PSYCHO-PASS 2 – 04

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“Look, we can do this the east way, or the adorable way.”

This episode didn’t just disrobe a mental health facility’s patrons of their clothes. It laid bare just how appalingly ill-informed, ill-equipped and ill-prepared the MWPSB is to do battle with this season’s Big Bad, Kamui.

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“Empirical data suggests the accuracy of my earlier contention that your weapons against me are without merit!”

Makishima Shougo facilitated latent criminals with the materials they needed to “thrive” so they could show him something; treating it almost like art. Kamui, on the other hand, is all cold, calculating science. He’s not necessarily interested in making a big loud fuss; rather, he’s content to stay on the sidelines as he uses citizens, enforcers, and inspectors as guinea pigs, with a particular focus on the possibilities of Dominators.

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Most. Worthless. Inspector. EVER.

“Ghost” is such a fitting term for him, because that’s what he remains in the minds of most MWPSB personnel, even after this week’s shocking events. He’s still treated like an apparition cooked up by a bunch of crazy people. Mika is so sure Kamui is just nonsense, and Eustress Deficiency is just an urban legend, that she simply stands outside the site of a hostage situation that escalates in horrific massacre. She literally does absolutely nothing in this episode, except jaw at Akane, stand around looking stupid, and worry about getting in trouble.

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Wonderful stuff, Metamucil!

Of course, that’s the way Kamui wants it. It’s as if he’s observing a group of rare animals that don’t fear man or even acknowledge his presence or existence. Their actions and protocols are utterly predictable, and he can work within and around them as conditions warrent with little or no fear of detection or reprisal.

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DIV 3 in the hizzouse

Just to underline just how bad things are, of the only two “good guys” (we use that term in a relative sense) who entertain the fact that Kamui even exists, one is a latent criminal locked in an isolation facility no one will talk to for fear of hue contamination. The other is the only person who will talk to him. And even Akane neatly fits into a part of Kamui’s plan, in that her sprawling investigation of his actitivies takes up most of her time this week, sidelining her from the central crisis.

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And then there’s Inspector Aoyanagi. I was pretty sure her nice chat with Ginoza was either a sign she’d soon turn into a latent criminal like him, or simple a death flag. Turns out it was both. It’s a shame we had so little time with her before she went, but she at least tries to go upholding her duty to protect the innocent. The only problem is, she fails to protect anyone, as they’re all ruled as targets for lethal elimination as soon as they’re released from captivity.

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That crazy old man went and made a latent criminality bomb out of people who were “fine” earlier that day, then manipulated the MWPSB into executing their own inspector as well as all of the hostages. And he did it all gladly, grateful as he was for Kamui “saving him” from a catatonic existence caused by eustress deficiency.

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It’s just a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for the MWPSB. What’s worse, just as Mika excuses her criminal inaction with “I wasn’t given instructions”, Division 3 are “just obeying orders.” They’re just cogs in the machine. But so were those random people buying drugs to regulate their mental state. Oh, but the MWPSB now has an “Assault Dominator” that can kill through walls! That just screams “bad idea.”

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Who knows, Akane…who knows?

Division 3, whom I don’t believe we hadn’t seen before, were sent to take over the case on Chief Kasei’s strict orders. When Akane arrives at the scene, it’s far too late to help anyone, and she’s just as sickened as I am by the spectacle before her. Worse still, she of all people knows this was another sweeping-under-the-rug job by Kasei. When faced with such situations, Sybil breaks its own rules with impunity, but the cache it’s amassed from perceived infallibility means nobody takes notice.

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Something like a dozen people died this week as a result of Kamui’s experiments, but this is far from over. Akane needs to find this creep soon, or a lot more are going to die in what he probably deems to be “the service of the greater good”, freeing humanity from the shackles of Sybil and its MWPSB minions. I’d also like to think this was a wake-up call for someone like Mika…but I’m not going to hold my breath!

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PSYCHO-PASS 2 – 03

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Not your ideal Friday.

I got into Psycho-Pass so recently, I ended up waiting negative-one week for the sequel a good chunk of its audience had been waiting over two years for. As a result, I didn’t have the same yearning or withdrawal, and so wasn’t as easy on the first two episodes, which while heady and intriguing, didn’t seem to quite match the power of the first season. If I’d had a longer break from the franchise, I can say with certainty those would have probably gotten 9s. That’s how arbitrary our rating system is!

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Well, I can say with great pleasure that Psycho-Pass is officially back, baby…as if it had ever left (it hadn’t).  It gives someone like me who just got done watching the first season a couple weeks ago the impression that it’s back by leaning on all the knowledge I’ve amassed thus far. Frankly, I feel that someone watching this show without having that knowledge is still watching a pretty damn good show, but only a fraction as good if you knew what’s come before.

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Shashiing.

