After Akane discovered the true nature of the Sibyl system a year and a half ago, she began to question its legitimacy and therefore many of the decisions it makes for the Inspectors and Enforcers in any given situation. Akane begins to reflect on the role she must play, a role which constantly walks a fine line between insubordination and the moral high ground. Now, a new threat has come into play – a manipulator with an ability to control a person’s crime co-efficient, intent on destabilising the Sibyl system and waking up society.
Psycho Pass 2 is a self-contained story, though there are numerous call-backs to the previous season so I would highly recommend watching season one before venturing into season two, you will gain a better understanding of the characters motivations and references made throughout Psycho Pass 2.
Akane is now the lead Inspector of Division One, more confident in her position after persevering through the violent and cruel trials she went through with Shogo Makishima, a man bent on destabilising the Sibyl system, and Shinya Kougami, the tormented enforcer she grew to admire and respect in season one. Akane’s now hardened though sincere approach to things plays out through most of the season, playing off the new Inspector Mika Shimotsuki’s character. Mika stands as a by-the-book rookie who doesn’t see eye to eye with Akane’s unique approach to the job, her arrogance and self-righteous attempts to create tension within the group only leading to a general dislike of her character.
The dark horse of the group – Sakuya Tougane – is a mysterious and effective enforcer with an extremely high crime coefficient and a history of corrupting the inspectors that work over him. Aligning his beliefs to Akane’s, for what seems a disingenuous and secretive purpose, his character is one of curiosity and surprise, leading to some unexpected results.
The rest of the team really took a back seat on this one. Nobuchicka Ginoza has stepped down from lead Inspector into the role of an Enforcer. He and the new Enforcer – Shou Hinikawa – have their moments in the light from time to time, with Shou pushing his hacking skills to the limit, and Nobuchicka interjecting in a critical time of reflection on a case, then retracting back into a supportive role along with the rest of the team.
Our antagonist is Kirito Kamuri, a man of influence and manipulation, using his ability to clarify a person’s Psycho Pass hue to help them avoid persecution, in return helping him reach his end goal of destabilising the Sibyl system. Kirito’s transplanted organs trick the Sibyl system and allow him to pass undetected. He is able to avoid both scanners and dominators alike, progressively testing the limits, slowly developing his plan as the flaws within the Sibyl system become more apparent. Through the season he is acting as a catalyst of chaos, aiding those most open to the disruption of the Sibyl system, those closest to breaking point, ordinary people losing the battle to keep a clear Psycho Pass, or those already broken.
Overall I found the character development in Psycho Pass 2 to be weak to say the least. A majority of the characters are barely involved with the happenings of the story, with focus clearly on the tense interactions between Akane and Mika, and curiousity and suspicion between Sakuya and Akane, as all the while the threat from Kirito progresses the main story arcs. Sakuya’s character arc felt rushed towards the end, despite him being one of the more interesting characters. The same could not be said for Mika. She is painted as very strict and rigid in her work and always leading to a predictable result. She’s mostly uninteresting and annoying. You could mistake the existence of this character to be a plot prop, only present to serve another’s story arc. There wasn’t a lot of growing or changing as a person.
In contrast to Psycho Pass’ great character interactions and development, Psycho Pass 2 initially felt like a rehash of the season one characters, only lacking the development and interest of their predecessors. Instead of creating bonds between the characters to build up a better sense of their personality, they made most of their arcs fodder for plot twists and shock points, attempting to create more interest in the background characters while pushing the story forward. This only lead to the viewer building a layer of detachment towards the characters, and a lack of empathy when one meets the chopping block.
The story starts solidly and feels intentionally familiar to the beginning of Psycho Pass, introducing the intrigue early, and getting into the thick of it with a curious case of a dead Enforcer, murdered with a dominator, and ominous intentional clues left at the scene. Things start getting serious around the halfway point, the action picks up, and by comparison to Psycho Pass, it’s bloodier and more intense than ever. They even introduce a new type of dominator, and true to its name, it delivers. The tension between the blunt Sibyl chief, and Akane’s resolute and forward demeanour is palpable, with threats made, traps planned, and some cruel twists playing out. The over-the-top violent action and the story’s premise carries most of this season, but by the end it starts to fall on its face. Rushing to meet the eleventh episode finale it becomes quite convoluted in the process.
The result: an ending so neutral and anti-climactic, it made all the actions and motivations throughout the season feel irrelevant, and kind of unnecessary. Intense, violent actions scenes and a good base plot can only go so far, especially when the ending feels so trivial and underwhelming. I can recommend this if you’re a fan of the series or are after some action and thrills, though if you want a tight story and cohesive conclusion, don’t go in with high expectations.