Psycho-Pass II – 11 Review

[HorribleSubs] PSYCHO-PASS 2 - 11 [480p].mkv - 00003That’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.

Synopsis:

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…!

[HorribleSubs] PSYCHO-PASS 2 - 11 [480p].mkv - 00008But 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!

Review:

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.

[HorribleSubs] PSYCHO-PASS 2 - 11 [480p].mkv - 00005And 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.

Episode-Rating: 5.0/10

Series-Rating: 4.5/10

Random Thoughts:

  • 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…

About M0rg0th

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Posted on December 18, 2014, in Anime, Psycho Pass II, Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. An absurd end to an absurd story. At least the story is mostly contained and can be ignored by future (better) writers.

    As much as they tried to act like Kamui was a collective entity, he really wasn’t. If someone gets a heart transplant or a skin graft, they don’t become two people sharing a body, it’s one person getting replacement parts. Kamui didn’t absorb the souls or minds of the other plane victims so his sudden schizophrenia he displays in this episode doesn’t make sense at all. Because he’s not a collective entity, the parallel between him and Sibyl falls apart and the theme of the entire season is made moot.

    The biggest disappointment and failing of this season, I think is Akane. For playing such a central role (to the exclusion of virtually everyone else) you’d think she’d face new challenges that would develop her character (the end of the first episode actually states exactly this) but she doesn’t change at all. She’s still the same stubborn pacifist and optimist she was since the very beginning. Nothing, not even watching her best friend be murdered in front of her or hearing about her grandmother’s grisly death, can cause her more than a short period of depression. How can we really care about a character that doesn’t evolve as the story does? How can we care about Akane’s tragedies when she doesn’t? The real shitty thing is, we’re told she’s the good guy and that her life philosophy is the right one. So what does our heroine do at the end of the season? She allows the mass-murdering terrorist to get exactly what he wanted and influences the ruling system to implement a new system with potentially horrifying consequences (even Sibyl points out the madness Akane may have enabled). It’s okay for a hero to be flawed but when her flaws are not acknowledged by the story, we’re left with a hypocritical Mary Sue.

    Some final thoughts:
    -While I thought Makishima and crew breaking into Sibyl’s headquarters was too easy in season 1, you’d think they would have ramped up the security by this point. Know what’s great for keeping terrorists and rogue agents from just waltzing into your base? A locked door.
    -Togane has an imposing figure and a knife but petite, unarmed Akane manages to easily fight him off and handcuff him. Nothing can stop super-cop Akane!
    -Despite seemingly caring about his underlings, Kamui left them all to die.
    -Mika’s scenes in this episode seemed like a final “Fuck you” to the audience. “I will never become a likable character! NEVER!!”
    -Wouldn’t it have been funny if Akane and Kamui confronted Sibyl and Sibyl was just like “No, you can’t judge us. What are you going to do about it?”

    Like

    • “As much as they tried to act like Kamui was a collective entity, he really wasn’t.”

      Wasn’t it the idea that they mushed together the brains of seven people, though and that maybe those were the identities Kamui used? Well, sure, they threw around a far more ridiculous number for how many people’s bodyparts were used to create his Frankenstein-monster-body.

      I mean, yeah, naturally it makes no sense.

      “The biggest disappointment and failing of this season, I think is Akane.”

      As I’ve mentioned in the review, the challenge she had to overcome was the danger of being less than perfect after her grandma had died. But as the hero of the story she just ignored it and did what she had to do. She’s a super-cop after all!

      And did you understand the arc of the cigarette-smoking? I mean, it’s clear that she equates Kogami with the smell of those cigarettes but what does it even mean that she has stopped needing that smell to summon the “spirit” of Kogami?

      “The real shitty thing is, we’re told she’s the good guy and that her life philosophy is the right one. So what does our heroine do at the end of the season? She allows the mass-murdering terrorist to get exactly what he wanted and influences the ruling system to implement a new system with potentially horrifying consequences (even Sibyl points out the madness Akane may have enabled).”

      Like many things in this series, it makes no sense for this to be the ONLY solution with evil science-lady’s tyranny being the only other option.

      “-Wouldn’t it have been funny if Akane and Kamui confronted Sibyl and Sibyl was just like “No, you can’t judge us. What are you going to do about it?””

      Yeah… *sigh* Instead we get this superhuman hivemind which is basically just doing what Akane tells it to do. When the Sybil-System warns Akane about the consequences it talks like it was up to Akane what would happen in the end. Rather than having the Sybil-System agree with Akane, it just does what Akane wanted it to do while warning what consequences this might have. They Sybil-System gave up its agency there.

      “-While I thought Makishima and crew breaking into Sibyl’s headquarters was too easy in season 1, you’d think they would have ramped up the security by this point. Know what’s great for keeping terrorists and rogue agents from just waltzing into your base? A locked door.”

      Well, as rushed as that finale was, I don’t think they had the time for such sensible writing-decisions.

      “-Mika’s scenes in this episode seemed like a final “Fuck you” to the audience. “I will never become a likable character! NEVER!!””

      Now she’s a psychopath with a dark secret… although it isn’t even clear what this exactly means. What is her motivation now…?

      And I still believe that we will get a third season of this bullshit while Gen is working on the movie.

