by Jacob Chapman,
Watching episode 6 of Psycho-Pass 2 is like trying to awkwardly swim up a stack of shipping containers. (Please see the poorly animated screencap to the right for a visual aid.) Just when my brain stopped buffering into overdrive over one colossally stupid thing that happened, another one rose up to take its place. I just found myself jittering forward slowly from plot point to plot point only to pause, say "Wait wait wait, what?" and write out or verbalize what had just happened in an effort to make sense of it. Animation handicaps aside, (and those have been a specter on the ex-IG production since the start, so we might as well just get used to them,) episode 6 is not jarringly uncomfortable like episode 4. It's much easier to watch than that unfortunate tonal sidestep, but it's the worst episode of Psycho-Pass yet for its jaw-dropping new levels of horrible writing. The best I can do for this episode review is just detail what happens and why almost none of it makes one lick of sense.
Last time, we were left with a potentially silly catastrophe that nonetheless played with the weaknesses of the Sybil system in a relevant way, so I was hopeful for what it could do with the concept. Sybil punishes motives rather than actions, to stomp out crime before it starts and work toward creating a society of individuals who can't even conceive of committing crime. It's such a sociopathic utopian ideal that it literally has to be moderated by sociopaths to function, and the ultimate goal of season one was illustrating that to the audience top to bottom. So this disaster—channeling control of murderous military drones through a "harmless" mobile game unbeknownst to its players—is the ultimate divorce of action and motive. Sure it's silly, but Psycho-Pass can be silly sometimes. The threat itself is not a terrible idea, but then the MWPSB moved in to solve the problem and all I could do was make a list of everything terrible that followed.
Every agent across all sections promptly forgets that they're wearing high-tech communicators. Inspectors and Enforcers run around piecemeal firing at drones and getting torn to shreds, and no one thinks to use their communicator to share important information. What kind of important information? Apparently, military drones will not shoot period if you can angle yourself so two or more are pointing at one another. Enforcer Sugo knows this from the beginning but doesn't tell anyone until he dramatically rescues Akane in person, for seemingly no reason except "the script said so." In fact, right after he shares this information (far too late to save non-named agent lives but it's still treated like some kind of triumph,) Akane receives a message on her communicator that is literally just someone saying "Oh no, I'm done for! Aargh!" So we know those devices still work; why weren't they using them during all this?
Other important information partially withheld for no reason includes Inspector Shisui's return, as an ally to Kamui. She and Kamui appear on radar (that everyone can access!) as two Shisuis thanks to an eyeball swap, and both have Dominators. Their first victim is only injured and for some reason does not instantly share this information with the many other soon-to-be victim agents before bleeding out. He just acts confused, reaching for his Dominator, and this is the mode everyone works in for the rest of the episode. It's all shoot first, talk/read map later, something uncharacteristic of season one's plan-heavy, unit-focused MWPSB, which is why the communicators had to be disabled so often in those past episodes. They're fully live this time though! It's just that nobody is using them. On that note, why hasn't Shisui's authentication and power been revoked, something we know the system can do quite easily? According to Sibyl last episode, "I just don't find her to really be a threat." That's ludicrous. She's a massive threat at this point, and further justification is needed for this gaping hole. Once again, it's simply because the script said so.
It gets worse. This season is a thousand times more trigger-happy than the last, but for some reason there is now a limit on Dominator shots. Previously, we assumed they were unlimited and just used conservatively because that's how the MWPSB was trained. In this episode, Akane says for the first time, "the gun can only fire three Decomposer shots and then it's done." Then why in god's name did Section 3 waste so many in the pointless slaughter of hostages in episode 4? Dominator limitations wouldn't be a bad plot point on its own, but in conjunction with the most Decomposer-happy season yet, where characters have shown zero restraint wasting shots to blow innocent people up if there's any area stress level spike whatsoever, its addition in this episode is ludicrous. The only reason this new rule has been added in this moment is to explain away why the MWPSB didn't just blow up all the robots as quickly as possible and solve the problem. It's extremely lazy writing. There had to be a better answer.
