So why do you guys think this episode is subtitled “Methuselah’s Game?” Methuselah is a biblical figure who’s notorious for having lived to an incredibly old age. I think over 900 or some ridiculous number like that. Who’s our Methuselah though? Is it Senguji, who’s now more cyborg than man? After all, in last week’s episode, he expressed his desire to achieve immortality should cybernetics ever manage to “cyberize” a person’s brain. But how does hunting human prey figure into the picture? Is it the fact that our game is rather anachronistic, with a hunter, his dogs and “foxes” on the loose? Or is that if Senguji becomes Methuselah, i.e. immortal, the only way for him to continue feeling human is to engage in this age-old sport that should be all but extinct in a futuristic world like PSYCHO-PASS?
Plot summary: Using one of Akane’s friends as bait, Senguji leads Shinya into a trap. The cat and mouse game begins, but Senguji soon realizes that he’s being tested by Makishima. Meanwhile, Ginoza wonders if Shinya planned his escape all along, but Akane remains faithful.
• Heh, remember when the show’s creator said he hated moe?
Before anyone gets all huffy, I’m just joking around. This isn’t really moe, but still, you have to consider Akane’s role in this anime. What has she done to balance out her cute, ditzy personality? Nothing thus far.
• Hm, it’s Christmas Eve in the anime. I wonder if this will have any relevance.
• Akane and Shinya end up in a deserted, rundown portion of the city full of defunct streetlights, rusted signs, flooded roads, abandoned buildings, etc. It’s curious that such a “ghost town” could exist so nearby that you could just get on the freeway to reach it. And why is it completely deserted? Not even a hobo or anything? What happened here? Why did the city abandon it? Why did the citizens follow suit?
As a bit of an aside, these questions aren’t criticism from me; these questions are just examples of me thinking about the anime’s setting. This is the sort of understated world-building that I actually like. I hate it when the world-building becomes the actual focal point of a scene. That’s when world-building bores the piss out of me. In this scene, Akane and Shinya are here on a mission, so there’s a purpose to the narrative even with the world-building. What I notice in a lot of shows where the world-building takes over is that the narrative becomes aimless.
• But we know that our current villain — the weirdo cyborg and not Makishima — is some sort of self-proclaimed expert hunter. Shinya says, “It’s definitely strange. There’s no doubt that this is a trap.” So now the deserted cityscape isn’t just that; it’s an urban jungle for our latest hunter and his game.
• I’m not so sure I buy Shinya’s plan. Like any silly horror story, the pair split up: “If we both get taken out, who’s gonna call for help.” Well, you don’t even know if you’re outnumbered or not. If anything, splitting up could mean it’s easier for both of you to get taken out.
On a bit of a related note, you have to start wondering now if Akane has had any extensive combat training. Oh sure, she can fire a Dominator, but who can’t? She never gets to do any of the dangerous shit with Shinya as though he has no confidence in her to hold her own. Instead, she gets to sit back and play the
• Hijacking the signal and impersonating Akane is a bit of a neat trick, but it ties into our larger theme of simulacra. We, as in the audience, know that this isn’t the real Akane. So we can easily pick up on voice’s unnatural inflection. I mean, it sounds like her, but it’s lacking something that defines Akane, doesn’t it? But why doesn’t Shinya recognize this then? Especially when we just saw last week how he studied under some great criminal profiler who can instantly discern your life’s history from just observing and listening to you. But again, the fact that I’m asking these questions doesn’t necessarily mean I’m criticizing the anime. I said this ties into the idea of simulacra; Shinya isn’t really all that close to Akane, so he doesn’t initially* recognize that there’s something wrong in how she sounds.
*He concludes later that it’s a fake, but it’s well beyond the point of no return.
• And now we have a bizarre underground railroad and a train that still has power. This seems like the sort of thing someone should notice, but maybe the bureaucracy is such a mess that no one seems to care that power is being used in some defunct portion of the city.
• According to Yayoi, this place has been repeatedly developed so this is why Akane’s map didn’t match up with what Shinya experienced… but this place looks like it has been abandoned for years. Ergo, the software failed to account for a redevelopment that happened years ago? I’m afraid I don’t think this makes much sense.
• All of a sudden, Ginoza wonders if Shinya staged all of this to escape the clutches of the MWPSB. First of all, for someone who relies mostly on data and logic, this seems like a dumb reach for him. Second, it just makes no sense, especially for such an experienced investigator like himself. Gee, I’ve worked with Shinya before. These days, he’s obsessed about avenging his ex-partner by hunting down this illusive Makishima. Yeah, sure, he’d definitely run away from the MWPSB and all their fancy detective equipment to become a renegade. That makes much more sense!
Anyway, it just feels like they wanted Ginoza to be a dick for no reason.
• From Shinya’s discussion with Yuki, we at least know he respects Akane. We also learn that Yuki didn’t take Akane’s concerns very seriously, which is worth thinking about. The girl seems surprised to learn that Akane’s job can be so dangerous. It’s not just “Oh, Akane is such a silly girl, so I don’t take her seriously.” I mean, Akane joined the fucking police force. That’s serious stuff, isn’t it? But that’s true from our world. In our world, we know cops have to fight drug dealers, serial killers, themselves, etc. Perhaps the perception of the occupation is drastically different in the world of PSYCHO-PASS. Let’s say Yuki is a reflection of the larger society as a whole: is there a perception out there that the MWPSB doesn’t have to do much? Is this perception by design or incidental?
