Psycho Pass 2: A badass heroine runs the show

Genre: Dystopia/Sci-fi/Seinen

Synopsis: Everyone’s psychological state is constantly monitored, to catch the potential for violence before it happens. Unhealthy psychological profiles are met with therapy, incarceration, or execution depending on the circumstances.

Last season, we got to know the world, how it affected people, and what the system really meant. We saw several perspectives on how to handle the situation, short-term and long-term. We saw where the system failed.

This season, Akane knows the truth of the Sybil system, which monitors everyone’s psycho-pass. She’s the only one who does. And a new enemy is emerging, one who’s threatening to collapse the entire system society has developed to prevent violent crime, all at once.

Series: Season 2.

I’ve Watched: All of season 2.

Verdict: Excellent.

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This is a dystopia that uses its dystopian elements to ask questions about the human experience. The show especially explores the effect of violence and murder on our psychology. It deals with the majority, it deals with exceptions, and then it finds ways to manipulate people’s reality to ask other questions. The overall reaction to the second season seems to be mixed, but I love it. This season sees Akane turn into the main protagonist in her own right–a badass, professional heroine who’s accomplishing things left and right, yet whose main strength is still her empathy and compassion. And that’s amazing.

I love this show. It’s not here to make you comfortable. And it’s going to present people as individuals instead of types. Everyone’s right about some things and wrong about others. People go about the right things in the wrong way. Characters aren’t always what they seem to be. Sometimes we get an initial impression that changes as we get to know someone–and then we find out that the picture is even more complicated than that.

Our villain appears to believe wholeheartedly in his actions. He seems to have a whole philosophy for a better world, and everything. Of course, he’s insane, that philosophy is based off the wrong ideas, and he’s a total creep. He may not be the stereotypical creep, but nonetheless, his creep status is inarguable and there’s definitely some psychological manipulation–I would even go so far as to call it brainwashing–happening on his end (that part isn’t fully explained).

We’re left wondering what exactly he’s about–we’re given lots of clues and ideas, enough to formulate educated guesses, but it isn’t spelled out right away. And yet, none of this is sufficient to really describe what he stands for.

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And neither is the direction of the story clear cut. The way the dystopian elements are going are not at all what I expect from these kind of stories. The genre is usually about blowing up the status quo, not evolving it. I don’t really agree with the choice Akane makes, personally. But I’m not at all dissatisfied that it happened–it’s a fascinating choice to explore and I’m interested in finding out what changes it causes and what those changes mean. And her choice works wonderfully from a story perspective, because it means she isn’t following a path anyone else laid out for her. She’s trailblazing her own, and everyone else gets to follow in her wake.

Some of the gimmicks that they had to use to get to the point of asking that question were…gimmicky. But when you have awesome characters–or one awesome character, mostly, since Akane’s practically going it alone this season–and are doing something new with interesting ideas behind it, I don’t pay as much attention to the details. Or even to whether or not I agree with the statements made by the characters’ actions.

The most frustrating character this season, though not necessarily in a bad way, is Mika. Most people seem to have gotten annoyed with her in the first episode of the season. I managed to hold out until episode 4, but her disrespect for her boss in the face of her obvious inexperience finally managed to piss me off.

Since then she’s been steadily acting petty and immature, while being utterly convinced that she’s doing the right thing. So yes, she makes me angry. The cool thing though, is how her character and character journey is easily distinguishable from Ginoza in season one, who had played a similar role–the Inspector concerned with his mental health. This series doesn’t rehash characters, though it does sometimes play with our expectations.

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Akame has just become so badass, without losing her sense of compassion or even her pacifism. I love that she has her own nemesis now–a villain who practically exists to push her limits and exploit her personal weaknesses.

If there was something I wished for in season one, it was for Akame to have some more of the spotlight and to accomplish something. She was indispensable because she offered a unique perspective on the world around her, but while her ideals set the perspective we had on the plot, it was Kogami’s actions–never hers–that drove it. And it was Kogami’s actions that determined where the story would go.

Now, it’s Akane’s turn. She’s soloing this season. No one else is on her level now that Ko is gone. It’s sad that she’s lost her partner, especially now that she’s experienced enough to stand as his equal. As much as I miss their interaction (and totally look forward to getting more of it in the upcoming movie), that made this season Akane’s time to shine. She’s accomplishing things, and her actions and decisions drive the resolution of this conflict. She isn’t doing it the way Ko would do it. She’s doing it uniquely in her own way.

She’s just so awesome on her own here, and I’m glad we got to see it before Ko comes back. No one else could have done this the way she did. We know for a fact Ko wouldn’t have. But Akane? She has just the right mix of compassion, principles, intelligence, and personal strengths to push the show in a different direction. Regardless of what nonsense the other characters are coming up with.

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Spoilers about the end of the season

The conclusion is fascinating, even though by necessity, it opens a door to the kind of thing I’m personally against. I’m all for individualism and everyone being judged based on the things that begin and end with themselves. The ability to judge people as a collective makes me very uncomfortable. In this case, it was impossible to separate out individuals from the collective, so the only way to render any kind of judgement was to judge the collective.

But the idea that this then makes it okay to assess society as a whole and judge all of it accordingly…makes me nervous. It opens up a lot of potential for things I don’t agree with–but this is what fiction is all about, of course. Exploring the possibilities. So it was a fascinating ending, nonetheless. I can’t wait to see where the follow-up movie, which should be out in January, takes the story.

End Spoilers

Favorite Quotes:

“And if you fail?”
“I’ll die, that’s all. It won’t be a loss.” –no, it will! It will!

“I’m saying your individual opinion doesn’t matter.”

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