if Urobuchi would let us do most of the thinking for ourselves – characters have a tendency to monologue, spewing forth their plans, psychological evaluations of each other, and each and every detail about a point the show deems important as if they were a narration panel in a preachy comic book. With little left to our own interpretation, things can get bogged down with theories, to say nothing of the fact that watching characters eat breakfast while discussing political theory is not all that thrilling. (Episode nineteen compounds this by having particularly stiff animation.)
Slight overwriting aside, the show manages to hold itself together and keep us watching breathlessly until the end. The movement of the violence from the virtual world to the real world helps to up the ante, and the truth about Sybil is simultaneously shocking and a little bit silly. It very nicely explains the title, although nitpickers will point out that it perhaps have been “Socio-Pass” when they learn the truth. The art remains very dark in palate, although with these episodes we have scenes that are primarily yellow or orange as well, lending everything a sickly air. This is also true for the increasingly obvious fact that everyone has very pale, almost ghostly skin, making the people look even more unreal than might be normally said of anime characters. Voice acting reaches some impressive heights, with Takahiro Sakurai maintaining a creepily soothing tone as Makishima and Yoshiko Sakakibara's Joshu Kasei becoming fascinating. Use of calm classical music in the background of emotionally fraught scenes works well, even if it is nothing new, and for the most part animation looks good.
Psycho-Pass' ending is sufficiently ambiguous to make us wonder what will happen next. The last six minutes show an interesting subtlety about how roles change and people evolve, leaving us to wonder if the entire thing will simply start all over again in an endless loop (a nice bit of bookended dialog that is nearly word-for-word from the first episode helps here) or if there are as yet unknown changes that will start the process of lasting change. Simply put, the ending can be read as either hopeless or hopeful. It is up to you to decide which way the world will go.
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : B+
Animation : B
Art : B+
Music : B
+ Nicely cyclical and open-ended, good character work throughout. Truth of Sybil System is sufficiently surprising, and the show encourages you to question the characters' opinions.
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