by Jacob Chapman,
Well, let's not bury the lede here. This episode of Psycho-Pass 2 reveals a twist so stupid and hideous that it spits in the face of all the show's core themes and concepts. It's a story decision so poor that it basically dooms the rest of the season to wholesale incongruity with everything that came before it. I'm not gaming for hyperbole on this one: it's just that terrible. Before I get into the plot twist itself, I want to give a little more consideration to Tow Ubukata for what he tried to do right in the lead-up here. We definitely can't accuse him of trying to be someone he's not, and at least he's seemingly doing what he wants to do, with gusto.
It's easy for even very talented writers to mishandle plot, tone, or character logic when taking over a story they didn't create. It's extremely difficult to imitate the voice of someone completely different from you, and frankly, an artist shouldn't have to. Tow Ubukata should be free to use his own voice, but he can't on a restrictive project like Psycho-Pass where he has to play with so many firmly established rules and characters in what is rumored to be a "bottle season" of sorts that does not affect the franchise's upcoming feature film. It's been obvious from the beginning that Ubukata is much more interested in sensationalism and intrigue than the more psychologically and philosophically focused Urobuchi, and that's perfectly okay. Psycho-Pass is a cybercop show, after all. There's plenty of room for simple action and tangly conspiracies in Psycho-Pass, and it's easier to play in that sandbox when making a story that may have to eat its own tail by the end. If the end result is going to be self-contained and probably divisive, you might as well go all in and put your stamp on the thing! It's a sign of respect to the material, however, that a writer not go slathering their stamps all over the prior material that they did not create and clearly do not understand, and that's unfortunately what Ubukata's done here.
Kamui has not been altering the psycho-passes of his disciples through medication or brainwashing or anything like that. No no, those may have been small factors, but more than anything, they were red herrings. The true mad method underneath it all is more direct and disgusting. Kamui kidnaps citizens with clear psycho-passes and transplants their organs into clouded citizens and somehow this changes their psycho-pass. That's right. If you pack the liver, kidneys, or other meaty bits of a system-labeled nice person into a system-labeled mean person, it fools Sybil somehow! It's hoary old B-movie writing, and it flagrantly contradicts everything this story ever stood for thematically.
The show's titular "psycho-pass" has never been scientifically explained for good reason. Whether hues (day-to-day fluctuations) or crime coefficients (more permanent measurements) are read from brain waves, heart rates, or some kind of bio-scan isn't important. The show states that "scientists finally found a way to quantify the human soul" and that fulfills the device's role as a tool for social commentary. A person's psycho-pass is their personality, and one core theme of season one was that this personality is subject to change and should be free to endanger itself sometimes in order to grow and even be colored by the hues of others.
But no, apparently your psycho-pass is just part of your spine or your spleen somehow, and this is just a lame, baffling twist that adds nothing to the story or characters except a laugh at their expense. Forgive me for ever taking this story seriously or thinking it had anything to say beyond "but the hand they re-attached to him was the hand of a murderer!" histrionics. If Ubukata is not just a hacky writer who completely misunderstands the story he's been hired to continue, he must have a very low opinion of this show's audience and their intelligence.
There are plenty of other problems in this episode too. Akane is neutered even further to a weak-kneed shadow of herself, pining for Kogami so hard that she conflates him with Tougane even though the show has completely failed to make them even remotely similar beyond surface elements. There's a scene thrown in where Akane goes to visit her grandmother because she might be in danger. She isn't, but that's okay because the scene's real purpose was to create an excuse for grandma to tell the audience what kind of person Akane is, as all dialogue this season is wont to do. The Sibyl system still won't revoke Shisui's Inspector authentication, which is so moronic that the other characters have to comment on it and accuse the system of self-sabotage, (probably due to that one rogue brain that had better not be Makishima.) A gigantic plothole is also commented on by the show and dismissed by having Mika just irresponsibly forget to check her e-mail. Stupid scene after stupid scene drifts by, holding me at rapt and horrified attention.
Everything is falling apart as it escalates, and I can only watch in horror as it threatens to collapse the Psycho-Pass universe in ways that can't be rewritten. This show may not be terrible overall, and it definitely can't be accused of being boring, but the writing is fast becoming unfixably atrocious.
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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