Psycho-Pass 2 Premiere Review
Hello, Psycho-Pass my old friend. I’ve come to rant about you again. With the release of the first episode of Season 2, Psycho-Pass returns to offer more boring, run-of-the-mill sci-fi action scenes, a lot of preaching, and some potential for interesting character dynamics amongst the slew of characters no one gives a shit about.
Quick summary of the plot of Season 1 (with spoilers): Japan is now ruled by the Sybil System, a supposedly neutral AI system that can accurately determine how likely you are to become a criminal by measuring your Psycho-Pass, which appears to be a measure of stress and your mental state (however the nonsensical nature of the Psycho-Pass system is one of my biggest problems with the show). The Public Safety Bureau uses Inspectors armed with weapons called Dominators, that can perform on-site judgments of a person’s Psycho-Pass and determine whether judgment should be lethal or not. Aiding these Inspectors are Enforcers, criminals judged too dangerous to live in society but kept alive as a necessity to hunt other criminals. During the season, a criminal emerged who could not be judged by the Sybil System for reasons. One of the Enforcers has history with him, goes rogue, kills him, and disappears afterwards. Further, Inspector Akane discovers the true nature of the Sybil System, in that it is bullshit not because its oppressive and arbitrary, but that the construction of the system itself is so mindbogglingly stupid that it makes no sense that someone made this and put it into production.
I will start off on a more positive note and say that the first episode of Season 2 is much better than the opener for Season 1, but that might be because the only character I ever liked in Season 1, Lead Inspector Akane Tsunemori, is a fully fleshed out character and she has one or two characters she can actually interact with now. The plot of the episode is fairly pedestrian even by Psycho-Pass standards; a guy gets rejected from society because of bad Psycho-Pass scores, flips out, and starts committing crimes against society. The good aspects come in execution. On the one hand, this criminal is treated like much more of a human being than a lot of the villains in Season 1 who got bad Psycho-Pass scores and just decided, “Fuck it! Let’s be evil.” This makes for a somewhat more interesting plot dynamic in this world. Secondly, Akane’s new partner, a friend of hers who joined the Public Safety Bureau to enforce the Sybil System’s justice because a mutual friend was brutally murdered last season by the main villain. So Akane’s fight to seek out the moral justice for people in spite of the Sybil System’s judgments is counterbalanced by her partner seeking to enforce the Sybil System’s judgments completely believing that all Latent Criminals (people with bad Psycho-Pass scores) are beyond help. Another point of interest is that apparently the Sybil System has now developed a drug that supposedly prevents people from having anything bad affect their Psycho-Pass scores. Further, a new villain is introduced who seems to also be aware of the Sybil System’s stupidity and is using his position as an Inspector to act against it. All of these elements are decently compelling elements of what could be a good sci-fi show.
Unfortunately, this is Psycho-Pass, and that means we can’t have nice things. First and foremost, any potentially interesting elements of the criminal dilemma mentioned above are ruined because the series maintains this maddening tendency to shout its viewpoints at the audience, using the characters as mouthpieces. Any dialogue in this show that isn’t philosophizing is just exposition and has no impact, character, or identity of any kind. This seems to suggest that the writers want to be smart, but think that their audience is too stupid to get it if it’s not shouted at them. Second, the show still refuses to explain why some people became Enforcers, who are supposedly arrested criminals with no hope of habilitation. Back-story is something this series has mostly chosen to avoid more often than not and thus most of the characters are either too underdeveloped or too boring to give a shit about. And what’s worse, the series introduces several new characters that it looks like we were supposed to give a shit about. But not only do they feel out of place, we know nothing about them, so giving a shit is impossible. Third, the action scenes are slow, tedious, and boring. So the show remains a bore whether you turn your brain off or not. Fourth, the series still seems uninterested in explaining how the Sybil System was put in place in the first place, which is a problem considering that the system’s construction is such utter bullshit that I can’t imagine anyone with a half-functioning neuron in their brain would try to put this into production. Finally, the setting, designs, and art direction are so drab, generic and boring that despite decent production values, I still feel like someone deliberately drained the color out of the screen before showing this. Other than the Dominators and some of the robots, this universe doesn’t have much iconography to distinguish it from other futuristic sci-fi anime.
All in all, this episode of Psycho-Pass wasn’t terrible. Some okay story ideas are present and the new villain looks like he MIGHT be more interesting than the last guy. However, boring action scenes, preachy dialogue, and poor characterization continuously undercut this show’s ability to function as a sci-fi mystery. If you don’t have the same problems with Psycho-Pass that I do, then this might be worth watching, but for me, this show looked like it could be good, but then fell flat on its face, and shows no signs of getting off the floor anytime soon.
Psycho-Pass 2's opener has some interesting story ideas and a few developed characters it can work with. However, it's preachy dialogue, boring action scenes, and poor characterization overall tend to leave its audience feeling hollow and detached from the proceedings. Plus the Sybil System is bullshit, and they show no signs of fixing it anytime soon.