PSYCHO-PASS Ep. 9: The thrill of the hunt

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Near the beginning of the episode, Akane sits down to watch an interview with a rather familiar face. It’s interesting to see how the interview is conducted. We first see a scene where the news crew (at least that’s who I think they are) decides which holographic background to use. The initial choice is deemed to be ostentatious: “Hmmm… I’m not sure… Isn’t it a little too flashy? People might feel it’s tacky instead.” The anime then cuts back to Akane’s apartment, which is exactly as ornate and tacky as what the news crew had decided against. Yes, it’s a bit of a subtle jab at Akane, but it’s also funny in the sense that there are people like Akane out there who wouldn’t have found the holographic background tacky at all. Instead, the news crew decides to conduct the interview with a French street side cafe backdrop.

But it’s ironic because I think this second choice is even worse than the last. For a street side cafe, it is completely empty and devoid of life. If anything, such a scene would look even more unnatural and “tacky” than the previous background. In opting for an ideal scene, the result is anything but. Again, the anime plays with the idea of simulacrum. And this discussion of the hyperreal becomes even more relevant than ever because our interviewee is a walking, talking simulacrum himself: “…who, except for his brain and nervous system, is entirely cyborg.”

The man interrupts the lady to say, “It’s a mystery to me why other people haven’t given up their limiting bodies.”

Interviewer wonders, “Limiting, you say?”

Senguji: “Plato said that our souls were imprisoned in our bodies.”

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Look at the way the man is dressed. His interviewer is dressed formally, but nothing out of the ordinary for a professional-looking lady. Since we’ve been discussing “tacky,” the man’s attire is definitely tacky. Furthermore, his eyes have this unnatural, vacant look to them. Also, keep in mind how he interrupts the lady. He does so without any acknowledgement of what he’s done. He just talks over her. In any other situation, we’d just say he’s rude, but within the context of our current discussion, does his interruption hint at something deeper? Is he lacking some intangible human quality like politeness that you or I share? One more thing: A cyborg body is itself a representation; what we have here is a simulacrum of a man. He has used cybernetic implants to create an ideal version of himself, but what we have instead is an unnatural-looking man who doesn’t seem to be all there. The previous scene thus feeds into this one; the man is like the street side cafe himself: they look ideal on the surface, but unnatural and “tacky” when you really think about them.

As an aside, it is curious why the writer decided to invoke philosophy again. When Plato says that the soul is imprisoned by the body, he means that our capacity for intelligence and rational thought is immaterial. As such, the soul has more in common with the abstract Platonic Forms, i.e. fundamental ideas that truly make up the nature of reality, than it does with the corporeal body that it is attached to. According to Plato, the soul therefore wants to reside at the level of the Platonic forms. If this is truly what Senguji is referring to, it is hard to understand how transhumanism will assist him in this philosophical pursuit. After all, transhumanism doesn’t seek to destroy the body. Rather, it seeks to create a greater body than the unguided hand of nature could ever possibly deem necessary. If anything, the “soul” here continues to be grounded in a very physical, material way. I’d imagine, however, that most transhumanists are probably not mind-body dualists either.

Plot summary: Shinya takes Akane to see one of his old mentors, Professor Saiga, who is supposed to teach Akane how to profile criminals. Meanwhile, we learn a bit about our latest villain. He is a sadistic man who feels alive only when he hunts his prey. Makishima suggests that Shinya becomes our villain’s new target.

Notes:

• Just more of the predator motif coming through: “It feels like my prey’s tail just brushed the tip of my nose. For the first time in a long while now, I’m feeling pretty good, Gino.” The cold opening is a bit deceptive. It starts out all chill and and friendly; Gino admits that it was a mistake to take Shinya off the case and apologizes. Shinya seems to accept the apology jovially enough, but a dangerous streak undercuts his words. It is especially ironic since Gino has just said,” It was me who got emotional. He wasn’t your delusion,” yet Shinya now sees this case like a hunt for game. And judging from what we know about Shinya and the fate of his former partner, there’s no doubt that this case is emotional for him. Plus, Shinya’s facial expression says it all:

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It’s important to keep in mind that Shinya isn’t exactly in this line of business to protect and restore justice to the world. Maybe that was his initial goal before, y’know, his friend got “plastinated,” but he sure as hell isn’t a world defender now. For weeks, we’ve sandbagged the PSYCHO-PASS system for how it dehumanizes its citizens, but let’s not forget that cops and detectives like Shinya are also dangerous. For all their brilliant intuitions, those who embark on a personal crusade like Shinya are the easiest to corrupt. It’s only fitting that Makishima now takes an interest in Shinya.

