Psycho Pass is one of the, if not just the, best psychological thriller series I’ve seen. Not only that, but it does EXCEEDINGLY well in getting across that feeling of uncertainty, making the viewer ask themselves what really is the right thing? The wrong thing? Who is truly the bad guy? Who is truly the good guy? These are all things that, even at the end, you won’t get an answer for – they are questions for YOU to answer yourself and for the cast to decide for themselves as well.
This WILL contain spoilers – however I will *NOTE* them, so feel free to read and just watch out for those; I will also write them in a slightly different color. If you comment, please make it clear if you’re posting any spoilers so that people can know!
The art in this series is extremely crisp and fluid, the overall quality never really drops either. There is one episode that was straight up said to be rushed by the producer himself – who also said that, without a doubt, will be updated to the same quality as the rest on the DVD/BD. That singular episode aside (which, honestly, wasn’t all that horrible in comparison to average anime anyway) the series was just outstanding in the visuals and consistently top notch in terms of quality. The style of the setting and all that was totally fitting and immersive as well, it wasn’t too dark, grungy, or futuristic, it felt very natural and believable while also making you feel a bit closed in and oppressed, which plays towards the idea of a fully controlled life pretty well. It’s dark – yet at the same time very vibrant. In terms of animation, this has possibly the best hand to hand fight scene in anime, it was extremely fluid and realistic, not to mention totally exciting.
The character art was probably the best though, ranging from some generic designs to some very unique ones: Kogami being the former yet pulling it off without it looking bad or overdone – and Akane very much being the latter. That mushroom haircut isn’t exactly something I’ve seen before, nor what you’d call popular at all, yet it’s very cute on her, not to mention her eyes. There is a LOT of CG in this too, yet it never looks out of place or bad and much of the time isn’t even noticeably different from the rest – which is good given how popular it’s become. Thankfully Gonzo didn’t make this or I’d have to say the exact opposite.
Akane’s eyes are also incredible all on their own and, along with her hair, very much her defining feature. They are always so fucking dopey and derpy, which is just so much fun to see them in different situations. Even so, she’s very expressive, and the fact her eyes are so different from most anime and even from almost every character in the show just makes her that much cuter. On top of all that, I believe this was purposefully done to always keep the viewer remembering she’s very much a young cute girl in a terribly fucked up job – remember, she’s only 20. It keeps you from just seeing her like Yayoi, who seems more cut off and uncaring about what goes on, maintaining that childlike image that is such a big part of Akane, especially early on. Plus, her eyes while being so derpy and huge, are actually somehow better suited to show her emotions than normal ones would be, at least I think so.
The OST itself is very good and very fitting for the show; however what stands out the most are the openings and endings. The endings are by EGOIST which is a ‘fake’ band that’s actually just SUPERCELL with a specific vocalist, and they are really nice on the ears. The second ending is extremely fitting, and the lyrics are actually really nice, but the overall feel of the song (a bit somber and slow) after some episode of crazy shit really helps keep the pacing well, calming you down between episodes. This particular ending also has a shit ton of really cute images of Akane, so I loved watching it. The openings I loved possibly even more, including the videos for them. The first one I didn’t like at first, a little too screamy for me, but it quickly grew on me, and I always found the actual video to make me think about what’s to come. It always made me feel really in the mood for the show. The second OP I just fell in love with though, and still totally obsessively listen to the song and rewatch it pretty often. It’s just too good.
The second OP’s song is fucking awesome and the video with it is cool as shit, I genuinely get goosebumps sometimes when going back and watching it again, let alone the first time I saw it.
*Spoilers*One thing I noticed that seems easy to miss in the second OP is that I’m pretty sure Makishima is actually walking in the same direction as them during the part with the fence (seen only by his shoes and pants in the front of the screen) – while Kogami is the ONLY one walking the opposite direction, which could imply a lot of things, and most likely that the entire team really does agree with Makishima in that Sibyl is spiteful existence (the fence showing they are still different though in how they go about dealing with it, which is why he is on the opposite side of it), but just like him are letting it (though not directly in his case) really lead them, while Kogami says fuck the system even more loudly than Makishima. It might not be him though, but I always thought it was.*end spoilers*
We all know this is my favorite part to write in reviews so here we go! Actually, a quick note beforehand that applies to the entire cast – Urobuchi is known for this in a lot of his work, but he really outdid himself here. The characters are extremely “real”, their thoughts, motivations, actions, it’s all really well done in a believable way – nothing feels forced or ‘anime’, it all feels very natural like the characters are really themselves and really going through what they do. This makes them a lot easier to connect with because they feel human rather than like an anime character. This overall really made this cast shine, even the less important characters. If anything, that feeling is what makes the show so conflicting to the viewer in terms of right and wrong, good and bad, because it’s so realistically done that, just like in real life, there is no such thing as objectively right or wrong.
