PSYCHO-PASS Ep. 12: Molotov cocktails

PSYCHO-PASS 1202

Let’s hope I still remember the characters’ names.

Plot summary: A flashback episode regarding how Yayoi came to join the MWPSB as an enforcer. She used to be a Sibyl-authorized artist, but was eventually locked up when her hue became cloudy. Ginoza and a still uncorrupted Shinya then recruit Yayoi to help quell an uprising in her old haunting grounds. Yayoi initially resists joining them, but after coming face-to-face with the remnants of her youth, she decides to move on and become an enforcer after all.

Notes:

• I guess it’s finally time to flesh out the side characters, and we are starting with Yayoi. I am sorta curious how she went from a rocker to having the aptitude to be an enforcer for the MWPSB.

• On a side note, the “prison” for our latent criminals raises some interesting questions. For instance, despite the fact that the walls are completely padded, one “prisoner” has banged his head on the wall for so long that his forehead is bleeding. No one really seems to care though. In fact, everyone’s left to their own devices even though the voice on the loudspeaker repeatedly encourages our latent criminals to purify their hues. It’s apparent that PSYCHO-PASS’s society pays nothing than lip service with regards to helping latent criminals. Is it a budget problem? A societal attitude problem, i.e. latent criminals can help themselves? A bit of both? This has really been a recurrent theme throughout the first half of the series. The SYSTEM seems perfect on the surface, but there are dangerous flaws hidden away from public view.

PSYCHO-PASS 1203

To a certain extent, this reflects our attitudes in the real world, does it not? How often do any of us think of the welfare of those currently in prison? But of course we don’t! Because if they didn’t want their lives to suck, they shouldn’t have committed those crimes! Out of sight, out of mind. Let’s just never consider the fact that someone guilty of a harmless crime like, say, possession of one joint of marijuana can end up being housed with gangbangers. But hey, up to you to reform, right? But I’m digressing…

• Before accepting a job as an enforcer, Yayoi asks an interesting question: “Does that mean that my Psycho-Pass will never recover?” One, it speaks to the nature of the job; there’s a certain assumption that enforcers will always have cloudy hues. Two, her question implies a bit of optimism. How long had she been a latent criminal by that point? It’s clear that she feels she could still nevertheless recover. But how many actually do? Of course, the anime doesn’t tell us, and I suppose it’s possible that people do recover. But considering the themes and messages that the first half of the series has espoused, what do you think? Do you think anyone actually do return from the brink? When Ginoza tells Sasayama that Yayoi wants to eventually return to her civilian life, it should be noted that the latter remarked, “How naive.”

Later in the episode, Yayoi rages over the prison’s refusal to let her buy guitar strings, and so her hue turns dark yellow. People in lab coats rush over to her cell, but I hesitate to call them doctors because it’s not quite apparent if they’re actually doing anything to heal our latent criminals. Oh sure, the female voice tries to calm Yayoi down by suggesting that Yayoi has been a good patient, and as such, she is sure to leave soon. But it’s important to note what the anime chooses to show us, and what it chooses not to show. It chooses to show us how the prison will flood the cells with some sort of pacifying gas if a patient acts up. It doesn’t choose to show us whether or not anyone actually undergoes therapy. Y’know, sitting down and talking with a psychiatrist? Having the psychiatrist help you work through your emotional and mental problems? We can assume that such a thing might occur behind the scenes, but why? The show has been insistent on pushing this theme that extreme pacification is harmful. Remember how Makishima speaks against the idea of serenity and how it has seemingly zombiefied the masses? Maintaining peace is the System’s utmost concern. And between actual therapy or injecting you with a chemical cocktail to knock you out peacefully, I’m sure the System prefers the latter.

• I’m not a fan of sitting through OPs (and EDs too), so if there’s anything interesting in the new one, I’ll depend on my readers to inform me.

PSYCHO-PASS 1204

• “Humans will live a more civilized life.” Of course, what does “civilized” mean in this context? Just moments ago, the same voice promised “a stable life in which your talents are used to their fullest.” I’m almost reminded of Greek philosophy in a way, where someone — I forget who — once said that there’s a best purpose for every tool. To sit down and objectively analyze that hammers are for hammering and that knives are for cutting, well, that just makes perfect, logical sense. The tricky part is whether or not we can do the same thing with human beings. Hammers don’t have feelings unless I’ve been metaphysically mistaken all along. Hammers hammer and it doesn’t matter if they don’t like it. But just because I’m good at, say, bureaucratic paper-pushing, it doesn’t mean I’d be happy with doing that job for the rest of my career. How does this guarantee a stable life? Shouldn’t the aptitude test also factor in attitude, i.e. gauging one’s interest in the myriad job fields?

