Psycho-Pass 2 Ep. 4: Heavy-handed

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Well, this is the first episode to disappoint me quite a bit. Let’s just get right to it, formats be damned.

— Old man: “The medicine you get here keeps your Hue under control. But at the same time, it gradually takes the feeling of being alive away from you.” Well, that sounds like a lot of psychoactive drugs. Lots of people go off their meds because they feel robotic when taking them, so he’s kind of stating the obvious. This is one of the huge problems for the series as a whole; Psycho-Pass often thinks it’s being insightful when it’s really just heavy-handed. Plus, not all medicine are perfect. Every pill out there comes with a known side effect, and we make our decisions based on the trade-offs. So when he says he’ll free them from “this false cure,” I don’t really agree; he’s misidentifying the problem. The problem here is that you essentially have the government pushing its citizens to take these pills in order to pacify and subjugate them. But if these pills were honestly left up to personal choice. then what’s the big deal? People like this old man would have nothing to stand on but their own inflated sense of righteousness.

— Mika continues to doubt the existence of this Kamui figure, which is getting sillier and sillier by the second. How many more people need to name-drop this Kamui guy before you, as an Inspector, start taking these leads seriously? Of course, the story wants us to hate Mika, and likewise, the Inspectors can’t think for themselves… topics we’ve discussed before in previous posts.

— Ginoza acknowledges that drones can malfunction, but he doesn’t seem to entertain the idea that a drone’s records can be tampered with. Again, this sort of thinking just seems silly to me. And I don’t understand why he has to be so patronizing: “…I’ll play along until you’re satisfied.” Dude, it’s an investigation. You exhaust all possibilities. But it’s kind of hard to do that when a colleague is being a pain in the ass. I could understand his reaction if Akane was visibly agitated or freaking out, but she’s still her same calm and placid self. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s nothing to suggest that her mental state is in any real danger, so I can’t help but think that the show is being way too heavy-handed again. “Argh, Akane is so alone and isolated! Only Sakuya has any respect for her!” I get it, but tone it down a bit.

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— I’m amazed that no one can seemingly overpower an old man with a nightstick. In a more charitable reading of the anime, the population is so pacified that they can’t even mount a proper resistance against an old man pretending to be an authority figure. As a result, what can they do against the Sybil System? Yes, he has a weapon. Yes, he has that robot dog. But look how many people you have! Only one guy is willing to put himself in danger to save the rest of the group? Anyway, the less-than-charitable reading is obvious enough, so I won’t get into it.

— The old man proceeds to smash in the poor guy’s skull with just his feet. That’s pretty hard to do, but beyond that, no one even moved to save the victim. Crazy.

— What does it really mean to be alive? Do you need to feel stress every once in a while to feel alive? Do you need to feel negative emotions every once in a while to feel alive? Or do we just tell ourselves that the lows are necessary to rationalize the fact that we may never divorce ourselves from them? There’s that The Incredibles character who says something along the lines of, “If everyone’s special, then no one is!” Can this logic be applied to happiness? “If every waking moment is blissful, then no moment is.” Is that even true? If it is, then there’s something fundamentally wrong with our ultimate pursuits, e.g. heaven, peace, etc. Why do we struggle for these things if they’re impossible? What’s the point of heaven if we can’t appreciate serenity without conflict? What’s the point of peace if there are no wars? Are you really happy if you are never sad? Sure, why not? Again, I think the old man misidentifies the problem. There’s nothing wrong with being or wanting to be stress-free. Again, the problem is that the Sybil System exploits its citizens. The citizens being content and problem-free is not the real problem. You can argue that happiness has made them too complacent to resist the Sybil System, but that’s not what the old man is doing. He’s not trying to lead them out of the cave. He’s just smashing skulls in, scaring people, and being a pathetic hooligan. At no point would I watch a man die and think, “Man, let’s overthrow the government!”

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— It’s obvious at this point that Kamui’s followers have no real solution. They’re as much of a cult as the Sybil System. They just happen to be on the opposite end of the spectrum. If the Sybil System pacifies its population to keep them under control, Kamui’s followers are merely spreading chaos out of some twisted idea that pain and suffering somehow keeps you alive. It’s like BDSM gone wrong. The Sybil System uses peace and order to keep people in chains. You can never express yourself because you’re afraid that your Hue will cloud. On the other hand, Kamui’s cult claims that it can free you from your chains, but that’s not really true at all. The old man forces you to feel stress whether you want to or not. In the end, both sides are assholes that won’t let people live their own lives or come to their own conclusions.

