Anime

Psycho Pass: Review (Literary References everywhere)

Having just finished Psycho Pass, I’m going to do one more post on it, focusing on my enjoyment of the series as a whole and also a look at the references it made. Let’s start at how the conclusion made me feel. First off, it will probably be a while before, if ever, I see the sequel, I tend to take ages with following up, I watched Bakemonogatari over a month ago and haven’t made a move on Nise yet, I watched Bleach season 1 for the first time even earlier this year and haven’t gone any further, and I raced through and loved season 1 of Shokugeki, haven’t even attempted season 2 yet. And also I’ve heard Psycho Pass’ sequel cannot compare to this.

Which does not surprise me because in all honesty, what carried this show to a level where I really enjoyed it was, in the end, Makishima. He was an almost inhuman villain, but also a perfect one. Lacking any sort of fear at the end, he would, if anime was more mainstream, go down as a classic villain, because he shows many similar qualities with other classic villains, existing as a way to force through the other viewpoint, in this case, how the perfect society where everyone is assigned according to their ability, has robbed everyone of their uniqueness because they no longer need to strive to achieve what they could be capable of. As Kogami stands to shoot him in the dying light, Makishima also becomes an intensely tragic figure, accepting his failure and his now inability to fight back against the Sibyl System any further.

Makishima’s love of literary allusions also added to his appeal. From bringing up Philip K.Dick and Orwell to meta-discuss the types of dystopia that the setting was showing signs of, to quoting philosophy from the likes of Pascal and Ortega in verbal matches with Kogami, it adds to the grandness of his character. As a lover of history, the older an authored work is, the more mileage you can get from launching a relevant pithy quote into the action. It’s the sort of thing that gives me chills. I think my favourite feeling of that sort was the end of the cold open of episode 21, when Makishima quotes from the parable of the wheat and the tares, absurdly appropriate given the situation and in doing so, calling upon a grand tradition of a story that is millennia-old. My own familiarity with biblical stories helps that as well, I know them more than many philosophers. A character so based in calling on the traditions of the past to aid this work is a literary gimmick that makes this series so awesome for me.

Akane also impressed me. Far from the weak audience surrogate I initially assumed she might be, she carried the day throughout most of the climax, only failing to capture Makishima, because the callback to Kogami against Makishima needed to happen. Tsunemori now seems like the confident leader of the protoganists and it’s a role she naturally grew into, the traumas she went through over the course of the series making her stronger, dealing with her new responsibilities as a liaison between the true form of the Sibyl System and the rest of the society, she is one of the best and well-written female characters I’ve seen in anime, perhaps matched only by Saber and Irisviel in Fate/Zero, although those express extremes of femininity, while Tsunemori is an all-rounder. I think I just love Gen Urobuchi (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t).

Overall, Psycho Pass is a very excellent anime (as I’m sure everyone who hasn’t been living under a rock in terms of the anime community already knows, but hey, I try), with a lot to recommend it. It’s not quite my favourite of those I’ve seen this year, I didn’t get quite as obsessed with it as I was Fate/Zero and Assassination Classroom, I didn’t get as emotionally affected as with Angel Beats, I wasn’t gripped like I am with Death Note at the moment. But the clever, intricate plot and the effectiveness of the messages contained with great regard to developing watchable characters in the all-too-often mishandled dystopian setting means it ranks highly among those I’ve seen.

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