Not everyone got what they wanted for Christmas this year.
|I had decided to just put episodes 11 and 12 together into one post since I was so busy with Christmas posts, Christmas itself, and finishing off some final posts for SAO and Btooom!. I usually hate being so late that I have to squish two episodes into one post, but it seemed like the only way since time was a-ticking. What I didn’t realize was that episode 12 would be delayed until January. Oops. Now that I’ve sorted things out, here’s a very late Psycho-Pass post about my favourite episode of the series to date.|
You know that feeling you get when the director blatantly cops out from a more risky move to go the safe route? For example, a side character may be killed only to be revived seconds later to ensure that the viewer feels happy. Attempting to please everyone with happy endings often dilutes the point of a story, especially when it comes to more serious things such as death. Urobuchi Gen doesn’t cave in to that sort of pressuring. He is brutal. Absolutely brutal. If watching Madoka has taught me anything, it is that this man will kill and torture his characters to make sure that they have learned an important lesson. If anything other than Makishima slitting the throat of Akane had occurred, the entire scene would have been a colossal disappointment.
I was chanting “please kill her, please kill her, please kill her” in my head like a silent prayer as Makishima prepared to cut open Yuki like a Christmas ham. Not just because I like seeing people die, but because Akane wouldn’t have been properly traumatized without a more permanent feeling of guilt being held above her head. This is going to be a major turning point for her. She’s been so good and righteous thus far; standing up for latent criminals while making conscious decisions about who she should kill or not. However, that’s all been guided by the Sibyl System.
The entire police force relies heavily on their Dominators to tell them who they are allowed to kill and who they aren’t. They aren’t liable if they “accidentally” kill someone, because their gun is specifically programmed to only allow you to shoot those with high criminal coefficients. Normal police officers in our society have to consciously decide when and where to pull the trigger. This can allow our officers to avoid unnecessary violence, but it can also lead to officers making wrong decisions. How many cases have you heard of officers tasering or shooting people to death just because they “looked dangerous” when they were in fact innocent people? I don’t even check the news too often and I remember this happening a lot. It’s not a perfect system, but the police will be punished for making the wrong choice, so they make sure to really think about their actions in most situations.
There is no punishment with the Sibyl System. There isn’t even a need to think about whether or not to shoot, because the gun spits out a number for you and then chirps out a line that either says “don’t shoot” or “go nuts, Rambo.” The amount of actual cognitive processing required is greatly reduced, and we’ve seen how often the police just choose to snuff out valuable witnesses just because the gun told them to. They rarely capture criminals and put them in jail to potentially get a second chance – they just blow them to sticky strands they have to vacuum out of the rug. As long as the Sibyl System is accurate, this isn’t too much of a problem because on average it is probably a better predictor of future behaviour than a cop trying to make an assessment in the heat of the moment. There is still a paralyzing mode for criminals who aren’t terribly dangerous, after all. The whole thing falls apart only when people like Makishima stroll in.
Silence for the grand finale, please…
I was right when I said that Makishima would most likely have a normal criminal coefficient. In fact, he is the goddamned posterboy for mental health based on Akane’s Dominator readings. He commits terrible crimes, but somehow remains completely composed. Makishima explains that a person’s will is not a factor in determining the criminal coefficient, so just by acting out according to his will, he is still within normal guidelines. As to exactly how his Psycho-Pass is pure white, even he is only able wryly answer “I don’t know myself.” I think part of his ability to elude Sibyl may be that he is a genuine psychopath.
A very small subset of criminals are classified as psychopaths if you use the actual definition. For example, Senguuji is most likely not a psychopath – he is just a murderer. There is a very important difference between the two. Psychopaths score above a 26 out of 40 on the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, which measures a bunch of personality traits found in psychopaths such as narcissism, shallow emotions and the tendency towards deception. This is the main way to diagnose psychopathy since not a lot is understood about it. What makes psychopaths so special from normal criminals is that they show no emotional or physical reaction when they do something really bad, such as murder someone. They are unable to generate feelings in response to events both good and bad, meaning that they actually do not feel guilty when they kill someone. Take Silence of the Lambs for example: Hannibal Lector kills a nurse while hooked up to a heart monitor, yet his heart rate rate never changes from baseline levels. Makishima does the exact same thing this week – his criminal coefficient eerily creeping lower and lower as he toys with his razor. It’s a powerful scene, and it really drives the point home that these numbers mean absolutely nothing if they’re measuring the wrong thing.
Perhaps the reason Makishima is immune to the judgements of the Sibyl System is that his body is not showing telltale signs of distress. Not a lot is known about psychopathy, so it could be reasonable to assume that they still aren’t able to properly assess psychopaths with an automated system in the future. His heart rate doesn’t go up, his blood pressure stays the same, and his mind is still functioning in a way that allows him to make logical decisions. Psychopaths are all very charming individuals who can function very well in society if they try to. A lot of high-ranking CEOs in business and surgeons are actually psychopaths because they either have to make cutthroat deals, or because they don’t get nervous operating on patients since they don’t care if they die or not.
They are not the broken-down criminals who lash out in anger and impulsively kill people or do it for the thrill. They do it because they simply can, and it helps them achieve a goal. A willful goal. Killing someone to get the last pudding in the fridge is a plausible action for them since it gets them closer to what they want, and they don’t care what happens to anyone else in he process. It would be endlessly ironic if the only individuals capable of slipping through the Psycho-Pass radar…were psychopaths.
I think the series will most likely give us some other explanation for Makishima’s pure white Hue since this would require quite some research for anyone not in the field of psychology, but it’s still fun to imagine things that way. Furthermore, we do actually have quite a few studies about differences in the brain of a psychopath compared to a normal person, so it could be possible to tell in the future with some quick brain imaging. But…the Sibyl System isn’t really scanning things like that, is it? It measures someone’s…force field? What does that even mean? This cymatic scan can’t be very accurate if it skips out on important details like Makishima’s criminal coefficient. I’ve always assumed that the Sibyl System was around 80% accurate, but now I’m wondering if it’s measuring things that are completely off.
With this episode, the Sibyl System is really starting to be questioned. Makishima’s goal seems to be less structured around up-ending the system and more about helping individual people realize that they have free will and to allow them to exert it. He wanted Akane to make her own choice to shoot him so she could break away from her habits, but it didn’t work. In a society full of people who only do what Sibyl tells them, it’s no surprise that Akane is unable to take the plunge and make her own judgement of Makishima. She can’t do it. The punishment she receives for not meeting Makishima’s expectations is so severe that I’m sure she’ll be shaky for days. Her Hue should be cloudy at the very least. Finally, she has been broken.
Bonus Screenshots: Show ▼
Such a wonderful episode! There is even more to love than the amazing scene where Akane is reduced to a quivering heap of useless limbs (which I devoted the entire post to discussing). I love that Senguuji refuses to leave even when the police force arrives, and inevitably dies as Kougami uses one of the oldest tricks in the book to kill him. Anime characters have this horrible tendency to press on despite having fatal wounds that would kill a man ten times over, and it always makes me wince to see characters keep fighting with broken ribs, blood pouring out of every orifice, and enough bullets in their body to sell supplies to Koko Hekmatyar. Although he tries to help Akane, he gets a headbutt from Masaoka to keep him in place. I’m sorry guys, but at this rate he is going to be the biggest badass out there.
The next episode won’t air until January 11th or so. So until then, have a Happy New Year and don’t let your Hue get too cloudy!
What? No episode until January? I…I can’t…believe this…no..!