Psycho-Pass Anime (English)

January 27th, 2013

A few months ago, I was wandering around anime/manga goods stores in Tokyo and, I could hardly help noticing the pony-tailed woman in a black suit with the intense gaze in the sections of Psycho-Pass goods. I have excellent gaydar, even for anime and manga, and I instantly got the vibe with her. I looked up the series and found myself confronted with a number of incredibly bad synopses to chose from, none of which explain anything at all about the story. (I understand that the Japanese companies send terrible copy over, but dear ANN and Crunchyroll, get someone who can write a friggin’ coherent synopsis, please. Synopses, at barest minimum should look like this:

In a setting, a protagonist finds him/herself in a situation cause effect. An adjective genre media by director/writer/famous name associated with the series.

Just like a Mad Lib, replace the italics above with the specifics and viola! coherent synopsis.

In a future where a global computer system determines a person’s fate – even so far as their capacity for crime – using their “Psycho-Pass”- new Inspector in the Public Safety Bureau, Tsunemori Akane finds herself  tracking down a serial killer whose “Psycho-Pass” remains unstained with criminal intent. A thrilling new suspense anime written by Urobuchi Gen and novelist Fukami Makoto.

See, it’s not that hard!*

Anyway, so I get home from Japan and Katherine H of Yuri no Boke tells me I really should watch it, Yayoi is awesome. But the synopses I read made the story sound so meh, I resisted. (Sorry, Katherine, I should have listened to you.)

Why the heck didn’t anyone tell me it was also written by Fukami Makoto? Sheesh, people, if you had just told me that, I would have watched it right away. I don’t give a hoot about Urobuchi Gen, but Fukami wrote Vertigo. Anything Fukami is involved in is sure to have lesbians who don’t suck.

Anyway, once I realized Fukami was involved, I started watching Psycho-Pass, which is streaming for free with registration on Funimation’s website. (Region blocking will apply.)

And it was really very good. It is indeed a “suspense” genre with a serial killer, so if you hate that crap (and who could blame you?) avoid it. They never go explicitly gross, like Suicide Club or anything. It’s suspense, not horror, but the implications can get really grim.

Yes, there’s Yuri. In the first half of the series, one of the characters involved in an arc set in a elite girl’s school is not above seducing underclassmen for a little sex and gruesome murder.

But the reason one might watch the series is the aforementioned black-suited “Enforcer,” Yayoi. When we first see her, she has just finished a light snack of Karanomori Shion, an analyst for the PSB. In addition, a full episode is dedicated to Yayoi’s backstory that does not shy from her orientation. If anything it gives a wholly functional look to the slightly ruined  life of a woman who loves women. (Something Fukami is good at.)

Yayoi makes a very decent series excellent. ^_^

There’s one other really excellent thing about the series – the character designs are totally atypical for a Fukami project, so none of the women have absurdly large breasts as they did in Vertigo. And Akane, who clearly would have been moe in any other anime series is shockingly not, here. If anything, her design looks a little droopy-eyed, rather than childish. I really like the character designs, they say “We want to become a live-action movie one day”. ^_^

A good watch, I look forward to the second half. My only complaint is the bad guy. I hate the handwave of the psycho killer who law enforcement canNOT track/find/identify for blah blah reason. Other than that handwave, it’s quite excellent.

Ratings:

Art – YMMV, but I say 8
Character – 9
Story – 9 It’s all shark jumping, all the time
Yuri – 8
Service – 7 Fans of creepy horror violence against women are creepy

Overall – 8

I like the fact that “Psycho-Pass” is a homophone for “psychopath” when said by a Japanese speaker.

*Actually, writing synopses must be hard, Funimation doesn’t even bother on their website for the series.

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16 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hello Erica!

    I’m sorry this has nothing to do about your post but I was curious to ask you a question.

    How can we support Yuri anime? I always read that they get bad sales etc, so that they don’t get enough to make a second season and yada yada.

    Is there a way for us foreigners to support the creators/authors? Buy the anime/manga in some japanese online shop?

    I know I can buy lots of subbed anime on amazon.com, but however it feels like the authors won’t get any money from it. Only the seller. Is there an “official” store where you can buy subbed anime where the authors get their money?

    I thought if someone knew this, it would be you. I’ve been reading your blog and reviews long time now.

    And lastly I just wanted to tell you that the world needs more people like you Erica! Making all this for the Yuri-community makes you truly amazing.

    Best regards

  2. BruceMcF says:

    I’m not sure whether its writing synopses that is hard, or writing synopses to be approved in Tokyo that is hard.

    But Funimation should definitely steal yours when they do their home video release.

  3. Hi Anonymous – First of all, thank you for reading my blog. I’m very glad to know you enjoy it.

    The way to support Yuri is to buy it, and share opportunities to buy it with friends. If there’s a series you like (say, Pyscho Pass, because that was what today’s topic is) letting Funimation know that you want to buy it – then actually buying it if they release it on DVD – is the very best way.

    I don’t know if Yuri has bad sales, it’s just that the Yuri audience is small, and about half of it thinks they should only get it for free. So that leaves about half of an small audience to buy. ^_^

  4. Anonymous says:

    As someone whose job involves a lot of computer programming, I don’t think the villain being undetectable by their computer AI is a handwave at all. I think it’s the natural result of relying on computers for criminal detection: no matter how amazingly advanced it is, there’s no way an automated system can have absolutely perfect detection with absolutely zero mistakes. The villain is just mentally broken in a very rare and specific way that gives the computers a false negative.

  5. Mara says:

    “I don’t give a hoot about Urobuchi Gen…”

    I understand in the context of Psycho-Pass.

