Monday, November 12, 2012

FIRST LOOK: Psycho-Pass 1-5

So this is the noitaminA show of the season. Psycho-Pass is a science fiction anime set some time in the future. The titular sci-fi technology here is a device that is installed in each person, connecting them to a nifty system, called Sybil, which analyzes a person's "crime coefficient" index on the fly. The consequence of this is government trying to maintain peace and order by apprehending (sometimes with lethal force) "latent" criminals -- that is, people whose "crime coefficient" index is well above regulation standards. It goes without saying, this in turn creates an ethical problem which the show postulates through its female protagonist, Akane, an inspector for the Public Safety Bureau, and seeks to solve through Akane's team of hard-knock enforcers, themselves registered in the system as latent criminals.

The show is produced by Production I.G. so the overall production is high. There's a lot of CGI involved, especially when it comes to the "dominators," specialized guns that only work against latent criminals. The OP (Abnormalize by Ling Tosite) and ED (Namae no nai Kaibutsu by Egoist) themes are typical of sci-fi shows like this -- alt-rock, heavy on the electric guitar and just plain loud. I like both songs enough to make me want to give a listen to the full versions. The animation sequences are also intriguing to watch, especially the opening because the show changed it some time between the second or fifth episode.

It's too early in the show to form a concrete opinion about all the characters. But Akane, the aforementioned protagonist, comes off as ditzy and naive, which isn't a good combination for me. Why are most anime girls like this? I mean, why can't we have a strong, capable woman in a position of power leading an anime show? I should watch Ghost in the Shell. 

Anyway, going back to Psycho-Pass, what I don't like about Akane is that the show tells us that she's supposed to be this super-brilliant young woman who made the independent decision to work for the Public Safety Bureau because she thought she could make a difference, but so far the show hasn't shown us any evidence of her supposed brilliance. Instead, what it has shown us is this airhead who is surprised all the time by what's going on around her (this is how the system works, didn't she study this in school? or even if she didn't, couldn't she have arrived at that conclusion herself given the whole situation?) and then refusing to take action when taking action was the most logical choice to keep herself and her team safe as well as perform her duty. And I don't care if things got resolved in her favor in the end. It doesn't change the fact that it was dangerous what she did. You want to question the system? Sure. Do it behind a desk. Not while you're out there chasing a dangerous criminal, jeezuz.

That said, I think Akane will improve over time so there's that. Also, by episode 5, the side characters are beginning to become interesting. Especially Gino, the other inspector assigned to supervise the team and Akane's partner. And then there's the other main character in the show, Kogami, who we find out is a former inspector but got demoted to enforcer when his crime coefficient went too high. He is Akane's foil. The other members of the team have their own back stories to tell, I'm sure, and there's even a yuri relationship hinted at between Yayoi and Shion.

As far as story goes, the show is taking the criminal-a-week approach but there's a sub-plot going on concerning a white-haired dude that Kogami seems to know and hate. We'll see. I think I'm sticking around for this show.