I can’t help but think of how since modernization of Japan, rigorous exam systems have been put in place to stratify its children from an early age. I’m only familiar with taking the SAT to get into college. Most anime fans probably know how even high schools in Japan require taking an exam. From my bourgeois Western perspective (I’m being tongue-in-cheek here in case anyone takes offense and thinks I’m implying that all my Western readers are bourgeois), I’d say that’s way too much stratification at such an early developmental point in a person’s life. I mean, not all kids mature at the same speed, but if you are behind the curve, the system compounds the matter by sticking you in a bad high school. But again, perhaps I’ve gone on too much of a tangent. Is PSYCHO-PASS directly criticizing this system? At the moment, eh.

• At the start of the episode, I wondered if rock — with all its subversive elements — would ever actually be condoned by the Sibyl. But according to the show, Yayoi was Sibyl-authorized to become an artist. Not only that, there are authorized bands with authorized music. I wonder if it’s like Christian rock…

• I wonder how other subbers are translating this same episode. The term “antisocial community” has to be an oxymoron, no? It’s such a misnomer.

• Looking young and hip there, Masaoka:

PSYCHO-PASS 1201

• Oh I’m sure it’s nothing, but I raised an eyebrow at Shinya saying, “If you want to escape a life of continually having everything taken from you…” then giving her a gun. It piques the side of me interested in gender issues.

• The rest of the episode pretty much plays out the way you’d expect it to, i.e. Yayoi reluctantly joins the MWPSB for some modicum of freedom, and as a result, she comes face to face with her troubled past. I will say, however, that it’s hard to see Yayoi here as a sympathetic figure. Her intentions seem purely selfish to me. Yes, Rina can be considered somewhat of a terrorist, but what else can one do against such an all-encompassing System like the Sibyl? Yayoi warns that if Rina continues down this path, there’s no turning back, but from the looks of it, there ain’t much to turn back to.

• I guess I don’t understand Ginoza’s fears of letting a latent criminal wield a Dominator. After all, Dominators serve as the Sibyl’s eyes, right? So a Dominator will only fire at those that the Sibyl deems dangerous. Who cares who physically pulls the trigger, then? The Sibyl is effectively responsible for every single action that a Dominator takes.

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17 thoughts on “PSYCHO-PASS Ep. 12: Molotov cocktails

  1. flawfinder

    OP: They show the characters’ names in police ID format just so we can remember them. And that’s all I remember from the OP.

    ED: They show the characters naked.

    Reply
  2. Foxy Lady Ayame

    New op-eds are worse than the previous imho; I don’t like them much. I miss the previous ed :(

    The Greek philosopher you’re seeking is Aristotle. His ‘teacher’ Plato, had similar ideas about the ideal society in his work “Republic” where each (wo)man would be assigned at the job for which he’s most suited. That’s why he was quoted earlier in the series, too.

    Yayoi is interesting. She acts like a child. I don’t think she becomes an Enforcer to move on rather to hunt down her past. My guess is that she was in love with Rina and either wants to protect her or more likely kill her herself; if she’s not gonna be with her, then…

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      I don’t think she becomes an Enforcer to move on rather to hunt down her past.

      But will she? I actually hope not. Fleshing out her character is one thing, but devoting an arc to Yayoi sounds dreadfully boring to me.

      Reply
  3. MAGICAL☆BIRDY

    >Is PSYCHO-PASS directly criticizing this system?
    Feels more like a criticism of the rigidness of the Japanese, or their tendency to do things by the book and only by the book and their refusal to adjust their way of thinking to come up with real solutions. I think Ginoza’s insistence on killing the rape victim in the first episode whose CC went way up due to her trauma instead of actually trying to help her is a good example of this. Though I suppose this rigidity is learned from the Japanese education system, which requires less critical thinking and more rote memorization.

    >I’m almost reminded of Greek philosophy in a way, where someone — I forget who — once said that there’s a best purpose for every tool. To sit down and objectively analyze that hammers are for hammering and that knives are for cutting, well, that just makes perfect, logical sense.
    Maslow’s Hammer?

    >At the start of the episode, I wondered if rock — with all its subversive elements — would ever actually be condoned by the Sibyl. But according to the show, Yayoi was Sibyl-authorized to become an artist. Not only that, there are authorized bands with authorized music. I wonder if it’s like Christian rock…
    They probably figured that since it’s going to happen anyway, they might as well regulate it, instead of outright banning it, to placate the artists and their fans to avoid having to deal with uprisings like the one depicted.

    >I guess I don’t understand Ginoza’s fears of letting a latent criminal wield a Dominator. After all, Dominators serve as the Sibyl’s eyes, right? So a Dominator will only fire at those that the Sibyl deems dangerous. Who cares who physically pulls the trigger, then? The Sibyl is effectively responsible for every single action that a Dominator takes.
    Guessing that he was more concerned with Yayoi taking the gun and running off with it, then someone having it modified or reverse engineered and mass produced for use by criminals and/or rebels.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Maslow’s Hammer?

