Since I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about it, I decided to watch Psycho-Pass. And indeed, it was good.
An interesting pun on the Japanese pronunciation of ‘psychopath’, Psycho-Pass is a show that deals with, well, psychopaths and a kind of society wherein everyone is judged by the color wheel and put into their proper place. That is, everyone is being moderated by what they call the Sibyl System, an all-knowing supercomputer who has eyes everywhere, carefully monitoring each person’s Criminal Coefficient. Rule of thumb: the higher the Coefficient, the higher the likelihood that this person will commit a crime. Likewise, a high Coefficient would produce a cloudy Psycho-Pass Hue. It is then up to Inspectors and their underlings, the Enforcers (who are latent criminals: people with high Criminal Coefficients who chose to side with the police rather than stay in some drab white-washed facility) to rid society of these potential criminals.
And this is where things get complicated.
From the outset, the premise of the Sibyl System is already very 1984-esque; we have a Big Brother figure who is keeping everyone in check. Its main function is to put everyone in a position that corresponds to their aptitude, aiming to create a society that is at its maximum efficiency. In other words, Sibyl’s aim is utopia.
Utopia, or a perfect society, simply cannot—or does not—exist. One way or another, some sort of contradiction is going to arise. We’ve seen this happen loads of times: Orwell’s 1984, Lowry’s The Giver (totally stoked for the movie. Hope it’s good), Blood-C. I mean really, why don’t you learn? And true enough, the moment Sibyl’s true nature is revealed, everything becomes f’ed up. It turns out that spoiler spoiler spoiler. The point is, Sibyl, as a system, is a very Adam Smith-nian one, driven by its own interests.
Furthermore, Sibyl’s Criminal Coefficient system raises some questions. For instance, an episode had Kogami, an Enforcer, about to shoot a hostage whose Coefficient had risen to a high level. However, this hostage has not done anything bad. As such, Akane, the Inspector in charge of Kogami, shot him with a Paralyzer rather than having him kill the innocent girl. The problem here lies on the fact that the hostage is subject for execution simply because her Coefficient is high—not because she has committed a crime. Of course, this can be viewed as a preventive measure, dousing the fire even before it becomes big. But then again, is it really right to judge someone based on numbers?
A lot of moralistic, existential questions crop up during the course of the show, which makes it a really engaging watch. One of the questions (or statement, rather) that really had me going was the one made by Akane: is it the Law that protects the people, or the people who protect that Law?
With these kinds of thought-provoking, moral-questioning, er, questions, plus stunning visuals, and awesome fight scenes, Psycho-Pass is a world worth delving into.
P.S. I should really get around to reading Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.