27 CommentsPsycho Pass / By Scamp /

Psycho Pass episode 20 – Stump speech

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Moe Akane practically doesn’t exist anymore. She’s too steely faced and serious to offer any prime cutesy photo ops. The only way we get that Akane is if we get a flashback to her time prior to joining the police force. That’s some good old character development for you.  Go from moe to no moe at all, the best kind of character development.

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One of the issues with blogging Psycho Pass at this stage of the show is it’s already done presenting all of its questions. Now is the stage where it provides its own views, which led to about half of this episode consisting of a big soapbox for the values of choosing your own path. It takes a bit of balls to actually lay bare your own thoughts, particularly since you’re basically revealing your political biases. Might sound a bit hyperbolic to talk about political views in our Japanese cartoons, but almost everything is political in some shape or form. ‘Sharing is Caring’ could be seen as creating a society of dependency rather that teaching people to fend for themselves. A rather right-wing view, but the point stands.

Some views are considered perfectly kosher and acceptable but different people react to those views much differently, often due to cultural differences. Bakuman going on about Men have to be Men and Those Smelly Women should stay out of Men’s Business doesn’t rankle as much in Japan with their notorious levels of sexism compared to Europe and America. On the other hand, Psycho Pass’s message of personal freedom might seem much more common sense to someone from America, but that’s because America values personal freedom to a fault. A country where large portions consider ‘socialism’ an evil word, universal healthcare is only starting its baby steps, and there’s a decent sized following of libertarianism that says personal freedom for all, repercussions be damned.

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The Sibyl system as presented here is a frightening one, specifically because it robs people of self-determination by accurately predicting what the results of their self-determination would be. I don’t think there’s many people out there who would want the Sibyl system in place. However that’s not to say there aren’t positives about Sibyl. Apart from the handful of outliers like Makishima, it’s truly fair in its analysis. Your position is based purely on innate ability. Nobody rises to positions of power due to nepotism, or because their parents were rich and could afford to send them to the best schools. Crime rates have no race/religion/gender factored in whatsoever. Things like affirmative action and positive discrimination exist because humanity has proven itself not to take each case on their merits.

I’m trying to tread lightly here because I’m dead in the middle of talking about politics, and nothing makes comment sections on the internet fall into utter stupidity and name calling than politics, with the possible exception of nerds complaining about internet memes the mainstream media have discovered. I’m not sure how far Psycho Pass goes with its “people should have the ability to fuck up” worldview, the logical conclusion of which is full blown libertarianism. On the flip side though is the future as presented by Psycho Pass, which is hardly much better. But in the same way that I might not fully agree with Bunny Drop’s views on parenting, Gundam 00′s views on terrorism, or Angel Cop’s views on the Jews, they’re all fascinating takes on their various topics that have broadened my ideas on their subjects too.

…well, perhaps not Angel Cop calling the Jews all evil. But the others definitely have.

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27 Comments

  1. Ramiel
    Posted March 12, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Hey Scamp, you happy now? You spent the whole last post complaining about them dropping SUPAH OATS out of nowhere. Well, its seems like the creators noticed your complaint and gave to an explanation to cool your jets.

    Just teasin; I’ll agree that they could have done a little better job of foreshadowing there, but Makishima’s explanation that most people in Sibyl society simply don’t question the source of their food is sufficient to patch the hole. Heck, here in modern society folks don’t pay much attention to their food either. People in the UK were unwittingly eating horse meat until someone brought it to their attention. Funny coincidence, huh? And we in the US rely on genetically modified everything.

    That aside, I really enjoyed the way this episode revisited the themes presented in the show thus far. Inner dialogues, especially with deceased characters, are often corny or hamfisted in anime, but the way it was executed here in this episode was very good. Akane revisits the conversations she had with characters in the past, but with a new perspective. I feel like it did a great job of showing how she had developed as a character.

    Akane remains one of my favorite parts of this show, and one of the best female lead characters we’ve had in a long time. She has both strength and fragility, provides a great focal point for the story, and she is easy to relate with. I hear a lot of people complain that Butch Gen can’t write good characters, but I think Akane definitely makes an exception to that.

    • Scamp
      Posted March 12, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      Interesting to bring up the horsemeat comparison. Or to go back further in time, the stories about how city kids moving to the countryside during the war and being utterly baffled at the sight of cows.

      Mind you, my issue wasn’t its plausibility, nor that other characters wouldn’t have known of it. It’s that they revealed that part of the world right in episode 19 as the crux to the villain’s final plan. They should have dropped hints to HYPER OATS before then.