• Seeing Akane change her clothes at a press of a button makes me wish she’d change her terrible hairdo.

• Is that what we’re doing already? Is it already time to hint at a possible romance between Akane and Shinya even though the former seems more like the latter’s legal guardian than a love interest?

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I know bad boys are all the rage, but man, she’s spent more casual time with Shusei than Shinya. Has she and Shinya ever even had a discussion that wasn’t work-related?

• Well, now we know for sure that Akane was getting ready to meet Shinya. So it begins.

• You could say there’s a certain humanity to death. We all live our lives knowing one day that we’ll die. This inevitability influences us more than we’d like to admit. A man goes through a mid-life crisis for this very reason, even if word ‘death’ never crosses his mind. We all feel as though we’d like to accomplish something great before we kick the bucket. A person like Senguji, however, never has to worry about death, and doesn’t that make him less than human? Nevertheless, he says, “I never expected that overcoming aging would lead to such happiness.” Naturally, Shinya (indirectly) counters with his humanistic reply: “Life as a latent criminal isn’t the sort of thing you’d want to go on forever.” I suppose he frames the issue in another way: live long enough and you’ll just pile on so many sins that you won’t want to live anymore.

• The interviewer counters with the fact that “cyberization” of the brain is still rather far off. We already have lifelike AIs though. The PSYCHO-PASS system can scan a person and boil down their propensity for crime down to a single number. How much harder would it be to quantify a person’s characteristics and idiosyncrasies and copy it to an AI? But then again, does this AI retain the personal identity of the person it’s copying? Senguji believes that when technology can “cyberize” his brain, they will have reached the age of immortality, but who actually lives on? Does he live on, or just some simulation of him?

• Also, if his entire body is cybernetic, why did he choose to look and sound like an old fogey?

• Senguji: “Isn’t it about time for us humans to be a little more like God?” I’m sure God has more to him/her/it than just mere immortality!

• Not a very flattering shot of our main girl:

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• The old man does make a salient point regarding the fears of becoming more than 50% cyborg. In the world of PSYCHO-PASS, people’s lives are automated (or assisted, if you want to put it nicely) to such a degree by technology that — from a certain point of view — it seems almost silly to be fearful of losing one’s flesh. Or, to frame it another way, their way of life is more than 50% electronic. Why does it suddenly make a difference if their corporeal bodies become more than 50% electronic as well?

Well, how would someone respond to Senguji? Let’s revisit that mind-body problem again. I think people’s general apprehensions about becoming more than 50% cyborg shows that we identify more with our bodies — and not just our brains — than we think. Deep down, a lot of us believe we’d feel a sense of identity crisis if more than 50% of our bodies was suddenly replaced. After all, a simple nose surgery can be distressful to a person and that’s just a nose.

• Akane and Shinya are about to meet some guy at his private home, and the former remarks, “I don’t see much environment Holo being used here.” Shinya replies, “He doesn’t like that kind of stuff.” Are we about to meet a luddite? It’s just a funny exchange to read because our stranger’s home still seems dominated by technology, but ooh, he just doesn’t have environmental holos.

• Our Professor Saiga hardly looks to be any older than Shinya:

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• Professor Saiga takes one look at Akane and seems to discern almost everything about her personal life: “People manifest all sorts of signs unconsciously. Once you get the knack of it, you can easily read those signs.” Uh-huh, I bet he just looked her up on the internet.

• It’s a little amusing to hear that criminal profiling is considered an outdated method when the PSYCHO-PASS system seems to do just that. Oh sure, it doesn’t merely look at your face, but how is it any different to jump to a conclusion based off of some scanned brain waves or whatever the hell the PSYCHO-PASS system does? In the end, you crunch a few variables to spit out a number that indicates a probabilistic outcome. The variables are the only things that are different.

• The worst criminal ever since the start of the Sibyl system! How many Hitlers does that add up to?

• Unfortunately, we don’t get to see this “intensive crash course” into criminal profiling. Instead, we cut to some typical police procedural stuff as the rest of the gang try to track down Makishima. I think all we really learn is that Makishima is ten billion steps ahead of everyone. When we finally return to Akane and Shinya, they’re already on their way home. Quite frankly, I’m a little disappointed.

