by Jacob Chapman,
After last week's mind-boggling cliffhanger, we needed this episode. Not because it's an improvement, mind you. The show is still dumb and getting dumber. Still, the sheer volume of twists unloaded in episode 7 necessitated some meditation and clarity in episode 8, and that's exactly what we got. Everything is fully explained this week, and all shocking reveals are given time to breathe and find their place in the broader narrative. It's the last gasp of setup before probably two episodes of intense climax, and one episode of resolution hinting at January's theatrical film (while firmly divorcing the events of this season from it, because this is meant to be a filler adventure apparently.)
So that's the good news. The bad news is that fully explaining and contextualizing Psycho-Pass 2's recent twists does not make them any less terrible. Okay, it's a little less terrible than we thought. Some confusing translation choices in the previous episodes had many viewers (myself included) under the impression that Kamui was changing people's psycho-passes by transplanting "clear" organs into them. Maybe it was confusing in the original Japanese too, because this episode spends several minutes clarifying, "No no, we didn't mean it like that." Kamui has two hobbies apparently, and they are mutually exclusive. He is in fact making his disciples' psycho-passes clear through drugs and brainwashing, which makes perfect sense and is perfectly in line with the rules of the show's universe. The organ transplants are part of a different plan entirely, and the previous juxtaposition of reveals unfortunately made it seem like they were the same process.
Unfortunately, this other plan does not make sense. Kamui uses the help of an allied doctor to kidnap important political figures and transplant both their faces and heaps of their organs into his voluntary disciples (who have already been made "clear" through drugs and brainwashing,) and this somehow fools the Sibyl System into thinking they are that person. This suggests that the psycho-pass (hue and crime coefficient) is definitely located in the brain and can not be changed by such a procedure...but it also suggests that Sibyl's ID system is not based around a scan of the brain for some reason (or a microchip or nanomachines in the bloodstream which also would make more sense.) Nope, apparently Sibyl just uses a facial scan (and organ scans, what?) for identification purposes, when we know it has the technology to scan the brain but for some reason doesn't in this case. It's bad, but it's a drop in the bucket compared to the more central developments of this episode, so I just have to move on from that brain-twister at this point. Frankly, I was so incredulous at the other reveals in this episode that, as with last week, I feel I have to write them out plainly just so I can be sure I really heard the nonsense I actually heard.
It turns out that Kamui is a Frankenstein's monster. He was originally the sole survivor of a plane crash that took the lives of 184 children. An evil pharmaceutical company (ugh) kidnapped him and spliced his body with pieces of the 184 corpses (including seven different brains) for unknown reasons. My best guess is that this was done in the time when the Sibyl System was still an actual computer mainframe and Kamui was intended to be a micro-experiment for how the system could someday incorporate multiple human brains into one consciousness, but that's just a wild guess. After he fully healed, he escaped into the world to live his own life, but soon realized that the Sybil System could not recognize him. Driven mad by his lack of identity or a future, he embarked on his quest to free others from the system that he could never belong to. That's it. That's his motivation. That's lame. Worse, it's not really relevant to Akane's character. The show is trying to contrast the two as "Kamui can never be recognized by the system" and "Akane can never be changed by the system," but that's a real stretch. Way to drop the ball on making Kamui a thought-provoking foil to Akane in any way, I guess.
However, Kamui is only the mini-boss. Our main boss is the "Dr. Frankenstein" who created him, Tougane's mother. She's basically just a mad scientist, responsible not only for the creation of Kamui, but her son Tougane as well. Tougane was genetically engineered in the womb to have the highest possible psycho-pass, resulting in what can only be described as a "badass Norman Bates." The polar opposite to Kamui, he lives to blacken the psycho-passes of others, under the orders of his doting mother. She was the mysterious rogue brain in the Sibyl System all along! (Thank god, Makishima is allowed to just be dead.) You can tell because the Sibyl-droid is shown painting her nails, so goodness knows it's not a male brain doing that! This is not only lame, it's downright cartoonish. I feel sorry for Mika, having to uncover such an idiotic twist.
On that note, Mika's inevitable downfall has finally arrived, and it's wholly unpleasant to watch. I mentioned in a previous review that the show was clearly planning to wreck her in some way, and the only question remaining was whether we would be expected to pity her or delight in her destruction. The answer as it turns out is both and neither, as the show's tone-deafness in service of piling on plot twists lands full force with Mika's capture. For reasons the show can't even convey reasonably, Mika's conclusion after discovering Kamui's horrible secrets is somehow "And that's why Akane should be fired!" She marches straight to the chief's office to blab confidential information that she should have known would get her in massive trouble, fully convinced that somehow it makes Akane, who is barely related to any of it, look bad. I guess she's just stupid and petty! Screw her, right? As Mama Tougane and her Bates boy cackle in triumph and condemn her as a stupid, boring little girl, it's clear that the audience is supposed to agree...and yet, the episode ends with the allusion that we are meant to fear for her safety, as it focuses on the mystery of what will happen to her now, and the fear she feels as she cries for help. The episode is trying to play her for sympathy even as it spits in her face, achieving only the designation of "bad writing choice #1,732."
Final note: yes, "Kirito Kamui" is literally Kamui's on-record name. This came up last episode to many confused protests of "Nobody just searched for that right away?!" It's such a story-shattering plothole that I fully intended on addressing it at the top of this review, having overstuffed the previous one with other problems. Unfortunately, this episode was so rife with new instances of awful writing that I almost didn't get to it again. That's just the kind of show we're dealing with at this point.
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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