      If I ever use the word logical, I’m never being 100% serious.

      Guessing that he was more concerned with Yayoi taking the gun and running off with it, then someone having it modified or reverse engineered and mass produced for use by criminals and/or rebels.

      That’s a bit of a stretch.

      Reply
  4. Scarlet

    “Do you think anyone actually do return from the brink?”

    I’m horrible at remembering specifics, but didn’t that rape victim from the first episode recover eventually? (Or, at the very least, reduce her hue from the level where she could be killed with a Dominator). It seems possible to reduce one’s hue, even from extreme levels, but this society seems to treat it more as a mythical occurrence, a far-off glimmer of hope, than something that is readily possible to achieve (just look at the lacklustre attitude people have about rehab systems).

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      The episode implies, however, that it is near impossible to return to normal. Can your hue subside from dangerous levels? Yeah. Does the system ever truly rehabilitate anyone? It doesn’t seem so.

      Reply
  5. Ryhart

    We get to see how Sasayama was alive back then, he seems like a clumsy & arrogant type of person. I don’t understand why Kougami is so attached to him while the other characters don’t really care how he died nor avenge him.
    On a side note people still use Molotov Cocktails at that futuristic age? can they at least use some incendiary grenades or something.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      I don’t understand why Kougami is so attached to him while the other characters don’t really care how he died nor avenge him.

      I dunno, Shinya seemed a bit like a stiff back then. Maybe Sasayama loosened him up.

      On a side note people still use Molotov Cocktails at that futuristic age?

      I think this fits. Our last killer used old fashioned traps. There seems to be an old versus new technology dichotomy going on.

      Reply
  6. s2012k1993

    Comparing Episode 8 where PP shows us a prison full of criminals to this episode, I noticed that the prison cells for both types of criminals are architecturally the same, down to the single shower, table and bed. The only differences are the lack of padded wall and the extra metal to reinforce the cell doors. PP Society clearly just improvised with the latent criminals cells. We also know that Oryo’s father discarded his art because he thought Sibyl was his solution to despair. Also, Ginzo’s father was originally a detective, who was later labelled a latent criminal. This bring me to conclude that Sibyl went into effect probably 20-30 years before the start of our story and definitely not a final product.

    We have so far seen many flaws in Sibyl: blindspots, inaccurate readings, etc. But I think these are implementation problems as opposed to core ideological problems. Psycho Pass has only tangentially touched the questions of justice, privacy, and free will. I wonder if we will get to know how Sibyl came to its conclusions.

    Reply
  7. alsozara

    I know you said you weren’t going to catch up on your episodic posts on Psycho Pass, but is there any chance you’ll finish watching the show and do a final conclusion post, like you did with Sakamichi no Apollon and UN-GO? Would love to hear your overall thoughts on the show and what you think they were trying to say, whether they succeeded etc. (really enjoyed your final UN-GO and Sakamichi posts).

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Not ruling anything out, but the chances of this happening are rather slim. Usually, when I write about a show, I will jot down notes as I’m watching, which — as you might have guessed — can be a time-consuming affair. This is one of the many reasons why I prefer doing “episodics” despite the high-brow anime blogging community generally turning its nose at this style of blogging (we only consume the finest of editorials and colloquia, dear sirs!). With UN-GO, I only had a handful of shows to re-watch. At this point, I’d have to re-watch an entire season of episodes for PSYCHO-PASS just to take notes. I don’t have time after work to watch the episodes, and I don’t want to consume an entire weekend doing such a thing either.

      More importantly, however, I jumped at the chance to do conclusion posts for UN-GO and Sakamichi ’cause I felt there were gaps in how those shows were being covered and interpreted. With PSYCHO-PASS being a (vastly) more popular show, I can’t imagine saying anything that others likely haven’t already covered. Plus, I don’t even have the time to see what others are saying about PSYCHO-PASS. I sure as hell ain’t braving the inanity of Twitter again to find out!

      Reply
      1. alsozara

        Ah, I see. Thanks for giving such a full reply, it is much appreciated.

        Well, if at any point you have the time and/or interest to do so I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d be very eager to read it. As a side note, despite how popular it is, there doesn’t seem to be a whole of insight on the aniblogospher regarding it. From what I’ve read, I’d honestly say there’s more genuine insight in your analyses/annotations of the first 12 episodes than there is on the show as a whole over the entire aniblogosphere combined. So whatever the case, thank you greatly for the 12 great Psycho Pass entries you’ve already written.

        I look forward to potential posts on the upcoming season.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          As a side note, despite how popular it is, there doesn’t seem to be a whole of insight on the aniblogospher regarding it.

          On the flip side of the coin, one man’s insight is another man’s pretentious pomo-nonsense.

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