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Psycho-Pass The Movie – Review

psycho-pass-the-movie-cover-image-01Psycho-Pass The Movie hit theatres across Japan in the January of 2015 to what can only be described as a resoundingly positive reception. Fans of the original series flooded the cinemas in droves to catch the film that was hyped to be the series’ resurrection, especially after the mythos-crushing events of the Anime’s second season. Gen Urobuchi, once again, returns as this film’s head writer to reclaim the series that many critics consider to be his best and, without giving too much away…I think he’s done exactly that.

Funimation Entertainment acquired the wholehearted rights to the film some time ago but, due to mostly mysterious reasons, it was delayed for quite some time…though now it’s here, and it is solid proof that, sometimes, things truly are better experienced late than never at all.

A special “Thank You“, as always, must be extended to Madman Entertainment for allowing us the opportunity to review one of modern day Anime’s most anticipated feature films.

Psycho-Pass The Movie is set in a futuristic Japan. The Sibyl System is charged with keeping the peace. Using extensive surveillance and biological monitoring to gauge the likelihood that individuals will commit a crime, the police are able to use weapons called Dominators to remove potential criminals from the population before they become a problem. Confident with the success of the System within their own borders, the Japanese government has begun to export the technology to other countries, planning to ultimately spread the System across the globe.

When the state of SEAUn brings the Sibyl System in to test its effectiveness, it becomes a haven of peace and safety—for a time. Eventually, terrorists from SEAUn begin appearing in Japan, somehow slipping through the System’s security and attacking from within. Desperate for answers, Inspector Akane Tsunemori is sent overseas to bring the terrorists to justice. But when her investigation forces her into a standoff with an old ally, will she be able to pull the trigger? Find out in the feature film of critically acclaimed series PSYCHO-PASS. – Madman Entertainment

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The film’s story, thankfully, plays out in exactly the same way any fan of the series would have imagined. There’s a clear rise and fall, emphasis on the fall, and the perpetual struggle against the true antagonist, the Sibyl System, is as ever present as it was in the Anime. Whilst the story takes place outside of Japan, it is for what I would consider to be a believable reason, and opens the narrative up to a certain few extra possibilities of which head writer Gen Urobuchi does take advantage of. Still, even though what you’re getting is, essentially, a standard Psycho-Pass story addition, there’s a heavy focus on combat alongside the series’ staple psychological warfare. Whilst I personally enjoyed the Metal Gear Solid-like combat sequences of the film, I can see why many wouldn’t simply because of it’s detachment from what we’ve come to know of Psycho-Pass. Opening your mind to something such as a “power creep” even in a series like this will benefit your experience in countless ways.

The characters making a return from the first season still seem to play host to the same level of charm despite having developed off-screen in the time between the events of the series and this film. I didn’t quite pick up on this particular issue until the end of the movie, but it seems like the only real character focus throughout the film is on Akane Tsunemori and Shinya Kogami. Understandably, they are the most popular characters from the series and serve as dual protagonists but, pondering on it, I would have liked to have seen more of the support characters, most of which were shown only a couple of times doing nothing more than reacting to particular situations. Fact of the matter is; the movie was compelling enough to keep my mind off of what may be trivial factors. Instead I was engulfed by the weaving of it’s story, even watching it twice within the same weekend just because of it’s near perfect quality.

What I loved about the original season of Psycho-Pass and what I find myself swooning over within this movie is the story’s ability to end without necessarily moving very far from where it began. Whilst Akane Tsunemori, accompanied by her old friend Shinya Kogami, took down a tyrannical leader and the corrupt government he once led, it is still very much obvious that nothing truly has changed. The Sibyl System still has one hell of a grasp on this new frontier, and on it’s birthplace Japan, but Tsunemori continues to struggle against it, with the System continuing to fight back for reasons of curiosity alone. At least, that’s how I see it. The end of this film gives off the impression that, once again, the fight against the Sibyl System will continue for an eternity as it constantly grows, eventually taking control of the entire world. This is a story element I truly, truly love, and it’s pulled off fantastically in this film.

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Visually there’s a lot to be absorbed throughout the film, but to say that it delivered more than the first season of the series would be exaggerate just a touch too much. Do not get me wrong, the quality of animation present within the film is spectacular but, if one were to compare, you would find that there isn’t too great a difference, save from a literal location change that brings with it a grand breath of fresh air. Now despite how my comparisons sound, they’re meant to be taken as a compliment. As many of you know, the original Anime is not one to be laughed at, it delivers on every single count and it’s film continuation takes that foundation and builds on it a suitable structure. What sets this film apart from it’s predecessor in a huge way is the cinematic direction that was clearly taken on throughout development. Perspective shots full of depth, circling camera pans, accentuating angles, they were all used to make this film stand out visually and they succeeded at that!

Though I expected it, I’m glad that the film didn’t feature as much computer generated animation as many other modern Anime cinematic experiences. The scenes featuring computer generated animation could be counted on one hand, and it was only ever present when moving machinery took centre stage. The rest of the film, however, was wonderfully animated in the traditional style, accompanied by fitting earthy tones during segments set OUTSIDE of Japan, and vibrant cool colours during segments within it.

Returning for the film is both the soundtrack from the original series and it’s English dub cast, both of which fit wonderfully! Whilst it wasn’t the entire soundtrack that was repurposed for the film, there were certain key tracks that made an appearance close to the end that truly made this movie part of the Psycho-Pass realm. Every single track fit to a tee and, in fact, it was the use of negative noise that had me impressed the most. During key fight scenes there was little to no background music used, emphasising the clashing of fists, the movement of muscles, and the grunting of combatants. That, to me, made much more of an impact than if music were to have drowned it out. The English voice cast, once again, performed incredibly well for the film, bring their absolute A-Game to their respective roles, never once missing a beat. Very much a cast to be envied.

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Western fans of the series have been waiting quite some time for this film and yet, despite the continuous swell of hype that comes with any anticipated delay, Psycho-Pass The Movie was still able to live up to expectations. This movie featured, more or less, exactly what one was hoping to see in a Psycho-Pass film, and on every single front it delivers admirably. Gen Urobuchi set out to unearth the weeds born from the seeds planted by the series’ second season by reminding us of the true majesty of Psycho-Pass with this film, and it’s made very clear. Psycho-Pass The Movie never once misses a beat. From it’s visuals to the way in which it’s story unravels, this film is thick with the blood of great storytelling and if we never see another continuation of Psycho-Pass from here on out…this film will make one hell of a grand send-off.

Purchase Psycho-Pass The Movie through Madman Entertainment’s online store by Clicking Here.

Grade: A+

-30-

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