— More forced bitchiness from Mika: “You must be quite pleased now that someone else mentioned Kamui, right?” Seems to me that the Sybil System fucked up by letting someone this petty become an Inspector. Ergo, the Sybil System is flawed. But jokes aside, it was characterization the first few times, but now, Mika’s behavior is just ridiculous.

— All of a sudden, Masuda claims he doesn’t remember ever mentioning the name Kamui. I wonder if Kamui somehow got to him while Akane was on her way to interrogate him. This is ultimately pointless, though. They have multiple eyewitnesses and recorded footage of him uttering that name. Even Mika acknowledges that he mentioned Kamui.

— What a coincidence! The skinny girls, including Inspector Risa, are all wearing sexy underwear!

— Risa then prevents the attendant from taking out the old man, because she thinks she can save everyone despite her hands literally being tied. Her reasoning? “…because that’s my job.” I guess pride is her downfall. The government — and by extension, the MWPSB — can’t trust in its own citizens to act in their best interest. Risa will once again try to use the Dominator on the old man, and the Sybil System will let her down once more.

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— See, that’s why I’m just not a huge fan of the girls all wearing sexy underwear. With the attendant’s help, Risa now has the old man at “gunpoint,” but her butt crack is nevertheless showing because anime is anime. The show detracts from its own seriousness.

— Again, Mika advises that her team does nothing, because she’s scared of being wrong. If anything, the case has gotten personal for her, not Akane.

— So Mika hears yet another person namedrop Kamui, and this is her response: “Is this some shared delusion by crazy people or something?!” Ugh, she’s the black mark on this sequel. I have no problems with her being a skeptic, but she takes it so far that it’s just stupid now.

— And yeah, she still won’t act despite her Enforcers’ — including Yayoi’s — better advice. This one character is pulling the entire story down because her portrayal is so heavy-handed.

— Finally, Inspectors and Enforcers from Division 3 arrive to take the reins from Mika. I wonder how many Divisions there are. They look like they’re about to go to war, too. Considering how much these agents rely upon the Sybil System to tell them what to do, however, I’m afraid the hostages inside that building are about to lose their lives. They all have elevated readings, after all. You can’t help but wonder if Risa will be caught up in this as well.

— Goddamn, of course the character with glasses has to fucking push them up. Anime’s just gotta anime.

— Again, Akane makes some reasonable speculations, but Ginoza tells her to pull it back because her Hue will get clouded. We literally went through an entire season where Akane was unique because her Hue never clouds, and yet… meh, I’ve talked about this enough. I just think it’s dumb.

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— Aaaaand Risa’s dead… thanks to a new Dominator that can shoot through walls. In other words, Division 3 had no idea who they just killed. They simply aimed their gun and pulled the trigger. In this world, it doesn’t matter who you are or what circumstances you’re in. If some number attached to you is high enough, you’re dead. It’s essentially an indictment of utilitarianism. Utilitarianism espouses the idea that we should always act in a way that maximizes utility, where utility is defined as some aggregate of the total benefits to society. You can thus argue that these Inspectors are simply acting in society’s best interest. You’re simply maximizing utility when you eliminate anyone with a high enough Psycho-Pass reading. But as you can see, the results in this case are less than desirable. After all, how do you even define utility? How do you know you haven’t made a mistake in your calculations? Point is, Risa was simply trying to fulfill her duty. Did she deserve to die? Most of us would argue that she wasn’t. The Sybil System’s calculations, however, suggest otherwise.

— But again, Psycho-Pass is far too heavy-handed:

Division 3 Inspector: “I’m just following orders. (to an Enforcer) There’s no mistake that the person you shot was the culprit?”
Division 3 Enforcer: “I don’t know. I just shot the one with the higher Crime Coefficient.”

The story is screaming at the top of its lungs, “Can’t you see, man! Can’t you see how fucked up utilitarianism is?!” Sure, utilitarianism has its downsides, but so does every other moral philosophy out there. No one’s got it right yet. The anime, however, isn’t about drawing a subtle contrast that provokes debate. It simply bludgeons us with its message. Not surprisingly, the rest of the hostages are killed.

