Psycho-Pass S2 – 11 [END]

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Poor Kasei. Akane’s been nothing but a source of headaches for her.

Well, the ride that was Psycho-Pass 2 is over. It sure was… something. Just like last week, OC and I present to our conversation after watching it together on Skype.
Pretty sure all I said while we were watching the final episode was “whhaaaaaattttt????”. There’s definitely a lot to be said about these…turns of events. Through the ups and down, the highs and lows, and the crazy drugged-up chicks with crossbows: we made it to the end of the Psycho-Pass finale.

Newton is rolling over in his grave.

Overcooled // If I had to summarize the finale in one word it would be “confusing.” Even when you manage to navigate around the plotholes (why did the Dominator only take off Togane’s arm instead of causing him to explode? How did Kamui know Sibyl was a bunch of brains?), there’s still a lot left to the imagination about just what on earth the ending means. What’s clear is that the Sibyl System finally faces judgement and the results may change the world as we know it. Sibyl improves itself by killing off some of the more problematic brains so that it has a clear hue. A simple solution, but it works. This means that Sibyl is now capable of judging groups of people (or weirdo chimeras like Kamui), so the next step will be for Sibyl to judge members of society in groups as well. Sibyl’s evolution into a truly “perfect system” involves the use collective hues.

The problem here is…what do they mean by collective hues? What size is the group? Would you judge someone based on their family members, friends, or co-workers? Sibyl’s evolution into being able to judge society as a group – maybe even as a whole – is incredibly ominous. The fact that Kasei says this change may mean that tons of people will be massacred implies that if Sibyl succesfully makes this change, the entire city may fall into complete chaos. Despite this game-changing development, we don’t get an inkling of an idea about what this whole collective hues thing really means or why Akane is in agreement with it. With such a paucity of information, lvlln and I were left to make up our own theories.

lvlln// I’ve said it before: good science fiction strikes a balance between wasting time by telling too much and leaving you confused by telling too little, and Psycho-Pass consistently errs far too much on the latter. Here, we simply don’t know enough about how Sibyl works to get a meaningful sense of the implications of its evolution. Sibyl clearly holds itself to strict rules – it couldn’t arbitrarily decide to assign threats like Makishima or Kirito high scores but instead had to rely on off-the-record means to handle them – but what are those rules, and how does evolving to judge groups affect them? We just don’t know, so when Kasei implies disaster and Akane implies hope, we have no meaningful basis on which to judge their claims. And when we see characters arguing over the direction and justness of Sibyl, one has to ask how this is any better than the human adjudicated courts we have now. It’s not like this debate between judging individuals versus judging groups is a novel one; in fact, you see talk of bad systems causing bad outcomes from good people doing good things all the time. The debate is murky territory with lots of room for ambiguities and subjective arguments, and this evolution of Sibyl seems to inject such subjectivity to what is supposed to (at least appear to) be an objective system. Rather than evolving Sibyl, it seems to be undermining Sibyl. Maybe that was Kirito’s goal and maybe that’s why Akane likes it so much.

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I bet whoever came up with this thought they were being really clever.

Which perhaps gives an idea of what we could look forward to in the movie: once Sibyl starts evolving, will society continue to accept it as its perfect judge? Shouldn’t a whole new political debate flare up and with it come the possibility of revolution? It almost feels as if the finale was designed just to leave a hook for the movie, because the way it concluded this season’s story felt a bit like a hack job. Okay, so maybe there wasn’t too much that could have been done to correct the course given the utter stupidity of Kirito’s back story – which we’ve expounded upon many many times before – but did we really have to get those repeated shots of different “people” making up Kirito walking, or that long row of people pointing the Dominator at Sibyl? It’s clear that the writers have no awareness of how idiotic Kirito’s 184-person origin is and are actually pretty proud of it, to flaunt it like this. And to call Kirito’s and Togane’s deaths at each other’s hands anticlimactic would be an understatement. Like, it’s great that Kirito can finally be judged, but after all that build up, it couldn’t give us any hints as to how or why Kirito was now assigned this 400+ score, allowing him to be killed? Come on, I think we deserve some payoff here.

Overcooled// It was ridiculous. Kamui’s death was so quick, I would have missed it if I blinked. There was hardly any reaction from Akane either so I wasn’t even sure I didn’t just hallucinate the whole affair. I feel like Kamui had all the potential to become a really interesting character because he was a pacifist at heart trying to sacrifice himself to better society. But on the other side of all that, he was willing to slaughter tons of innocent people to do so. This duality and the way he was pained by his own actions was interesting. They didn’t capitalize on that nearly enough. Kamui’s motives were muddled, poorly explained, and overall he just became a throwaway plot device to get Sibyl to evolve…which really does just seem like a set-up for the movie. This is by far the weirdest route they could have taken to get to the “collective hues” conclusion. Why couldn’t they just have a dude with 7 brains fused together and forget about bothering with this whole body surgery nonsense? That would have at least been moderately believable in comparison to the mess we have now.

