Psycho-Pass Movie

Psycho-Pass Movie

Psycho-Pass Movie anime cover art featuring Akane Tsunemori and Shinya Kougami
Psycho-Pass Movie Cover Art

Overview

The Psycho-Pass Movie is a continuation of the series after season two, but that doesn’t really matter all that much. I honestly don’t remember the plot of season two, as I’m sure is the case for many people, and yet I had no trouble following along with the plot of this movie.

Inspector Akane Tsunimori is once again our protagonist, and Shinya Kougami from season one has been brought back as well, albeit as a terrorist this time around. Because this movie prominently features these two over the rest of the characters, it’s more apt to say that this movie is a sequel to season one, and just happens to take place after season two.

Needless to say, that means it’s better than season two was. But, it still wasn’t perfect and I’ll be getting to my issues with this movie in a later section.

Instead of taking place in Japan, this movie takes place in SEAUn, or the South East Asian Union, which seems to be located in or around Cambodia as far as I can tell. I don’t believe it was ever explicitly stated, but the country’s flag looked similar and that’s what I’ve heard from other sources.

There’s a civil war going on in SEAUn, where the military government has recently implemented the Sibyl System just like Japan. However, all data gathered in SEAUn is transmitted to Japan for analysis by the system; there isn’t a separate branch in SEAUn.

Because of this, members of a rebel group in SEAUn went to Japan in an attempt to take down the Sibyl System and free their country from oppression. After they’re caught and their memories are ripped out of them, the Ministry of Welfare’s Public Safety Bureau finds that Kougami, a former enforcer who went missing, is taking part in the SEAUn rebellion.

Not only is he an escaped criminal from Japan, but as a former inspector an enforcer, he knows all there is about fighting against Japan’s technology, and has been training the rebels on how to do so. Because of this, capturing him is the PSBs top priority, and Akane is sent to SEAUn to do just that.

Inspector Akane Tsunemori from the Psycho-Pass Movie anime
Inspector Akane Tsunemori

Now that the general plot is set up, it’s time to go through the rest of the summary fairly quickly. If you guessed that Kougami isn’t really a terrorist, then you’d be correct, sort of. After leaving Japan, he tried to find somewhere peaceful to live, only to realize the entire outside world is full of civil wars.

He then settles in SEAUn where the Sibyl System has recently been implemented, probably because it’s something he’s familiar with, and decides that he’ll have to fight to claim a peaceful place to live. However, during the fighting he notices that something’s off about the Sibyl System in SEAUn.

Japan never issued Dominators to SEAUn, and so the military uses standard firearms instead. The issue there is that standard firearms don’t know the difference between different levels of latent criminals. Because of this, any latent criminal, no matter their hue, can be killed at any time.

Further, the members of the military never seem to have their hues clouded no matter how many innocent civilians they murder. Akane and Kougami then team up to get to the bottom of this mystery, and they learn that the military has been tampering with their hues before sending the data back to Japan.

The plot is resolved when Akane has Shion hack into the system in SEAUn and fix the scanners. Once the scanners throughout the city are working properly, the hues of the soldiers are properly read, and they’re killed by the automated weapons they had been using to kill civilians.

Oh, and there’s also a mercenary group of cyborgs in the movie as well who are hunting down Akane and Kougami throughout the second half of the movie. Other than the fact that they’re chasing them, they don’t really have anything to do with the plot.

In the end, it’s found that the military leader who took control of SEAUn and implemented the Sibyl System was actually killed and replaced by the Sybil System itself as a body double. Although it denies this, it would seem that the Sibyl System has begun it’s version of Manifest Destiny.

Issues

Before I discuss the issues with the actual movie itself, let me first mention the issues with how I viewed the movie. The version of this movie I found was only in 480p and had poor subtitles. This means that not only was I missing out on what I assume were great visuals, but the dialogue may have been a bit off as well.

The subtitles being a bit off weren’t too big of a deal, except for the fact that half of the movie was already in English and yet the subtitles were still incorrect somehow. And, that brings me to my first major complaint about the movie, the fact that half of it was in English.

You may think I’m exaggerating that, but I’m not. Literally half of the movie was in English, because apparently that’s what the creators of Psycho-Pass think the primary language is Cambodia is. I’m not going to say that nobody in Cambodia speaks English, but their official language is Khmer.