Akane Tsunemori – not only is she my favorite character in the series (if you somehow didn’t notice that by now), she’s by far one of my favorite anime characters ever. She’s EXTREMELY well written and complex, and never once steps out of what her character would believably think, say, or do. She’s extremely cute, voiced by the wonderful HanaKana and is just overall a really awesome character. She is developed flawlessly from start to finish, never once stepping out of what would be believable for the character, yet always questioning herself, maturing, and becoming one of the most well written and developed characters in anime in the process. She starts out in a way you expect her to be the generic noobie “I don’t like this!” character, you know, the type who gets thrown on the police force then freaks out when they do something she doesn’t agree with – which is exactly how she is but ONLY in episode 1. She learns from her mistakes, she learns from her experience, and she gets rid of that naive stupid little girl act almost immediately, just like someone would in real life upon entering the real world; remember, she’s only 20. I was very pleasantly surprised when I went in expecting her to be a side character and found that she was the very main focus and lead character of the show. I was always happy to see her, even during the fucked up parts of the show.
Aside that, not only do I like her, but I agree with almost everything she believes in, so I could really relate – while funnily enough my brother was the exact opposite, no surprise though.
Kogami Shinya – At first he felt a little too ‘im hardcore look at me’ generic, but just like Akane his character really ended up developing into something much more ‘real’ and complex than that. He always is a bit hardcore, but he’s got reasons for it that make sense, his entire character has reasons for everything he does, the way he acts, it’s all backed up very well over time and starts making sense. The same can be said for the whole cast, actually. Overall, Kogami is a huge badass though, and definitely one of the best characters in the show. He stops at nothing to follow his beliefs and deal out justice as he sees fit. He’s a rebel, but one with logic rather than just an anarchist mindset, plus nothing matters to him but his own issues – he isn’t working for the system or against it, he’s working for himself to achieve his own goals. Any scene he was in was cool as shit.
Ginoza Nobuchika – Gino, as they call him, had the biggest problems in terms of coming off like a piece of shit originally. However, unsurprisingly by now he goes from being a total unlikeable douche to being one of the best and easiest (aside Akane) to worry about characters in the show. He’s incredibly human in how he feels and thinks and his overall story was one of the most meaningful ones in the show.
Tomomi Masaoka, Kagari Shuusei, Yayoi Kunizuka, and Shion Karanomori – Bunching them all together to get through them fast! Masaoka is an awesome character, from the very beginning he already is likeable, having that respectable experienced air about him, while treating Akane very kindly and helping her grow into a fine detective. He’s an old man who isn’t used to this ‘new world’ of crazy technology but still does everything he can and takes care of his teammates. Kagari is a very likeable character who has it the worst off in terms of why he became an Enforcer. He’s always playing video games and shit, and at first he’s kind of a dick, but he grows on you and he’s got his reasons for being that way at first. He’s the ‘fun’ laid back guy of the group as you can see in the pic just above. Yayoi and Shion are lesbians – no, seriously, it’s canon. They even almost get caught fucking early on in the show by Akane. Shion is voiced by the lovely Miyuki Sawashiro, so I liked her, Yayoi was okay but always borderline ‘that emotionless kuudere’. She does show her personality often enough though, it’s just that she purposefully makes herself seem like an emotionless doll a lot of the time because she doesn’t want to get attached to anybody too deeply for her own sake.
Shogo Makishima – The main antagonist of the story – or maybe the main hero? Very well done character that really pushes the viewer to question their own beliefs and morals, let alone the rest of the cast to do the same.
The lil police robits – MOE~ also they had their cool moments; smashing through walls and shit like badasses, breakin doors down like nobody’s business, patrollin the streets n shit.
The Story + Ending:
I already went over it at the very beginning, but this is a series that is legitimately deep (rather than DEEPshit) and really makes you think. Every aspect of it was done, both in writing and in how it was directed within the show, exceedingly well and always with purpose. There’s no real bullshit just to kill time, there is always progression of the plot and character building going on. One thing I really loved was, again like I said already, the fact that even as the viewer you will CONSTANTLY be being conflicted in how you feel about this or that, or what this character is doing or not doing, and things like that. Don’t worry though, it’s not just good because it plays with the audience well – the story itself is very interesting all on it’s own and the mysterious and suspenseful feeling throughout is great.
