Psycho-Pass – 18

Another nice father-son moment
Another nice father-son moment

Kogami Shinya is a sharp felow. Since the day he met Makishima Shougo, and resolved to judge him, he’d probably suspected he wouldn’t be able to get the job done if he remained a detective under the law. The bizarre actions and motivations of Chief Kasei this week serve as the final nail in the coffin for his career as a detective, a career he ends on his own terms. It’s a heartbreaking end, in particular for his colleague and friend Akane, but it was inevitable.

"Yes, prove your usefulness by killing your ex-partner. LET THE HATE FLOOOW."
“Yes, prove your usefulness by killing your ex-partner. LET THE HATE FLOOOW.”

But first, Kasei, or rather, the Sybil “brain trust”. Faced with the prospect of further challenges to their perfect little system at the hands of Makishima makes them bolder and less concerned with decorum. I mean, trying to pass off the plane crash as an opportunity for Ginoza to sweep his failures under the rug is one thing, but doing it after he and others just saw a body being carted away from a plane that only had Makishima and drones aboard – pretty brazen!

In case there was any doubt, yes: Tsunemori Akane is the shit.
In case there was any doubt, yes: Tsunemori Akane is the shit.

Things get worse when Ginoza, fully aware Kogami is his best detective—better than he’ll ever be—tries to bend the rules a little and get Kogami on Division 2, searching for Kagari. It backfires, and this time Kasei puts her hand on Ginoza’s Dominator as it’s being aimed at Kogami, transforming it into a Lethal Eliminator. Ginoza hesitates pulling the trigger long enough for a particularly gutsy Akane to shoot Kogami instead with the Paralyzer (for the second time sinc they’ve met; both times to save him).

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Because she was technically performing her duties, and said she believed Ginoza’s Dom was “malfunctioning”, she gets off without punishment, but there can be no doubt that Sybil will be looking very carefully at Akane from this point on, illustrated by naught but Kasei’s cold cyborg stare. There can be no overstating how masterfully this show stages incredibly tense situations.

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That tension is followed up by some of the best character work yet in a show that’s brimming with it to begin with, as Kogami prepares to go off the reservation. Karanomori lets him take the last remaining helmet, telling him he has six days before Sybil countermeasures render it useless. She knows he may not come back, too, so wonders aloud if she should ever have slept with him. Then Masaoka pours him some of the good stuff and gives him the key to a safe house he used back in the day.

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As this is all going on, Akane is still asleep by his hospital bed. Akane, who made him promise to keep being a detective; not to think of himself as merely a hunting dog to do her dirty work. What Akane didn’t realize is that, if they could talk, a dog would promise anything to you out of loyalty, regardless of whether they could keep it.

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Unlike that hypothetical talking, promising dog, Kogami has the benefit of knowing he’s making a mistake out of a largely selfish determination to pursue Makishima and stop the killing. But he’ll do it anyway, because he won’t be able to live with himself anyway if he lets Makishima get away. Tears well up in Akane’s eyes as she reads his farewell letter, but as Masaoka said, far better to have written that then left without a word.

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What’s her next move?

Kogami has six days, and then he’s a big blinking light on Sybil’s Big Board. I recall Akane saying stopping Makishima is more important than her remaining an inspector. Would she become a latent criminal to save her beloved colleague from himself, or will she let him do what he feels he needs to do, and hope they won’t cross paths. She won’t be able to just use the Paralyzer a third time.

9_brav

 

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Psycho-Pass – 17

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The Cybil System: “It’s not something worth putting your life on the line to protect,” Makishima warns Kogami by phone. As a member of society not under such an invasive system, I knew this intrinsically, and that was before I knew what Sybil actually was. Now that I know the horrifying truth, my revulsion has been galvanized. Now it’s just a question of whether the “good guys” (Tsunemori, Akane & Co.) will catch on.

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Wait…there’s a Division TWO?

After killing Guseong and Kagari, a repaired Chief Kasei propagates the fiction that the latter ran away, and pins the blame on Ginoza. But even if Ginoza himself followed Kagari down to the Sybil Core and saw what he saw, he’d have been eliminated too, and the circumstances covered up as neatly as Kagari’s. For their part, the rest of Division One doesn’t think Kagari ran, but that something happened to him. They just have nothing to go on.

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Kasei tells Ginoza that Makishima is now out of the MWPSB’s authority, and tells him he will be disposed of as a “research specimen”, if he hasn’t already. This is some truly devious shit, because even at the time, when I had no clue Kasei was part of Sybil, this just felt like the higher-ups doing the dirty work that needed to be done to deal with those who fell through the system’s cracks: the criminally asymptomatic. You know, just good old-fashioned corruption at the top.

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I had no frelling idea what was really going on…not until Kasei shows up in Makishima’s hospital berth and talks to him like an old friend, because he’s actually Touma Kouzaburou, that teacher who made body part sculpture and disappeared. This is when shit starts being revealed even Makishima couldn’t have fathomed, for all his literary efficacy. Touma is one of 247 disembodied human brains working as one that form the network that is the Sybil System. Shudder.

