Psycho-Pass: What if machines controlled law enforcement? Who gets to say what’s just and righteous?
In A Nutshell
The story takes place in a futuristic dystopia where omnipresent public sensors continuously scan the mental states of every citizen. A person’s mental state and levels of stress are used to gauge the potential for criminal behavior in a rating referred to as “Psycho-Pass.” Authorities are alerted, and officers of the Public Safety Bureau are dispatched with weapons called “Dominators” whenever excessive ratings are detected in an area. The Dominators are energy pistols that modulate their power in response to the target’s Psycho Pass. The “Enforcers” are latent criminals used by the authorities to track and hunt down other criminals.
Meet the Characters
Akane Tsunemori is the female protagonist. The series starts when Akane joins the Criminal Investigation Department as an Inspector, a position that was offered to her thanks to her excellent grades. Akane is highly intelligent and skilled, and even though she can be shy and insecure, she’s never afraid in the face of danger. She has a lot of faith in the Sibyl system, and she always puts the Law above everything else.
Shinya Kogami is the male deuteragonist of the series. Kogami is one of the Enforcers from Division 1. As the inspector, Akane is in charge of watching over him and accompanying him places to make sure he doesn’t escape or go, rogue. Just like most Enforcers, Akane has an interesting opinion on justice and morality. He also seems to take an interest in Akane’s purity and her detective skills.
Nobuchika Ginoza is an Inspector of Division 1, as well as the one who welcomes Akane in the team. In fact, he often gives her advice and warns her about the dangers of the relationships between Inspectors and Enforcers. Ginoza is a very serious, skeptical person, and he barely ever smiles. His only goal is to focus on the mission ahead of him and to follow the Sibyl system without ever questioning it.
Tomomi Masaoka is also an Enforcer. Due to his age and expertise, he likes debating the cases with Akane and getting her to see how things might not be as good as they seem. He has a calm, laid-back nature, and doesn’t appear to have any particular goals in life. On the contrary, he seems like the kind of person who just takes life day by day. Because of this, he always keeps a cool head during tense situations.
Shusei Kagari is also an Enforcer for Division 1. Unlike his teammates, Kagari is a very lively guy who takes pleasure in his job and can see the fun in everything. He also appears to be attracted to Akane at first, but he later comes to respect her as his boss. Despite his dorky appearance and behavior, Kagari can also get pretty serious and ruthless when least expected.
NOTE: There are more important characters, but it would be hard to give information about them without giving away spoilers.
A Brief History of Psycho-Pass: The When, Where and How
Psycho-Pass is an anime series produced by Production I.G, directed by Naoyoshi Shiotani and Katsuyuki Motohiro, and written by Gen Urobuchi. The series aired between October 2012 and March 2013. A second season was released in 2017, with an original film following it in 2015. The series was highly successful and inspired other adaptations, including a manga series, and several novels and video games.
Psycho-Pass was born from Production I.G.’s interest in making a successor to Mamoru Oshii‘s achievements. Motohiro aimed to explore psychological themes in society’s youth using dystopian storylines. Psycho-Pass was inspired by many live action movies and books, with the most notable being Blade Runner.
The first season of the anime generally received positive reviews with critics praising the characters’ roles and interactions. The second season (made by a different staff) received mixed critical response due to its heavy use of gore and its new villain
Why It’s Awesome
The main attraction of Psycho-Pass is its premise. Beyond the badass guns and futuristic setting lays a very well-crafted story that leaves the audience wondering what is it that makes a person a criminal. There’s a lot of room for controversy a series where intelligent guns that get to determine whether a person should be killed. And what’s worse, sometimes the Psycho-Pass can go up due to something as simple as stress. While the Sibyl system eliminates the burden of having to kill someone, life is not always black and white, and there are situations where the answer is not so clear.
The characters are used to present these different ideologies and stances on the Sibyl system. It’s especially interesting that in this crime series, you never really know who’s right or wrong – or if there’s even such thing as right or wrong. In fact, the best moments in the series don’t come from action scenes, but from its dialogue, and from the conversations where characters cite philosophers to back up their arguments.
Aside from being an entry-level anime series, Psycho-Pass is one of the best drama/thriller series to come out in recent years. It would have been easy to get carried away by the cool-looking guns and just focus on meaningless action scenes. Fortunately, the creators knew how to carefully explore themes of morality, ethics, and criminal justice, while telling a compelling story in which characters learn from each other’s experiences.