Aside that though, this show delivers on so many levels when it comes to the psychological thriller aspect. I was very literally on the edge of my seat leaning in towards the monitor because I was just so stuck in suspense of what was going to happen several times, not only that, but one time I was actually having a bit of a nervous sweat *spoiler*(eleven if you’re curious)*end spoiler* because the situation was just so goddamn well done that you were freaking out along with the characters involved, scared of what might happen at any second in this fucked up scenario and what it’ll do to the cast. Feeling like you yourself are just so fucking helpless and there in the scene with them. It was just incredibly well done and this is one of the main reasons I really love this show, no other anime has had me that immersed in it, not a single one.
An aspect I’d just like to quickly put a note on is the Dominators, the guns that act as the eyes of the Sibyl System. These things are pretty awesome but also pretty shitty; but they are very realistic in terms of where law enforcement is hoping to get in the future. A gun that 1. can’t be used against innocent people (which also means no mistakes, which do happen) but more importantly 2. can take out a criminal without wasting time on a court hearing and all that. If someone is a criminal it decides to kill them or send them to therapy right on the spot, nobody gets to complain or think about it – the gun does it for you. I always felt “Justice” is too light in the modern world, but this gun shits on that concept by saying “oh, he’s a rapist? WELP, TIME FOR HIM TO EXPLODE!”. I really loved this aspect of their idea of future law enforcement because, to me, this is a great idea – while at the same time it shows what a fucked up world the show takes place in. Your life is decided every step of the way by the system, and if it decides you MIGHT be likely to cause a crime in your lifetime, it will fucking kill you.
One thing I see a lot of people bitch about is the ending – saying it gave no closure and left too many aspects hanging, and I entirely disagree and feel these people just missed the point.
*spoilers* The entire series is questioning both the characters and the viewer, but the show itself is about Akane; whom at the end sticks entirely to her character. The fact that Akane doesn’t end up destroying the Sibyl System goes right back to the entire person she’s developed into throughout the show and was at the start. She believes in order over chaos; even if that order might be making people more like the living dead than the living. The unarguable fact of Sibyl is that it DOES factually give the “greatest amount of happiness to the greatest amount of people in history”. This alone makes it a system you can’t just destroy because you disagree with it on a personal level; it’s very much a necessary evil. Makishima was not right or wrong in his ideals and views of how the country should be run, and the Sibyl System is not right or wrong in it’s ideals or views of how the country should be run. The only difference, back to my first part of this post, is YOU and how YOU feel about them.
The show’s conclusion is a conclusion for the main character – Akane, who sticks with her beliefs stubbornly, but also has no choice BUT to stick to them because she can’t think up a better way for people to live than one that genuinely makes the most people happy. It’s a problem of personal ethics, personal morals, and personal views. Akane is not a self-insert, she is her own character that’s extremely complex and developed since the very beginning of the show, and the ending is extremely fitting of who she is and the only believable ending with her being the lead. If she had destroyed Sibyl, she would at the same time be destroying the character they developed her into since episode 1. It would be unbelievable and entirely out of character. I mean there is literally an entire monologue by Akane about how law exists to be protected, not to protect us, and that she’ll fill the role of protector no matter what it takes – and the ending? She simply does just that. She even OUTRIGHT DECIDES that even though she hates the Sibyl System with all her being, she will do ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING to protect it. Not just ‘okay you can keep doing this’ but she literally decides “I will protect this no matter what”, putting aside all of her personal beliefs for the simple fact of it being right for the ‘greater good’ for the time being.
As for other ‘loose ends’ I see Kogami mentioned a lot – he gets plenty of closure, shown obviously on a boat, so he’s either fled the country (remember, Sibyl only exists in Japan) or is hiding out where the system won’t catch him as easily. And sorry, but if you’re upset over there being no romance between him and Akane – that’s just you being upset the show didn’t pander to your OTP shipping. That is NOT a loose end, that is NOT a bad or incomplete conclusion, because that is never something remotely even implied in the show unless you ship them and turn nothing into ‘something’. There are no hints, let alone ones worth calling a ‘loose end’ whatsoever of either of them romantically wanting the other. If anything, the show showcases just how much respect and admiration Akane has for Kogami – while entirely never hinting at love or lust. Hell, she even stares at his hilariously chiseled abs for a full minute once – without any sort of blush or awkwardness, which shows she was purely curious or surprised rather than “checking him out”. She sees him as extremely respectable, as her mentor (alongside Masaoka), admirable, and her very important comrade and friend; but there’s zero canonical hints at romantic feelings from either of them. So never claim the show had a poor conclusion with that as the reason.
