“…people have found a way to analyse a person’s mind. The intelligence of science finally uncovered the secret of our souls and our society has changed drastically because of it. The problem is, free will has been stripped from the equation and, if man is not judged by their choices, then how are we really deciding who is good and who is evil?”
Anime Reporter tip-toes carefully in the darkness, trying desperately not to think of anything crazy, because they’ll know if I do, and, brings you the world of Psycho Pass, the Complete Series (eps 1-22).
Psycho Pass is set in the year 2113, when violent crime is virtually unheard of, thanks to Sybil. What’s that? You don’t know about Sybil? Well, Sybil is the delightful computerised watchdog that scans the minds of all citizens and determines their crime coefficient. Crime coefficients represent the likelihood of any individual going violently crazy and basically serve as an early-alert system for psychopaths. So, if you feel your thoughts going a murky green-yellow (for added fun and convenience, your mental state is represented by both a number and colour), Sybil should let you know that it’s time to get yourself some help and you can be guided back to normalcy.
Unfortunately, not everyone walks past one of Sybil’s conveniently located security scanners in time and let themselves get into violently berserk states. That’s when the police cruise over with their Dominators, powerful guns which scan a target and tranquilise or liquefy them based on their threat level and refuse to fire if a target is deemed acceptable. Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “But wait a minute, if the police see someone get blown to bits by their own hands, that’s probably going to traumatise them a little. Isn’t Sybil just making its own police into criminals by its own standards?” Now you’re thinking “How did he know what I was thinking?”, but to answer your first thought, Sybil has come up with a rather elegant solution; police officers who are already legally insane! That’s right, when things start to get just too dicey for regular cops, it’s time to call in the Enforcers, an effective SWAT team who have already been pushed past the brink of sanity. These unhinged individuals are constantly living with a blade to their throats, knowing that if they break the rules, they’ll be carted off to jail or, if appropriate, executed on the spot.
All seems pretty straight forward when rookie cop Akane Tsunemori (voiced by Guilty Crown’s and Steins;Gate’s Kana Hanazawa in Japanese and Kate Oxley in English) joins the force until a series of bizarre deaths start pointing to someone who’s getting away with murder right under Sybil’s watchful eyes. In a world where most people have grown up seeing people arrested or executed before they reach the capacity for murder or violence, a serial killing sociopath is an entirely alien concept.
This series is brutal. Brutal and dark and intense and brutal again. It’s Minority Report meets Demolition Man, 1984 meets I, Robot and Hannibal meets Dexter and yet it’s absolutely none of these things at all. It’s something altogether original and, while there are certainly sci-fi elements at play, it really packs a punch through its use of psychological discomfort. This series isn’t a light, laugh-a-minute experience, but it is seriously gripping television.
From the anonymity of online living to the censorship of artistic thought and expression, Psycho Pass presents us with a world not a million miles from our own with the big exception that people’s thoughts are very literally being policed. If a citizen sets foot outside their door, they have to accept the reality that one really bad experience or disturbing thought could leave them forever branded as scum in the eyes of the law.
Psycho Pass offers wonderfully graphic violence and some seriously tense drama into a police series setting. Character portrayals are evocative and endearing, though, with the majority of people willing to let the Sybil system plot out their lives for them, it’s invariably the psychotic Enforcers who seem to have any real elements of freedom or personality. While Psycho Pass has earned itself an age rating of 15 for graphic violence, its tension and disturbing peek at the human mind may be a bit much for some minors.
If you only want to watch one intense psychological thriller series this year, I’d highly recommend pushing Psycho Pass to the front of the queue.
Psycho Pass, the complete first series is available on DVD and Bluray from September 1st 2014 from Manga Entertainment UK. For more info, check out the Manga UK website.
Psychotic villains: 9
Story development: 8.5
89% – “Holy Crap!” – Psycho Pass presents the rotting underbelly of utopian living and reminds us that there’s little more disturbing than the human mind. Watch this show, but do it with the lights on.