Anime Review: Psycho-Pass


Iftikhar Mahmud


*Enter stand-off scene you’ll be waiting for right after you start the anime*

 

“Justice is subject to dispute; might is easily recognised and not disputed, so we cannot give might to justice.” 

— Criminal Mastermind, Makishima Shogo (quoting Blaise Pascal).

“I have long since learned, as a measure of elementary hygiene, to be on guard when anyone quotes Pascal.” 

— CID Enforcer, Shinya Kogami (quoting José Ortega y Gasset in reply).

 

The cerebral anime, which arguably harbours one of the most thought-provoking plots of all time in Japanese animation, is none other than Gen Urobuchi’s masterpiece Psycho-Pass. Throughout the progression of the series, some very heavy questions are presented before the viewers.
Questions like: Should we as humans, aim for a perfect utopia through our billions of technological advancements? What is the metric to judge an essentially perfect system? And finally, the age-old question — is it possible for a computer to judge and determine what it is to be human and humanity? If so, should it be given that power?

We are introduced to many more philosophical and moral dichotomies as we indulge ourselves in this methodical sci-fi masterpiece.

Welcome to the cyberpunk world of Psycho-Pass in the year 2112, where the Sibyl System determines everything about you, from your job to the likelihood that you’ll commit a crime, all by constantly scanning your brain and keeping you under surveillance. This omniscient, all-encompassing reading of your entire essence is called your Psycho-Pass, and it’s what the Sibyl System uses to make all its decisions regarding you.

You’ll be put into a sector where you can contribute the most to society as the System deems fit. And you should be happy with all the happiness imposed upon you.

Crime still continues but don’t worry, you are always protected by the Criminal Investigation Department or CID. Law is not what the CID follows, they follow the system’s directions and instead of police dogs, they use Enforcers — would-be criminals under their control, to dig out criminals at large.

That’s right. “Would be” — people who would potentially perpetrate crimes, according to the System. The ultra-advanced Sibyl System makes decisions preemptively on what actions a person is most likely to take in the future. Even while they are infants, it scans to find out if they might have a chance to do something illegal and prosecutes them beforehand. It is also wary of what the factors are that might affect the mental rate of the citizens, like people of higher Psycho-Pass levels, any form of expression like music, writing, and painting that might portray something the system doesn’t prefer — meaning a lot of those are banned. Furthermore, there is encroachment on the media as the System blocks the sources of news if it means that people’s stress levels stay in control due to them not knowing certain information. For their own good.

This seemingly perfect utopia, in a very literal sense, seems like a firsthand example of an Orwellian dystopia, doesn’t it? What makes it even harder to accept is that this wasn’t the result of a failure, but rather exponential scientific advancement.

In this world without free will, watch as the characters, through their strides, try to find the meaning of choice, untangle the mysteries of the Sibyl System, and struggle for ideological dominance.

Filled with intellectualism, thrill, and action, test the value of free will in a society where it is rendered meaningless. You’ll be guaranteed to love this series with its outstanding art style, soundtracks, and one hell of a plot.

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