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— Likewise, Mika does nothing but absolve herself of blame.

— In the end, Akane finally shows some strong emotions, but this is in reaction to all the bloodshed. I still don’t think her Hue is in any danger of clouding.

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41 thoughts on “Psycho-Pass 2 Ep. 4: Heavy-handed

  1. Anonymous

    +1 to everything you said. I think I mentioned an episode or so ago that Risa’s talk with Nobuchika was a death flag. I was right. . .of course I knew I was right last ep when she went in without her enforcers. seeing how this writer is trying to hard to be Gen, her death was painfully obvious. Ill still watch the rest of the series, but its kind of hard to take this seriously especially since its only 1-cour. The amount of stupid portrayed by the inspectors in this ep was mind boggling. . .

    Also Risa trying to use the dominator-for the second time after it didn’t work the first time. Instead of shooting the old guy with the nail gun, the old guy with a breathing problem surviving an assault from a BUFFED out young guy! It wasn’t just survived, that guy bounced off the old dude like a spit ball coming out of a soda straw against a steel bank safe, I was like “wtf”.

    It was obvious the writer wanted to kill off Risa, that amount of stupid he had to write in to pull that off is too damn high

    Warning: DO NOT WATCH “The Blacklist” before watching this show. The police work in that show is amazingly smart. It makes the cops in this show look like drugged out teletubbies.

    This episode was silly, they really needed to bring back Gen for the whole season + make the show 2- cours or just not make a sequel at all. I already know they aren’t going to answer any of the questions raised in episode one. Even if they got around to answering some of the questions from last episode, the answers will be silly, and rushed.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      p.s. I don’t even care about Mika anymore, she’s pretty much so predictable that she’s pretty much a non-character now.

      Reply
    2. Anonymous

      +1 for you for mentioning The Blacklist. It’s a GREAT cop show that I’ve seen in quite a while.

      For the rest of the post: You stole the words right out of my mouth.

      Reply
  2. tce09

    I wouldn’t say subtlety was ever some master skill of PP’s, but this episode took it to ridiculous new lengths of hamfistedness. Crude and banal. I’ve been on board with S2 so far, but if this is what passes for a story now, I might just wait for the movie.

    Reply
    1. Akumaten (@a9ma10)

      With the movie, due to Urobuchi doing: Madoka, the first Psycho Pass, and Kamen Rider Gaim, I expect the worse from him

      Reply
      1. E Minor Post author

        Well, I’m sure they have had plans for the movie for a while now. Likewise, he probably finished the script a long time ago.

        Reply
      1. bot

        Indeed. What’s the point of having a comments section in this blog if whomever disagrees with you is usually told off in a rude manner? If I wanted that I’d stay on 4chan, thank you. If you hate it when people vocalize opinions which oppose your own, you shouldn’t be getting into interacting with the readers IMO.

        Reply
      2. E Minor Post author

        This comment is exactly what I’m talking about. Instead of starting an interesting discussion, you guys would rather just be insulting.

        Reply
        1. ??!

          Sorry I didn’t mean to start this. I just don’t find it authentic when you mention a single episode of a show is bad and people do a complete 180 claiming the show is the worst thing to ever exist. I do think you are almost always right about the quality of this specific episode and in general.

        2. E Minor Post author

          Most of the people bashing the show this week aren’t even the same as the ones who commented last week. The first two commenters — and they were the only two comments that existed when you made your first comment — literally did not comment on last week’s post.

          claiming the show is the worst thing to ever exist.

          I also don’t see anyone doing this.

    1. Anonymous

      Well… bad shitty shows/episodes are bad.

      I don’t see anybody defending the likes of SAO or bullshit like Mahouka or Ange Cross just to play Devil’s advocate for the hell of it. Because let’s just face it: those shows are OBJECTIVELY bad.
      Not to mention this blog is like 99% of blogging about shitty shows. You know, where we laugh at the pure stupidity that is poured into making shitty harem anime and the like.

      I don’t know EMinor personally, but I’m sure the “good meter/bullshit meter” is pretty calibrated right now. I’m sure if Garo or Bahamut fucks up, some shit will be written about that too.

      Reply
  3. Akumaten (@a9ma10)

    The whole time I was watching I was saying, “Aren’t you guys officers? Do some planing and get those people out. But nope, kill everyone. Be the living turrets of Sybil instead of police officers”
    I hope this season that the Sybil system gets destroyed ala Equilibrium style (doubt it).

