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.
— 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!”
— 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.
— 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.
— 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.
— 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.