The series takes place in the near future, when it is possible to instantaneously measure and quantify a person's state of mind and personality. This information is recorded and processed, and the term "Psycho-Pass" refers to a standard used to measure an individual's being. The story centres on the "enforcement officer" Shinya Kogami, who is tasked with managing latent or active crime in such a world.
In the future, it is possible to quantitatively measure a person's emotions, desires, and every inclination. In this way, it is also possible to measure a person's criminal tendency factor, which is used to judge criminals.
This is the story of a team of policemen dedicated to maintaining public order. Some of them work in the Enforcement Division, responsible for the apprehension of criminals, while others belong to the Supervisory Division which oversees their colleagues in Enforcement.
It is my opinion that Gen Urobuchi may be one of the worst things to happen to the anime industry in recent memory, if not the worst. He is new and his influence hasn't yet solidified but he represents something that will be the death of the anime industry as we know it and have ever known it. That something is pernicious. That something is the very thing that a lot of us old time fans were fleeing from when we discovered anime in the first place. It is a terror that has scourged Hollywood and it has left scars on the face of mainstream television that will never heal. Gen Urobuchi is the face of that infection - an infection I like to call 'Competence'.
Yes, I'll admit, my tongue is placed firmly in my cheek but I am proposing a serious point. Gen Urobuchi is a very competent writer. I have seen every single series he has written for and they are uniformly well-paced, intelligently written and coherent - with only minor exceptions. It is true that he has some deficiencies when it comes to dialogue and, by extension, characterisation but these aspects of his writing are in no way bad when compared to what most writers have to offer. In fact, I would say that Gen Urobuchi may be the most competent writer to have ever graced the television anime industry and his success may lead to others learning from him and following suit. This is a problem and I'll let Psycho-Pass explain why.
First and foremost, Psycho-Pass is a good series. The plot unfolds in a timely and exciting manner, the characters are well fleshed out and enjoy well-executed character arcs for the most part and the art and animation are of the finest quality. Some interesting ideas and themes are explored through the characters - political philosophy confronting the paradoxical issues of safety and freedom, authoritarianism and anarchy, and how human beings should consider and react to an imperfect society. This is all really quite good and well done. The show does falter a little when analysing its central idea of latent criminality (the system is flawed *shock*) but these stumbles are quickly forgotten in the wake of quality plotting and interesting character interactions. One thing I particularly enjoyed was the questionable standard by which one could label the protagonists and the antagonists as heroes and villains. On one hand we have cops who are chasing undeniably criminal people yet those police officers are propping up a firmly evil and dystopian society against a justifiably antagonistic element. In all these senses, Psycho-Pass is exactly what you would expect of a Gen Urobuchi show: it is well-paced, intelligently written and coherent.
The problem is that Psycho-Pass is nothing special. I liked the characters but they are already drifting out of my memory after only a couple of days because they never shined in their own individual rights. I liked the story but I was never moved by it, I never felt seriously challenged by what it had to say at an ethical, logical or an emotional level. It was pretty but it never showed me anything unforgettable and thus I expect this show to fade from my memory into the dull recollection I place all uninspiring shows that I watch. It will sit next to Innocent Venus or ... some other series that doesn't qualify as terrible or great but simply as existing. Psycho-Pass fails to get a serious recommendation from me, not because of any specific facet of its production but simply because it utterly failed to engage me at any serious level despite all of its obvious competence. For me, that is simply not good enough. I want meaty concepts in my sci-fi, real pathos in my drama and adrenaline pumping excitement in my action but Psycho-Pass only gives me a smattering of everything and I feel a bit unsatisfied with the portions. Ergo Proxy, for example, was a mess of a show but I left it feeling satisfied with the big ideas it explored. Brilliance, not competence, winning me over in a series that lacked a whole lot of the latter.
Ultimately, I don't know about you but I want brilliance from my anime, not competence, and that is not something I can get from Psycho-Pass or Gen Urobuchi in general. That said Psycho-Pass is certainly an entertaining show, well made and well realised even if at only a superficial level. If you're looking for entertainment, pure and simple, then Psycho-Pass is not a waste of your time. Just don't expect too much from it.
A good, solid series but too lacking in anime magic to get four stars from me. — Aiden Foote
Recommended Audience: Oh how the corpses stack up! The frequent and occasionally sadistic violence, inexplicit nudity and implied sex make this an adult only series.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital source
Review Status: Full (22/22)
Psycho-Pass © 2012 Psychopaths Production Committee
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