      Agree with you 100% on Akane. She’s a big step up character-wise from the Madoka crew in that she’s relatable and human. Can’t quite say the same about the rest of the cast, but credit where credit is due on Akane

  2. Andmeuths
    Posted March 12, 2013 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Well, I’d like to think that most of the western anime fandom tend to lean left of center. Are there really non-Japanese anime fans with political views that lie further right than center-right? Not to mention that quite a few of your readers might not necessarily be from America, and naturally, are exposed to a different ideological axis in their local politics.

    “Psycho Pass is about personal freedom.”

    As the Japanese understand personal freedom, though Urobuchi probably leans towards the left. Of course, left in the Japanese context is distinctively different compared to being an American leftist.

    • Scamp
      Posted March 12, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      Piece of analytics for you: Roughly 45% of Cart Driver’s readerbase is in North America. Far and away the highest, but also not a majority or anything. Just in case you weren’t aware, I live in Ireland myself, although Ireland’s general stance is probably the closest to the American stance in Europe. Possibly because 99.99% of America is a direct descendant of an Irish immigrant =P

      I’m really interested in what the political makeup of anime fandom is, but I’m wary of asking people because it’s a touchy subject to bring up. It definitely skews left with age primarily being a factor. But there are definitely subsets. As for Japan, it’s kind of difficult to tell from our perspective. There’s a certain perception of 2chan being full of hyper conservatives racist neo-Nazis, but that’s probably just a tiny subset.

      • Magus
        Posted March 13, 2013 at 6:59 am | Permalink

        “Are there really non-Japanese anime fans with political views that lie further right than center-right?”

        *Waves.*

        And yeah, getting numbers on the political leanings of western anime fans would be neat.

  3. Triple_R
    Posted March 12, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    @Andmeuth S

    It’s a big more complex than left vs. right. Libertarians, for example, are typically fiscally conservative and socially liberal. In other words, they tend to lean “right” on fiscal issues and “left” on social issues. In short, they favor small government in general.

    In my experience, there are a fair number of libertarian anime fans. There are anime fans that believe in small government – On both fiscal and social issues.

    • Scamp
      Posted March 12, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      You’ve been spending too much time on reddit =P

      As I may have given away in this post, I think libertarianism is stupid, so I don’t want to get into that. But it’s definitely seeing a growing underground movement on the internet.

  4. ANON
    Posted March 12, 2013 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    And we are live! took me days to figure out everything but it was worth it, hope you don’t mind me posting this here.

    http://www.sporcle.com/games/Wakokokoo/anime-openings-quiz

    • Scamp
      Posted March 12, 2013 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

      23/51. Barely passed, if I’m allowed to count 40% as a pass rate

      • ANON
        Posted March 13, 2013 at 1:32 am | Permalink

        At least you got almost half of them, as for the original quiz i only got 15 out of 100.

        anyway, thanks for the inspiration to do a quiz like this! i learned a lot about ripping videos and changing mp3 bitrates :D

      • Magus
        Posted March 13, 2013 at 6:44 am | Permalink

        I got 14/51.
        I missed everything from later than 2006, got the show from 1989 right on my first guess despite never having heard its OP, and the only show I had seen that I missed was the third from last. Pretty proud of myself on all counts there!

      • Anca
        Posted March 16, 2013 at 10:45 am | Permalink

        26/51 ha.

        …well, okay, ‘mojackou’ was the result of a typo. And I had to try all Ali Project OP anime until I guessed Rozen Maiden.

        And I blame missing Rurouni Kenshin on my old 40MB episodes having the OP/ED cut out to reduce their size.

    • Gpower
      Posted March 13, 2013 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      I’m fairly certain that 4:40 to 4:54 is Kemono no Souja Erin not senkou no night raid

      Edit: Damn, it seems I’m wrong. Those 2 songs sounds so similar in some sections.

      • ANON
        Posted March 14, 2013 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

        If i really wanted everyone to be confused I could’ve put some megumi hayashibara and more ali project songs in there lol.

        but missing the third song from last.. it was hugely popular back then if i recall correctly, and i purposely included it there as a giveaway.

    • AG
      Posted March 13, 2013 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

      That love hina op was so familiar and gave me a sense of nostalgia but I couldn’t for the life of me remember the series. It’s been so long, man.

      Anyway, got a poor 9/51 and can’t think of anything intelligent to say about this episode so I’ll make a swift exit :p

      • Posted March 14, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

        You think that’s poor? Try my 7/51.

