Psycho-Pass – 17

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It seems as if Psycho-Pass has been playing the “false main character” game in a pretty unique way – and thank goodness for that.

[Commie] Psycho-Pass - 17 [59E361B7].mkv_snapshot_00.44_[2013.02.16_17.49.43]There’s no question that Psycho-Pass is a good show – it’s interesting, full of ideas, visually striking and features a terrific cast.  But more and more the one thing that seems capable of elevating above “good” is Makishima Shougo.  P-P suffers from the same defects that most Urobuchi Gen shows do.  It doesn’t connect emotionally like it does intellectually.  Most of the characters are likable but fundamentally two-dimensional – they clearly exist to be “types” and to serve the plot more than anything else (it could be said in some ways that P-P is like the inverse of Robotics;Notes, the photo-negative – each seems strongest where the other is weakest).  And more so than some Gen series this one has issues of originality that it’s too deeply entrenched in to ever really escape. 

[Commie] Psycho-Pass - 17 [59E361B7].mkv_snapshot_02.23_[2013.02.16_17.50.36]But then there’s Makishima, who exists as the one truly provocative and fascinating element in this mix.  It’s a testament to Gen’s writing here that I’ve come to unabashedly root for Makishima, despite being repulsed by the sort of philosophy he in many ways embodies.  “In a kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king” the old Erasmus quote goes – and for all his psychopathically perfect inurement towards violence, Makishima seems to be the one person in this universe who can see the forest for the trees.  Makishima was fascinating when he seemed just to be a supervillain – now that he’s looking like the hero, he’s all the more so.

[Commie] Psycho-Pass - 17 [59E361B7].mkv_snapshot_04.11_[2013.02.16_17.52.24]There were elements of the reveal about the nature of Sibyl that were surprising, and some that were pretty predictable.  “Human brains hooked up to Sibyl directly” was one of my guesses last week, and always seemed as likely as anything (“aliens” was always a long shot).  And it’s seemed likely for a while that Chief Kasei was some sort of mechanized avatar of the Sibyl System that had a history with Makishima.  I confess I was taken aback when she introduced herself to Shougo-kun as Touma Kouzaburou, though – as was Makishima – though the explanation certainly fits in the context it was presented.  Perhaps the most interesting things Kouzabrou/Kasei said in its screed (aside from lamenting how hard it was to find a copy of Gullivers Travels) was that Sibyl had been in place for “over 50 years” and that Japan was “the only nation on Earth ruled by law” – further suggestion that Psycho-Pass’ primary message may be a broadside by Gen aimed at Japanese society itself.

[Commie] Psycho-Pass - 17 [59E361B7].mkv_snapshot_05.05_[2013.02.16_17.53.22]I was certainly cheering for Shougo-kun as he was tearing Sibyl’s scarecrow to shreds – partly because he’s the best thing in the show and I didn’t want to see him die then and there, and partly because he’s the only person alive who knows the truth of Sibyl.  That’s fortunate in that he’s also probably the one person who has the ability and inclination to try and stop it.  Perhaps the most interesting question facing us is just how that’s going to play out.  I can’t see Makishima and the Bureau openly working together, but I also don’t think Gen would ask us to stay invested in a cast of Investigators and Enforcers continuing to do the Devil’s work as unwitting stooges.  Perhaps Makishima will subtly help from behind the scenes – it’s clear he respects Kougami as he respects few others, as witness the courtesy call he gave him after his escape from the transport plane that was carrying him towards the grim fate Sibyl had in mind for him.

[Commie] Psycho-Pass - 17 [59E361B7].mkv_snapshot_05.13_[2013.02.16_17.53.31]I’ll give Gen credit for sighting his sights high here – if you’re aiming to be a dark social satire, Gulliver’s Travels is about as peerless as they come.  I just don’t think there’s enough really original in P-P to break through the limitations holding the series back.  I feel as if I’m watching Kougami, Akane and Gino re-enact the same scenes over and over – they’re basically following the same routine in every arc, with the details changed – and Masaoka is on-screen only long enough to make you wish he was there more often.  As 2-D characters go they’re likable ones, though, and that keeps the series operating at a higher level than it otherwise might.  And as long as Makishima is out there acting as a wildcard, it feels as if anything might potentially happen – an absolutely essential element in a series that otherwise feels quite predictable.  The uncertainty over what he might do now is easily the most intriguing part of the series.

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  1. h

    I'm glad there's some real consensus in the blogosphere (who comes up with these words?) that Makishima is/was an antihero of sorts, or more specifically a Well-Intentioned Extremist.

