Psycho Pass centres itself within a branch of law enforcement agents called the Public Safety Bureau. They act as crime prevention from citizens known as ‘latent criminals’, whose mental instability and stress can cause them to harm themselves or others. This is reflected in the analysis and statistics shown through their psycho pass. The degree of their judgement resides on their psycho pass evaluation – if it’s below the threshold, they are sent to rehabilitation to live out their days of instability. Alternatively they are deemed too dangerous for society and are eliminated on the spot, in a manner which could be considered overkill.
The story introduces us to all this through the rookie Inspector, Akane – a high achiever who’s constantly unsure about herself and what she should be doing. Quickly thrown into the life she has chosen, she is placed in charge of a small team of Enforcers. These are mostly inspectors turned latent criminals who’ve become the hunting dogs of the inspectors. They are set to deal with the deranged and unstable, whose actions can be so detrimental to those around them that the victims themselves become targets of Enforcers judgement. Akane soon realises the black and white nature of the system she works for, throwing her into deeper inner turmoil concerning the choices she makes.
Tomomi is the old school detective type. He’s the enforcer that always has your back. He’s a character you grow fond of, with his good advice, and sarcastic nature, helping Akane see the reality of her work. Nobuchika is the senior Inspector, in charge of overseeing Akane’s development. Nobuchika is high strung and harsh on Akane, constantly persecuting her for the decisions she makes. Shinya is the dark, brash and brooding type. He’s haunted by the past, and is a central figure within the story, as well as Akane’s development. He’s also the trigger in most of the action scenes. Then we have Shusei and Yayoi. Shusei is the flirty loud-mouth who is mostly positioned as the comic relief (with brief moments of sincerity). Yayoi is the quiet obeying character who always seems to be in the background. Both had parts which felt minor and forgettable.
The episodes seem to pace themselves well. They introduce elements such as the weapons, law systems, networks, and some facets of daily life within society, through violent fluff cases during the first quarter of the season. We are shown the limits of ‘The Dominator’, a multi-functional weapon which the Enforcers and Inspectors use. It’s constantly connected to the Sibyl System to determine a targets threat level. The Dominator is possibly one of the coolest weapons created in an animation series. The level of detail and action in its animation, along with the bloody destruction it can cause is very satisfying. The psycho pass system has a cold, black and white nature. There are networks, loop holes and limitations which some members of society hide in to avoid detection and detainment. The world they live in is dystopian in nature, with everything from clothing to the walls in a house being digitalised. Nearly every part of their lives are analysed, and then controlled through social imprinting and emotional stigma enforced by the Sibyl System, which was ironically created to “free society from violence.”
After this initial phase, the story starts to develop. Each case they take on and each antagonist they encounter seems to lead to a larger, more sinister plot. It opens up to some tense scenes of cat and mouse, with some brutal conclusions. In the more artistically liberal episodes – where they take on cases in virtual reality – the series tackles the concept of freedom of anonymity, which leads to some strange and almost psychedelic moments.
Psycho Pass is not one to hold back. It can take some dark turns that may leave you feeling uncomfortable. Whether it be the context of the situation, or just the physical ferocity of the act taking place, there are moments that shock. The action doesn’t disappoint either. It’s very visceral and gritty.
I found Psycho Pass to present a strong image of itself. It pays notice to the finer details and information, with an approach to storytelling that is accessible and detailed – even if a little blatant in its delivery. The story arc is consistent, and doesn’t tend to fall flat (though the last couple of episodes were slower than I would have liked). The action was violent, dark, and brutal; especially considering the psychopathic and sociopathic nature of some of the crimes portrayed. I feel they found a good balance, without going into the morbid. The character development definitely had its focuses, with some characters being pushed to the background. This was not necessarily a negative, though. I just found that their constant presence in scenes felt odd at times, considering how little they were developed.
Overall I enjoyed this dark trip into the world of Psycho Pass. It was a crime fighting roller coaster at times – an artistic horror show at its heart, and a disconcerting look into social engineering and control of a society. I would recommend it to anyone looking to get into a dark crime story set in a dystopian future.
For more information, or to pickup a copy online, head over to the Madman Entertainment website here.