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Poor, deluded Mika.

Likewise, Togane died rather unceremoniously in front of Mika. I still feel like he was incredibly unnecessary, especially since he failed at doing the one thing he was supposed to do. On the bright side, now we won’t have to see him for the movie! We’ll only have to deal with Mika, who has become even more of a trainwreck of a character as the show has progressed. I almost miss the days where she would make petty comments about Akane and just be stubborn. I don’t want to see her clap her hands like a seal over how marvelous Sibyl is while acting like a lunatic. The only constant source of greatness in Psycho-Pass is Akane. No matter what the circumstance is, she’ll pick the morally just option. She’ll put herself through hell just to save as many lives as possible, and she still walks out of it all unscathed. While the finale may have been a bit of a bust, I’m glad they kept Akane as the most badass chick in the show. Although, after lvlln suggested having Akane as an Enforcer, I can’t help but think that would also have been a really cool outcome.

lvlln// Heh, given the style of the show, Akane as Enforcer was always a pipe dream. Despite the messed up future Psycho-Pass builds with its setting, it’s always presented Akane as the beacon of hope, the one sane man in an insane world. Crushing that one hope would be one bold and depressing move indeed, and I just don’t see the show being bold enough to do that. Or clever enough to pull it off well. I mean, the show has certainly been bold in the past, but generally in clumsy ways, such as the naked hostage massacre or Kirito’s surgery that we keep bagging on, or even Mika’s clapping scene. Since this was supposed to be Akane’s self-proclaimed greatest challenge, there certainly was room for playing with her hue, and I do feel that it’s a shame that we were denied that. Sure, this also meant that Akane got to be her usual badass self, but I wanted to see her struggle. The closest we got to that was her smoking problem (speaking of which, what did that empty ashtray at the end mean – that she quit, or that she’s still smoking?) and her poor grandmother, and both felt very much like tacked-on cliches rather than true emotional struggles.

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The blackest that Togane could paint Akane – still less than 1/10 as black as he got to right before he died.

I would have liked to see her dealing with the omnipotence paradox a bit more. That could have been a good source for her struggles as she considered the justice of what Kirito was after versus what Sibyl offers. She could find herself questioning her own sense of justice and challenging her most precious beliefs and thus justify her label of this story as her greatest challenge. And that would have actually built on the unique aspects that make this series and setting so interesting. Instead, it felt like she simply decided to latch on to Kirito’s ideology, which just isn’t as fun. That pattern really defined this season, didn’t it? There were so many ways it could have gone in a fun and interesting direction, yet it managed to avoid all of them. With just a few changes, Kirito could have had a good back story, and Akane could have had a really compelling struggle. Kirito’s schemes involving rich folks and illegal aliens could have been somewhat coherent, and Togane could have been more than just a comically evil villain with mommy issues. It hurts more that this season had these threads that had legitimate potential to be good.

Overcooled// All that potential and no time to follow through on it…The paradoxes and evolution of Sibyl were genuinely great concepts that could have easily been the focus of an entire cour. Instead, we were given weekly massacres to drive home Kamui’s short-term goals of collecting Dominators instead of his end goal of changing Sibyl. If there had been more time to make that transition from Kamui’s immediate goals then we could have had time to really understand the intricacies of Kamui’s plans for the future of the Sibyl System. The finale is a reminder that the Sibyl System is endlessly fun to speculate about and compare to our society. But it’s bittersweet because although it reminds us how solid the concept it, this is also a reminder how lacklustre season 2 has been.

Overall, this second season really wasn’t successful for me. I started off fairly optimistic because season 1 was so great and I thought they couldn’t possibly mess it up. But with a new studio and a new director, anything can happen. I think it really became apparent that season 2 was going for something different when every single episode ended up killing more characters than George R. R. Martin on a bad day. The use of violence was no longer used as a shock factor to make key moments stand out. In fact, it became so superfluous that I didn’t even notice it anymore. It was all the same amount of blood and guts so I stopped caring. Really, it’s a shame they had a good core idea that was just ruined with poor execution and planning. All that’s left is to see if Urobuchi fixes things for the movie…which won’t be subbed and ready for our eyes for quite a while.