      Like

      • “Wasn’t it the idea that they mushed together the brains of seven people”

        Ignoring the medical impossibility of stitching 7 brains together, it would be even more absurd to suggest he got seven unique consciousnesses out of it. After the operation, a new being “Kamui” was created; a single human not a small scale version of Sibyl’s hivemind. But what do I know? It can’t be more than what the writer knows which is nothing.

        “And did you understand the arc of the cigarette-smoking?”

        I would assume it means she has moved past her dependency on Kogami and became her own person… which would have been a stronger message if Akane wasn’t so absolutely perfect. She has one major breakdown that spirit Kogami helps her with but otherwise she is a superhuman that never falters. I didn’t even realize how much of a Mary Sue she was until late in the series because she needed to be one to keep up with Villain Sue Kamui and pants-on-head retarded Sibyl.

        “we get this superhuman hivemind which is basically just doing what Akane tells it to do.”

        This is just more proof of how S2!Sibyl is a massive departure from S1!Sibyl. The Sibyl of season 1 considered Akane a useful ally but vastly inferior to themselves. They even laughed at her when she told them Japan could eventually exist without them.

        “Now she’s a psychopath with a dark secret… although it isn’t even clear what this exactly means. What is her motivation now…? ”

        The sad thing about Mika is that she could have developed after everything she experienced but this episode pretty much confirmed that she just defaults to her usual, loathsome personality, no matter how many chances the story gives to redeem herself. She’s basically cognitive dissonance in human form. As you said in an earlier episode review “There’s no real intelligence or perspective present in her characterization. It’s just a character who’s trapped by her own inadequacies without even being able to confront these. And since there’s no confrontation she’s just caught up in this endless cycle of despair and deepening this despair by making bad choices again and again.”

        “And I still believe that we will get a third season of this bullshit while Gen is working on the movie.”

        The movie debuts January 9th so it’s already finished. According to certain posters on 4chan, Urobuchi allegedly didn’t want to continue the Psycho Pass story past the first season and his movie so season 2 might just be a shameless teaser for the movie.

        Like

    • “I would assume it means she has moved past her dependency on Kogami and became her own person…”

      But the most essential moment of her dramatic arc was solved by her relying on the “spirit” of Kogami…! And where does her “own” personality even defer from what the spirit-Kogami was telling her…? It’s just such a poorly implemented character-arc..

      “This is just more proof of how S2!Sibyl is a massive departure from S1!Sibyl. The Sibyl of season 1 considered Akane a useful ally but vastly inferior to themselves. They even laughed at her when she told them Japan could eventually exist without them.”

      Yeah, in the first season “protecting the law” meant for Akane to serve the Sybil-System whereas in the second season “protecting the law” meant that the Sybil-System had to follow Akane’s ideas of what the Sybil-System should do.

      “She’s basically cognitive dissonance in human form.”

      Yeah, naturally you only need to look at Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as a typical example of how you usually approach such a character. But here Mika would just do something stupid and neither understand her own reasoning nor know what to do with these things she has done. Her mind is like a primitive AI who’s asked to solve “1+1=x” and then it would say “x=2” but immediately after that it would freak out about why the number 2 popped into its mind. Meanwhile, the audience is just pointing at the equation and wonders what all the fuss is about. That’s Mika’s character in a nutshell.

      “The movie debuts January 9th so it’s already finished. According to certain posters on 4chan, Urobuchi allegedly didn’t want to continue the Psycho Pass story past the first season and his movie so season 2 might just be a shameless teaser for the movie.”

      Hmm, as I’ve mentioned in the first review of this second season, I believe, Psycho-Pass’ first season did REALLY well in the character-popularity-polls and so I imagine they were really pushing this franchise. You’ve got the Extended Edition of the first season which aired AGAIN during the Summer-Season, then this second season and next there will be this movie. And Urobuchi previously said that he didn’t have a lot of time writing the script for the first Psycho-Pass-series which accounts for its rather typically narrow-minded cop-show-atmosphere, I would say. But Psycho-Pass certainly wasn’t conceived as the start of a franchise It was just this dark series that wanted to be cool and edgy. So maybe this second season was supposed to be self-contained but the guys working on it still wanted to push the meta-plot forward in some way. Maybe they were promised a 2-cours-series at the beginning and then someone told them they would have to do the whole thing in one season…

      But I imagine this is one of those series people will simply forget rather than talk about in the years to come. Who knows what the movie will do story-wise. This second season certainly was bad promotion for it and I mean not only quality-wise but in terms of the meta-plot… This second season has given me nothing to make me want to watch the movie. I guess, the movie-team did its own thing independet of the people who made this second season. It’s just… a mess, it’s a mess really.

      Like

  2. “I guess, the movie-team did its own thing independent of the people who made this second season.”
    I’m not too worried about the movie. It’s the original writer at the helm so he’ll be able to properly follow the characterization set by Season 1. And think about it, NO ONE developed in season 2 so it won’t even be a retcon to show them doing their own things. My guess is that Urobuchi gave some very broad framework to the new writer with the only condition being “No season 1 characters change or die and Mika and the new enforcers don’t die.” As I said before, the story seems self-contained except for the introduction of a few new characters.

    Like

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