Psycho-Pass – 21

It's Tiltrotor Time!
It’s Tiltrotor Time!

—I didn’t expect you to get here so soon.
—Don’t underestimate the MWPSB. You’re not the only one who can drive Makishima into a corner.

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Akane may as well have said “Don’t underestimate me. Don’t think I’ll stand idly by and let you become a murderer. That is not going to happen on my watch.” All great things must end. This is the beginning of the end of Psycho-Pass, and it’s a good one.

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The gap has narrowed between Kogami Shinya and Tsunemori Akane. Both have chosen their weapons for the endgame: Sybil—for all intents and purposes God—has bestowed upon Akane a righteous weapon with which to do His work: a non-lethal Paralyzer with the safety de-activated. It did so because Akane convinced them to give it to her, lest the MWPSB use “more primitive” weapons that could harm or kill their beloved Makishima.

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But it also narrows because Sybil was right: telling her the truth motivated Akane like nothing else. Her colleagues notice it; Yayoi says she’s “the most constructive of all of them, but also the most depressed-looking.” Masaka sees that she’s bearing a great burden, even if he doesn’t know what it is. But Akane’s Crime Coefficient is a calm, breezy 24. She’s been chosen, and she’s putting aside everything to save Kogami.

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This show was never really about the intense rivalry between Kogami and Makishima. That was a sideshow. Rather, it was about Akane coming into her own; it was about the tragedy of someone as brilliant and moral as Kogami becoming a latent criminal and being reduced to glorified hunting dog duty by Sybil, who now seeks the same person who put him in that spot. And it’s about Akane drawing a line. Kogami may be a latent criminal, but he Will Not Be A Murderer. Her goal is as selfish as Kogami’s, if not moreso.

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Don’t get me wrong: I love Akane to death. She’s one of the best anime characters I’ve ever come across, and her journey has been engrossing and epic. But let’s not forget a couple things: One, at the moment she’s still a servant of Sybil, which may purport to be beyond such concepts as good and evil, but by any measure, the society it maintains is by no means ideal.

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That means she’s willing to capture Makishima alive and give him to Sybil in exchange for Kogami’s life. But the more efficient way to deal with the Makishima situation is, indeed, taking him out. He would say himself, nothing is eternal. He lived life according to his own will; that is probably enough for him. He doesn’t want to join Sybil. And yet if he did, and became part of the brain trust, he could do far more harm for a far longer time.

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What I’m getting at is, it’s probably better for society for Makishima to die, not to be turned over to Sybil. That’s an assumption, of course, but let’s not pretend Akane is any purer than Kogami in this situation. They’re both driven by emotions. Whatever you want to call it: respect, admiration, longing, love—Akane feels it for Kogami. He’s all that matters right now. If she loses him, either by murdering or getting himself killed, I can’t imagine how she wouldn’t end up lost.

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But as much of a super-sleuthing dynamo as Akane has been these last couple episodes, she still makes a critical miscalculation, rushing to the control room to take control of the emergency power, assuming that’s where Makishima will go. But he’s not there. He’s where Masaoka Tomomi and Ginoza Nobuchika are. Akane is too late in warning them, and Masaoka ends up the first casualty in this final battle.

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It is, as befits Masaoka, an excellent death. When Ginoza is crushed by a booby trap, Makishima emerges, and Masaoka fights him to defend his maimed son. When he has him in a lock, Makishima, wily bastard that he is, lights a stick of dynamite and tosses it at Ginoza. Gino orders his dad not to let go of the culprit, but Masaoka can’t fight back his love any more than Akane can. He grabs the stick, which blows up before he can toss it away. We’ll miss you, Pops.

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Then Kogami arrives, bandys words with Makishima for a while. He can’t do much with the revolver in the dark labyrinth where fate has chosen their fight to take place, and it comes down to something even more primative than guns: blades. Akane still has her trump card, but can she make it in time?

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This shit’s heavy, man.

10_brav

Psycho-Pass – 20

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Note: I had planned to finish the first season of Psycho-Pass before the new one arrived, but I didn’t want to rush things…and procrastinated! -H.

Psycho-Pass has gotten noticeably talkier in the episodes leading up to what I can only imagine to be a mind-blowing finale, but when the talking being done (and the talkers themselves) are this compelling, I can hardly complain. This time, Akane’s own Dominator speaks to her. As I suspected, she’s firmly on Sybil’s radar, and they’ve decided to tell her the truth, in hopes it will motivated her to help them acquire Makishima.

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Action-wise, there’s not much to speak of here, at least early on: lots of standing around listening to the voice of Sybil, as Akane continually calls bullshit. We also have Akane having conversations in her head with Kagari, Makishima, and Yuki. By scanning her mind, Sybil believes Akane shares their desire to maintain social harmony, and the belief that society as it is would break down if Sybil were brought down.

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These conversations serve to reinforce the kernal of the idea that first took root in her mind the first day she joined the MWPSB: that the system is not absolute as she thought. It is not perfect, which means it cannot claim absolute authority over society. Sybil basically expels what little regard she still had for it by revealing their true nature as puppet-masters. But because they can still decide whether Kogami lives or dies, she makes a deal with them.