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lvlln// Though this season was a disappointment for me too, I can’t say I see it as that big of a drop-off compared to the first season. Most of that is because I also had some major problems with the first season, which needed the fantastic ending it had in order to redeem it in my eyes. But as eye-rolling as much of the first season was, it simply didn’t compare to the over-the-top ridiculousness of what was in season 2. And while season 1’s core story of Makishima the anarchist taking down Sibyl did a lot to make up for the season’s failings, season 2’s core story only added to them with Kirito’s barely coherent plot.

The most disappointing thing is that this season clearly had some good ideas, ideas that built on and evolved the ones introduced in the first season. But these more sophisticated ideas didn’t have the more sophisticated presentation to match. Instead, we just got more of the same, taken to extremes in both violence and implausibility. It didn’t have to be like this. Kirito had all the makings of a good villain as a benevolent cult leader early on in the series. His challenge to Sibyl was legitimately thought provoking, and it could have been better supported and explored with just a few tweaks. Togane, too, had potential to be a good villain as someone darkening Inspectors’ hues and targeting the indomitable Akane as his latest prey, before any such hope was crushed by his own back story. The best thing to be said about this season is that its open-ended ending leaves a lot of space for the sequel movie to build on. It’s just unfortunate that in the process of getting there, it also destroyed my trust in the series to actually do anything good in that space.


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15 Responses to “Psycho-Pass S2 – 11 [END]”

  1. Irenesharda says:

    Well, it’s finally over. A fun ride, and yet, I’m kind of glad it’s over.

    I really enjoyed this season for what it was. I know that many expected it to carry on in the same spirit as the first season, but knowing how different writers tend to have different feels and different tones, it makes perfect sense that this season was more about being a short suspense thriller than the psychological allegory-filled drama that the first season was.

    I thought this finale was actually kind of okay, good but not great. I think Togane ended up quite lacking in the end, though I did like his death scene and his last words to Mika. And Mika…poor, deluded Mika. She was just a horrible character this whole season, and I hope she either dies eventually, or goes crazy and turns dark from the guilt eating up at her.

    And I know I’m going to get a little hate, but I actually did not like Akane much this season. She was okay, but she really didn’t seem very invested in the series, especially in the last half. I liked her discover and conflict in the first season, but this season, even with the death of her grandmother, she just seemed like she had all the answers to everything, and frankly I just found her very annoying and boring the last couple of episodes. I don’t agree with a lot her principles, especially in regards to Sybil and the law, but I’m not sure if that’s because of my American cultural ideals clashing with that of this show or not.

    Weirdly, it’s sad that Kirito is the one that I actually liked the most by the end. I practically didn’t want him to die.

    Well, I’m interested in what the movie will bring us, though we’ll probably have to wait awhile till it’s online and subbed. Also, I really hope that Yayoi is the one who takes care of Mika in the end. That threat she gave her seemed pretty ominious.

    Oh also, why did they have Takahiro Sakurai as the voice of that useless character again? Did he really need another paycheck? The guy was in everything this season anyway…. 🙁

    • SherrisLok says:

      I think they made Akane into too much of a Mary Sue. She isn’t shown having any doubts, she is never wrong in her actions, no thought is given to the fire consequences of some of her decisions (not shooting Kamui on the boat for instance). She is really robotic through this season.
      This series is lacking a lot un the character complexity department. See Tougane, who is yet another Generic Villain #482.

      • Alexandre says:

        Definitely. I agree with you 100%. And I find it incomprehensible that Akane is, as she says in the end, waiting for Sybila to evolve to the point it can judge itself. Sybila is made to be like the computer system it never was, when it’s actually a bunch of misfits furthering their own ends.
        Also, I agree with Overcooled when she says the authors actually think stupid Kamui-184 is a brilliant idea. I also suspect that the sequence in which he keeps turning in the people he is made of (not literally, of course) and when they all show up behind him and beside him to point their fingers at Sybila, that’s more than metaphoric or a reflection of his 184-part constitution. Japanese being Japanese and anime being anime, I believe what the writers are saying is that Kaumui carries the souls of those people with him. And I suppose what they want to say in the end (stupid as it may sound) is that, having found a savior in Akane (how, that’s for the bad plot of the movie to tell), he allowed his hue to be colored so our stock villain-spoiled-child-in-love-with-mama can kill him. Really disappointing season, for the most part.

    • BlackBriar says:

      Oh also, why did they have Takahiro Sakurai as the voice of that useless character again? Did he really need another paycheck? The guy was in everything this season anyway

      If you add the recently ended two-cour anime Argevollen, Takahiro has had 10 roles this season alone. I think he took it because he could.