    Reply
    1. Naota

      The “human turrets” part is the problem I have with this episode. The very reason humans are part of the enforcement system is to make human judgements that avoid this exact scenario from taking place. With a result like this, why not just put Dominators on the drones and have them automatically shoot anyone with a crime differential in enforcement range?

      Reply
      1. Some guy

        You make a very good point here. Remember though that this isn’t an unusual scenario – remember in Episode 1 of the first season, Akane shot Kougami precisely because they were having a disagreement on proper “enforcement.”

        That said, yeah. It seems weird that they would shoot first and ask questions later with such an unusual scenario – and why the hell did SUDDENLY the old man’s Criminal Coefficient raise to Lethal Eliminator levels at the very end?

        All that said and considered, it could be Sibyl wanting to cover up any unpleasant information from getting out.

        Reply
  4. Pia

    I like your The incredibles reference, that’s my favorite Pixar movie.
    Anyway this episode was painful to watch, not because is bad but because it was too bloody and raw, the violence is getting out of charts.
    I agree that they should allow us to make our own judgments, this is getting too manipulative, they’re trying to hard to make appear the Sybil system as the bad guys, they even made the chief mention that the drugs are a farce, we know the system is flawed but is too much to ask some subtlety?, also the lack of common sense in this world is appalling, especially for an enforcer as experienced as Ginoza.

    “…but beyond that, no one even moved to save the victim. Crazy.”

    The people in Psycho Pass universe are like that, remember that girl in part 1 getting beaten in public by helmet guy and people were like: “amusing, but that’s not my damn problem *smirk*”

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      remember that girl in part 1 getting beaten in public by helmet guy and people were like: “amusing, but that’s not my damn problem

      But in that example, they weren’t trapped in a room with the killer. They could walk away at any point, so I understand this “not my damn problem” mentality. Here, the only way to escape is subdue the old man in some form… and it never occurred to anyone to help the people being brutalized. It just doesn’t make any sense.

      Reply
      1. Pia

        Looking it from that perspective it doesn’t make sense, I was surprised as well that they were so meek, even in part 1 when some students got into a similar situation they rebelled against their aggressors regardless their Psycho Pass readings.
        Still is very unlikely that people in this world could save a victim from danger, but less unlikely they just can take a beating from an old man with a stick without opposing.

        Reply
        1. Pia

          “but less unlikely they just can take a beating from an old man with a stick without opposing.”
          I meant to say less likely rather than less unlikely n_nU

  5. Jovian Dreamer

    I liked this episode. It crystalized when Risa blew up and the civilians were slaughtered by the people and system that were meant to protect them.

    Aside from meeting my violence quota, it also avoided including any real pattern in the violence, at least in this case. The underwear thing was stupid, but, yeah, at this point us anime viewers just gotta ignore and go along with these little things.

    It’s definitely being heavy-handed in some respects, especially with Mika, where they just seem to be trying too hard to get the point across, but maybe it’ll turn out to be worth it. I’m expecting something especially nasty to happen to her. If not a violent, misfortunate fate like Risa’s, then at least some equally heavy-handed emotionally painful lesson that leads to her character development. I just hope it ties into the show in a way that makes sense, but PP hasn’t really disappointed in that regard… yet.

    The old dude is one of the weaker killers in either of the seasons. What his whole story and cause were about didn’t really matter as they weren’t something that was interesting enough to merit in-depth analysis or discussion. That stuff, as is the case with the other killers, was secondary to his purpose in furthering the character arcs of others and acting as more of a support beam for the bigger themes of the show. It’s just that he could’ve been utilized in a more interesting way like some of the other killers from the show.

    If this wasn’t on Japanese TV and was, say, an HBO show, they probably would have been forced to strip naked. It’s not really a complaint on my part, but it definitely would have added to the intensity of the situation and just have a stronger impact on the viewer. Seeing naked people evokes some emotion, seeing violence evokes some emotion. Naked people + violence will just make the whole situation one that’s just got that much more impact. Probably cause some discomfort too, something the brutality and perversity featured in Psycho-Pass is meant to do.

    I’ve also noticed that I like the OP. Not because of the music, but the animation’s good and the way it syncs up with the music is neat.