Worser and worser: while the MWPSB is rapidly dying off trying to fight the murder-bots with "limited ammo," femme fatale hacker Karanomori is doing her intel thing back at base with no success. She's scoured every database, but can't pinpoint the cloud server that the mobile killing game is running from. She's completely at her wit's end up until the moment Saiga walks into the room and says only the line "Isn't it possible that it's right in front of our eyes?" That's apparently all it takes for Karanomori to fly into epiphany and find the program nested in the Ministry of National Defense which for some reason is not one of the first places she looked. Of course this happens only at this moment for such a non-reason because the episode had to wait for all the field agents to die first. It's another "the script said so" with no thought behind it to get the desired result.
Now that they've found the cloud, the MWPSB has to climax their efforts into the grandest gesture of stupidity yet. Instead of shutting down or altering the program, they're just going to focus on the Holo projection layers and reveal to the entire city that they've been murdering people. It's such a monumentally poor decision on their part that even Mika can see it's a bad idea, and Mika isn't right about anything! (Loathable Mika moment this episode: not two minutes after discovering Tougane's Buffalo Bill cave, she hears that Akane is putting herself on the front lines of the deadly Drone mission, for 100% logical tactical reasons. Her response? "She just thinks she's so great because her Psycho-Pass is kinda clear. I hope it gets clouded!" No concern for the now-doubled mortal danger Akane is in, I guess!)
If they've cracked the dozens of layers of Holo encoding that's making a live video feed look like a mobile game, there's no reason the MWPSB shouldn't be able to disconnect the game from its connections to the drones instead. It's probably not worth sending enormous swaths of the city into shock. But "it's the fastest and easiest way to solve the problem," so they do it. Even the execution of this plan is nonsensical, as the feed the players see is not the live feed of their actions (since the military drones have been destroyed and the game is now connected to more benign security drones.) Instead, they are sent what would now be archived footage of agents as they are being killed which is wholly unnecessary. We see a Section 3 Enforcer that we know died hours ago killed in real time before the players' eyes. The MWPSB is going out of their way to unnecessarily traumatize the populace by streaming recorded video to the game instead of just "turning the live cameras back on," and it also would have taken more time to execute. It's insane! The only reason they're doing it this way is to force the next plot point, aka mass panic and psycho-pass irregularity in the city, which is probably playing right into Kamui's hands.
Finally, the episode caps off with a nonsensical decision by Akane that tries to equate Tougane with Kogami in a way that Akane would never do. "They smoke the same cigarettes and have the same workout routine, so I have to apply my fear for Kogami's human soul to Tougane for some reason and demand he not shoot the person I was just about to shoot myself." It doesn't help that we now know beyond the shadow of a doubt that Tougane is evil. His Buffalo Bill room could be a misunderstanding, but in this episode he points a Dominator at Akane in broad daylight and says out loud to himself "I want to paint her black," with an evil smile. There is no ambiguity for the audience to ponder here. Akane is foolishly growing attached to an evil weirdo who is nothing like Kogami whatsoever. It's a poor source of dramatic tension compared to what the relationship could have been.
The one part of the whole fiasco I liked was Kamui's use of the ingenuine to achieve the same chaos that season one's Makishima achieved through the genuine. Kamui's new Inspector eye is false. His use of holograms creates false reality. He uses surgery to create false faces. His hue-altering drugs change and dampen personalities instead of "freeing" them. He's a thematically consistent villain who matches Akane in the same way that Makishima matched Kogami, and I definitely want to learn more about him. Unfortunately, I did not like Shisui's transformation into "brainwashed female stooge dressed in red leather with a sexy eyepatch who says things like 'If my body can be of use to you, Kamui...'" One step forward, two steps back.
Competent action and intensity aside, this episode was atrociously written and insultingly stupid on every level. That might work for some cybercop anime, but it's not the kind of show Psycho-Pass is or ever has been, and it's not acceptable for the kind of mature audience the series has cultivated. At this point, all I can do is hope that all the good characters survive the season and the story doesn't get any worse.
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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