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.”
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.
• 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:
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?
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:
• 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:
• 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.
• 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…
…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.