    Reply
  6. bot

    If anything, Risa deserved what she got. This is the realm of fiction, it’s only fitting for a character who killed their subordinate in cold blood to meet an equally bloody demise. It was an obvious death flag as well.

    Reply
  7. Dolphin

    @ E Minor
    Many times people aren’t rude. You just defend your opinion too damn much at times so it becomes rude. Better disable the comments then. Or just tone it down with I’m right, you’re wrong one-liners.

    Reply
  8. BoyTitan

    Its damn near like the first season did not happen. Thats bad directing you do not ignore things that have been established in the world already. Ginoza should be agreeing with Akane after they dealt with Makihshima. So far it seems like the only character who learned anything from season 1 was Akane. This series is damn near tossing out its own continuity. The villian is way to terrible and plain compared to Makishima. Honestly I am supposed to believe a individual is outsmarting sybil. I get it sybil would be to arrogant to acknowledge some one getting around it.But as many steps ahead sybil was last season I am now supposed to believe this guy has sybil doing exactly what he wants. Makishima could not even get around sybil this well and even got caught once. The guy getting around sybil a few times would have been excusable but this is just ridiculous.

    Reply
  9. BoyTitan

    The Akane hue getting clouded is more of the throwing away the established continuity bullshit. If her hue does get even slightly clouded I am just dropping the series. It was established in season1 people like her were a product of sybil who hues could not get clouded since over the years of sybil finally some of the population can never defy sybil. If anything season 2 should been about more people who hues can not get clouded this new generation that sybil has successfully conditioned. Hell sybil giving out pills goes against it. This whole series continuity aside from Akane has been thrown out the window.. If another medium for story telling did this people would be flipping out asking for the directors head.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      That is a good idea for how the second season should have went. I mean this show is still better than 99% of the crap in anime this season, but seeing this as a sequel of a great show, it’s somewhat disappointing. Hopefully the writer can get his act together in the next few episodes.

      Oh and the stripping people down to their underwear for no reason was just silly.

      Reply
      1. E Minor Post author

        Stripping them down is fine in theory. Nudity has and will be used in horror scenarios to great effect. The writers here just didn’t make this instance of stripping down seem scary. You’re supposed to feel vulnerable, exposed, violated, etc. The viewer is supposed to feel uncomfortable as they watch the scene unfold. This juxtaposes the old man’s claims that they’re now human again by being naked. Instead, they are at his mercy, somewhat objectified, degraded, etcetera — everything that makes them feel less than human. Unfortunately, the episode did a poor job of conveying any of this. Instead, it defaulted on anime’s penchant to make the girls look sexy. So you got frilly underwear, butt cracks, and Risa’s giant boobs.

        Reply
        1. Jovian Dreamer

          Getting them completely naked would’ve been nice. Showing them in all their human imperfection would have been even better. I wanna see some saggy tits, bloated guts, stretch marks, warts, boils, body hair, pimples, dark genitalia, wild variation in body part proportions, everything that makes us special as creatures of unGodly origin presented in hyperrealistic detail. Then I want to see it all blow up and for the blood of the victims to flood and mix together because we’re all the same color on the inside or something.

        2. E Minor Post author

          I wanna see some saggy tits, bloated guts, stretch marks, warts, boils, body hair, pimples, dark genitalia, wild variation in body part proportions, everything that makes us special as creatures of unGodly origin presented in hyperrealistic detail.

          Well, I wouldn’t go that far, personally.

  10. USELESS BOOBS LOVAAAA

    I don’t care about this episode , I care about risa in her sexy underwear , they should at least have a boob shots so the BDs will sell …

    Reply
  11. Anonymous

    I’m blushing that question on the quote ” If everyone’s special, then no one is” played a little part in your post.

    This episode made me come to terms that I’m just not enjoying this season of psycho pass like the first. The characters are off, everyone is written to be so too stupid, it’s too violent I can’t remember the first season having a scene as bad as this episode and Mika is just terrible.

    I was worried about the change in writers and it looks like it was a change for the worst. I hope it can turn things around as there are a few episodes left.

    I did at least like the last part of the episode though so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      I did at least like the last part of the episode though so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

      Which part? Where Kamui is asking the Sybil System what color it is?

      Reply
      1. akeem

        I liked the part starting from the conversation kamui had with the old guy. I don’t know why but it got me looking forward to the next episode.

        Not sure why my first comment says anonymous.

        Reply

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