Those first two shots above are from a cold open that quickly and efficiently sketches out a little more about what kind of feller this Kamui is. For one thing, like previous Psycho-Pass baddies, he’s possessed of a very specific and detailed depravity, which is indeed depraved, even by the standards of our “unSybilized” world. Removing Inspector Shiui’s eye, then using it to aim her own Dominator at herself…that’s some twisted shit right there. And yet…somehow, he manages to clear her hue just by talking to her (and letting her bite his finger really hard…yuck!).

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OMG, academics, like, totally REEK, ‘n stuff! Ew. Ew.

The body horror isn’t the only thing that this episode brought back from the good ol’ days…this week Akane pays a visit to Professor Saiga Motherfucking Jouji, one of the coolest SOBs of the previous season. Having turned himself in for helping Kogami, he’s traded the verdant tranquility of his Fallingwater knockoff for a comparatively stark isolation cell. Shimotsuki Mika, who comes along because she’s curious what Akane’s up to now, perfectly sums up her character by covering her mouth and scurrying off at the first sight of the professor. It’s as if she’s allergic to the knowledge and wisdom of yore!

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Akane is not. I believe Mika’s scan of her in her messy flat read something like “38”, a ridiculously low Psychopass for someone who’s been through as much as Akane. She’s stuck between the possibility she’s gone insane and wrote “WC?” on her own wall (possibly while high on second-hand smoke) or the possibility a “ghost” invisible to technology did it without leaving a trace. Saiga can assure her of one thing: regardless of whether Kamui exists, the means to clear hues and write messages on walls without detection most certainly do, which means the answers are out there.

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Like Father…well, you know the rest of that.

Psycho-Pass Classic™ Move #3? Quality time Enforcer Ginoza, whom has fantastic chemistry with Div 2’s Inspector Aoyanagi. Just like his old man, now he has a bionic arm and drinks really old brown liquor in his U-neck and just generally seems to be in a better place. He was always so on-edge and anxious; covering his face like Mika did, too scared of clouding his hue to really live. Could it be he changed for the better? There’s certainly much less of a weight on his shoulders, that much is clear. Aoyanagi almost looks envious of his plight.

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The hits keep coming: Akane visits Chief Kasei to ask permission to investigate the Kamui Case. Now, you and I both know (or you better damn well i if you’re reading this) that Kasei is a freaking full-body cyborg and a direct liason to Sybil. Mika doesn’t have a fucking clue what’s going on between Kasei and Akane in this scene, but we do. That feeling of being in the know is quite…invigorating. While Ginoza was always cowed by Kasei (because like Mika, he just didn’t know the truth), Akane is almost not asking, but telling “her” that she’s taking this case. Kasei has no reason to stop her, because Kamui could be a grave threat to Sybil.

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Togame: Highest coefficient EVER. Gonna keep an eye on that (Sorry, Shisui!).

Mika dismisses the wide berth as favoritism. Mika is…kinda dumb so far. But she’s a perfect product of the system, as Akane once was. Also, we have the luxury of knowing Akane’s absolutely fuckin-A-right about Kamui really existing, even if he’s spoken of by Norma latent criminals as if he were some kind of prophet or savior. That Kamui managed to kill an enforcer, kidnap an Inspector, keep her Dominator active, and steal the impact absorber from a bomb-defusing drone…to what end God only knows.

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Meanwhile, Aoyanagi get’s a call from Shisui and agrees to meet her at some kind of combination pharmacy and internet cafe, where an old man is being crotchety and starts assaulting an employee. Yet the geezer’s clear Psychopass locks her Dominator, and starts to whale on her. Like Kamui, he wants to “save” everyone from Sybil, presumably starting with those who most directly carry out her will: the MWPSB.

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PSYCHO-PASS 2 – 02

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Last season, Makishima wanted Kogami to come out and play, sensing he was a kindred intellect. Now Makishima is dead and Kogami is who-knows-where, and Akane has fully taken on the mantle of brilliant yet tortured ace detective who could one day end up a latent criminal. And what do you know, she has an admirer of her own, who not only leaves a message at the site where he used a paralyzed inspector to kill an enforcer, but scratched into the wall of her apartment.

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“WC?” “Water Closet” was my first guess too. It only takes this episode for Akane to figure it out, but this time she can’t keep Kitazawa from meeting the business end of a Lethal Eliminator. Before that, Mr. WC? is able to somehow reduce Kitazawa’s crime coeficient to below criminal levels, resulting in his transfer to a medical facility. During the transfer, Kitazawa escapes, attacks Inspector Aoyanagi and sets up more bombs, but Akane is right there to cut off his escape route.

