by Richard Eisenbeis,
How would you rate episode 2 of
Psycho-Pass 3 ?
You know, of all the crimes I can imagine, a subprime loan scam is the last one I expected to see in Psycho-Pass.
The second episode of Psycho-Pass 3 is an odd hour of TV to say the least. However, this isn't because of the content. It's because of the episode's structure. Unlike most anime, each episode of Psycho-Pass 3 fills an hour time slot rather than a 30 minute one. So naturally, one would assume that with its eight episode run, we'd be getting eight hour-long mysteries—or perhaps something similar like four two-hour mysteries. What we get instead is an hour-and-a half long mystery spread across two one-hour-long episodes. In other words, we reach the conclusion of the first case halfway through the second episode--and then start an almost completely unrelated case in the second half. It feels more than a little unnatural when watching since the episode hits its natural end point but just keeps going on anyway—even more so when watching it on a streaming service without commercials to break up the two halves of the episode. Luckily, however, neither half fails in delivering on both story and character drama.
Finishing up our mystery from episode one, we learn how the murder was done. Seventeen people were involved in the crime and each did one innocuous thing or another. Each action was harmless by itself but all together, they caused a man to die. Moreover, if the man who died had stayed where he was supposed to, he would have lived, thus no one feels responsible for his death—well, except for the hidden mastermind who put it all together anyway. Yet again we learn of a blind spot in the Sibyl System—and it's not the only one we discover.
The murder itself was committed to hide a white-collar crime—namely a subprime loan scam. And here is the second blind spot. Despite the massive damage done to immigrants and the lower classes in general, the people at the top are so removed from the people they harmed that their psycho-passes aren't affected at all—well, not until they're made to confront the crime directly anyway.
Even then, one of the conspirators simply hops on an international flight to leave Sibyl's jurisdiction. However, unlike in the real world where rich executives can hurt so many, feel no guilt, and get no punishment, he's not able to make a clean getaway. But here we hit the point where you need to have seen the Sinners of the System trilogy to get what's going on—a problem for many English-speaking viewers, I suspect, as the films haven't been released officially in English outside of a few select screenings. While Sinners of the System is three stand-alone, character-driven side-stories, there is a second story happening in the background: Fredrica Hanashiro, working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, wants Akane's team for her own—both past and present members. And while she gained Koagami in Sinners of the System 3, we now see that she got both Ginoza and Teppei for her black-ops team as well. And with Akane in prison, it's not hard to guess how that came about.
Our introduction to Fredrica's team comes in the form of the second excellently choreographed action scene of the episode in which our new heroes confront our old ones. It's pure fanservice—but fanservice that furthers the plot by hinting more about what happened to Akane while showing the new status quo: inside Japan is Mika's turf but the moment a criminal leaves the country, Fredrica's team is poised to take action. And while it's clear the two groups maintain a friendly-ish relationship (thanks to Mika and Sho's connection to Ginoza, if nothing else), if push comes to shove, it's Fredrica's team that's going to come out on top.
The second half of the episode, on the other hand, is spent introducing us to the main players of our next mystery and doing some additional world building at the same time. Back in Psycho-Pass: The Movie, we learned that instead of simply worrying about mental care, the Sibyl System had been expanding into other societal roles—such as match-making, for example. Now we see an expanded version of this in the character of Karina Komiya. Chosen by Sibyl at a young age, every step of her rise—from child star to pop-idol to gubernatorial candidate—has been planned by Sibyl. While we don't yet know how this has truly affected her—to have her whole life controlled by the system—we do see through Arata that she is way more dangerous than she appears...And that's not even mentioning how those around her tend to become latent criminals.
Her rival in the race for the governor's seat is just as interesting. Kosuke “Heracles” Yakushiji is a former sports-star-turned-politician. Through him we see how sports exist in a world where violence and aggression lead directly to a prison cell in most cases—namely the evolution of man versus robot sports. But more than that, he is a genetically engineered man who believes that a healthy body makes a healthy mind—and who is healthier than the genetically pure? Yes, in a world where genetic alterations are possible, it's not surprising that eugenics has once again reared its ugly head.
Overall, the two candidates seem to be a metaphor for the battle of nature versus nurture. Who will rule Tokyo's future? Those with the best genes or those who follow the will of society? We'll find out next week. In the end, the second episode of Psycho-Pass 3, while oddly paced, is just plain good sci-fi. It is filled to the brim with futuristic concepts to think about and uses those ideas to further enrich the world of the anime. At the same time, it continues both Arata's story and Akane's—and in doing so makes the Sinners of the System films as important as the two TV series and first feature film.
- What we know about Akane's situation:
- She did something criminal in public.
- Her allies support what she did.
- Her criminal coefficient is not being released to the public.
- She is waiting for judgement of her crime.
- A byproduct of that judgement is that the world will learn what the Sibyl System really is.
- She has internet in her cell and has been talking with Sho.
- It's interesting to see that the Yakuza could survive in the world of the Sibyl System. But as we've seen, Sibyl has far more blind spots than it would ever admit.
- There is a lot of motion capture and rotoscoping in the fight scenes and it looks great.
- I'm disappointed we didn't get to see Togami's criminal coefficient after all he's been through.
- That bunny from Donnie Darko? Yep, still terrifying.
Psycho-Pass 3 is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video (just make sure you put the title in 'correctly').
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