• I mentioned the term “urban jungle” earlier, and I still think the description is apt. Shinya comes across what looks like a giant mousetrap, so he remarks, “Even their traps are anachronistic.” It’s worth keeping a couple things in mind though. First, let’s recall Makishima’s discussion about “serenity.” The city is really about doing anything possible to maintain this aura of peace, so much so that some of the city’s inhabitants fall into a coma-like state. Senguji, however, combats this by hunting humans as prey. He also hunted Oryo by having Makishima lead the poor girl underground. So think of our “urban jungle” as Senguji’s attempt to force upon his victims the vicious state of nature outside of society’s bubble. Here, he can force his victims to feel emotions beyond mere serenity so that when he kills them, he feeds upon their emotions, whatever they may be. Does Senguji play this game, however, because he’s made himself less than human?
It’s just apt if you think about what — rather than who — Senguji is: he’s more machine now than man. If we think back to last week’s discussion, remember that our buddy Senguji is a hypocrite. Our villain believes that it makes no difference if our bodies are replaced by machines, but at the same time, he can’t satisfy himself with hunting a mere simulation. He has to hunt “the real thing.” But what is the real thing? It’s not as though he goes into the actual city to kill people. First off, it would be stupid because he has a higher chance of getting caught that way. But secondly — and on a metaphorical level — if he hunts in the actual city, he’d just be hunting “machines” when he would rather hunt animals.
Again, the discussion from last week revealed how he believes mankind has allowed machines to replace a large portion of their daily lives. The inhabitants in PSYCHO-PASS rely upon all sorts of machines, computers and AI to determine how to dress, what to eat, how to drive, etc. When you factor in the whole serenity angle, it’s clear that we have “machines” everywhere. Senguji is a machine because he’s replaced his human body with cybernetics. The rest of society’s inhabitants, however, are also “machines” in some sense because their lives are so automated by the System. Even if we see them as human beings, hunting them would be a mere simulation for Senguji. He thus has to remove his targets from the system and place them into the urban jungle. This way, they become not just human again, but animals again (humans are animals, after all) for him to hunt.
But both the OP and the anime itself has hinted over and over that Shinya is more animal than human. Senguji isn’t merely hunting someone who’s forced out of their protective bubble — like Neo emerging from his imprisonment and goes into total shock when he sees the “actual” state of the world. Rather, Shinya has always been an animal ever since his ex-partner died.
• Yuki’s stupid in a way that doesn’t make much sense. Right, I’m trapped in some underground maze, it’s dark, and it’s scary. I mean, there are literally dangerous traps everywhere. But hey, a bag full of supplies! It’s even illuminated in a “HAY GUYZ GO GRAB THIS” sort of way. I mean, you could say, “Maybe the girl’s just stupid,” but it’s stupid in a confounding sense. She’s so stupid that she falls for the most obvious trap. It just seems like lazy writing to force something to happen.
• Oh, I should mention what Senguji and his night-vision goggles kind of remind me of: The Silence of the Lambs. And it’s not just the fact that our hero is being hunted by a killer who can see in the dark. The villain here wants to transcend his body, so he turns himself into a cyborg. In The Silence of the Lambs, the killer coveted his victims’ skin and wanted to become a woman (it’s been a while so I’m sure I’m leaving out a subtle detail). I’m not saying Senguji or this arc is directly inspired by The Silence of the Lamb or anything, but I found it an interesting comparison.
• It’s clear that although Senguji relishes in other people’s fear, he’s rarely rattled himself. So Makishima turns the tables on him. What can our cyborg feel now that he’s also in great danger? Or rather, how can our cyborg feel?
• I wish Makishima wouldn’t say cheesy shit though, like “Will you understand the meaning of this game?” It’s doubly cheesy because the anime goes and explains the obvious yet again: Shinya can win easily if he ditches Yuki. But will he? Probably not. He’s the good guy. Thus, his true nature is “revealed.”
• Are you serious? Shinya just knew that there was something off about Yuki’s underwear?
• Remember how Shinya brought up Akane’s faith when Yuki asked about her performance as an investigator? Obviously, he didn’t mean her faith in the almighty. But faith in what? He says, “She intuitively understands what it means to be a detective,” so you might think faith in the traditional method of sleuthing. But really, it’s clear that she has faith in Shinya, and that’s what he likes. She gives him a pretty long leash (or perhaps none), and he’s allowed to do whatever he wants basically. With Ginoza just straight up shit-talking Akane for trusting Shinya so much, now it’s time for Akane to have faith in his character.
But again, she doesn’t do much of anything this episode. And once more, Ginoza being a dick for no reason other than to introduce conflict.
• Who didn’t laugh at this:
I mean, c’mon, let Akane do something other than make silly faces. Maybe next week, the anime says.