Psycho-Pass II – 11 Review
That’s the perfect visual representation of this series’ storytelling-style…
I was a bit surprised to find out after writing the review for the tenth episode that this eleventh episode would be the finale episode for this season. I mean, my guess would’ve been 12 episodes and my second guess would’ve 13 episodes but 11 episodes…? That just seemed too unbelievable for at what point the 10th episode had ended. And naturally a shitty season managed to fuck up its finale as well this way.
The end is nigh… Kamui is close to finally getting his encounter with the Sybil-System. Only a crazy old lady and her sodden son stand between Kamui/Akane and their goal. Naturally neither of them actually manage to stop Akane and Kamui who actually have made no deliberate mistake this whole season. Sure, not every action of theirs made sense but then that’s more a general problem than just one those two are facing.
Meanwhile the rest of Akane’s team do… something… whatever, who gives a shit, right?
Anyway, Kamui ends up at the core of the Sybil-System and the Sybil-System is all like “Well, fuck you, Kamui, actually I can clean my Psycho-Pass!” and so the Sybil-System does exactly that. Somehow Togane has survived being hit by a Dominator and so he’s able to kill Kamui in the same moment as Kamui shoots him with a Dominator for a second time.
Akane meanwhile basically becomes the president of Sybil-town and is now responsible for what new laws the Sybil-System is implementing. And the new one that is being implemented thanks to Akane is a real doozy! Apparently soon your Psycho-Pass will be the one of your collective rather than your own! Isn’t that great? Good thing I’m white and don’t have to think about the consequences of such a decision…!
But this hivemind is comprised entirely of people the Sybil-System couldn’t judge as individuals and the Sybil-System is being judged as a collective where individual elements just become part of a bigger thing and so… Fuck it, I give up! This shit makes NO sense!
It’s safe to say that this second season has been a very thorough treatment of disappointment. Well, that and nonsensical action, I guess. But looking back on it, another factor appears as a striking flaw of this season: Its pacing. It’s just unbelievable how this series simply rushed through most of its story-moments without really ever conveying any sort of coherent message (while lingering on boring infodumps from time to time). After all, this is the last episode and of course it had a story which was about something but there was nothing coherent about it. The series just threw shit a lot of shit at the audience with the hope that something would stick. This series isn’t so much an exercise in bad storytelling but rather in bad script-writing. The script which should bring all the ideas together in order to turn this series into an entertaining expression of these ideas is nearly nonsensical and banal.
Calling something banal is a harsh criticism for sure, but after this last episode it’s a fair one. What did the audience gain by watching this second season? It really feels like there will be a third season of this series because this second season’s finale feels like a mid-season-finale. After this episode has ended, the actual consequences are just another mystery. Instead of concluding the series’ storyline this episode ends up teasing every conclusion with an added “… but what if maybe…?”. This episode offers no satisfaction in having endured its nonsensical journey but rather teases the audience with questioning the nature of its ending and whether it’s actually positive. Mind you this episode doesn’t offer any certainties in that regard; it’s really just all a bullshit-setup for a next season (who knows how the movie will fit into all this).
The episode begins right where the last episode ended and that is right in the middle of the action. Stuff has happened: Akane wants to help Kamui, the mother of Togane has turned against Akane and Togane himself is trying to kill Kamui. The story is racing for its ending… except it has still some miles to travel before it has reached its destined ending – or at least that’s what you would think at the end of the tenth episode. Turns out that nobody should have worried because not only is Akane’s presence basically a solution for getting Kamui directly into contact with the Sybil-System but in general the actual finale of this series feels like an afterthought in this episode. Roughly eight to nine minutes of this 22-minute-episode (minus OP and ED of course) are spent resolving the action before it begins depicting the epilogue. The plot of this final confrontation is so straightforward and predictable for those who have seen the previous ten episodes that you might as well begin the description of the finale with “As expected…”. There are no surprises, no plottwists, there isn’t even a deus ex machina – the story and plot really just go through the motions for this finale.
And it’s especially poignant to look at Togane and his mother in this episode as they perform the roles of the villains in this series. They’re just impotent in this episode and they were so in the previous episode as well. All this time those two were trying to stop Kamui and Akane but they couldn’t stop either of them – AT ANY POINT! Once any of those two tried to do something they simply succeeded. Except when they faced off against each other Akane and Kamui were always the winners in each scene. I mean, when it comes to planning or figuring out what to do next or what was going on neither of them was EVER wrong. The portrayal of those two characters was cheap in the way that rather than changing in order to overcome challenges they only needed to be reminded that they are who they are. Especially with Akane you can really see this struggle between being herself and being less than herself (which isn’t very exciting). The story didn’t exactly challenge her, it just offered her an emotional incentive to be less than perfect. Kamui in the same way never doubted his path and where it would lead him.
