If justice had a psycho-pass it would only be in shades of grey. Such is the alchemy of a series such as Psycho-Pass, set within a future society ruled by an absolute authoritarian governing technology known as the Sybil System, it becomes quickly apparent that there are no real rights and wrongs, only the shades of grey that lie between.
The series follows Akane Tsunemori, a young detective assigned to the Public Safety Bureau with the task of commanding a team of Enforcers (latent criminals forced to work for the PSB as ‘hunting dogs’) in order to deal with situations regarding civilians whose psycho-pass assessment reads in the negative.
The titular psycho-pass is a instantaneous scan of a person’s crime coefficient, or in laymen terms, their likelihood to commit a crime. Yes, you read that right, the detectives are tracking down and detaining or in some cases executing suspects that have not even committed a crime yet. That is the very nature of the Sybil System, it parades as a black and white justice system but at its very core it is a bankrupt system that works within the grey matter of will they or won’t they.
The very core of Psycho-Pass is its endless contemplation on the nature of justice. While the series never truly decides one way or the other, it becomes quite clear that justice is simply a matter of opinion. What true justice is is ultimately irrelevant, because we all make our own choices and the consequences of which are our own to bare. Its an infinite struggle as we all play in the dark, but that is what makes Psycho-Pass so compelling, it never gives you all the answers.
One of the finer points of Psycho-Pass is its subtle yet detailed characterization. It never has a forceful hand in dealing out colour for its characters, rather it slowly but steadily pulls the curtains back on each of them, painting them in different light as they unfold. Perhaps the most interesting are the evolutions of Shogo Makashima and Shinya Kogami. The series begins with a flash forward to their fated encounter much later in the series. The Makashima and Kogami we see in this scene are two snakes poised to strike. There is venom in their eyes and seeing how both men get to that stage is a masterstroke to say the very least.
Gen Urobuchi is a man known for tackling dark character journeys but man alive did he go hard with these two. He weaves their personal journeys through a trail of blood entangling the two in a seemingly eternal game of tag. The two are constantly at odds and it is apparent from the outset that these two are destined to collide. The tragedy of it all is that both men could be friends in another life, they challenge each other intellectually and their views on the corrupt Sybil System that rules them are more alike than either of them know. But it was the paths they each chose to take that made their eventual collision inevitable. Both Makashima and Kogami believed themselves to be men dealing out true justice, the irony is that they justice both men sought after were one in the same, they just went about it two different ways.
The score for the series is superbly composed by Yugo Kanno (also composed the OST for Birdy the Mighty: Decode) and the theme music are simply unforgettable. The music gives the series a sense of style and flair all the while building the perfect atmosphere for this cyber-punk future. On top of that Production I.G. has put together some of their finest animation work with Psycho-Pass, there is so much memorable imagery in this series and the sakuga animation sequences are like poetry in motion.
Madman Entertainment’s release of the series is phenomenal to say the least. For our review we received the special edition box-set of the complete series. Featured in the box-set was the entire series on Blu-Ray alongside the series official soundtrack compiled across two discs. The Blu-Rays themselves come loaded with bonus content including episode commentaries and a featurette about Psycho-Pass at Sakura-Con over in the States. There is plenty to sink your teeth into here and I was simply blown away by the quality of this release. Madman have done a remarkable job here and have made this release a must-have.
There are many contradictions within the world of Psycho-Pass. Where Urobuchi and Production I.G. succeed with the series is in the fact that they never tell the audience what to feel. That is a choice they leave entirely up to you. In a series such as this, it is a rare trait to have and it makes Psycho-Pass a real stand out. It is a thought-provoking intellectual piece of anime that encourages viewers to search their soul for their own answers and we honestly need more series like it.
Psycho-Pass explores the very depths of the human psyche and doesn’t much like what it sees. But through that exploration we get a highly engaging sci-fi thriller the likes which hasn’t been seen in anime in quite some time. Psycho-Pass will make you think, but more importantly than that, Psycho-Pass will make you feel.
You can purchase Psycho-Pass and experience this must-see anime over at Madman’s online store.