27 CommentsFirst Impressions, Psycho Pass / By Scamp /

Psycho Pass episode 1 – Kougami has a laser cannon!

After coming out of university and doing what everyone who gets an arts degree does and ask myself “what the hell am I supposed to do with this”, I decided to try become a journalist (this does relate to Psycho Pass, trust me, I’m going somewhere with this). I’m still a trainee, but the most eye-opening experiences so far have been my trips to court. There’s this little back and forth between the judge and the barrister to predict how likely this criminal is to re-offend. The barrister tries to convince the judge that no really, he’s a nice guy. What’s that, he has 20 previous convictions? You just don’t understand your honour, he’s turned over a new leaf. Basically the back and forth is to judge whether this guy is a menace to society or whether this was one transgression and should just serve the minimum sentence for his crime.

Imagine how much easier it would be if your just had a machine that did that for you, eh?

So yes, Psycho Pass determines the criminality of a character. Goes too high up, and you paralyse the guy and bring them in for rehabilitation, which is essentially what prisons have been moving closer towards for years now. Repeat offenders are rampant, so you should ‘fix’ them in custody before releasing them again. That is, unless they’ve gone too far and are clearly just a terrible person who will never contribute anything to society ever again. At that stage, you should just smoke them. Or make them explode in a stupidly gratuitous fashion. Whatever works for you.

I burst out laughing at this scene, especially when compared to how grimdark everything else in the episode was. Moe Sucks said it was reminiscent of Akira, but I’d have to disagree. Asides from a purely visual standpoint, the goopy baby explosion in Akira was the gradual decay of one teenager’s mind as he slowly morphed into this grotesque nightmare. This scene in Psycho Pass felt more like the hyperviolent terribad early 90’s OVAs like MD Geist or BAOH where the intent is to show how fucking hardcore they are by saying “did you see that! That dude just fookin’ esploded everywhere!!!”.

That was my only major complaint about the episode though. The rape felt gratuitous, but rape scenes always feel gratuitous. Besides, if we’re comparing Urabochi rape stories, Saya no Uta makes Psycho Pass rape seem like a Clannad holding-of-hands scene. Also the resolution to that story was really striking. It was essentially saying that treating rape victims as mentally scared criminals who need to be locked up is really fucked up. Seems obvious when you spell it out like that, but with the prevalence of blaming the victim in rape cases, seems a fairly astute point to make.

I suppose since I’m being incredibly nitpicky, it’s also overly wordy with its exposition. I get why they had to do it. They really want to get this morality in our heads right from the very start. But for gods sake, having the guy say “oh so you were top of your class in police academy so would obviously know what this gun that dominates every aspect of society does, but I’m going to explain it to you all anyway” was really dumb. But the morality they’re setting up is genuinely interesting. It’s the first anime in a long time that takes itself this seriously but actually has the depth to justify that seriousness and allow me to watch it with a straight face.

Finally, as a side note, the director came out recently and said that their crew was not allowed to use the term ‘moe’ when making this anime. Which is cool and all, but he then went onto say they had a very laddish, Playboy-magazine reader approach to the story, which comes with its whole other set of problems. He also said that they weren’t going to include any other modern anime trends and not directly appeal to a female audience, which comes off as incredibly silly when your promo art proudly displays beautiful men with unbuttoned shirts. I’ve also seen people use the fact it has a female lead voiced by HanaKana to bash him with too, but that one isn’t really relevant at all. She’s a newbie police officer reacting to her first time at a brutal crime scene. How were you expecting her to act? She was hardly a HanaKana dunce moeblob like that other Noitamina anime where the director came out and said that it would have no moe or typical anime cliches and then proceeded to have both of those things and was completely shit. Now what was that one called again?

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  1. fathomlessblue
    Posted October 11, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    It also doesn’t help that despite the deliberate steering away from anything cutesy, the lead still somehow reminds me of a more realistic version of the trombone playing moeblob from Persona 4. Maybe that’s just me.

