Last week, we spent some time analyzing Akane’s home. It’s only fitting that we do the same with Shinya. The episode opens with Shinya training in — considering the high-tech world we’ve seen in the past two episodes — a rather shabby-looking home. Where are the fancy, futuristic electronics? Or how about the slick interiors that can instantly morph into a Belgian hotel? From this, we can thus surmise the differences between the social standings for those like Akane and latent criminals like Shinya (in fact, someone brought this up last week but I’m too lazy to check who). She has a virtual assistant to help her regulate seemingly every aspect of her life. On the other hand, Shinya trains alone. If it had been Akane in the scene instead, you could bet anything that there’d be an AI telling her how many calories she has left to burn before allowing her muscles to rest so-and-so minutes.
On a related note, we know that when Akane leaves her apartment, it reverts back to being as plain as any other person’s home, but that’s the magic of simulation: the conceit of luxury. Shinya’s place seems almost barren of any sort of futuristic technology. Does this hint at some aspect of his personality that rejects the high-tech world around him? Look at the way his wall is littered with photographs and clippings of God-knows-what. In this sci-fi setting, you’d almost expect Shinya to have a fancy display that can access and organize all of the same information, but instead, he either chooses not to use the world’s technology, or he’s not allowed to own any of it due to his social standing.
Of course, we can’t forget how Shinya’s wall resembles a wall that you could find in any hard-boiled detective story. Again, there’s an interesting contrast being drawn here between Shinya and investigators like Akane and Ginoza. The latter two rely upon technology to tell them not only who to catch but where to catch criminals. With Shinya, on the other hand, just his wall alone seems to speak to a certain desire to do things the old-fashioned way — the way of the old private eyes: we’ll just clip a bunch of important clues on the board, and allow our good ol’ human intuition to do the trick. If not intuition, then raw emotion, because Shinya soon clenchs his teeth at whatever he is staring at. So although Shinya’s room seems almost anachronistic, it is not just a nod to another genre, but an emotional, intuitive oasis hidden in PSYCHO-PASS‘s technocratic utopia.
As you watch the rest of the episode, you’ll notice how a detective’s intuition continues to clash with the PSYCHO-PASS system’s cold, hard “logic.” But what is even logical about it, anyway? Its methodology is a mystery, it seems, to everyone in the show. They just all rely upon this mystical Sibyl to render judgment, but who keeps the Sibyl in check? It should be interesting to see how this all plays out.
• Akane and Ginoza head off to a factory where there have been three casualties in the past year. Something that caught my eye: the factory workers have to live on site to perform their duties. This bit of info reminds me somewhat of the recent Foxconn controversy in China, but for now, this is probably just a coincidence and hardly anime’s attempt at any sort of social commentary.
• Out of nowhere, Akane tells Ginoza that she has a good feeling about working with the Enforcers. Ginoza warns her not to view the Enforcers as colleagues. We were told in the previous episode that Akane’s fit to do almost any job that requires a certain level of mental aptitude, but she doesn’t seem particularly bright to me… at least when it comes to common sense. She certainly seems oblivious to the social mores of her own society. Granted, Akane’s archetypically innocent and idealistic in her role as the show’s heroine, but unless the anime later reveals that she’s had a sheltered life, these moments just make the poor girl come across as an idiot… then again, Dostoyevsky did write an entire novel on one such character.
• The factory workers can’t connect to the internet, and they have few ways to relieve stress. They’re practically prisoners. Maybe it’s not such a coincidence after all…
• The murder scene is reconstructed using holograms. This method seems like fertile ground for tampering.
• It seems that the entire Enforcer team is there. They must do more than their namesake would imply, but what? Does the Public Safety Bureau somehow value the Enforcers’ insights out there on the field or does the anime just feel like sending everyone out at the same time? The former possibility doesn’t seem likely as we don’t see Ginoza once ask the Enforcers for their opinions on the case, and he easily dismisses their insights anyway when he gets them.
• The PSYCHO-PASS system isn’t perfect because there’s a waiting line for the Sibyl to process each person’s data. As such, a dangerous person can seemingly avoid detection, but Dominators can be used to bypass the lag in response. The fact that there’s a waiting line is hardly any sort of substantive criticism against the PSYCHO-PASS detection system in itself. Rather, this bit of info forces us to ask a few follow-up questions: “Why is there only one Sibyl to process the data? What is this Sibyl such that only one can exist?”
• Naturally, why is Akane not already aware of these systematic flaws in the PSYCHO-PASS system if she’s so smart, etc.? Masaoka again serves as a mouthpiece for the show’s exposition.
• Again, the debate between science and intuition arises. I hesitated typing that out because science itself uses a lot of intuition, but most of you guys should know what I’m trying to get at. The Enforcers don’t need the Sibyl or a gun to tell them that a murder has taken place. At the same time, however, intuition is a bit of an art. Even if the anime’s message thus far is clearly that technocracy has deep, inherent flaws, it’ll be interesting to see instances of when intuition can go horribly wrong.
• We see some of the factory workers bullying one of their own. How does this escape the PSYCHO-PASS system? Is it because the bullies’ hues will have subsided to a safe color or is bullying not even a concern for the system in the first place? In either case, it seems that a lot of the people in this world depend so much on the PSYCHO-PASS system that they no longer even react to an injustice occurring before their very eyes. It’s almost like, “Well, if it’s really that bad, the PSYCHO-PASS system will do something about it.” Again, this is another instance of when science seemingly fails and intuition has to come in and save the day.
• There’s a lot of post-hoc analysis at hand too. The director reasons that the Sibyl must have assigned the bullying victim to a job at the drone factory just to play that very role: a weakling for the other factory workers to pick on.
• The dramatic close-up to the director’s face is pretty corny. So was Akane’s strange, little smirk. She’s always walking around with a half-dazed look on her face, so it’s just weird to see her suddenly smirk.
• Akane seems dumbfounded that a person’s hue could improve in color after killing someone, but this just makes intuitive sense. If you kill your torturer, wouldn’t you feel relieved to some extent? What was Akane studying before she got this job? Why is this not even something that Ginoza will even consider? Even serial killers aren’t in a perpetual state where they constantly feel the need to kill.
• Nevertheless, Masaoka’s words touch a nerve with Ginoza. He seems rather invested in the idea that they never deviate from the PSYCHO-PASS system. Potential foreshadowing moment here to keep in mind.
• Shinya interrogates the main suspect in a rather familiar way: using intimidation to make the suspect reveal his true nature. His method, however, seems just as flawed as the PSCYHO-PASS system. He essentially bullies a bullying victim. Kanehara presumably murdered three people because they had been torturing him. Sure, murder is always wrong — I’m not going to dispute that — but c’mon, there’s got to be something wrong about bullying a bullying victim in order to solve a murder case. Like what we’ve seen in the first episode, people are pushed by the PSYCHO-PASS system to commit crimes because they feel they’ve been cornered. Despite Shinya’s protestation that the PSYCHO-PASS system has allowed three people to die, he commits the very same mistake that the system itself is guilty of: forcing people into a corner and making them lash out.
• I feel as though the episode could have gone in a potentially more interesting direction. What if Kanehara had suffered from some form of dissociative behavior as a result of all the bullying he had to endure? As a result, he may have unknowingly programmed the drones to murder his bullies, then returned to normality without any sense of guilt or culpability? He thus escapes the detection of the PSYCHO-PASS system. Some ambivalence would come into play: is Kanehara a murderer or a victim who needs mental help?