Friday, April 25, 2014

Worth a Watch? Yup.

*Disclaimer* (Dude, do I really need this?) I got into watching anime a few years ago--a little late in the game considering my college major was animation-- so you may occasionally hear me get a nerd-on for it And this is one of those times. Fair warning, I don't gush (ew, gross) but I will applaud a well made story, no matter what format it comes in. 

So ANYWAY...Not all animation is meant for the kiddos (and there's a fair amount of anime that definitely isn't!). I started watching Psycho Pass because I thought the blurb sounded interesting. Not earth shattering in that I was like OMG I have to watch this, because I'm not huge into futuristic/sci-fi/tech type stuff, but it definitely piqued my interest.

"In the future, even just thinking about a crime is enough to make you guilty – and justice is dispensed from the barrel of a gun. Detectives work in teams made up of Enforcers and Inspectors. Enforcers take out the bad guys, and Inspectors make sure their partners don’t cross the fine line between good and evil. The great equalizer in the war against thugs is the Dominator, a futuristic weapon that can read minds and assess the probability that a citizen will turn criminal. There are no trials. Only Enforcers, Inspectors, and the Dominator. Commit a crime in your mind – and the Dominator will make sure you pay the ultimate price." (Blurb/graphic courtesy of

Well, I went into this show not expecting much, just curiosity, and wound up hooked from the first episode. This isn't cutesy, funny anime. This is a dark, moody, make you think about the state of humanity type story. Can you imagine relying on technology to decide whether a person deserves to walk free? Where your thoughts and emotions can flag you as a potential criminal, even if you've never done anything wrong? Crazy.

 This series follows the main character, a rookie inspector named Akane who is immediately thrust into a difficult case her first night on the job. Her subordinates are a group of latent criminals called Enforcers (people who have a high psycho pass, which is basically their crime probability reading) and she's immediately told that these people are less than human and she's to treat them as such. They're supposed be the ones handling all the dirty work. Over the course of the series, however, we find out that things aren't so black and white. Akane grows from an almost timid, naive young woman into a strong, admirable Inspector. She bonds with her team, and as they delve further into each case (as well as trail a particularly heinous criminal) we begin to see the mutual respect between all of them.

In the beginning, this is almost like a typical crime drama type show in format, where a new case is approached each episode. Once the main villain is introduced, however, the plot begins to focus more on his pursuit. There are so many interwoven threads to this story, though. Roles are questioned, society is questioned, and there's this constant paranoia among all the characters about the levels of their 'psycho-pass' readings.

For the most part I found the characters to be well drawn. Akane is a likeable heroine, but she comes across as very human at the same time. She makes mistakes, she questions things, she's both vulnerable and strong. Shinya Kogami, an Enforcer on Akane's team,  is at first your typical serious, almost stoic male lead, type but shows surprising depth (and even a sense of humor) as the story progresses. Shōgo Makishima is definitely a psycho, messed in the head villain.

Despite the heavy tone, and the lingering questions with a future society that relies a little too much on technology (yup, there's some definite social commentary going on here) there were a few light moments that helped keep this from being a total downer. The human element is very apparent throughout the story, which I think is what drew me in, because you really see how these characters are affected and how different incidents influence them.

Not for the faint of heart, but overall, I'd definitely recommend this series!

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