    It was a decent enough effort, just completely derivative of any other dystopian sci-fi from the last 30 years. I know complaining about an individual anime being unoriginal seems somewhat selective, if not hypocritical, but the most of the ep I was asking myself why I wasn’t watching Blade Runner or Minority Report instead. At least try to create an individual flavour; anime is a different medium to live-action!

    Can’t stay I was too impressed with the constant muted lighting either. Near the end it felt like watching the sewer episode of Deadman Wonderland all over again. Only you know, not completely shit.

    • Posted October 12, 2012 at 12:06 am | Permalink

      So, they basically just replaced all the anime tropes with cyber punk and sci-fi tropes. I guess that’s a little bit better than ripping off other anime but not really.

    • Scamp
      Posted October 12, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      Anime used to rip off cyberpunk stories all the time. See every single OVA ever made in the 90s ever.

      As for why watch this vs Minority Report, the most obvious comparison, it’s because it has enough of a different take on the subject to make it interesting to watch

      • Stef
        Posted October 13, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

        This anime seems more concerned about the sociological implications of tagging people as potential criminals than Minority Report was.
        In the film, the fact that they don’t even question why they put would-have-been criminals in the freezer or don’t emit any opinion on that whatsoever felt really weird. But it was really more about the cat and mouse game and the conspiracy than any of that psychological shit.

      • Scamp
        Posted October 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

        Exactly. The entire point of the dude going mad was precisely because he had seen that his psycho pass rating had gone so high. Self-fulfilling prophecy

  2. Posted October 12, 2012 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    I don’t think that you get to call a rape scene gratuitous when it happening is an integral part of the episode’s plot and resolution, while also demonstrating how the system works, by showing how getting raped increased that woman’s psycho-pass number, and caused her to get arrested.

    • Posted October 12, 2012 at 2:39 am | Permalink

      And the rape wasn’t sexualized for fanservice! It’s like a perfect example of how to do a rape scene without being sexist.

      • Scamp
        Posted October 12, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

        Sexist doesn’t equal gratuitous. What I meant by that is how long they lingered on her body and how they remained longer than necessary on the scene of him torturing her. That’s gratuitous. Drawing more out of a violent scene than is necessary for the purpose of the plot

      • Posted October 12, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

        I wasn’t equating sexism to gratuitousness, but adding on to Alterego 9’s positive points about it’s inclusion. (It does sound like I was though, my bad.)

        Thanks for clarifying what you mean by gratuitousness, I was confused about that. So maybe it’s not the *perfect* example of how to handle a rape scene, but I think it came close.

      • Noname
        Posted October 13, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

        “Drawing out more out of a violent scene than it is necessary for the purpose of the plot.”

        Seems highly subjective to me. It didn’t feel nor did I think it was too long. Yes if you consider only the plot it might have been unnecessary but for the building of the atmosphere and the bad emotional charge it did play its purpose.

      • Borneo
        Posted October 13, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

        “for the building of the atmosphere and the bad emotional charge it did play its purpose”

        I second that.
        Honestly speaking, it appears to me as though it has become en vogue to categorically decry rape scenes as being gratuitous, because somewhere, someone might get off on it, thereby promoting “rape culture” or some such concept. Now, I don’t want to say Scamp was saying anything like that (since he was clearly not). It’s just that a statement along the lines of “scenes of X always feel gratuitous” rubs me the wrong way. As sad as it may be, rape, murder and countless other atrocities are everyday occurrences among the humans on our earth, and therefore have their rightful place in (some) stories about humans, as I see it. I for one didn’t think that scene was gratuitous at all, but it feels as though people expect me to instantly condemn it, no matter it’s context, lest I won’t be seen as a morally upright person. Then again, I’m probably just hanging around the wrong parts of the internet, although I’m not necessarily interested to go to the dark side, where people really just got off on the rape.

        And if Scamp really does feel that rape scenes are always gratuitous – well, then it’s just the way he feels, nothing wrong with that.