  2. Alexandre says:

    Akane’s unwavering determination is quite peculiar. In one level she is the stereotypical heroine (or hero, gender in this case doesn’t matter) of good x evil / order x chaos stories. Just like Batman or Superman who, in their current incarnations, will not kill for any reason (or almost any, thank goodness for slightly better characterization), she sees the Law as an absolute, instead of the social phenomenon it is. Of course it’s not a good idea to go outside the law, otherwise society becomes an impossibility. However, when your society is ruled by a bunch of psychotic criminals, things get very cloudy.
    I really could not make any connection between the ending of season one and season 2. Perhaps it’s just me, but I can’t see Sybila except as a collection of psychopaths who rule over a horrible distopian society in which freedom is nonexistent. I actually was expecting a season centered in Akane trying to bring down Sybila. I realize that her accepting the need for Sybila is shown in the end of season one, but I also can’t understand that, except as an expression of Japanese inflexibility of thought. Like the samurai maxim that says the truer bushi is the one who is faithful to a bad master. Sorry, but that’s just stupid to me. Thank goodness for the Greeks and Western rationality.

    • SherrisLok says:

      You know it’s really ironic that Akane may think of herself as protecting the law, but all she in fact does is feeding her own delusions. The Law of the PP world is based on the judgement of Sybil. There’s no other law than this. If Sybil urges you to kill you actually act against the law if you don’t comply.

      • Irenesharda says:

        I kind of agree with your estimation, I never really could take Sybil seriously after the whole “psychopathic brains in a jar” reveal. I just felt that it was so out of there and ridiculous that there really is no defending them. I can actually understand some of Akane’s points, regarding people and the law, however, the very nature of the society that she lives in revokes any kind of philosophical point she tries to make.

        • BlackBriar says:

          I can actually understand some of Akane’s points, regarding people and the law, however, the very nature of the society that she lives in revokes any kind of philosophical point she tries to make.

          I chalk that up to her naïveté and optimism blinding her. A similar but not potent delusion Mika has thinking that this society is perfect in spite knowing the truth.

          • SherrisLok says:

            I think, rather than optimism blinding her, it’s more to do with the point the writers tried to make in S1. You know the whole thing about seeing the problem and doing nothing about it because you cannot think independently and the problem does not concern you in the end.

            • Alexandre says:

              Yes, I agree. Mika is so dependent on the rules of her society and of Sybila as the ruler/god of that society that she is tremendously afraid of even considering thinking for herself. Thence her continuous insistence throughout this season in doing things by the book.

  3. SherrisLok says:

    The director didn’t change between the two series. It’s the writer who did.

    That was…underwhelming. It’s not really a bad episode, however, it was a nail in the coffin of PP credibility so to speak. Kamui was a letdown, Tougane a cookie-cutter villain, Akane seemed to be mentally-challenged throughout the episode, Mika’s contribution to the story turned out to be close to none. The plotholes hurt. They made a big deal out of Sybil judging itself, but was it really? It’s not as if they are going to shut themselves because of it.

  4. Highway says:

    A joke for you:

    Hey, I heard that George R. R. Martin was going to try to use Twitter.

    But he already killed all 140 characters…


  5. BlackBriar says:

    Hmm, I guess this ended on a good enough note. It could’ve gotten worse but didn’t. To be honest, the moment a movie was announced after this season, I wasn’t expecting any sort of conclusion because to me, this was a point of transition. Had this actually been the end, I would’ve been pissed so disappointment isn’t profound in some areas. I enjoyed series nonetheless for what it is though the standard set by the first season wasn’t met and personally, it was nice seeing a strong female lead like Akane again. Amazing how in the face of everything, she strives to to stick to her ideals, foolish as they may be. I’ll be getting more Hanazawa next season. Aside from Rize Kamishiro, hopefully she’ll play another strong character.

    There should still be hope with Urobuchi returning. While I wait indefinitely for a subbed version of the movie to come out, I’ll be thinking on some concerning things Kasei mentioned to Akane. Deliberately leading Kirito to the Sibyl System to test out the Omnipotence Paradox which in the process increased to system’s potential. In a way, she’s added fuel to the fire in her society if the rate in lethal judgments skyrocket. There’ll be daily massacres. Her whole division might even end up getting wiped out as a result.

    • Alexandre says:

      Actually, I think Akane clinging to her ideals at all costs is precisely one of her worst traits. No offense, but I consider that just plain pigheadedness and stupidity. An intelligent person should be flexible, able to change with the situation and adapt. In the case of Akane, it gets even worse, because she is upholding the law in a society where everyone is a slave to the people (or rather brains) that make the law. Sybila is by no means an impersonal judge, it is, as I said before, a collection of individuals that have put a blind over society’s eyes to have them believe they are not making arbitrary decisions on who lives and who dies, who is free and who is a criminal. As far as I’m concerned, the only decent move in a society like that is working to overthrow it. It’s like saying it’s good to live in a Communist country because Marx’s ideals were nice.

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