26 CommentsPsycho Pass / By Scamp /

Psycho Pass episode 17 – Over 200 juries

vlcsnap-2013-02-17-18h16m20s21After me going on endlessly last episode about how dangling the Sibyl reveal over us for the rest of the series would be suicidal and only lead to disappointment, I feel a little bit silly that they pulled the Sibyl reveal in literally the very next episode. In amongst the many theories I threw out, floating brains of people apprehended by Sibyl was one I did predict, as did a few other people in the comments. Although that’s because floating brains as computers is fairly standard in cyberpunk stories. I was a little let down too originally, because floating brains are  a bit too cliche and tacky at this stage. But once they got into their explanation, I was able to buy it.


I’ve mentioned before that morality is not a quantifiable thing. It’s simply decided by social constructs. Combine this together with the idea that we still really don’t understand an awful lot of the human brain and how each part corresponds to someone’s personality, and you realise that the existence of the Sibyl system is pretty far-fetched. Of course this is sci-fi and there’s always a bit of handwaving and proclamations of “BECAUSE SCIENCE”, but Psycho Pass decided to stop handwaving with Sibyl and give us a bit of an explanation.

Morality is decided by humans, so therefore only other humans can decide how morally aligned someone is. It sounds a bit silly when you put it as bluntly as that, but that happens to be a large part of what out legal system is built on. Juries are based on this idea that selection of regular old folks can tell how likely someone is to be guilty or not guilty. When you consider how shockingly thick most people on the planet are, this idea really does come across as absurd. A collection of people with no training or expertise can deliver judgement on a potential criminal?

vlcsnap-2013-02-17-18h15m45s164The idea of jury does have sound theory behind it, based upon the very basic idea that only other humans can judge each other. Sibyl just expands on that idea and improves on it. Instead of picking a random selection of people who could end up being 10 racists who send a man to the slammer because those blacks are all like that you know, we get over 200 people with wildly different personalities and outlooks on life. The people they bring in are the most intelligent and cross reference to fill any and every world view there is. Plus whenever they reveal to have a flaw in their system, they improve it and plug that hole with the very thing that revealed the flaw. It’s like how computing companies hire the hacker who hacks their own system.

So, as silly as the idea of a bunch of brains in jars might be as a visual representation of this system, I can totally buy it. The chief constable lady also works quite well as a representation of Sibyl actually talking to people. She’s just a shell which swaps in and out the people who make up Sibyl. In mythology, Sibyl was the name of crazy ladies who were said to be oracles delivering the words of the gods, so I’m guessing that’s where the name for Psycho Pass comes from. She is the voice of the ‘gods’ so to speak. Also, tying in with previous subjects the show talked about, immortality is touched upon with Sibyl. The machine body lives forever, but the brain does eventually die. From what they were talking about in this episode, I’m assuming the floating brains can live, if not forever, certainly for a very long time.

vlcsnap-2013-02-17-18h28m47s64The only problem here is that they asked Makishima to be part of Sibyl, and his outlook on life is directly opposite to what Sibyl represents. In many ways, Makishima isn’t much of a character. He is more a representative of ideals, all of which are near direct opposite to Sibyl. It’s a rather Gen Urabochi thing to do. The characters in Madoka Magica were also more representatives of ideals rather than people. Makishima represents self-determination to a fault. What’s interesting about that outlook is it’s left him a rather eerie sociopath, not flinching at killing people in the slightest. It really does seem like it’s all a game to him.

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  1. blackice85
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    So was anyone else momentarily cheering on the villain because he was beating the crap out of the chief lady? I guess just find the concept of Sibyl far more repulsive than a psycho like Makishima.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

      I don’t really cheer for either side. Makishima is too eerie and too much of a sociopath to cheer for. His brutal taking down of the police chief was difficult to watch, robot or not

  2. gravethestampede
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Makishima, can take down both Kogami and a Cyborg with relative ease, got knocked out by a 90 lb woman.

    • Posted February 18, 2013 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

      That helmet is really something, you know!