Kind of extra note for people who have finished it because this goes by easily missed for almost everyone *spoilers still!* The character that is introduced in the final scenes, mimicking the situation from the first episode but is the noobie this time while Akane is the one there instead of Gino is actually the girl from the Oryou Rikako arc. She’s the student who is crying while Yayoi comforts her, the friend of the other girls that ended up killed. She joins the MWPSB because of this story arc and this is the only time after that you see her.*end spoilers*
The ending has plenty of closure and ties up all the loose ends for the story and every character. There is nothing but your own personal beliefs standing in the way of understanding that. But that in itself is what makes it SUCH a great ending. It’s not open-ended, it’s not “up to you to decide” – it’s given closure, but the conclusion is one that many viewers disagree with and thus claim it’s “open ended” or weak when it’s quite the opposite. It’s so strong that people legitimately were so upset by it they claimed it was unbelievable, when if you actually watched the show you’d see this is the MOST believable ending imaginable for the show and this cast. Ending it any other way would have trampled all over the characters and their beliefs, leaving the show with a stupid mess of unbelievable events with characters acting completely out of character. It would have ruined the show.
It was an expertly crafted and played out conclusion to the story and cast and really solidified my love for the series. It didn’t bother worrying about upsetting fans, it just treated it like the real situation would be treated by the characters involved – not by the audience.
This is a show I would say, without hesitation, is a must see – especially if you want a show that makes you think, has great character development, and is definitely a mature series for mature viewers like yourself. The characters, the writing, the music, the direction – it’s all fucking top notch. This is one of my favorite shows I’ve seen in a very long time and is easily in my top 10. The point is this show is great.
10/10 in every aspect from start to finish. I very highly recommend it. Fair warning though, the show does have some graphic stuff!
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I think the show had one or two problems – most noticeably the lack of much character development (or even just plain screen time) for some of the side-characters like Kagari and Yayoi – but on the whole I agree that it was a really solid and enjoyable watch. Definitely the stand-out of its season.
Yeah, I would have enjoyed a little more time spent on the side members of the team, but they had a lot of the main story to cover so they got pushed to the side. Kagari especially who has no focus whatsoever, the only time we learn about him at all is in passing during that meal with Akane and just from his general way of being. I guess with his backstory there’s not much to say though, given he’s been basically imprisoned since he was 5 years old. Then there’s Shion who we just know jack shit about at all aside that she’s a lesbian. At least Yayoi had her own episode though.
this is one anime that i plan to watch… sometime soon. everyone seems to praise it.
It’s definitely worth the time! It’s one of my favorites I think, possibly top 10 or so.
While I can agree that the show definitely succeeds at a fundamental level (at actually being deep rather than faking it), my one – and biggest – critique of the show was all the pretentious dialogue. There’s a lot of philosophically-heavy dialogue and name-dropping that is used, in my opinion unnecessarily, to explicitly state the conflict, rather than letting the viewers puzzle over it themselves. While this might be said to appeal to the majority of viewers who don’t want to brood on aspects of an episode for hours or something, it also seems a little bit heavy-handed.
At the end of the day though, you’re one of the only reviewers I’ve seen whose really spent a good deal emphasizing this series’ strong points rather than attacking all of its weak ones, which is always a cool thing to come across.
I’d like to say it was done that way to get across the idea that the two who mostly did it (Makishima and Kogami) were breaking the laws by reading material that was censored by Sybil (as another way of showing they don’t give a shit about the system for the most part) – but I dunno. Urobuchi and the rest of the writing staff trying a bit too hard to be intellectual is pretty likely. I definitely noticed it as well – especially during the real version of the scene we see at the start of episode 1. Kogami and Makishima just kept throwing pretentious shit back and forth – and again during another Makishima scene. Actually, because it was almost always with Makishima or just him doing it, I felt like it was supposed to be a character trait of his.
So, I’m a little conflicted. It seemed to me while watching, and thinking back now, like it was done on purpose because that’s the kind of person Makishima is (and Kogami is obsessed with him, so him sometimes doing it could just be signifying how close they are as people), but at the same time it feels like it could easily just have been sloppy writing for a few lines from time to time.
It didn’t really bother me though, kinda happened then I entirely forgot about it. But this was definitely a flaw and, even if it was on purpose some of the time, there were times it clearly didn’t need to be there.
Yeah, I kind of always felt it was just Makishima’s character trait. That he himself was pretty pretentious. And it makes sense, only someone with a vast overestimation of his own intellect would be motivated by fucking Gulliver’s Travels to be a terrorist. I actually kind of liked that aspect, because it made it so he had a good point but was still pretty much full of shit.