As far as I could tell, the only reason English was used is because it’s a placeholder for “other” languages. By this I mean that there’s Japan, and there’s everywhere else, and to differentiate, they use Japanese in Japan, and an “other” language for everywhere else, which in this case happened to be English.

To a Japanese audience this may have been fine, but for an American audience, this really hurt the movie. Not only does the language not match the region speaking it, but it’s also all being spoken by Japanese voice actors with thick accents. This makes sense for the Japanese characters, but not for everyone else.

But, again, it all comes back to the amount of English in the movie. If there were only a few English lines, it wouldn’t have been a big deal, but there was simply too much English to ignore it.

My next issue with the movie is with the concept as a whole. I understand that something different has to be done to keep the plot fresh, but due to the change in location, this movie didn’t really feel like Psycho-Pass.

The Psycho-Pass I’m used to took place in a futuristic Tokyo where everything is pristine and monitored 24/7. However, this movie takes place in a war-torn nation and although there’s still futuristic technology, it looks and feels more like a dystopia than utopia.

I don’t have much experience with the Ghost in the Shell franchise, but this movie felt like it would fit much better with that than with the previous two seasons of Psycho-Pass. Perhaps the military nature of this movie also pushed it in that direction unlike the detective nature of the series.

The third and final issue with this movie I want to bring up is that the new characters and plot don’t actually matter in any way. I already mentioned how the team of mercenaries didn’t actually have a real effect on the plot, and the same goes for the rest of the new characters if I’m being honest.

None of these characters have any sort of lasting impact, and the overarching antagonist, the leader of SEAUn, wasn’t ever an antagonist at all, it was the Sybil System playing the role of antagonist in order to spread its domain. With this in mind, everything Akane achieves in the movie was going to be achieved with or without her anyway.

In fact, we’re explicitly told that the only reason she was actually sent to SEAUn in the first place was to get her out of the Sybil System’s way so it could do its job, not to actually arrest Kougami. Oh, and Kougami is let go once again, changing nothing from the end of season one.

Free Will

Before I end, I feel that I should mention at least one thing I like about Psycho-Pass and this movie in general, and that’s how it uses the concept of free will. I probably mentioned this in my review of the series, but Psycho-Pass takes a different stance on free will than most other anime.

While there are certainly those who fight against the Sybil System such as Shougo Makishima in season one and Kougami in this movie, they’re portrayed as pseudo-antagonists instead of protagonists. In fact, Makishima was definitely the antagonist.

Usually we see that free will is something to be treasured and worth fighting for, but Psycho-Pass takes an alternative perspective by saying that free will is dangerous, everyone would be happier without it, and given the option, people would choose to remove it from the equation.

So, let’s go through each of these points as illustrated by this movie.

First, the idea that free will is dangerous is illustrated simply by Japan being the only country on Earth which isn’t in a civil war. This lack of civil unrest is attributed to the Sybil System controlling every aspect of everyday life, and because of this the people are happy and safe.

Next, not only are those who live under the Sybil System happy because of the relative safety in which they live, but the system also takes all the guesswork out of life for them. In the beginning of the movie, Akane’s friend mentions how she’s getting married to someone the Sybil System suggested would be her perfect match.

She admits that she didn’t trust the system to make a decision like this at first, and that their relationship had a rocky start, but in the end she found that the system was right all along. In the series we also had a number of similar examples, including career compatibility.

Finally, the idea that the masses would choose safety over free will comes into play in the post-credit scene of the movie. The Sybil System steps down as dictator of SEAUn and allows for an open election, only to be re-elected shortly after.

Conclusion

Overall I decided to give the Psycho-Pass Movie a 6/10, which is actually the same rating I gave to the first season. Perhaps if I watched the first season today I would rate it higher than I did originally, but I don’t have much time for rewatching anime, there’s too much to keep up with as it is.

And, if I’m being honest, other than the scene of Akane first encountering Kougami (pictured far above), the best part of the movie was actually when the ending credits began and the song Namae No Nai Kaibutsu by EGOIST started playing. So, the fact that one of the best parts of the movie was the ending credits song from season one should tell you something.

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