  3. Shikamaru
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    I’m totally cheering for Makishima, just like I was cheering Light while watching Death Note, Joker while watching Dark Knight and Jigsaw during Saw movies. Now please don’t have a shitty ending. This has serious anime of the year potential.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

      Really? You cheered for Light? I mean, however you get your entertainment, but if you thought Light was in the right in Death Note, you grabbed the totally wrong end of the stick in that one

      • w_t
        Posted February 19, 2013 at 2:14 am | Permalink

        He meant he’s cheering for the “wrong” side, what’s right is too mainstream

      • Shikamaru
        Posted February 19, 2013 at 8:38 am | Permalink

        Everybody pretty much knew after watching the first episode of Death Note that Light is going to die. And it was the right choice. The ending was perfect. But I still hoped that maybe Light somehow wins. It’s wrong to cheer the bad guys, but sometimes they are the best/most entertaining character in series. Light is a murderer/psychopath, but that doesn’t stop me from cheering him.
        The other reason is L. Everybody says that L is by far the best character in Death Note. I have read about it many times. I have also read your short opinion about him. I just always liked Light more.

  4. Rait
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    What kind of idiot would put an extremely dangerous criminal on a completely unguarded transport unbound? That was kind of weird.

    • Shikamaru
      Posted February 18, 2013 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

      You could say that Makishima didn’t have any other choice but to accept the Chief’s offer. Still pretty dumb move, but as long as it keeps Makishima alive I’m totally cool with it. And what was even more stupid, was the fact that Makishima threw a book, and that was enough to distract an ANDROID for few seconds. There is lot of little things that don’t really add up, but I don’t personally care about that. It’s mostly nitpicking, and I hate nitpicking.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

      She figured he would just accept, seeing as they were friends in the past and all

  5. Shynnt
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    I like the idea that Kogami and Makishima are the same in their intellect and perception of human nature. Yet they differ in such an interesting manner. Makishima has the potential become the top of the hierarchy, part of Sibyl. In contrast, Ko is condemned to the very bottom of the ladder by the system to be a latent irredeemable criminal.

    They are both individualistic in this conformist setting in their own way. Makishima can be interpreted as a champion of freedom and non-uniformity of sort, albeit in a twisted way. Kogami, on the other hand, acknowledges the flaws of the system. Yet he becomes part of Sibyl and strive to do what he believes is just. The idea of a justice system powered by criminals is terrifying indeed.

    I notice a pattern in Urobuchi’s work. It’s not dark just for the sake of being dark. One of his prominent themes is psychology, human nature at its basest, most barbaric and pure. I love how this episode has a good chunk of that. Though his downfall is that while he can pull together a good plot, his characters are usually dull as he sacrifices them to represent the ideals, as you said. Kagari is probably the liveliest but he was the first to go. At least there is still Masaoka but it doesn’t look like he’ll get any screentime soon. Not that I dislike his characters or anything, I just feel a very notable lack of charisma.

    At first I was indifferent to the episode. In retrospect, however, quite brilliant!

    • Scamp
      Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

      I hold out hope that Gen can produce characters like Rider and Waver in his other work too. That was his one time he created truly endearing characters with rounded personalities that go far beyond representations of ideals. I do like Akane quite a lot. She is the closest in this show to an actual person. But she’s still, at heart, a representation of a certain set of ideals.

      • Shynnt
        Posted February 19, 2013 at 12:33 am | Permalink

        Akane is okay. I would like her a lot more if she asks less questions and is a little bit more insightful. She is an naive amateur and all, but sometimes she should be able to figure stuffs out by herself. Detective work requires some good observation skills, though granted that Inspectors aren’t “detectives” per se.

        Rider and Waver are awesome, yes!