        At this rate I just have to stop watching anime and go live in a cave or something/ OTL

      • Posted March 14, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

        You think that’s poor? Try my 7/51.

        At this rate I just have to stop watching anime and go live in a cave or something. OTL

        Thought fushigi yugi’s OP was ranma 1/2. then came in ranma 1/2′s OP and i was grinning a stupid smile. Fuck me for not getting toradora though, and claim that I love it to bits. Also shaman king and rurouni kenshin too, but no “love to bits” part for shaman king, just nostalgia. liked katanagatari, but the songs aren’t that memorable.

        fuck me.

        EDIT: whoa double post.

    • Posted March 14, 2013 at 6:30 am | Permalink

      23/51. Damn these quizzes are addicting and nostalgic.

      • ANON
        Posted March 14, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

        lol. I like how there seems to be one song that nobody has gotten yet, and the highest score so far is at the 36-40 range.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted March 12, 2013 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Urobuchi is obviously a tree hugging leftist. I know this because people who like moé are always right. And for crying out loud, the man didn’t speak up when some elitist prick decided that the team working on Pyscho-pass was disallowed to even utter the word that embodies the will of the people. But they can’t hear the call from their ivory tower, no, so we will throw our vending machine bought stripped panties worn by teenage girls at them. And our cries for moé will shake the very foundations of their tower. Shake it! Until our dream of a giant eyed Akane with Nekomimi and a Nekoshippo comes to fruition.

  6. ZabiLegacy
    Posted March 12, 2013 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    The society of Psycho Pass is pretty much Plato’s The Republic

    • Scamp
      Posted March 12, 2013 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

      Yup, I’ve heard that idea floated before

  7. Ramiel
    Posted March 12, 2013 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    As long as we are getting political here; I’ve found it to be a very interesting coincidence that this show has been airing as the gun control debate is raging here in a America. Gun control advocates support the notion that defense of the people and fighting of crime should be left up to the Government, whereas those in favor of gun liberties believe the individual should have that power.

    Since you brought up self-determination earlier, I think the 2nd Amendment has a lot to do with self-determination. It gives each American the choice to defend themselves with lethal force, or in a more extreme case, rebel against their government. Even if they choose to use that gun to commit a crime, that is still a matter of personal choice.

    This is sort of my personal view, but the 2nd Amendment gives the individual power, and I think a lot of people want to hold onto that, because they feel that individual power is part of being an American; a free person. With that power taken away, people feel like they are more prey to the whims of their government and criminals alike. After all, what is more frightening, a wolf, or a wolf you know has had its teeth and claws removed?

    • Scamp
      Posted March 12, 2013 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

      Interesting way of framing it. Not quite how both sides are persuing that discussion, but certainly a part of it. Puts self-determination in a certain amount of perspective beyond the extremes of Sibyl.

  8. Haruna
    Posted March 13, 2013 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Right and left are weird concepts from the standpoint that liberal used to have a meaning that coincided more with libertarian but now liberal usually means progressive and progressive means approving of restrictions on personal behavior that is counter the public good. Being politically left in America right now might mean that you are collectivist and therefore not at all for personal freedoms. I can’t get behind that at all. Anyway, Michael Bloomberg would donate his brain to the Sibyl system if it meant he could tell people like Akane how many calories of hyper oats she is allocated every morning.

    Anyway, interesting post. I think the political is balanced well in Psycho Pass by the theory: postmodern, cyborg, etc. And I’m proud of my Akane for not being defeated by the sight of a bunch of criminally asymptomatic brains in fishtanks. I thought she’d be crushed but she’s come away stronger, more determined, and more aware of her role as one of the few people left with true free will – she could choose any path and she chose to be a detective. That’s one thing about Sibyl, it completely disempowers the individual by making all choices for them. But Akane chose her path. There’s real power to that.

  9. Ramiel
    Posted March 14, 2013 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    It’s pretty obvious that Gen is sending some political messages with this show: namely, in response to increasing regulation of Japanese society, which is already pretty rigid, by the Government. We’ve seen things like the Tokyo Manga Ban, and the Diet trying to restrict things that could “cause criminal thoughts”, and an increasingly zealous police force that does things like trying to hunt down male suspects just for talking to a schoolgirl or something. Certainly, these things could be justified in order to “maintain public order”, but they can also easily get out of hand.

    This show provokes some good critical thinking, and its interesting to see how opinions can diverge on the Sybil System, even on places like A Certain Autistical Image Board. I have to commend Butch Gen for his ability to insert political/social/cultural commentary into his works, when often times anime these days distances itself from real life issues.

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