by Jacob Chapman,
It's episode three of Psycho-Pass 2, and Mika Shimotsuki is now firmly in charge of the idiot ball. She's not just frustrating in her ignorance anymore. She has become downright intolerably stupid and mean for still unknown reasons. Not only is she openly suspicious and demeaning toward the Enforcers she works with, but now she's turned her previously sheathed fangs on Akane, her own boss, as well. Yes, technically Akane and Mika are equal in rank because the Sybil system is weird, but their relationship is definitely of a manager-to-trainee nature that Mika resents so much she looks like she's about to break into song over it. In season one, Akane only confronted Ginoza after going through several revelations of character, and even then, she confronted him with polite resolve. They were always "equal in rank," but due to his respected place of leadership in the team, she was understandably terrified to cross him, and it made both characters and their relationship more sympathetic.
By contrast, Mika starts this episode by immediately accusing Akane of having gone insane when she reports a break-in but no evidence of one can be found. She doesn't mean this as a joke, either. She tells Akane to go see a therapist immediately, and then scans her crime coefficient (something considered to be pretty rude by everyone else in the room,) in an attempt to try and disprove Akane's claim to sanity. Of course, Akane's hue is clear, which puts egg on Mika's face and yanks her about ten rungs down on the viewer's tolerance ladder. After that, Akane does go to see a "therapist" and Mika tags along uninvited, overwhelmingly suspicious of Akane just because she's not legalistic enough for her. Once Mika finds out who the "therapist" is, however, she chickens out and runs away literally with her hand to her mouth in revulsion, just because he's an isolation subject and "oh no my hue might get clouded if I talk to him." Has no one informed her that is part of the job?
This all happens within about the first five minutes of the episode. Mika's later appearances do even less to endear us to the character, from shooting unprovoked dagger stares at Akane during a briefing to publicly embarrassing and arresting a political figure before saying to herself out loud, "This is how it should be. What does the Chief see in Akane anyway?" How in the world has Mika not been fired for insubordination by now? It's like the show wants us to hate every second she's onscreen, but that clearly can't be the intent. At this point, I can't think of Mika as anything but a horrible misstep that needs to be phased out of the story as soon as possible. It's a shame. I really liked her brief role in season one.
Past that, there's not much to say about this episode because it's all continued set-up for some no-doubt violent payoff in coming episodes. The Inspector we saw kidnapped in episode one is being gently brainwashed by our oh-so-sensitive villain, Kirito Kamui. Ginoza appears to be forging some kind of romantic kinship with Division 2's slowly unraveling Inspector, Risa Aoyanagi. Sibyl confides to Akane that Kougane, her new best buddy and Kogami replacement, has the world's highest recorded crime coefficient. They're all fragments of foreboding in what is otherwise a pretty dry, exposition-heavy episode where characters once again have a tendency to sit across from one another and discuss the traits of the people around them apropos of not-much. The ideas here are still strong and intriguing, and the lead-in to episode four promises a lot of action to come, but the character writing is really uninspired and on-the-nose. When Ginoza remarks (once again, to himself out loud,) that "the old me would never have drunk alcohol," it feels like unnecessary exposure of what could be more subtle characterization. Look, we know what happened to him in season one. We see him walking around in the tank top meant to expose his cybernetic arm. We know that's his dad's whiskey he's drinking now. Just let that be the statement without turning to the audience and going "GET IT, HE'S CHANGED."
Psycho-Pass 2 still has a long way to go to live up to the high expectations set from season one, but the one thing it can't be accused of is repeating itself. Both the good ideas and bad ideas here are all fresh to the story's world, and the potential contained in them is still exciting. Something just needs to start happening to these characters and fast, so they can stop monologuing about their personality traits without ever having them challenged.
Psycho-Pass 2 is currently streaming on Funimation.
Hope has been an anime fan since childhood, and likes to chat about cartoons, pop culture, and visual novel dev on Twitter.
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