Psycho-Pass (2012): The Perfect Utopian Dystopia

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve been on here. But, starting from now, I’d like to get in the habit of posting something every week. In the meantime, I’ve decided to get involved in social media, so I now have a Twitter, if you want to contact me, talk to me through social media.

Moving on then.

I watch my fair share of anime. Psycho-Pass (directed by Naoyoshi Shiotani and written by Gen Urobuchi) has made it into my top three; it has also become one of my favorite dystopian societies.

First of all, their guns (Dominators) look really cool.

Psycho-Pass takes place in a future society where people are constantly scanned by the Sibyl System for the likelihood of their committing of a crime. Their emotions affect their Hue, which changes colors with the change of moods and the brain scan quantifies the probability of an individual crime into a Crime Coefficient. When the Crime Coefficient is constantly over a hundred, it labels that individual as a latent criminal and they are banned from doing anything really, effectively shunned from society.

Akane Tsunemori is a new Inspector at the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division, working with the Enforcers, one of the only jobs that a latent criminal can get. Their choice of weapons is the Dominator, a complex, awesomely animated gun that measures the target’s Crime Coefficient, and thus deciding on Paralyzer Mode or Lethal Mode, depending on their Coefficient.

The plot is intense and fascinating, but one of the major aspects I applaud Psycho-Pass on is the antagonist–or rather, antagonists. On one hand, we have Shogo Makishima, cool and intelligent with clear motives and a fascination with Shinya Kogami, one of the Enforcers, that pulls the audience along; Makishima plays everything like a calculated game that keeps the plot engaging.

And, of course, he’s rocking that white hair that at least one character has to have.

On the other hand, the Sibyl System is also implied to be the antagonist. That in itself is one of the most significant aspects I can come up with. The Sibyl System is essentially the backbone of this future society and it is what keeps the society together and it prevents crimes.

This is why the universe in Psycho-Pass is the perfect example of how this seemingly utopian society is a dystopia. It differs from societies like The Giver where the people have their emotions taken away so that they don’t know that they’re missing something. In Psycho-Pass, no one has changed, physically or emotionally (in a certain sense), other than the reliance upon this system.

Under the Sibyl System, society seems like a utopia, not because everyone is happy (it is shown that people still have some worries about how they do on their aptitude test that determines their job through the Sibyl System), but because society functions smoothly under this complete reliance for this system that weeds out criminals before they even commit crimes and also the aptitude tests to fit each individual to a certain job.

However, despite how smoothly this society seems to run, the “utopia” is destroyed through the lack of free will.

I use the term “free will” loosely. It’s not so much free will as choice. The entire police system is based on the probability of an individual committing a crime. It brings up several questions. Can people who have never committed a crime be considered criminals? What if they can manage their psychological stress and refrain from committing crimes? How can we ever know if they die or get incarcerated before having a chance to prove themselves?

I hope I got my point across. I know I deviated slightly a review of the anime, but this is the reason why I like it so much. It makes me think. Its running motif of choice and free will and society just really fascinated me.

Conclusion: Psycho-Pass captivates the audience with a thrilling plot and a fascinating future society that questions the nature of humans and also other aspects that I can’t get into without entering the spoiler zone. Granted, the antagonist and the dark and mysterious Kogami and also the blonde computer lady that can do everything with a few taps of the keyboard is just a tad cliche, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it. Bonus points for making me think. 9/10.

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