Psycho-Pass – 11

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Last week, when Kogami finally made contact with the rest of the team it felt like a victory hard-one by having to balance Yuki’s life with the need to play the game set out for him. All that was left was for him to stay out of Senguji’s sight and wait for the cavalry to move in and destroy the cyborg while Makishima, again let down by one of his “clients”, simply retreats. How wrong I was.

Sensing the MWPSB will be on to him soon if they aren’t already (a suspicious proven right when Akane finds him), Makishima accelerates his plans in the most basic way possible: by exploiting the known weaknesses of his adversaries. Kogami takes out Senguji, but gets shot in the process, and so is helpless to stop Makishima from snatching up Yuki right in front of him.

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Kogami directs Akane to where Makishima was headed, but when she arrives at a catwalk where he’s seemingly waiting for her, she too is utterly powerless to stop him, but not because she’s shot, or because he has a hostage. Akane’s weakness is that she relies on the Cybil system to activate the Dominator, and Makishima’s Psycho-Pass is pure white, despite his obvious criminal conduct.

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I’ve been lambasting Cybil to kingdom come for the whole run of the show, as any free will-loving human being would, but I thought that at least it kind of worked on some level, i.e. is able to identify criminals through cymatic scans. Turns out it can’t’ even do that, at least with Makishima. Sure, he’s just one man, but who’s to say he’s unique in the world? Even if he isn’t, he’s a game-changer.

Makishima in his sporting generosity tosses Akane Senguji’s rifle and gives her an ultimatum: if she doesn’t kill him with that gun, he’s going to slit Yuki’s throat right in front of her. It’s basically the worst choice you can give someone who’s life will be ruined forever the moment she pulls that trigger. But I guess that’s his point: Makishima will have value for him if she puts in an effort.

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But she doesn’t. She can’t. She holds the rifle with one hand, wobbles and shakes, closes her eyes, and aims nowhere in particular. She’s lucky she didn’t accidentally shoot herself, but poor Yuki isn’t so lucky. The round misses her, but Sakishima’s razor doesn’t: punishment for his disappointment. He then disappears, leaving Akane to fester in her grief.

We’ll see how Akane’s hue fares following the most traumatic experience of her life by far: not only watching her friend be murdered before her eyes, but being unable to save her despite possessing the exact tools to do so. Makishima is convinced his criminal coefficient is nil because criminality cannot be measured by the Cybil system. His will to observe humanity “in all its splendor” is impervious to technology; impervious to judgement.

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Right now Makishima is just getting his jollies testing how far he can go with that goal, and how many others like him he can find. Akane seems like a long shot, but he’s really excited about Kogami, who after all didn’t lift a finger to stop Makishima because he was bleeding out, not because he lacked the will.

Here’s where I have to ask, isn’t there some kind of entity in government that is above Cybil, so that society can be defended against those like Makishima? It doesn’t seem like there is, so I guess it’s up to the MWPSB. They certainly have their work cut out for them. As for this show, it’s found a new level of cruelty.

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Psycho-Pass – 10

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Makishima is one magnificently manipulative bastard. Initially, his newest mark Senguji Toyohisa believes Makishima merely procured fresh, intelligent prey for him to hunt the old-fashioned way with a twist: a big shotgun and robo-foxhounds. But Senguji is only a formidable but ultimately expendable means to test Kogami, and while he’s not quite out of the frying pan by episode’s end, he’s passed that test so far.

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Makishima’s scheme seems ridiculously convoluted at first: kidnapping Akane’s friend Funahara Yuki, using her phone to text Akane about something, assuming Kogami would accompany her to the obvious trap where he’d go in and enter Senguji’s hunt. But as Kogami puts it all together, it’s all very elegant an ingenious. Senguji typically hunts for his own amusement, but this time someone’s “watching from the bleachers,” and not actually rooting for him, but Kogami.

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As I said, Kogami doesn’t disappoint, treading carefully, noticing when things aren’t right and knowing when to run and hide. Poor Yuki doesn’t know what the hell is going on, and would’ve gotten killed a dozen times over, but she’s not a cop. When Kogami realizes he’s the target, he also realizes Yuki’s presence there has a purpose he hadn’t considered.

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That’s when instead of leaving her behind, he tells her to strip, and ends up finding the transponder antenna hidden in her bra which she didn’t even know was there. This was ultimately a very weird but clever extended application of fanservice, as there turned out to be a logical reason for Yuki to be running around in her nightie, but required significant intelligence—and grace under pressure—to divine.

