I recently discovered Netflix now has a healthy amount of anime series, which is good news for this blog and bad news for the new book I’m writing (I’m nearly half way through the first draft – hooray!) So, I decided to kick my anime-watching year off with a bang and marathoned Psycho-Pass in a weekend. I was not disappointed at all. In fact, this is an early contender for my inevitable ‘Anime of 2015’ award!
Psycho-Pass is set in the not-so-distant future, where people’s threat to the city is judged not by the crimes they commit but by their thoughts. The omnipotent Sybil System monitors everyone’s ‘Crime Coefficient’, which can go up simply due to negative or violent thoughts, and anyone whose reading is deemed dangerously high is a target for rehabilitation or, worse, death. It’s the job of the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division to apprehend these people that the Sybil System deems as ‘latent criminals’. It’s not their job to think – only shoot the trigger. Also, once you’re identified as a latent criminal, it’s virtually impossible to return to society as an ordinary citizen.
Unusually, the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) is composed not only of Inspectors but also Enforcers, latent criminals chosen by the Sybil System to hunt down those like them. This is where our main characters are introduced; Tsunemori Akane, a new CID recruit with a surprisingly low Crime Coefficient; Kogami Shinya, an Inspector-turned-Enforcer; and Ginoza Nobuchika, Akane’s senior and Kogami’s former colleague. Along with three other Enforcers, this elite team hunt down criminals identified by the Sybil System and discharge special guns called ‘Dominators’ to either neutralise or destroy them.
The plot is contained concisely in 22 episodes, so there’s never a lull in the action, making this a great weekend marathon series. The story moves through several different cases where the CID hunt down various latent criminals and actual criminals, then introduces us to the main villain Makushima Shogo, who is pulling the strings behind the scenes. If you like a series that’s fast-paced, psychologically-challenging and gratuitously violent in places, Psycho Pass should be on your watch list. I laughed, freaked out and teared up all in one day – it’s a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.
Without giving too much of the plot away, what makes Psycho-Pass so addictive is the questions it poses. What makes a criminal? How much do we depend on machines? Does keeping order mean stripping people of free will? And – my personal favourite – is a world where we allow machines to decide our entire future so impossible? I’ve heard Psycho-Pass being referred to the anime version of Minority Report, which isn’t a totally unfair comparison, although it’s infinitely better.
Psycho-Pass is available to watch either on Netflix or, if you want to add the DVD to your shelf collection, Manga Entertainment. Season 2 aired in Japan last year, so hopefully we’ll see that coming to our shores in the near future too.
Score: an explosive 9/10!