      • Posted October 13, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

        “because somewhere, someone might get off on it, thereby promoting “rape culture” or some such concept.”

        While rape being eroticized certainly is an issue, this is not why many people such as Scamp and myself decry rape scenes.

        The problem with rape in media is that it’s become a default crime for a woman to suffer. It’s a lazy way to either give a female character a tragic past or give the hero (who witnesses the rape) motivation to defeat the bad guys. The problem with the former is that being a victim of rape has more complicated effects on one’s psyche than shows that use that backstory ever bother with. The problem with the latter is that it’s just another form of sexual objectification.

        The use of rape in Psycho Pass is justified, I think, by the point it’s trying to make about victims being judged by the same code as criminals. It’s a crime that leaves lasting psychological scars, and Psycho Pass directly addresses this. While I’m inclined to agree with Scamp that the scenes lingered longer than they needed to, I’m grateful to finally see a show that thought through its use of rape.

  3. ペーパー先生
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 4:54 am | Permalink

    If you wanted to create a weapon to help preserve people’s sanity, you’d think you’d maybe go with something other than flesh-bloiling-lazer.

    • Scamp
      Posted October 12, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

      What you talking about, everyone knows flesh boiling lasers are the perfect way to distil calm in the nation

      • Noname
        Posted October 13, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

        I think you are using the word distill wrongly. I could be wrong though.

        The weapon is used just as a means to attract the viewers attention through being shocking as it is. The only reason why they made it that way.

      • Scamp
        Posted October 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        I am, I meant instil. Also I was being sarcastic…

      • Noname
        Posted October 13, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

        I get that you were being sarcastic. Also I think it was amusing sarcasm. ^^ The second part of my comment was more directed to ペーパー先生 (Lol didn’t notice the name was not in Latin letters)

  4. hikarinokibuo
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    wew~!! thanks for the review! now I’m xcited to watch the episode :D

  5. Cirith
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    You know, if their “should be terminated” rating can change back in a few minutes when the person calms down a bit, it might be a bit unreliable as a tool to determine whether you should eliminate someone.

    • Scamp
      Posted October 12, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      I gather the importance of that scene was that nobody had really tried her method before. The fact that they send out these ‘evil’ people after her in the first place kinda indicates that they’re not really after a more calm method of crime prevention

    • Posted October 12, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

      I would think that they *know* that numbers can change, but if someone’s rating is that high, they are so broken that they are ready to do ANYTHING, like that woman visibly was, so the system simply doesn’t take the risk with them.

      Like in our world, even if there is a chance that a serial killer will eventually see the error of his ways, we won’t give them that chance at the cost of our safety, we lock them up and throw away the key.

      • Mr.RR
        Posted October 13, 2012 at 4:15 am | Permalink

        Timed events or event graded stuff like tests can cause people stress. The fact that if you slip up some it is gonna be noted. However this isn’t a high school paper or a race it is your life and once you go over that “failing” mark you’re toast.

        Oh and they specifically point out that the number can drop, but no one seems to cares. Yellow = stun, red = dead no second thought. I’m gonna love this show.

      • Noname
        Posted October 13, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

        They don’t throw away the key because the serial killer might do it again. The basis for administrating punishment in this world is: If you are found guilty of some crime you are punished accordingly.

        I suggest that you read on the law system of the modern world that you really seem to know little about. =P

      • Stef
        Posted October 13, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

        I think you’ve missed the point of the anime. You’re not supposed to agree with the “shoot first” attitude.

    • Stef
      Posted October 13, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      The thing seems to measure the emotional state rather than the psychological profile. Which explains why the rape victim was flagged too. She’s scared, disoriented, and probably angry at her tormentor, which makes her a potential hazard for the police. And we know they don’t need much more than the authorization to open fire…

  6. diz1776
    Posted October 19, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    Scamp if you don’t title your next entry as the The Karl Rove moment you have no sense of humor.

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