Psycho-Pass II – 09 Review
I’m still not sure what to think about this ridiculous moment. Is Mika just acting like she’s happy about the discovery because she hopes that will save her life? Or did her mind just snap when she heard of the truth?
At least, it will be easy to find out which anime-series this year had been the most disappointing. I guess, this will be one of those cases where you’ll be happy to think of Psycho-Pass as a series with only ONE season and just forget this thing had ever happened. Sort of like nobody likes to remember that Highlander has a bit more to offer than just one movie. Although, then again… the first Highlander-movie wasn’t that impressive either, alone the casting… They cast a Scotsman to play a Spaniard and they cast a Frenchman to play a Scotsman: The sheer insanity of such a decision! Well, this second season of Psycho-Pass does insane shit as well and I can’t wait to find out how Akane’s grandmother ends up saving the day because she’s actually a real badass and her lying in bed was all just an act.
You know, Kamui is evil because he had helped some corrupt politicians to evade the attention of the Sybil-System. Naturally they get their comeuppance since even Kamui looks at politicians with disdain.
Mysteries are puzzles. There’s a picture that you just don’t see but there are pieces of this picture and if you put them in the right order, you can see the picture. That’s the most basic mystery: Something that you’re not able to see immediately but can see with a little bit of work. And so let’s limit this to a whodunit, you have the scene of a crime for example with all the pieces of the puzzle telling the investigator what had happened. Now all he has to do is to put all those pieces in the right order and he knows what has happened at the crime-scene. But that would be a purely mental challenge without a lot of physical action and so there are a couple things to make this exciting. First, there’s the challenge. Something like a locked-room-mystery or a crime that apparently nobody in the vicinity of the scene could’ve committed. It isn’t only a challenge for the protagonist but also for the audience to come up with a solution. But even that isn’t enough sometimes to fill the time and so the second thing mystery-stories do is to withhold pieces of the puzzle. That’s basically how most longer mystery-plots are constructed as stuff like talking to witnesses, then finding evidence that makes the protagonist return to the witness he talked before, then there’s evidence that shines a new light on the situation and so on and so forth. It’s all the stuff you would call an investigation. The other thing that can be also added are personal stakes, make the investigation matter to the protagonist in some way and make the investigation as much about him as about finding the solution. In that way you’re not only interested in the solution of the mystery but you’re also invested in that this specific character should find it.
But even that is not enough sometimes and so you get those mystery-plots that start to become more like action-stories. Psycho-Pass II is such a mystery-story. Whenever Kamui is starting to do something criminal the pacing of the series becomes far more frantic and every character speaks faster and with more incredulity as if every crime of Kamui simply blows their minds. Well, with the exception of Akane, of course, but she’s a supercop. And indeed I would say that I enjoy these moments the most in this series. When the series is fast enough and just lets things happen, I have at least the luxury of not having to think about those events (which is generally a bad thing to do when it comes to this season). I certainly liked this episode far more than last week’s infodump-episode in that regard at least.
After the episode ends, though, one starts thinking about the episode, of course. And like in each other episode, the writing reveals itself to be rather problematic. At this point, you gotta wonder: Why is the MWPSB always one step behind? It isn’t because of incompetence (well, except when Mika is involved, I guess) but simply because the Kamui-plot is written that way. These little arcs of Akane & Co trying to stop Kamui always start the same way: All of a sudden someone from the Enforcers finds something out. Akane & Co immediately jump into action! Then it cuts to Kamui doing the very crime the MWPSB just had discovered he would do. And when the MWPSB-people turn up, they’re only there to deal with the aftermath of the crime. The script has been using this spiel over and over again in this season to make it seem like Kamui is always one step ahead.
This episode isn’t any different when Yayoi opens with this ridiculous find: “Hey, I noticed this young politician who had a lot of meetings recently and when I checked his background it turned out that he had been in the same school as Kamui but then moved to another school before that disaster happened.” And they even have an image of Kamui and this suspect standing together which hints at a possible friendship between the two! For fuck’s sake! Someone in the last review mentioned that the actual writer was Tow Ubakata, the writer of Mardock Scramble (which was an… “okay” movie-trilogy) but moments like these make me think that he really can’t write mystery-stories. Information like that isn’t found in this season, I mean, it is found but it never feels like there’s an activity involved with it. I’ve talked at the beginning about how an “investigation” is about offering the protagonist and the audience puzzle-pieces they need and didn’t have before. And that’s not exactly what’s happening here.