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Even more incredible, those brains were all selected for those with “irregular personalities” that don’t fit mankind’s “conventional standards” for emotion. In other words, Japan is being ruled by 247 psychopaths. As Makishima says, that is one hell of a joke, and he breaks out a nifty Swift reference about the brains of those who disagreed being halfed to alleviate conflict. But the more Touma talks about it, the more he sounds like he’s just doing it to Play God.

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Cruelty, megalomania, lack of remorse: they’re thinks Makishima has in spades, and he’s immune to cymatic scans too, which is why Touma uses this opportunity to welcome him into the fold. But while both Touma and Makishima are criminally insane, their goals are completely different. In short: Makishima isn’t interested in becoming Umpire Number 248. He doesn’t want to officiate the game; he wants to keep playing it.

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That’s when he enters Awesome Makishima Mode. Taking advantage of the fact that is Touma is alone and vulnerable, ambushes the cyborg, breaking its limbs one at a time, and making sure Touma knows why Makishima’s not joining their little zombie buffet. When last we see Makishima, he’s looking out on the city from a crippled aircraft, but I’m going to wager he somehow survives the crash.

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Just in case, Makishima contacts Kogami, right after Kogami espies a vision of Makishima in his office. As Kogami says to Tsunemori, every battle a detective faces has been lost, in that victims have already been created by a crime. That’s true in that the entire country is presently being victimized by Sybil, but it’s false in that they don’t come upon all crimes after the fact. The crime is still in progress. They can stop it, prevent more victims from suffering, and save themselves while they’re at it.

10_brav

Psycho-Pass – 16

Those don't work, remember?
Those don’t work, remember?

As they approach the Nona Tower and a gauntlet of untold helmeted baddies, Kogami asks Kagari if he’s scared. This question interrupts Kagari’s monologue about becoming an enforcer not to protect the people who took everything away from him when he was five, but simply because being a hunting dog out in the world is preferable to hell as a lab rat in a facility. That is all. Well, that, and he has friends in the CID who he’s loyal to.

Very Akira-esque machinery
Very Akira-esque machinery

That loyalty is tested when he descends alone below Nona’s four official basements and into a cathedral-like anechoic chamber where Choe Guseong is attempting to break into Sybil’s core. Makishima ascends to the tower’s top floor as a decoy for Kogami and Tsunemori. They go after Makishima despite knowing he’s a decoy, because their primary directive is to capture him alive. Well, that, and they both have a score to settle with the bastard.

The cityscapes on this show are so sweet
The city vistas on this show are so sweet

All three detectives are slowed down by helmet guys armed with dangerous tools, but Kagari and Kogami show they’re not afraid of a little hand-to-hand combat and manage to charge through; Akane gets hit in the leg by a nailgun and has to hang back, and we finally come to the scene that starts the very first episode, when I had no idea what was going on. Well, now I know: we were getting a tantalizing glimpse of Makishima’s cornering and ultimate capture.

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We had no idea what had led up to that showdown high atop the Nona Tower, or the costs exacted to allow it to happen. Nor did we know how things would go down after literary pleasantries were exchanged (apparently one parries (Blaise) Pascal with (Jose) Ortega (y Gasset). I tellya, sometimes Psycho-Pass is like a Holiday Inn: just staying there makes you feel smarter, or that you should have paid more attention in that Civilization and Its Discontents elective.

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Putting aside academic discussion on the fundamental tensions between civilization and the individual, Kogami and Makishima have one heck of a physical fight, and as the helmet-men had softened him up—maybe even if they hadn’t—Makishima seems to have the slight upper hand, but in his desire to punish Kogami for forcing him to end things less entertainingly than he hoped, he neglects the possibility Kogami isn’t alone, and gets stoved in the head, ironically, by one of those damnable helmets.

POW!
POW!

Kogami tells Akane to kill him. Personal vendettas aside, Akane probably should kill him. But she lowers the helmet and pulls out the cuffs; returns to being an inspector of the MWPSB, and arrests Makishima in the name of the law. It’s another great victory marred by great emotional and practical cost. Meanwhile, far below them, Kagari finally finds Choe, who is finally in. Both of them look at something bright we don’t get to see, like the contents of the suitcase in Pulp Fiction.

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Then both Choe and Kagari are swiftly eliminated by Chief Kasei, who AAAAUGH SHE’S A CYBORG! Honestly that’s not that surprising, as there was a noticable coldness to all previous scenes with her. And if he wasn’t already, let there be no doubt any longer that Makishima is hardly the greatest adversary in the show. Hell, he isn’t even the greatest adversary in the building! Kogami was ready and willing to kill him; he just wasn’t able.

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That Akane was able to hold back murderous rage at her friend’s murderer just may have given both her and Kogami a fighting chance against the true enemy, if they ever find themselves on its bad side…if they aren’t already. Until then, this episode was a thrilling tour-de-force from start to brilliant finish, one of the best of the show yet. Still kicking myself for not watching this much sooner.

10_brav