    But if I may get weird for a moment: way back in 2000 Nitroplus released Phantom of Inferno a VN that was a possible influence upon the anime Noir. How much so is difficult to say as Noir came out only one year after Phantom but there stories share very interesting similarities.

    To explain Phantom to someone who has seen only Noir I would say it is like Noir from entirely Kirika’s point of view.

    As Gen wrote the scenario for Phantom and if you see Phantom as an influence upon Noir that would be why I would have name dropped Gen.

    Also Psycho-Pass uses a mirror image of Phantom’s horror trope. In Psycho-Pass, things are scary because technology can look into your soul and quantify it. In Phantom early on everything was scary because technology was used to completely destroy the old self and build a new one.

    Sorry for rambling again. I wondered why this was not brought up way back when Madoka was being talked about so I took the liberty here.

  6. This review has come full circle and convinced me to read Vertigo.

    I was very happy with the flashback episode also. As much as I looked forward to it, knowing this series, I was afraid it was going to involve… I don’t know, someone important to Yayoi being killed gruesomely. Something more traumatic than what her past actually was. I liked how her feelings for Rina were handled- and naturally, I appreciated that little moment when Shion was quietly like “Whoa” at her in detective mode.

    But… yeah. I could go on about this show. lol Again, I am really glad you’ve found it enjoyable also. Here’s to seeing where the story goes. ^^

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hmm, I initially dropped this after the first 2 eps because I found Akane incredibly annoying, but maybe I should have persevered. Does she get less clueless/incompetent any time soon or, barring that, less screen time?

  8. Helen says:

    I’m fairly sure that Fukami Makoto only wrote the script for Yayoi’s episode and that Gen has written all the other ones, although I didn’t know that she had written a lesbian light novel so I guess that choice makes a lot more sense now.

  9. @Helen – I don’t petend to know what parts he wrote, but Fukami is listed in the Japanese credits as a writer along with Urobochi. From the first episode on. That was how I learned he was even part of the project, he was in the credits.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hello!

    I’ve seen the 13th episode so far, and I’d just like to say that if I didn’t already start liking Akane as the series progressed, then I surely like her now.

    I admit that I started watching the show mainly for Yayoi but scenes with her speaking (except for 12), aren’t that many. Akane made it somewhat bearable because even though she isn’t a physically bad-ass character, she seems to be becoming one…

    My best friend is of the opinion that the latest episode (14) is supposed to make women viewers angry. I have no idea what that means.

  11. Michael Vito says:

    I really like the tension between the powers protecting the facade of infallibility of the tech at all costs, and the detectives who see its flaws and necessity for human intuition. Not all problems can be boiled down to equations, no matter how much computing power you have at your disposal.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I know, I know, Yayoikakoi, I get it.
    But Yuri – 8? Really?
    A girl gets shot in the face *wink wink* – Dismemberment – Rape –
    A woman being clubbed like a baby seal.
    Not really my kind of Yuri, but let me assure you that Butcher Gen needed
    a cold shower after writing some of those scenes.
    The Fanboys cry MOAR and the Fangirls gasp OMG, A SUIT, HHHNNNNNNG :)
    Fine, enjoy your sexualized violence. No problem. Cereal.
    But Yuri – 8? Really? What would Yuri – 7 be? Elfen Lied?

  13. @Anonymous – I have no idea why you’re focusing on the violence.

    The first time we see Yayoi she is clearly coming out of Shion’s room after sex. They are lovers.

    In the arc at the elite girls’s school, we see that the Nadesico (whose name escapes me) take the underclassmen as lovers before anything else.

    In Yayoi’s backstory, we see clearly her feelings for other women.

    I consider Yayoi to be established emotionally and physically as a lesbian, and that rates highly. Added to the arc with the Nadesico, that means there’s a fair amount of Yuri here.

    You’re welcome to disagree. The scores represent what I’m thinking about at the time I write the review. They are not fixed. They change as time goes on and this one might go up or down.

    The violence has absolutely no relationship to it (nor does the suit.)

    You might take a moment and ask yourself why you are so worked up over it. It’s just a score. If you are neither fanboy nor fangirl, it can hardly matter to you what we think. ^_^

  14. Anonymous says:

    @Erica Friedman – And I have no idea how you could think I was serious. Just being a smartass.^_^
    Bad puns, Genius Gen bashing, etc. it was meant to be tongue in cheek. But I see that I oversteped certain boundaries in disrespectfully mentioning the suit, my deepest apologies, never the suit. Hit a nerve? :) Agree with everything you say about Yayoi, like I wrote; Yayoikakoi, I get it, I meant it.

    About the violence; I’m focusing on it because your review does not. Psycho-Pass is not a Yuri-show and the violence is of an extreme and sexualized nature. So lets assume there’s a hypothetical reader, who wants to know what Okazu recommends this season. You know, something with school plays or culture festivals. Lets just say she might be surprised with PP – and I don’t think this is a strawman. You write, that Fans of creepy horror violence against women are creepy, and you leave it at that. So, something is bothering you with that particular kind of violence, but you chose not to comment on it. Please do.

    Again, no hard feelings. It’s the old Internet-problem, always being misunderstood. Rock on, and long live the suit.^_^

  15. @Anonymous – Your obsession with the suit is quite odd, I am not offended, you did not overstep boundaries. Your attempt at humor failed. Own it, grow from it.

  16. Anonymous says:

    @Erica Friedman – Sorry for the late reply, was watching Tai Arusu – great kiddie-show from the pre-moe era. I recommend it.
    Speaking of kiddie-shows – we are no longer talking about PP, are we? The topic seems to be my obsessions and failings. Okay, I see were this is going. Let’s be friendly, shall we, Friedman-sama?
    And thank you for helping me grow. I think I’ve outgrown this whole Okazu-thing. Take care.

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