With this shitty writing, you don’t even know what information you’re missing. And this is even less about bringing up deus-ex-machina-discoveries, this is about a lack of internal logic within the process of investigation. In this season, it always feels like Akane & Co just stumble over discoveries like this one when they’re connected to something Kamui is currently doing. There’s no discernible method and even worse there’s no real build-up. When the MWPSB had figured out Kamui’s identity and had this extensive infodump about his past, nobody even considered doing a thorough background-check at the time! The characters are never concerned with the whole picture; they’re always fixating on certain things.
Naturally there’s another mode of dumping relevant information on the audience and that’s: explaining stuff and I mean with that, people become talking-heads who talk – A LOT. This time around we get Akane pondering the omnipotence-paradox and how it relates to whether the Sybil-System is able to judge itself. And Akane ponders about a way out of this paradox. Well, guess what the way out of this paradox is? It’s accepting that such extreme abstracts don’t exist. Unless you want to talk about God and/or religion in general, it’s a rather fruitless endeavor to expect such a paradox to apply to man-made technology. That may be a rather cynical approach to this but this season may be a lot of things but philosophical it ain’t. This season lacks the depth to make the omnipotence-paradox sound like a believable description for what’s going on. It’s especially unbelievable since the audience already knows full well how fucked up the Sybil-System truly is. This episode talks about this whole thing for like two minutes and I feel like it was a waste of time. After all, setting aside how unbelievable the whole need for this paradox sounds, it also revealed something else: That there are two versions of what will happen when someone manages to judge the Sybil-System. And without more information this basically turns the confrontation between Kamui and the Sybil-System into a “Schrödinger’s cat”-scenario because both versions could be true. Until someone actually judges the Sybil-System, no one can be sure what would actually happen. That said, this is only true from Akane’s point of view, of course, because considering the Sybil-System’s recent behavior it’s rather obvious which color her Psycho-Pass SHOULD be.
The clue that helped the MWPSB find Kamui’s trail again: A politician who has been in a lot of meetings recently. Since, you know, there’s nothing more suspicious than a hard-working politician, right…?
I believe, this is a 1-cours-series, right? Well, it certainly feels like we’re getting into the third act with the events in this episode. One thing that I absolutely don’t like is how complicated the story is right now. There’s Kamui doing his thing, there’s Akane worrying about her trophy-grandma, there’s Mika fearing what will happen to her, there’s Togane still obsessing over clouding Akane’s Psycho-Pass and there’s the Sybil-System trying to destroy Akane because she’s an obstacle (since she’s a supercop). This episode’s solution for all this stuff isn’t very elegant and the episode just rapidly has to jump from one scene to the next in order to address all those storylines. That’s where the investigation-aspect also gets undermined when stuff happens and the episode has no time to address this event properly, like how a very important associate of Kamui got killed in his cell and it amounted to nothing more than “Yep, that happened…”.
This episode is slightly better than the last episode since it has at least some action to offer. But the general impression of this season as being a VERY flawed one hasn’t changed in the slightest. The writing is sloppy, the characters just rush from one scene to the next without much thought and when they think, they just can’t shut up and end up boring you to tears with their infodumps.
- So, I wasn’t quite sure about that part… The politicians at that banquet… Were those these illegal immigrants taking the places of those bigshot-politicians? Or were those real politcians? Kamui talked to them like it was the latter, but then what was the deal with that whole “this illegal immigrant replaced a politician”-thingy that happened a couple episodes before.
- Also, apparently those politicians tortured people in order to keep their Psycho-Pass clear? I thought Kamui had a way to keep their Psycho-Passes low. Or did those politicians just tortured people for fun because they could now thanks to Kamui?
- And what does this even mean? Why are those politicians so evil…?! Where the first season would’ve made a point of making their crimes a case-study of how they represent the new society under the Sybil-System, here you get just these story-points thrown at you without any attempt to give them deeper meaning.
- How did that friend of Kamui acquire the ear? The timeline for this doesn’t make any sense! Togane asks Maki to find out where Akane’s grandma is located, then both are there when Yayoi finds a new clue for where Kamui is. Then they all drive to the location of Kamui’s friend and there Kamui’s friend already has the ear of the Grandma. And after the credits it’s shown that Togane has the grandma in the trunk of his car. WHEN DID THAT ALL HAPPEN?!
- I know, it would be kinda cheesy and nonsensical but I would love it if one of the big plottwists in the future will be that Akane is fully aware of what the Sybil-System is trying to do and has been manipulating Togane the whole time. Stuff like that she purposefully revealed her concern for her grandma to Togane and maybe the grandma isn’t even her real grandma… You know, since they’ve already made Akane a supercop, they might as well go with this idea to such ridiculous lengths.