Psycho-Pass: The Art of the Logical Extreme

Continuing to watch Psycho Pass for the first time, I’ll say again, yes, it’s not 2012, it’s 2016, I’m getting around to all the classic anime, the latest episodes I have seen, Sweet Poison and The Town Where Sulfur Falls, hammer back into me the thoughts I’d had when first watching this, about how everything in the show is set up to identify with the perfect society but naturally falls into the trap of becoming a dystopia through the events in these episodes. For the rest of this article I will be including spoilers up to the point at which those episodes aired, so look away if you have not gotten this far.

I was utterly gripped throughout these two, even more so than previously. The shock at the end of the first half of the show was still resonating with me and I had no idea how they were going to top that. I still don’t think they have, but this brings the show back to where it plays its strongest, using the futuristic society as a comment on our own society. You could see this from the first episode with the use of the ever so patronising ‘kawaii’ police drones, taking current Japanese practices of using cute images as a way of influencing power projection, familiarity and empathy for public services to a logical extreme. And that is what this show excels at, taking recognisable situations that 100 years later, seem extreme because of the reactions of the populace of Psycho Pass City. It’s normal to them.

Early on, we had Nobody Knows Your Mask, where we saw where the logical extreme of current internet celebrities would go in a Psycho Pass world, virtual reality hangouts where crowds hung on the words of a few people chosen almost at random, only the vaguest of indications given as to why they are popular people on this world’s version of the net. And in the latest episodes I’ve watched, Makishima’s exploits with the helmets reveal the true horrors behind the perfect society that Sibyl created, as people who have forgotten what crime looks like stand unmoving and confused as a man with a normal Psycho Pass beats, rapes and murders a woman in front of their eyes. Incidentally, this is also a logical extreme of the bystander effect, except amplified with story sci-fi weirdness. The class inequality that follows is also very amplified up to a logical extreme, this time enabled by the Sibyl System’s habit of telling someone their potential from the off to ensure everyone gets into a job they are suited for. While this seems like the perfect solution to the stress that people go through trying and failing to reach something they cannot achieve, to those who have been told that they are essentially worthless, it builds up resentment that they have to suppress on a subconscious level to still take part in this society. With the helmets offering them a way out, this anger comes flooding out in a violent fashion and causes chaos all over the city.

And all so Makishima can put the next part of his plan into action. He is an intriguing villain, particularly with all the great literary references that he brings up that this situation is similar to, something I think I will comment on when I do finish this, I can’t wait to see where the final episodes will take this.


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