Reviewby Richard Eisenbeis,
Psycho-Pass 3: First Inspector
As a group of detectives in a cyberpunk future close in on a conspiracy that exploits the loopholes in their utopian society for personal gain, their enemy counter attacks--turning their own headquarters into a death game designed to make them kill those they are sworn to protect.
The Psycho-Pass franchise is set in a future where your mental state--and, more importantly, your capacity to commit crimes--can be ascertained simply by scanning you in real-time. Should your mental state be compromised, you are rounded up for mental care--or, in the case of violent criminals, are executed on the spot. This technology has led to a golden age in Japan while the rest of the world falls ever deeper into decline. The story follows the police who work within this system, how they deal with criminal cases, and how criminals work to exploit loopholes in the system.
The newest iteration, Psycho-Pass 3: First Inspector, is a direct continuation of 2019's Psycho-Pass 3--which itself ended on a rather lackluster note providing nothing in the way of a conclusion to the vast majority of plot threads it set up over the course of its eight, hour-long episodes. First Inspector ties off the most important hanging threads, gives tantalizing hints about others, and ignores the remainder completely--hoping you won't notice.
First and foremost, First Inspector is concerned with giving the series a satisfying action climax as it finishes up both Kei and Arata's personal journey and the looming Bifrost conspiracy. To do this, the film is centered around Azusawa--a criminal who has figured out how to game the system by exploiting innocent proxies--and his attack on police headquarters.
The overall goal for the attack is the assassination of Karina--the idol-turned-mayor of Tokyo--but not for the reason you'd think. Up until now, Bifrost has seemed to be a group of the rich and powerful playing a game--using real people as pieces and the city as their board--to become even more rich and powerful. The chaos caused by the death of Karina would allow them to play the stock market and gain greatly. However, Shirogane, one of the two remaining players of this grand game, has much bigger aims--ones tied directly toward what the “game” they're playing actually is.
The truth about Bifrost and the “Round Robin” game proves to be a satisfying capstone to the greater meta-story begun in Psycho-Pass 3. Not only do the revelations learned make perfect sense in the world of Psycho-Pass, but they give added rewatchability to Psycho Pass 3 as a whole once you know what's actually going on and why.
Of course, the real climax of the story is not the fate of the Bifrost conspiracy but rather the more personal confrontation between the villainous Azasawa and police inspector Arata. Azusawa, having figured out how to manipulate people to commit crimes of their own free will, has developed a god complex. Arata, on the other hand, has every potential to get away with crimes as easily but chooses to keep his feet on the ground--being both lawful and empathetic.
However, what's interesting is that it's Azuzawa, the criminal, who believes in the system unquestionably. It is he who is willing to take the system's judgement--even if it breaks its own rules with said judgement--while it is Arata who is willing to call the system on its hypocrisy and fight back against it. Thus, the final fight between the two is one of ideals as much as fists.
Outside of those two, pretty much every character gets their moment to shine as their plotlines from the TV series are resolved--especially police analyst Shinon whose life and freedom are dependent on her actions in the film. And the film concludes by setting up a new status quo going forward--one that looks to answer the main unresolved plotline from Psycho-Pass 3. Simply put, it's the well-thought-out conclusion that the TV series desperately needed.
On the visual side of things, First Inspector looks as good as it's ever looked. Set almost entirely in the police headquarters, it serves to connect spatially the locations we've seen time and again while making them seem sinister and dangerous. On the aural side of things, it is likewise up to the standards of its forebears--especially with its vocally distorted opening theme “Synthetic Sympathy.” The background soundtrack supports both lingering tension and fast-paced action quite well--even if it never really stands out with particularly memorable themes. But all in all, it's solid on the presentation front.
When it comes down to it, Psycho Pass 3: First Inspector's main weakness lies in the fact that it is in no way a stand-alone film. Even if you've seen the other entries in the franchise, without Psycho-Pass 3, you'll have no idea who these people are or what's going on. Likewise, without First Inspector, Psycho-Pass 3 feels lackluster and incomplete.
However, as a complete package, the two make an excellent piece of speculative fiction that focuses as much on exploring the social and societal implications of the Sibyl System in everyday life as it does on weaving together series of conspiracy-filled cyberpunk murder mysteries. If that sounds like your jam, you won't be disappointed.
Psycho-Pass 3: First Inspector is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Overall : A
Story : A-
Animation : B+
Art : A
Music : B+
+ It is the conclusion that Psycho-Pass 3 sorely needed.
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