• Apparently, just learning to profile criminals will cloud your hues. Well, it does make a lot of people racist… but good ol’ Akane is too wholesome to be corrupted.

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• Shinya: “Say there’s a dark swamp and you can’t see the bottom. In order to dredge the swamp, you have no choice but to jump in.” A bit of a strained metaphor. I did, however, expect the cliched “When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back” or something corny like that.

• I wish I could hear why Makishima thinks humans are not at risk of extinction. The cunning part is silly. What other animal would you even consider cunning?

• Supposedly, Senguji enjoys the thrill of the hunt. It’s what makes him feel youthful and exuberant. He directly says that his game prevents him from becoming one of those catatonic patients at the hospital: “You maintain a healthy and sound life by sacrificing other lives.” As a result, Makishima promises to offer Senguji an exquisite target: presumably Shinya. Let’s predict how our new villain will disappoint Makishima, though. After all, isn’t he a hypocrite? He has no problems turning himself into a cyborg, but he has to hunt real humans to feel alive — the implication here is that feeling alive is to feel human. As such, Senguji hasn’t transcended his human limits whatsoever as long as his happiness continues to hinge upon his ready supply of prey. We just have another pathetic old man who feeds on the life and blood of others to get through the day. All that talk about cyborg parts were pseudo-intellectual hogwash. Why not just hunt a robot if it’s just the mere thrill of hunting that turns him on?

• Oh, the camaraderie between Gino and Shinya from the start of the episode seems to have been short-lived. The former chews out the latter for bringing Akane to an oh-so-dangerous man.

• If this is true…

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…then why do you pair her up with Shinya? C’mon now.

• I like that Akane stood up for herself. More specifically, it didn’t seem like Shinya had to say anything on her behalf. Now, let’s hope her lesson with Professor Saiga means she’ll be less of a babysitter for Shinya and more of an actual detective who catches criminals.

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31 thoughts on “PSYCHO-PASS Ep. 9: The thrill of the hunt”

  1. I too found the cyborgization and humanity conversation interesting too. A something that struck me was something Senguji mentioned when pointing out how people are becoming cyborgs already. “what if all that data was lost in some kind of disaster or accident ?”
    One thing some people complain about technology, and why they are against having many automatized is that technology isn’t really as reliable as we make it out to be. That 50% being the degree at which we trust technology, isn’t it.
    Our souls being trapped in our body, our souls being something we can’t see and yet we trust our body more than we trust our mind.
    Indeed he is an hypocrite, in fact I think Makishima wants Shinya to get rid of him or he is testing Shinya. Senguji being someone who looked down into humanity and yet clings to humans, he is as good as dead.

    Also, regarding that swamp metaphor, as strange as it might be, I wonder if it was used on purpose. Saiga mentioned that even though Akane has a good athletic ability she can’t swim and a few hours later Shinya tells her to jump and dive into a metaphorical swamp, but that not everyone who dives on it can coma back safely. Was this intended or am I reading too deeply.

    Good post as always, also the episode was good so I guess you were also happy to have good material to work with.

    1. It could be on purpose, they also insist on the idea that she can’t cloud her hue.

      “Uh-huh, I bet he just looked her up on the internet.”
      When I was younger a sort of psychiatrist did it on me, you can really learn some things about someone by observing them, their reactions. Still the swimming part was probably looked up :p.

      By the way, someone on Animesuki pointed out were the house come from:
      http://www.wright-house.com/frank-lloyd-wright/fallingwater.html

      1. Yeah, I’m pretty sure they used that strange metaphor on purpose.
        The OP have a drowning Shinya in some dark water as he falls deeper and deeper and a diving Akane doing something. So apparently she can swim, at least in the OP, so perhaps I wasn’t reading too much into it, perhaps.

      2. When I was younger a sort of psychiatrist did it on me, you can really learn some things about someone by observing them, their reactions.

        Dude sounded way too specific. And I don’t think he’s had enough time to really gauge her actions and reactions. I guess this being anime and everything, we’re in a bit of a time crunch, so we can’t exactly show him watching her intently for, say, half an hour. Still, the believability here seems a little off the mark.

        1. I was thinking the same thing. The entire time I was thinking “Is this guy supposed to be the Sherlock of the Sibyl System age or something?”…which I guess could be the idea here. But at least with Sherlock you suspend your disbelief because it’s his fundamental character to be absolutely ridiculous – with ex-professor Saiga I don’t feel nearly the same vibe.