  6. Taka
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    What I don’t understand is that if this is how Sibyl works, how come it was fooled by the helmets, or how do people show up as asymptomatically criminal like Makishima. They mentioned something about how with most people they just use some kind of stress level test but you would think for the helmeted people it would just require one of the random people in Sibyl to pop in, say “what’s up? Oh that dude with the helmet is beating someone to death. Later bro.” and then their head would be blown off by the dominator. What evidence does Sibyl use because here they made it seem more visual and intuitive, but in most cases they made it seem more physiological. If it’s just a camera and a bunch of brains it shouldn’t be fooled by the helmets or by Makishima. If they perhaps didn’t give Makishima a psycho-pass reading because they believed that he could be incorporated into the hivemind (and that the incorporation was more important than the life of Akane’s friend) than how come every other person whom Makishima helped out didn’t get the same treatment? They all had their own peculiar way of doing things. Was it because they were ultimately acting selfishly and Makishima wasn’t? Some part of Sibyl is clearly automated but I can’t tell what it knows or how it knows.

    • alexvoda
      Posted February 18, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

      File this one under plot holes.
      There is no real counterargument to what you said.
      This is why I liked the option of Sybil being nothing, just a fabrication.
      The scanners would simply tell how guilty a person feels.
      People would judge themselves.
      And Makishima would be among those who thinks he is doing good. Not even thinking he is doing bad for a greater good cause but actually thinking he is doing good.

      • Shynnt
        Posted February 18, 2013 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

        Actually he is only in it for the thrill and he couldn’t care less about everyone else. He talked about being bothered by Sibyl in the place which he grew up, but his actions indicate otherwise. What “greater good” does killing others or manipulating others to kill accomplish?

    • Scamp
      Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

      You’ve got the totally wrong idea of what Sibyl does. They don’t take videos of people or anything like that. It’s just a brain scan. It’s just what constitutes a person who is likely to commit immoral actions is not quantifiable.

      • Taka
        Posted February 19, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

        If it is just a brain scan what constitutes the need for all these brains to maintain sentience? The way I perceive it Sibyl is primarily an automated brain scan that can be occasionally overridden by the human conciousness’ that govern it. The problem is I don’t see how those human consciousness could be fooled by those helmets. The scanners yes, but Sibyl must have a way to check in on the reading of a scanner otherwise there is no need for Sibyl itself because it isn’t actually doing anything except aggregating information which doesn’t require sentience.

  7. alexvoda
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    Psycho Pass is actually a very common cyberpunk story in a very common cyberpunk world with fairly standard cyberpunk tropes and plot twists executed really well.
    And maybe this was obvious since they revealed that Sybil is not infallible.

  8. Posted February 19, 2013 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    I still don’t get how Sybil System works, honestly.

    • Gravethrstampede
      Posted February 19, 2013 at 3:08 am | Permalink

      Just watch parts of the episode again, it’s made quite clear

  9. Inushinde
    Posted February 19, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    If there’s one thing that portraying characters as ideas instead of actual human beings is good for, it’s looking at what they represent from most points of view, and seeing how that’d apply to an actual person. The fact that both sides are headed by psychopaths with debatable intentions certainly makes things more interesting. Still, chalk me in the disappointed camp when it comes to Sibyl. I was certainly hoping for something a little more esoteric.

  10. Someone Else
    Posted February 19, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    If the brains represent different views of the world, then there should at least be possibility for conflicts between the brains… How come that never happens? They just conveniently put people with different personalities together acting as judges to lower beings? What would be their basis of their judgement? Why can’t they quantify immorality?

    Wow whenever you think hard of these so cliche concept it’s actually really broad

  11. Steve
    Posted February 19, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Some people like myself and Shikamaru just like to cheer for the bad guys, and not only because they are bad, thats not the point.Its mainly because they are unique and interesting and everytime they do something with that charisma you get that lively feeling something similar to what u described in your top30 death note review. You said you find it surpricing that people would cheer for Light, but it was not even a question of choice for me, i never saw L anything more then a unique rival whose purpose was too push Light to his limits.

  12. Sarif
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    Why no comments about the drop in art quality that started this episode and exploded in the next? The quality is so bad. No movement, bad angle to even hide animating lips. Sitting still talking for minutes. nothing like psycho pass up till now.

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