But here is where things get interesting and that’s why I feel like this was more a problem of flawed script-writing rather than the story itself: The only one who actually changed in this series is the Sybil-System. I know that this series is too shitty to actually acknowledge this series being successful in executing this story-beat but how about we look at this second season again with the Sybil-System as its main-character and that it was about this character’s redemption. Rather than seeing this as a battle between the evil science-lady and her fucked-up son and Akane and Kamui, how about you see this as a battle for the soul of the Sybil-System? In that regard the villains and heroes are merely the angels and devils on the shoulders of the Sybil-System trying to direct it into a certain direction. The conflict is actually between how the Sybil-System should approach humanity. Should it serve humanity or should it control humanity? Akane is always talking about how laws aren’t made for people but rather people make the laws whereas the evil science-lady and her murderous son were all for enforcing their laws no matter what the cost. If you look at it that way, this series actually has some sort of a story…
Except the script of this series is a big pile of shit and neither the director, producer or whatnot were able to change that apparently. The first warning-sign for a shitty script is that when I look back on these eleven episodes, I barely remember anything of note. There isn’t any moment that jumps out at me and makes me remember how I was engaged or entertained in that moment. This whole season is just this blur of random stuff and incidents. Really, I can tell you the story of this second season but I really can’t tell you what the series’ plot has been. That shit was just too goddamn dull and nonsensical. If I look back on it, the plot just seems… random. And when I think of the story, I basically just remember characters standing around TELLING me the information I needed to know for the story. Also… there were A LOT of talky scenes in this series that really didn’t deliver anything more than just talking. So the action has been just a blur of forgettable action-scenes and the story might as well have been a shitty Power-Point-Presentation.
And the Sybil-System wasn’t doing the same thing to the Dominator the corrupted inspector was using because…? Fucking hell, did anyone even think about the internal logic of this season’s story?!
And now we come to the epilogue and as I’ve mentioned before: It’s really just a big tease for a sequel. There’s nothing conclusive about it. That takes the cake of course as after all this nonsense in this season we end up with an epilogue that basically screams “This chapter has ended… BUT THINK OF ALL THE SHIT THAT MAY HAPPEN NEXT, GUYS!”. Mostly it’s the fault of the shitty script that the epilogue doesn’t even know how to bring the story-arc of this series to an end. I mean, this series didn’t even know how to implement a dramatic arc for this season. It was just plain chaos plot- AND story-wise! The whole purpose of this season only emerged in its last third and it didn’t even emerge in a way that would shine a new light on the previous episodes. Stuff just happened suddenly and the series moved on! This epilogue did nothing for me and just hinted at a lot of stuff. Really, it offered no surprises and incentives for me to keep watching this series.
Okay, actually, there was one exception: The way the Sybil-System talked about being able to judge collectives rather than individuals now. Holy shit… has Akane opened the way for the Sybil-System to be racist…? It’s just another one of those utterly nonsensical moments which made me go “Wait… THAT’s how you plan to integrate collective Psycho-Passes into the system?!”. And for Akane to be so optimistic about what people might do… Fucking hell, she’s just ignorant at this point. No fair judicial system punishes people collectively just for being somehow related to that collective. I mean, some asshole-bankers (well, maybe A LOT is more like it) have cause a global economy-meltdown in recent years – but that doesn’t mean that EVERY banker is now automatically a criminal. And before even that, imagine the same scenario with “Jew” instead of “Banker” and you know just how fucked up this interpretation of the new directive is the Sybil-System has come up with. But all Akane has to say in response to that is “But I believe in humanity to be good!”. And she sounds more confident than she should be while saying that.
What is there left to say? It’s a shitty second season! I mean, even if you ignore how it fares in comparison to the first season this season has a lot of fundamental problems. I’ve described above what the story might have been going for but the truth is: This series’ pacing, plotting, storytelling – it’s all fucked up. There’s no coherence present and everything’s just this rushed, chaotic mess. And really, even if you take the not very impactful consequences of this second season into account, I would say you can skip this one. Even if there’s a third season, I would still recommend to just skip this second season. Reading some Wiki-entry will be good enough. This season has just been THAT shabby.
- The superfluous mention of Akane’s dead grandma is still one of the most hilarious elements of this season. It’s great to see a character rise above such a petty thing like responding emotionally to the death of her BELOVED grandma! Sure, that’s how you deal with grief, you just ignore it! The recent second episode of the third season of the TV-Series Arrow did a far better job in exploring grief and how it impacts various characters. Meanwhile, this episode basically just said that Akane’s response to the death of her grandam has been “I don’t care, I have better things to do!”. Grief and dealing with the sudden death of someone close to you is a whole fucking process and this series’ response to that is just to say “A hero is better off ignoring emotional stuff and rise above that!”.
- Talking about better series… For a series dealing with a supposedly superhuman hivemind directing human society that is fallible and needs to be reigned, the TV-Series Person Of Interest with its 4th-season conflict between two AIs offers a far more complex and entertaining narrative than this series.
- … And I’m mentioning Western series here because Psycho-Pass has started out as a series that didn’t want to chase mainstream-trends like moe for example. It wanted to be a smart, action-filled series. I mean, this second season wanted to be that, too, but hey, we all have dreams, right?
- Mika’s character-arc ends on a note that is consistent with how annoying she’s been the whole season at least. “Oh, good, since that asshole is dead, nobody knows what crazy shit I have done… and it’s not like the whole thing has driven me insane already, right, RIGHT?!” – is what it basically amounts to. That ending forgets one thing: I DO NOT CARE! I don’t like her character! Just thinking about a third season where she will STILL be incompetent (for different reasons, mind you) just makes my head hurt… Great, now she isn’t useless for uselessness’ sake, she’s just useless for evil’s sake.
- Also, the artstyle of this episode, well, this second season in general was perfunctory. Mostly they just copied a lot of shit from the first season or created bland new stuff. The chara-designs were okay and the voice-acting was actually good (although Kamui’s multiple personalities were badly implemented as far as presentation goes).
- Last but not least… Akane. I have no frigging clue what her arc was supposed to be and how her cigarette-problem relates to that. The finale shot of this season is her putting out a cigarette… and she had this vision of Kogami without smoking so… I have no clue! Instead of talking about the omnipotence-paradox, maybe they should’ve delved into that a little more…