    2. A something that struck me was something Senguji mentioned when pointing out how people are becoming cyborgs already. “what if all that data was lost in some kind of disaster or accident ?”

      Hm, I must’ve missed that. I guess I’ll go back and take a look.

      Our souls being trapped in our body, our souls being something we can’t see and yet we trust our body more than we trust our mind.

      What do you mean? Could you give me an example of this?

      Indeed he is an hypocrite, in fact I think Makishima wants Shinya to get rid of him or he is testing Shinya.

      Makishima strikes me as the cliche puppetmaster mastermind. He probably already has Senguji’s death all planned out and everything. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next villain is just around the corner.

      Saiga mentioned that even though Akane has a good athletic ability she can’t swim and a few hours later Shinya tells her to jump and dive into a metaphorical swamp, but that not everyone who dives on it can coma back safely. Was this intended or am I reading too deeply.

      Maybe, but few people are going to be able to brave a swamp regardless of whether or not they can swim. Plus, it just seems like an oddly specific thing to say. An abyss is a concept; no one can really define it. If you tell me, however, that there’s something beneath a swamp that I need to dredge up, I can always imagine using machines to accomplish such a feat. So maybe I should suspend my disbelief to a greater degree, but it’s just sounds silly.

      1. What I meant was we trust things we can feel and touch more than compared with things we can’t.
        But for example, and this might no be the best example but f the first one I could think of. If we there is a machine who helps people who cant move their limbs to drive, it “reads” their minds and drives them to any place they want, would we trust this machine more than a completely human reliable driver. If the machine breaks down we are pretty much screwed, of for someone this was a necessity they might perhaps take it, but if it was optional and some people would prefer to be their ow drivers, since they can telly more on themselves.

        I think this was a bad example, but hey they used a swamp metaphor, so I can be forgiven for this and yes the swam metaphor might be silly but now I can’t help it but connect this to the Op sequence too.

        1. But for example, and this might no be the best example but f the first one I could think of. If we there is a machine who helps people who cant move their limbs to drive, it “reads” their minds and drives them to any place they want, would we trust this machine more than a completely human reliable driver.

          Depends. I’ve heard about some Google car that can drive itself and the only time it’s been in an accident is when someone else was at fault. I mean, at first, we might not trust the machine because we lack empirical data, but if the data holds up, there’s no reason not to.

    3. I thought Makishima is sacrificing this old fart too, in order to test Kougami. As the big bad guy, I am pretty sure that he’s more interested to turn Kougami into a real criminal (instead of latent criminal), rather than killing him. It’s funny when I remembered the old fart’s talk with Oryo, he was pretty sure that he won’t be thrown away by Makishima.

  2. The problem here is, what defines a human? Is it just the brain? Oh, lets not talk about souls since it’s scientifically unproven. Am I still the same person if all that remain from me is just a floating brain? I sure don’t want that. My eyes, my nose, my mouth, my heart, my lung, all of them are precious part of me.

    Next issue, is it really possible to become immortal by cyborg technology? Isn’t it just another being? A robot who has your memory and your persona? It will be a different matter if science is able to find a way to stop our body from degenerating biologically…

    1. Putting aside debates over the soul, surely you must be familiar with the human consciousness. In other words, your thoughts, your personality. This definitely exists, and its not exactly tangible.

      Mr. Cyborg Hunter is basically saying “What if I could transfer my consciousness (which can be equated with the soul, though it doesn’t have to be) into a cybernetic brain?”. Then you really would have immortality.

      And what if you could have a cyborg body that’s an almost-perfect replica of, say, what you looked like at the age of 25? It’s not hard to see the possible appeal here.

      1. Mr. Cyborg Hunter is basically saying “What if I could transfer my consciousness (which can be equated with the soul, though it doesn’t have to be) into a cybernetic brain?”. Then you really would have immortality.

        What etery-chan and I are both asking, however, is… are you really transferring your consciousness, i.e. this >>I<< that defines personal identity, or are you just creating a copy of yourself? To use a different scenario that involves the same idea, let's say there's this machine that can teleport you to Mars (assume Mars is safe to teleport to). What it does is that it copies everything about you right down to the very atoms that you are made of. Then it destroys you. On Mars, there's a machine that takes this copied information and recreates you. But how do we know your "consciousness" — if such a thing isn't just a phenomenon born out of a complex network of synapses — transferred from the you on Earth to the you on Mars? How do we know that the "you" on Mars isn't just a copy that has all of your memories, characteristics, personality, etc, but it's actually just a really, really good copy?

