Psycho-Pass: Just what does make someone a criminal

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Happy Sunday Anime Fans!! I stumbled across an interesting anime on Netflix and wanted to share. I’ve only seen the first 6-7 episodes but wanted to share it while trying not to give away any real spoilers. 

Psycho-Pass starts out in pretty standard fashion for a futuristic anime, holograms, drones, a Big Brother type system run by the government and a young female character just starting out in some new career. Where it gets interesting is the premise behind the Big Brother type system and how that plays into the plot of the story and the effect  Shinya Kogami has on Akane Tsunemori, the young female, views on the society she was raised in.  

In Psycho Pass a system called Sybil has been developed that allows the government to monitor the mental health of it’s citizens through a simple scan. Depending on the Hue of the person’s scan various things can happen. If the Hue is cloudy or their “Criminal Co-efficient” number is too high, authorities are called in to give instant mental treatment to keep everyone calm and sane. Everyone is always under watch and it appears any form of stress in society have been mostly removed. Humans being humans however, things can change, people can become stressed for some reason or other and become violent and that’s where the police come in and this is where things in Psycho Pass get interesting. 

Psycho Pass, from what I have seen so far, is a story about Kogami and Tsunemori and how the rules of the world they are living can cause a good man to be categorized as something else. The interesting twist in Psycho Pass is how the police are organized. There are Inspectors and Enforcers. When you first meet the Enforcers, it is an ominous introduction. Tsunemori and Ginoza, her boss, are at a crime scene where someone has taken a woman hostage. It’s Tsunemori’s first night on the job and Ginoza tells her that he has no time to ease her in to the new job. Then an armored vehicle pulls up and the back door opens. She stares in confusion at it and Ginoza informs her that the “hunting dogs” are here, that they are the scum of the earth but because they can think like the criminals they are crucial to catching them. With this introduction one expects to see rough and tumble, scary, biker type people but when the door opens you see four well dressed, calm people, three men and one woman. One of the men is even older, in his fifties probably. He, along with Kogami gets paired with Tsunemori and Ginoza explains to her to not trust them as they are less than human, then he takes the other two and they split up to find the criminal. 

The older man, Tomomi Masaoka, is nothing but kind to Tsunemori, calming her and explaining her job is just to watch the Enforcers. He then explains how the guns they use, Dominators, work. The gun measures the Criminal Co-efficient of whoever you point it at and then decides what level of force is needed. The Enforcers just do what the guns tell them. As the episode progresses we see that these Enforcers are hardly hardened criminals, from the backstories I have seen so far, none of them have committed a crime, but it is how their minds work or have been traumatized in some fashion that has since labeled them as sub human. The Enforcers are never allowed out in public unless an Inspector is with them, they are restricted to a few floors of the police headquarters. They are prisoners of the system. One of them, Shusei Kagari was designated a latent criminal at the age of five and has been a prisoner ever since then. 

Kogami’s backstory is interesting but I won’t spoil it, I will just say that he is an example of how life can cause someone to go from good to what the system considers bad even though he has not actually committed any crimes. There is quite a bit of discussion in the episodes as to how the system is actually killing humans faster because without stressors or a reason for living people are so calm they are becoming living corpses. Too many mental health treatments are shown to turn people into numb beings, unable to function. Tsunemori, on her first job, is told that the victim of the crime must be killed because in that moment her Criminal Co-efficient numbers have skyrocketed because of how she was traumatized and may be beyond treatment. Tsuenemori refuses to believe that and order Kogami to stand down and not kill the woman who has been brutalized. He refuses and starts to fire but she paralyzes him with her gun and the woman goes into treatment. Tsunemori fills guilty for hurting one of her subordinates and has a conversation with Kogami where he explains that she has reminded him of what protecting others is supposed to be about. It is that conversation that interests her in his background. 

So far Psycho-Pass has raised some interesting questions as to labeling people, that just because someone can think like a criminal, which the best detectives can do, does not make them a criminal. We see Ginoza, the senior inspector, often relying on input from his “hunting dogs” although he seems to despise their very existence. It is made obvious fairly early on that the Enforcers are the ones solving the crimes, the Inspectors are their to oversee them. Once the back stories start to develop it becomes even clearer that Sybil, in it’s black and white designations, seems to do as much harm as good. 

One thing I have always liked about anime is the philosophical questions that are presented in the show and so far Psycho Pass has got me interested as to how it will resolve the questions it is raising, I suggest checking it out if you have some time. The characters are intriguing, the story is getting more and more layered and it keeps you watching.