Anime Review: Psycho-Pass, Passes the Mark


Psycho-Pass (2012-13) [streaming on Hulu now], scripted and conceptualized by Gen Urobuchi, teeters between being totally psychotic and totally brilliant. Essentially, Psycho-Pass is a crime-scene anime set in the future where surveillance is prevalent and the ability to determine someone’s mental state is routine. This mental state, or “crime coefficient,” everyone possesses and desperately monitors. If your crime coefficient goes above 100, then you are considered a “latent criminal,” which means your mental state is no longer considered capable of upholding lawful behavior. The police bureau consists of Inspectors and Enforcers. In order to retain the purity of the Inspectors’ crime coefficients, Enforcers do the dirty work, including but not limited to arresting, fighting, and killing criminals. They hold a special weapon called the “The Dominator” (shown below), which is able to scan anyone’s crime coefficient and then decide whether that person should be paralyzed or obliterated (literally). The Dominator seemingly allows a system of laws (also known as SIBYL) to be upheld in an organized and justified manner, which Psycho-Pass carefully investigates.

Psycho-Pass-KogamiAkane Tsunemori and Shinya Kogami are the main characters and develop a close relationship over the series, but nothing romantic, unfortunately. To fulfill the viewer’s desire to see Shinya kiss Akane would shatter the expandable void that is fan art. Gen Urobuchi wouldn’t be that naive. Besides that, Shogo Makishima is one of the deeper characters presented. Makishima plays the villain in Psycho-Pass, yet never sees his crime coefficient reflect his actions (go below 20); he is an exception to the system. He quotes Foucault and his theory of the “Panopticon,” comparing it to the current justice system, SIBYL, which represents the “central tower” in the theory. Makishima even calls the people “cells” and reinforces the impossibility of perfect control. He embodies a dark humanist rebelling against the inevitable force of technology and its prescriptions and delegations towards society, while also taking pleasure in sick, serial-killer quests (reminiscent of Dexter).

Shogo-MakishimaMost viewers would see Psycho-Pass as an over-theorized, cyber-punk anime which closely resembles Minority ReportGhost in the ShellI, Robot and basically any Philip K. Dick future-genre movie (Blade RunnerJudge Dredd, Total Recall). Yet, even though I’ve seen these similar productions, for some reason I felt Psycho-Pass retained its originality. First off, this particular genre isn’t overdone in the first place, but because it’s such a specific, unique genre, people recognize it easily. This might contribute to Psycho-Pass’ negative speculation. Or, maybe the reason I liked it so much is because it’s brutally violent and psychologically driven (or, in other words, FUBAR). Also, there are very clever emerging theories about technology, the Panopticon, surveillance, and control present in Psycho-Pass, which makes for a more insightful experience.

“Everyone is alone. Everyone is empty. People no longer have need of others. You can always find a spare for any replacement. Any relationship can be replaced.”    -Makishima

Kogami, Tsunemori, Ginoza
Though Psycho-Pass might not be the best anime ever to exist, I think it’s definitely worth a watch, especially if you can recognize/comprehend the deeper theories being discussed.

It felt funny to agree with the villain’s reasoning and theories but agreeing with the protagonists actions. I didn’t support Makishima’s actions, but I felt I understood him, which is a refreshing insight in this anime. Furthermore, I felt the duration of the series was reasonable, not dragging or rushing, tying in at the end, and still  leaving room for a second season. I look forward to it.

If you like very dark, psychological-thriller, cyberpunk animes, then odds are you’d like this one. I give Psycho-Pass 4 out of 5 stars!



blue-star-hiRead Philosophy For Change‘s awesome post discussing Foucault’s Panopticon in today’s world to help you understand how Psycho-Pass applies this theory.

One Response to “Anime Review: Psycho-Pass, Passes the Mark”
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  1. […] Brisendine, S. 2013, Anime review: ‘Psycho-pass, passes the mark’, Talking about talkies, Weblog, WordPress, viewed 12 September 2014, <; […]

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