        So anyway, this is the concern that is being raised about cyberization. At some point, Senguji wants to cyberize his own brain, but there's no guarantee that the original him will continue to persist when this happens.

        1. ~ but there’s no guarantee that the original him will continue to persist when this happens.~
          of course it can. after all a brain is data store.. so if we transfer the same data to a robot!! it will be the same..

        2. If I create an exact copy of you, and put the two of you in the same room, can you “hear” what your copy is thinking? Probably not. If that’s true, then you and your copy do not share the same consciousness.

      2. How is this consciousness tranferred? Does it copy our brain’s electronical signals to robotic brain? Isn’t it just like copying files from your laptop hdd to a portable. <-if we try to simplify things. In that case, no matter how perfect the end result, it's still just a fake/copy.

        Oh, yeah, the idea of teleporter is scary. I would never step in one.

        1. This is always an interesting question. I have yet to think of a way to legitimately “transfer” consciousness from one thing to another – every solution I come up with involves duplicating and then destroying the original. And yes, the end results would ultimately be a fake or copy. But I mean, if you assume you’re simply a “sum” of your parts, or your consciousness, wouldn’t a copy or fake (assuming it’s perfect) be the same as the original? There’d be no real distinction other than someone telling you “oh, that’s a copy” – so any distinctions would be superficial. It’s strange stuff – very “Ghost in the Shell”-esque.

    2. The problem here is, what defines a human? Is it just the brain?

      Well, I alluded to the idea that our bodies are just as important to our identity as the brain. I just can’t recall the convincing paper I read on the topic.

      Oh, lets not talk about souls since it’s scientifically unproven.

      Mind-body duality is antiquated, sure, but I don’t think it’s outlandish to discuss the sort of qualia-esque consciousness that can’t be fully explained by physicalism.

  3. I honestly thought the Swamp analogy was very good. As you alluded to, it’s certainly more original than dragging out Nietzsche’s oft-referenced abyss quote. And honestly, I think the Swamp analogy is more accurate than the famous abyss quote, because the Swamp analogy appropriately accounts for how not everybody handles this “darkness” the same way.

    As for the Professor, I don’t think he’s a luddite, per se. People can be comfortable with most modern technologies, but be turned off by certain ones that just don’t appeal to them (for example, there are some heavy internet users that nonetheless hate Twitter and/or FaceBook). The Professor strikes me as the sort of guy that hates “fakery”, hence his desire to perceive the truth about another person as quickly as possible. And so simulacrums are out for him.

  4. >> Is that what we’re doing already? Is it already time to hint at a possible romance between Akane and Shinya even though the former seems more like the latter’s legal guardian than a love interest?

    Yes, that was slightly unexpected, I kind of thought of them as just police partners. I don’t think Akane knows him well apart from their jobs.

    I’m glad I’m not the only person who thought there were allusions to the retired professor to Sherlock. Too bad we didn’t get to view the actual lesson. Then again this is a mystery/sci-fi series.

    >> Also, if his entire body is cybernetic, why did he choose to look and sound like an old fogey?
    Perhaps, I guess this suits his ideal appearance? Yes, he does look creepier during the interview vs the other times where he’s inside the house.

    I’m keep thinking of “The Most Dangerous Game” when I watched this episode with the hunting clothes/rifle set up. I admit, the human bone pipe was unnerving when it was revealed to the audience.

    I wonder if this will be only 13 episodes.

    1. Yes, that was slightly unexpected, I kind of thought of them as just police partners.

      Alas, a girl can’t help but blush when she hangs out with a guy. The opposite sex! — so awkward, uguu.

      Then again this is a mystery/sci-fi series.

      It’s also a police procedural to a certain extent. It’s why we see all of those “stand around and discuss the evidence” scenes. As such, I would think a lesson criminal profiling might be interesting to watch.

      I wonder if this will be only 13 episodes.

      I thought I heard longer.

  5. >• Seeing Akane change her clothes at a press of a button makes me wish she’d change her terrible hairdo.

    What do you have against moe?

  6. I think my favorite part of the episode was when Saiga was profiling Akane, and he begins speculating how a relative is highly important to her, then says aloud, “Your grandfather? Or perhaps your grandmother?” And the shot shows Akane’s eyes perk up a bit when he says grandmother, cutting to Saiga noticing that and deciding it must be her grandmother.

    The rest of the scene seems to be something he just conjured from magic, but at least one of those magic facts were gotten pseudo honestly, lol

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