Final Review: Psycho-Pass

DISCLAIMER: Anime reviews on this blog will attempt minimal to no spoilers unless other noted. If a review seems dull or shallow, it’s because I’m trying to make sure not to go into too detail for those who are actually interested in the show before or after reading the review or those who have yet to finish the title. If you want further details, there are usually tons of reviews that can be found elsewhere on the internet. Furthermore, anime reviews in general are the sole opinion of the author writing it and thus differ across the users. There is no such thing as a “right answer” only a majority agreement. You are free to have your own opinions and thereby free to state and/or argue/debate in the comments section below or on the Fansub TV Forums. The review is not necessarily meant to serve as a recommendation but rather a personal opinion of having completed the series.

Psycho-Pass is an original anime written by Gen Urobuchi that premiered in the NoitaminA slot during Fall 2012 and Winter 2012/2013 anime seasons. It takes place in the near future in a utopia like setting where humans are measured by a metric known as the crime coefficient. The coefficient is the society’s way of determining how likely any one person is likely to commit a crime be it a misdemeanor or a lethal/murder. The show specifically focuses on Unit One of the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division and how they attempt to maintain order in this futuristic society. Psycho-Pass is licensed by Funimation.

Psycho-Pass starts off as a really lame series following a futuristic police department that cracks down on “pre-determined” criminals in society. The show promised “no moe” and/or cutesy moments and only promises pure action, violence, and an intelligent story. It definitely came through with the former, but questionable for the latter. The show’s premise isn’t particularly interesting since it takes place in a supposedly utopia setting but of course anyone can figure out that in order to make things even remotely interesting, you need to introduce some sort of conflict, i.e. someone who/something that can bend societal rules. And, of course, Psycho-Pass does the most simplistic case: introduce someone who gets around the crime coefficients regardless of their actions. That isn’t to say that simple is bad as it certainly may be optimal in some cases, but in Psycho-Pass’s case, it takes a whole 11-12 episodes to introduce such a concept, acting as if it was trying build up to a suspenseful moment. That said, if you got through the first half of the series, the second half is by far more engaging as the mystery of the society unveils. The idea of society being run by these abnormalities is really cool but what’s bothersome is the Nanoha StrikerS like cop-off, i.e. brains or rather a matrix of brains. The action is also very solid in the second half as it deepens character interactions and personalities, particularly that of Shinya, Shougo, and Akane as well as how they think. Conclusion? It’s more or less a Ghost in the Shell knock-off but at least not a “true justice always win” ending.

Art is nice and detailed though a bit heavy on the CGI rather than actual drawings at times. Character designs are above average. Some don’t really blend well with the background settings. Animation is solid for an I.G. Production work, especially as of late and certainly better than Robotics;Notes. Still a number of inconsistencies to the point that the director even publicly apologized.

OP1 is okay but forgettable. OP2 is better but still not entirely memorable. ED1 and ED2 are both by supercell/EGOIST and decent but of course, having set the extremely high bar with “The Everlasting Guilty Crown” last year, these two come nowhere close. Seiyuu is decent for this show.

Enjoyment? As said before, the first half is very boring. Some may be surprised by Shougo’s character but if you’ve seen enough anime and/or played enough video games, this should be a pretty obvious theme that occurs in these type of shows. Second half is much more engaging as the tension begins to build after each episode but considering Shinsekai Yori was airing in the same two seasons, Psycho-Pass remained as but a shadow as both titles played on the idea of a utopia society that is actually a dystopia. Shinsekai Yori simply had a more engaging premise and complicated story that really drew on elements of each individual episode. On the other hand, Psycho-Pass is pretty linear in most aspects.

Overall, as much as I dislike comparing series to others when writing reviews, Psycho-Pass basically is far from original. It combines elements from Cowboy Bebop to Ghost in the Shell, to same season’s Shinsekai Yori, etc… Some good, some bad. On the flip side, said titles are also not perfect. Furthermore, Urobuchi clearly likes to build for the first half as Phantom did the same thing almost 5 years ago. Unfortunately, that results in an unreasonably long and dragging wait to get to the true “goodness” of a series. Not everyone is a completionist and in fact, most can only really give 3-4 episodes before making a judgment call. Psycho-Pass falls in the same pitfall so while one can argue that “people should be sorry that they missed this title,” the counter argument holds as well since this is an anime, not a novel. It’s not as easy to put it down and pick it up again later. In conclusion, Psycho-Pass is over-hyped (mostly because of Urobuchi) and to some extent overrated. It’s not a bad title but it lacks appeal to really sell itself to a sophisticated and/or intelligent audience early on.

 

Story and Character:

  • Premise (0/1): Lame
  • Character Personalities (0.5/1): Not particularly interesting. 2 best characters didn’t get enough screen time.
  • Character Development (1.5/2): Better in the second half. Shougo’s character has some holes and not fully flushed out.
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (1/2): Characters just “disappear,” especially the new recruits.
  • Pacing: (0.5/1): Weak first half, solid second half
  • Reasonable/Plausible (2/2): Generally plausible.
  • Conclusion (0.5/1): Half-baked.
  • Total: 6/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (2/2): Decent. Heavy on CGI but acceptable
  • Character Designs (1.5/2): Above average
  • Fluidity (1.5/2): Inconsistencies mid-way
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (1/2): Decent special effects. Dark and gloomy that only semi-reflects the mood of the series let alone the society.
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (1.5/2): Better than Robotics;Notes and one of the better I.G. titles lately.
  • Total: 7.5/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (2.5/3): OP1 and 2 are okay. ED1 and 2 are nice but inferior to previous/recent works.
  • Background Music (1.5/2): Above average
  • Sound Effects (1.5/2): Above average
  • Seiyuu (2/3): Decent
  • Total: 7.5/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (1/2): Boring characters hurt the series.
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (1/2): Better hooks in second half
  • Presentation: (1.5/2): Effectively episodic at the start.
  • Re-watchable (0/1): Not really.
  • Recommendation (1.5/2): Shinsekai Yori, Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell. Code Geass, Crest of the Stars, and Ergo Proxy to some extent.
  • Value (0/1): Story is too linear. Sci-fi utopia elements are too similar to many existing titles that do the job better.
  • Total: 5/10

Preliminary Score: 6/10

Final Score: 7/10

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