In anticipation of the release of Psycho-Pass: The Movie, which is screening in my area later this month, I did a marathon watch of Season 2 of Psycho-Pass last Friday as of this writing in order to be fully caught up on the story. I had to that point only seen all of Season 1, which I loved. I had also only seen the first couple of episodes of Psycho-Pass 2 while it was still a broadcast dub. I remember liking it, but I abandoned it at the time because of all the hate and negative feedback the second season was getting from some very loud fans of the first season on Facebook. In reaction, I put the show on personal hiatus, vowing to return to it later. Having now completed Season 2, I'm at a loss to really understand all the initial vitriol by certain fans of Season 1 that felt let down or cheated somehow by Season 2.
I found the second season to be every bit as gripping and compelling as the first. It was another great sci-fi thriller, with interesting twists, good cliffhangers that lent well to our marathon session, because we were always eager to find out "what happens next!?", etc. True, there's no Kogami per se in this season, except as a representation of Tsunemori's conscience when she's privately wrestling with her own thoughts. It says to me she still loves him and cannot forget him, and I love her for that. The romantic tension between these two was half the fun of Season 1. Their attraction to each other was as powerful as it was impossible to make a reality in the dystopia governed by the Sybil system. Season 2 is just as thought-provoking, philosophical, every bit as disturbingly violent, etc. Psycho-Pass 2 gets a passing grade from me at any rate.
The main thing I don’t like about Psycho-Pass (the anime series) is that it relies upon as its central conceit a deliberate blurring of the differences between psychosis, i.e. “normal” individuals having a psychotic break(down) and genuine psychopathy, i.e. psychopaths. I get that the title is a kind of word-play and riffs on the Japanese pronunciation of “psychopath”. I can’t tell if the Sybil system is just unable to recognize psychopaths, only normals on the verge of psychosis? Or maybe it recognizes “garden variety” psychopaths that we in the 21st century would recognize, but there has seemingly been an evolution of “undetectable” psychopaths able to evade standard electronic monitoring and screening. Moreover, since Sybil is essentially a collective hive mind of such “asymptomatic” brains, and regards itself as the essence of cold, utilitarian perfection that is, in Niezschean fashion, somehow “above” mere human morality clouded by “useless” sentimentality, it sets itself as the ultimate arbiter of justice. But its power is near absolute…and absolute power corrupts absolutely, per Lord Acton’s maxim. Psycho-Pass is a thought provoking dystopia about the over-reliance upon technology and the complete discounting of “merely human” judgement, intuition, etc. It has moments that are genuinely horrifying and is excellent social commentary on our own pervasive state surveillance apparatus. Sybil is the ultimate Emperor with No Clothes, which only Inspector Tsunemori is privy to. It is her struggle to remain moral and uncorrupted while working for a very flawed and corrupt system. She maintains a private faith in democracy and greater justice tempered with humility and mercy, a quite different vision from Sybil’s coldly utilitarian “paradise”. Cherami Leigh is new to the cast and plays the thoroughly unlikable, very cocky rookie Mika Shimotsuki. She is basically Tsunemori's polar opposite and is always questioning Tsunemori's action and judgement, meanwhile demonstrating her own terrible judgement and naivete throughout. She writes highly critical, damning reports that cast Tsunemori in the worst possible light, but Tsunemori ignores these barbs, as does the agency Chief, who has a private understanding with Tsunemori as established in Season 1. Mika Shimotsuki in the end winds up a rather pathetic figure, a wholly craven "Winston Smith" who obsequiously declares her love for "Big Brother", a.k.a. the Sybil System. Meanwhile Tsunemori maintains her personal integrity throughout and forces the Sybil system to reform & purge itself and re-establish its shaky truce with Tsunemori. It recognizes Tsunemori as a long-term threat to its own viability, and Tsunemori certainly still has her own criticisms and distaste for the Sybil system, but she is willing to see just how far Sybil will progress in its new path of "reform".
In any case, I now feel caught up on the story and look forward to seeing Psycho-Pass: The Movie later this month when it screens at my local Alamo Drafthouse.