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When Kogami treads too far into the abandoned complex, Akane loses all contact with him, and when Gino arrives with backup, he’s quick to suggest Kogami may have set this whole thing up to run away, and Akane was naive enough to trust him. When he decides they’re going in with Dominators, essentially leaving it up to Cybil whether he should live or die, then telling Akane she only has herself to blame for it, Gino’s far enough across the line to piss of Masaoka, who grabs him and throws him against a crate.

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Before things get right out of hand, the question of whether Kogami ran away is settled when he makes contact with the transponder. He and Yuki aren’t out of there yet, but Makishima has intentionally given him a fighting chance, however small, and he’s going to take it. And while I sorely hope Yuki gets out of this okay, if she doesn’t, that can’t possibly bode well for Akane’s Psycho-Pass.

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Psycho-Pass – 09

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What sets Psycho-Pass apart from just about everything else I’m watching at the moment is the uncanny deftness and elegance with which it expresses its ideas and themes. It also helps that while the bad guys are, by most conventional appraisals, evil sadistic bastards, and yet they’re anything but boring. This is a show that possesses the very charisma the show defines: It has the nature of a hero or prophet; an ability to make you feel good when you’re watching it, and the intelligence to talk about all sorts of things.

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That three-part definition is offered by Ex-Professor Saiga, who once lectured both Kogami and Gino, and whose lectures were shut down when the hues of many of his students—all inspectors-in-training—started to get cloudy, turning them into latent criminals by Cybil’s standards. Kogami brings Akane (or rather, Akane allows Kogami to take her) to Saiga to meet him and learn from him, if only a little bit in a short time. After all, Kogami is the detective he is because he learned a lot from Saiga, so if you want to be a good detective, any exposure to him is a good thing.

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That seems to be what Akane wants. Her household AI jests that she’s preparing as if she were going on a date, and it is a date, in a police-nerdy kinda way. At the same time, Saiga is someone she would never have known about were it not for Kogami. But the main point is, she is steadfast in her commitment to treating Kogami as an equal, despite his lower official status in society. So much so, that she has to suspend her senpai-kohai relationship to Gino when he goes to far in admonishing her for seeing Saiga.

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Going back to Adam and Eve, knowledge is power, but comes at the cost of paradise. Cybil is mankind’s attempt to rebuild a Garden of Eden, which has its own cost; a life without stress is a life pointless and short, perhaps shorter than a Hobbesian world. To maintain Eden, those deemed unworthy are constantly cast out to live below the rest. “Unworthy”, in this case, are those who ask too many questions; amass too much knowledge; seek too much individuality.

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The exquisite analogy Kogami presents to Akane on their autonomous car ride home: knowledge is a swamp you can’t see the bottom of, but cannot check unless you dive in. Even Kogami wasn’t allowed out of the swamp once he dove too deep. Worse, one person’s descent means their entire family is marked for death, as the powers that be are just waiting for science to prove criminality is hereditary. Gino, who lost a father and colleague, doesn’t want to lose Akane too, which is why he’s so harsh on her.

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While events may ultimately determine Gino was being overprotective—Akane is constantly being described as having an uncommonly clear and resilient psyche—there’s also a very real possibility that she could end up going down the very same path as Kogami. What’s so awesome about Akane is that she may already be okay with that. Between protecting one’s own hue or solving crimes/protecting the people, she considers the latter far more important. But as she says, she is new, and has no idea what lurks in that swamp.

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Take Senguji Toyohisa, a cyborg who is, aside from his brain and nervous system, entirely machine in composition. He’s a particularly arrogant cyborg as well, pitying all of humanity that are content living out their lives in their sacks of meat. Running parallel to the discussions Saiga, Akane and Kogami are Senguji’s own ideas. Where he isn’t wrong is that science is about bettering mankind, which is done through the development of technology. Once we learned how to live long lives, we set about ways to make those lives more efficient and pleasant.

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He believes his “transition” to a timeless artificial body is just the next natural step in the human struggle to become immortal; to become the very god who expelled us from paradise. Like Akane’s decision to continue diving into the swamp, his choice had a cost—that of his body—but he subscribed to Plato’s thinking that the body was but a prison. With his new mechanical body he’s free to pursue his mind’s full potential, which seems to consist of hunting people down with a rifle. To each their own, huh?

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Makishima is right there beside him, all charisma and validation; literally playing with the edge of a razor; composing his latest symphony; providing Senguji with his next prey: Kogami. For the first time, the good guys are the direct target of the bad guy, though I’m confident this is nothing but a test by Makishima. If Kogami can’t pass it, he wasn’t worth fussing over. As for how Akane fits into all this when Makishima becomes aware of her, well…We’ll see just how tough and resilient her psyche really is!

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