The new face of Psycho Pass moe.
I can’t say I was expecting this sort of ending to Psycho Pass. Mainly because I was expecting the story to…you know, actually end. Instead we get this weird downer non-ending where the main threat is dealt with but nothing is ultimately resolved and the whole cycle resets.
If I was cynical, I’d say the reason we had this ending was because Butch Gen created this scenario but then couldn’t come up with a good way to solve the Sibyl problem. Evidently we’re not supposed to side with the Sibyl system and what it does for society, but neither were we supposed to side with Makishima. His method of dealing with Sibyl was to simply destroy it and watch society collapse as a result. Letting society implode and have carnage on the streets is hardly an effective way to deal with the situation, but Makishima didn’t care about that. Heck, he wanted to see people at each other’s throats.
But the story ends with him being killed and his vigilante movement ending with him. He ultimately achieved nothing, except seed some distrust towards helmets. Sibyl gained nothing because they couldn’t recruit him, but also lost nothing because he was killed. On the one hand, it’s fitting of its genre to end with nobody being capable of subverting the system. It goes in line with 1984 and Bladerunner and all that, where the system wins and the horrible implications of the status quo being restored remains solely in the eyes of the viewer. But gosh does it ever leave the series on a downer note.
Actually, the way the series left off did quite heavily imply that the system will eventually collapse, the key here being Akane. She’s still alive for a start. She wants to take down the system, but her desire to keep law intact and protect the people means she can’t take down Sibyl now, at least not with the tactics Makishima wanted to employ. The system can’t read her psycho pass properly, as the show kind of hinted at before. If the system can’t read her, then they won’t know exactly when it is Akane can come up with a way to take down Sibyl. Plus she’s in the rather important position of leading the police force, which effectively act as the eyes of Sibyl. But since Akane has a different agenda to Sibyl, she’ll teach new recruits her ways of thinking and eventually the later generation would take down Sibyl.
I don’t normally say this once a series ends, but I would be 100% behind a sequel. Follow the story of the new recruit and how she learns under Akane’s tutelage. The sales for Psycho Pass were pretty good, albeit I’m not sure if they warrant immediate sequel demands. Plus the creation of a sequel rests solely on when Butch Gen comes up with a way to take down Sibyl himself, if he even plans to. He’ll wake up in the middle of the night yelling “I’VE GOT IT” and boom we’re 12,000 years in the future with the sequel PSYCHO SSAP!
Looking back at Psycho Pass, it’s strengths lay in areas I didn’t really expect. Namely the character development of Akane and Ginoza, neither of whom I expected anything from after the first episode. For a character who essentially acts as a self-insert, Akane is remarkably well realised and her development is brilliantly paced and fantastically well realised. On the other hand, the writing wasn’t always up to scratch. Plot twists and world revelations came from nowhere and sometimes the reasoning to get characters in place was fairly arbitrary and stretched disbelief a bit too far. While the sci-fi had depth and complexity, it had a tendency to crumble if you leant on it too hard and questioned things like “why is there no camera on the dominator anyway”?
That said, I don’t feel too bad about the writing crumbling under its own weight every now and then, because it was still really interesting. It did what hard sci-fi should do and made me question aspects of society and how technology would affect it. This was angry sci-fi with an agenda, much like Un-Go from a year ago. Unlike Un-Go though, Psycho Pass had a much firmer hold of where it wanted its story to go and was far more entertaining and a better anime as a result. Considering how much I liked Un-Go, that’s high praise.
I enjoyed Psycho Pass a lot, even with it fluffing its lines occasionally. It’s very rote-cyberpunk, but still an excellent example of that genre. Even though the 80’s and 90’s are full of cyberpunk with dark foggy super cities set permanently in night time, most of them are utter rubbish that spend more time jerking off to adolescent power fantasies. The only real exception to that seemed to be Masamune Shirow stuff. So the inclusion of Psycho Pass, a cyberpunk with actual depth and complexity with flawed characters who grow and development, to that list is more than welcome. Just remember: Psycho Pas is not moe.