    There's no doubt he's been a main character, though, and he's probably the least "false" in many respects than anyone in the cast. Maybe "false protagonist"?

    In any case, I'm ecstatic to note that I'm not the only one cheering as Makishima viscerally put the Sibyl android in its place and staged his dramatic escape. The guy has class, I tell ya.

  2. "False main character" doesn't refer to Makishima's nature – it's about the way the series has tried to convince us for a long time that he wasn't the main character when in fact I think he is.

  3. J

    On the contrary I feel he's more like the Joker from TDK, the one carrying the show even though the core story is not about him.

    The revelation this week does make you wonder who's the first brain out of the 247,and if those new members are as free and powerful as they believed themselves to be.

  4. G

    I can't think of him as a hero. Murdering innocent people is not something a hero does. He is an interesting character but I can't wait for Akane to get revenge on this bastard.

  5. h

    I don't see how the series tried to convince us he wasn't the main character. Ever since his introduction it has been hinted he's the mastermind behind a streak of criminal events. As the show wore on, the focus on him kept climbing. Some folks had even positioned him as the Moriarty to Kougami's Holmes and Akane's Watson.

    The difference now is that his motives seem "right" despite his immoral actions. He's clearly established himself as an "ends justifies means" type of character. The "Well-Intentioned Extremist" seems to fit him, as I said before, but not perfectly, because we still don't know the purity of his ambitions, or how much of his world-burning is due solely to his own depravity rather than his (twisted) moral imperative.

    Of course I agree with everything else you said, as usual.

  6. E

    A consensus, indeed. I was cheering Makishima rejected the offer and beat the crap out of the 'old lady'. Heck, that was awesome. I would reject such crazy offer myself. To be reduced into nothing but a floating brain in a tube of orange juice? LOL.

  7. K

    Makishima is fascinating and a great character but I hardly see him as a hero. He still committed crimes and that has nothing to with the Sybil system. Of course the Sybil system has to go down but in my opinion it won't be Makishima who will accomplish this.

    I still feel the demise of the Sybil system will be due to Akane.

  8. s

    I'm not sure why a lack of originality needs to a mark against Psycho Pass. I absolutely love the hard-boiled cyberpunk noir genre it's steeped in and am thrilled to see an anime do a take on things like Blade Runner and Minority Report. I think there is something to be said for taking a known form and executing it peerlessly, which I would say PP is definitely thing.

    I don't know, I feel 'originality' is somewhat of an overrated concept when it comes to entertainment, or at least in that way I feel it is often used when you talk about it with Psycho Pass.

    Another thing I am also curious about: How do you quantify rooting/admiring Makishima's character when you spent much of Fate/Zero crticizing and villifying the actions of Kiritsugu? Their characters are certainly different, but both have no problem with exercising violence to achieve their goals, and unlike Makishima none of his victims are exactly innocents-it seems hard to argue that Makishima's acts are not more evil and cruel.

    Normally I wouldn't try to compare one series with another in this respect, but considering that both are written by Gen Urobochi and center around a character using violence as a means to achieve what he believes is a greater good I think it's valid to ask why your evaluation seems so different.

  9. I've admitted openly in the last two posts that my rooting interest in Makishima is a contradictory one, given my general views on consequentialism. What more are you asking for than that? If it's an explanation you want I think I've offered that, too, but I can't say anything that will completely reconcile the situation.

  10. B

    Man this show is racist. Two characters in the show that have achieved almost full cyberization of their body and both are portrayed as demented moustache twirling villains. RACIST.

    Hyperbole aside I find myself looking forward to this show each and every week despite the somewhat flat characters because I love this type of genre and, let's face it, we aren't spoiled for choice in this department.

    I'm not sure what to think of Makishima at this point. His intentions may be agreeable but let's not forget this is the dude that murdered Akane's friend right in front of her because…? That's the problem. The ends justifies the means is something I agree with sometimes in certain situations but in this case his means appear at times to be rather capricious in nature. Murder of the innocent can't be seen as good at any time but he didn't even have an apparent reason for that murder, it appeared to be purely for the benefit of mindfucking Akane. A hero? No, I can't even see him as an anti-hero. He may be in the right about the Sibyl system but his methods are the work of a man who is just as evil as the Sibyl system in a different way.

  11. h

    I would like to propose a campaign furthering "Tolerance toward Cybernetics."

    Chairman: Makishima Shougo
    VP: Choe Gu-Sung

  12. Perhaps Neil Gaiman's upcoming Doctor Who Cybermen ep will promote greater understanding.

  13. J

    I have feeling that it will be Madokami ending again, letting Akane's well intentions to be the judge.

  14. 1

    Not the best brains in Europe, but still…

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