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It would seem that Mr. WC?, whom we learn is named Kamui, set up this whole situation, perhaps to see how Akane would manage to save Kitazawa. That’s an inspector’s life: people are constantly putting peoples lives in your hands. It’s no wonder most of them smoke; even Akane lights them to see if the smell on her lingers (for some reason, for moment there I was shocked and scandalized at the prospect of Akane smoking!)

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Because Akane is not the only inspector on the scene (Aoyanagi is there too, and she has a settle to score) and there are more lives on the line if Kitazawa detonates another bomb, Kitazawa gets popped. But before he does, he asks her “What Color” he is, thus solving the puzzle. Despite his use of messages, pawns, and general mayhem, Kamui doesn’t seem to be cut from the same cloth as Makishima. He’s not trying to watch the world burn; but maybe wants to save it.

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Only his methods threaten to expose the holes in the Sybil System, something Akane can’t allow to fall quite yet. In the meantime, I’m loving how she’s taken to her new role as Division 1 boss, perpetually pissing the by-the-book Mika off with her unconventional methods and empathy for enforcers. Speaking of which, holo-engineer Hinakawa and ex-therapist Togane look like solid additions to the unit so far.

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PSYCHO-PASS 2 – 01

Action Akane! (Don't worry; she's just shooting a robot)
Action Akane! (Don’t worry; she’s just shooting a robot)

After a long wait of approximately eight hours, Psycho-Pass is back, and is as velvety dark and cerebral as ever. Things start off with a bang, from a demolition expert’s bomb, in a return to the early part last season’s criminal-of-the-week format. But while in that season’s first episode, the innocent, impressionable rookie inspector Tsunemori Akane tried and failed to defuse a situation, shooting her own enforcer in the process.

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This time, she’s a little older, and a lot wiser, takes full control of the situation, and with one eye on the future she wants to build and another on the desire to preserve life whenever possible, gets a much more favorable outcome. It helps that her innocent, impressionable rookie Shimotsuki Mika (Sakura Ayane) doesn’t get in her way or muck up her plan. She does what she’s told and complains a little, is all.

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She has no idea of the horrors and struggles her partner has seen, or the secrets she must bear. Mika is content to rush in, point the Dominator at the target, and shoot. In the culprit’s present state, that would mean death, which Mika is fine with because it’s what Sybil recommends. But it’s not fine for Akane. She is patient and thoughtful in the application of her duties.

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She also studies the culprit throughout the episode. He seeks to minimize innocent casualties. He’s purely concerned with punishing MWPSB, the agents of the system that sentenced him to a life of mediocrity. While others dismiss his online screeds as paranoid nonsense, Akane sees someone genuinely concerned with society’s direction, not someone who has totally turned his back on it.

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Culprits’ Crime Coefficients rarely go down, especially in the heated rooftop standoff that occurs. But as long as there’s a slight chance of saving an individual’s life, Akane is going to give it her all to make that happen. It’s a great moment when she finally succeeds in getting his CC down below 300, activating the Non-Lethal Paralyzer. It feels like justice, administered by the one holding the gun, not the gun, itself.

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After the crisis passes, Mika doesn’t seem convinced. She’ll learn. In one of the better touches of the episode, Ginoza tells her as much in the same way his late father Masaoka coached Akane, even calling her “Missy.” The show also ends with the expected twist to reveal the villain behind the villain, in this case, someone who isn’t just criminally asymptomatic, but whom technology doesn’t even recognize as a living being. Interesting.

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Rail Wars! – 05

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If you want a single image of Rail Wars!, imagine Aoi’s boob stopping a model train—forever.

If you made a drinking game out of all the times Naoto and Aoi end up in extremely close contact, or all of the times something embarrassing happened involving a part of Aoi’s body, well…you’d be extremely drunk before the halfway point. And if you happen to be an Naoto+Aoi supporter, this ep was right up your alley, as it’s roughly 90% them. I happen to be one, so I was a happy camper.

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Whether it’s Aoi storming into Naoto’s bedroom and derailing a model train with her boob (a portent of the situation to come), or Naoto is getting a lucky paintball shot between her legs; or Aoi is going bare-legged with her miniskirt, the romantic tension comes as hot and heavy as an economic boom-era dual-engine locomotive on a mountain line.

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As has been well established by now, Aoi is a tough-ass chick, but her girly side seems to come out with greater regularity the more she hangs out with Naoto. He represents everything she should hate: pacifism, poor marksmanship, general non-physicality. But even when she wanders off on her own and gets into tight spots, he always tracks her down. He’s always there for her, even as a gun mount, of all things.

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But a gun mount couldn’t anchor her as well, or hold her when the danger has passed and she’s short of breath and wiped out from the stress. Aoi is not only learning that being a JNR public safety officer isn’t the same as being a cop, but also that Naoto isn’t the cowardly weenie she first thought him to be. There’s grit and guts behind his easy smile and slender frame, with a patience and prudence that nicely balances her wildness.

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