by Jacob Chapman,
Episode 4 is not a very good episode of Psycho-Pass. I'm not sure if I'd go straight to bad, but "stretched" is definitely not... well, a stretch. Most of the episode is taken up with Akane, Ginoza, and Kougane trading the details of the Kamui case back and forth as they begin to interrogate a renowned politician with ties to this criminal "ghost." More importantly, there's a horrific hostage kerfuffle going on at a pharmacy in the city, but Mika's unit is in charge of that detail, and she refuses to act without specific orders, so it's a lot of waiting around as the instigator, let's call him Cane-Man, forces his hostages to strip down to their underwear and shouts the same tired mantra about Kamui over and over for attempted shock value that unfortunately reads a little silly. It's a lot of "taking three minutes to convey one minute of information" nonsense with some dishearteningly poor animation breaking it up. (The scene where the first of Cane-Man's half-naked hostages tries to attack him is painfully awkward.)
It turns out that this is all just a build to the episode's hammerfall which will no doubt land as either haunting or forced, depending on the viewer. Given the sentence I started this review on, you can probably guess which camp I fall into. Even in its taste-iffy first episode or its bizarre revelation of Sibyl's true nature, season one of Psycho-Pass was never this unsubtle. In a franchise already built on strong perspectives, I've never felt so blatantly herded into being told what to think and feel and never felt like kicking back at overwrought execution so hard. Where are the spaces between the lines I used to enjoy reading? What is this constant philosophy parroting leading up to brainless indulgent violence built on even more shocking contrivances? It's the worst version of what Psycho-Pass could have been, and episode 4 is the worst of season 2 so far.
Ultimately, it ends on a senseless slaughter, depicting more of the show's "body-exploding" effect in five minutes than maybe ever appeared in the entirety of season 1, except this time, all the victims are nearly naked to make it more shocking, I guess. There's also a meaningless lead character death: guess that little romance of yours isn't going anywhere, Ginoza! The writers knew they couldn't justify finishing things out this way at the hands of Section 2, so they bring in an entirely new Section 3, full of all new characters, to execute the order. Wait, but the show hasn't even begun to develop all the new characters it already has, and I swear if I see one more person - especially the chief of Sybil - talking to themselves out loud about their motivations again...
This is not a terrible episode of Psycho-Pass, though. It's built around things that are integral to the oncoming story, and pacing issues aside, it isn't boring. Still, it's definitely a bad sign for Psycho-Pass 2 on the whole. In terms of character writing, production values, and now tone, it's very much not the same show it once was, so our new mission is just to figure out what kind of show this more semantically-driven version of Psycho-Pass is going to be.
The episode does firmly establish its framing of the troublesome Mika, however, and it's for better or worse depending on how you look at it. I mostly feel better about her, but first, a rundown of her loathable actions this time:
1) Accusing Akane of taking on the interrogation detail for specious personal reasons, being immediately corrected with the actual, valid reasons for this, and then humiliated as a muckraker. Mika should probably be probated for this.
2) Turning Akane's attempt at helpful advice for Mika's well-being in a deadly situation into a sniping match over who is right about Kamui being real or not, along with a dismissal of said advice. Of course, Akane does not engage her on this, and of course, the advice turns out to be vital. Mika should probably be fired for this.
3) Refusing to act for nearly the entirety of the episode because she's afraid if she enacts a rescue mission and fails, she'll be blamed for that failure and her hue will cloud. Mika should absolutely be fired for this.
4) Dismissing Cane-Man as a raving lunatic after he mentions Kamui, because she just hates that Akane might be right about Kamui being a real person that badly. How in the world was this character deemed a "functioning adult" by the system, much less worthy of becoming a "driven-by-cold-objectivity" Inspector?
This sheer amount of hackle-raising petulance around Mika almost demands to be interpreted as a condemnation of her childish character. She's just a "dumb little girl" that no one should take seriously, rather than any counterpoint with varying validity to Akane's worldview. If this "Scrappy-dooing" of Mika was intentional, then job well done. She's a solid example of a noxious laughingstock who just won't go away.
It may not be much fun to watch, but it is a valid character type to create: plenty of these people exist in the world. It's just that these people would usually be fired from their jobs for such behavior. Everyone just puts up with Mika through all of her sniping and internal sabotage for yet undisclosed reasons. Coming back to the "Scrappy-doo" example, it's interesting that people started to like Scrappy, or at least be okay with references to him, when it was implied that the rest of the Scooby gang couldn't stand him either, as in "What's New, Scooby-Doo" and a few more modern versions of the gang. Mika's not at that level yet, so the group's continued reliance on her character is the maddening element here. We've known Akane and Ginoza for a whole season prior to this, and they at least "should know better" than to tolerate her to this extent: she's going to be used as a tool to bite them in the ass.
Psycho-Pass 2 is already a wee bit dumber than Psycho-Pass 1, and we should probably just accept that at this point. Despite all the violence, Kamui still lingers in the shadows, and it's anybody's guess where he, or the mysterious new Section 3, will go from here.
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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