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Once that deal is made—with her pointing a Dominator at her chest and telling Sybil to make its damn move—it gave me every confidence that she’d hold up her end of the bargain, but it probably isn’t wise to take Sybil at its word. Her flashbacks also reminded us that unlike most of the population, her immense natural talent in many disciplines (or luck with tests as she calls it) gave her a choice they didn’t have.

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In effect, that choice from a variety of futures afforded her a measure of free will. Sybil indeed cleared up a great many things for Akane, and it’s like a fire was lit beneath her. At the home of the murdered agricultural official, she breaks out her super-sleuth skills, channeling Kogami to Ginoza as she talks. Kogami is already at the granary where Makishima intents to poison the crops.

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Akane showed us a lot this week, like just how much she’s grown and matured. I love how disappointed and disgusted she gets the more Sybil tells her. But it also confirmed to us that she’s far from the cold and emotionless automaton she feared she was, or that her clear hue would seem to indicate. Why else would she agree to giving Sybil exactly what they want, essentially serving as their pawn, for Kogami’s sake?

8_brav

Psycho-Pass – 19

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Getting back to basics, Kogami practices loading and unloading a revolver, reminding me a bit of Travis Bickle. But he still isn’t sure of Makishima’s next move, so he borrows Masaoka’s sportbike and tears off, Tetsuo-thru-Neo-Tokyo style, to the home of his mentor, Professor Saiga.

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This is an exceedingly quiet episode of Psycho-Pass, even quieter than the last, which was dominated by Kogami’s goodbyes, but it’s also an episode in which the full extent of what Sybil has done to the country comes to light for us he audience. And even though nobody knows what Makishima knows about Sybil, it’s almost as if they sense it—in their guts and in their hearts.

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It didn’t occur to me, for instance, that agriculture is completely automated, or that history is no longer studied, but that’s simply because the show hadn’t really turned its gaze on those aspects of its world until now. This is a truly FUBAR world, for all its aesthetic similarities to our own. Most of the population has accepted it, while intellectuals like Saiga retreat to the forest, unable to harm anyone with knowledge.

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Of course, being intellectual means you can find ways around the system of control that essentially imprisons everyone else. Take the chat rooms Saiga participates in, hosted by offshore servers. Kogami’s visit proves more fruitful than picking the professor’s brain and saying another goodbye: when presented with the thread “How To Bring Down Sybil In Five Days”, the chat room participants have at it, providing a wealth of diverse ideas.

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At first Kogami just sees them as a bunch of nerdy jokes, but as Ginoza says to his worried therapist about maintaining his hue, it’s about how you look at things. So Kogami picks the “joke” he thinks is “funniest” – meaning the plot most likely to fit Makishima’s cynical style.

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That is to cause a food shortage that will force the government to interact with the outside world. Once the gates are cracked, people and knowledge will spread like antibodies, nullifying the entire crime coefficient system, and dealing a critical blow to the superiority the powers that be value so highly.

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Meanwhile, Akane deals with the fact that Kogami is gone, and that if they ever meet again her orders are to kill him. She deals with it initially with a stiff upper lip, refusing to be depressed. When Shion gets her to open up, Akane voices her worry that because of her freakishly pure Hue means she’s cold and unfeeling.

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For a moment there, I thought something was going to happen with those two, which would have been an interesting development considerin how relatively asexual Akane has been portrayed thus far. Her talk with Yayoi in the cafeteria is far less charged, but just as devastating in that they continue to detail everything wrong with the world they live in, that Akane is only just starting to realize.

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Maoyuu Maou Yuusha – 02

Maou decides to begin agricultural experiments and education in a small village. Yuusha meets Maou’s longtime Head Maid. One night two serfs – sisters – break into the stables. The Maid is ready to turn them in, but Maou and Yuusha let them spend the night, and the maid eventually offers them jobs as maids. Maou begins enriching the land and educating the village youth, the first small step in her and Yuusha’s crusade.

Whenever characters have such well-defined traits and limitations – be it a queen, hero, maid or serf – there’s the risk of them becoming mere allegories in service of the plot, at the cost of emotional connection to them. Indeed, every character here is a manifestation of an idea/worldview first and foremost. The Maid is cold, logical, and unyielding, but tempered by her master’s authority. While she may sound cruel in making no distinction between serfs, slaves, and insects, she knows no other way to express these concepts. Her role doesn’t require her to distinguish between insects and humans who can’t or won’t determine their own fate.

But there’s something very weird and cool going on here: despite the characters being such strong archetypes, the sense of order that ensues is comforting and reliable. And Maou and Yuusha remain a cute, warm, and surprisingly witty couple; even if Yuusha doesn’t seem to be doing much yet, it’s clear just his being with Maou lends her emotional and moral support. We like how she gets into the nitty-gritty of agriculture and illustrates just how much careful, intricate preparation will be required to achieve their ultimate goal of peace.

On top of all that work, Yuusha isn’t even sure what peace is and where his place will be in that peace, other than by Maou’s side. After all, who needs heroes in a perfectly resolved world with no enemies to defeat or battles to win?


Rating: 8 (Great)