What bothers me these days is how human the Sibyl System has become. In the first season, I had the perception that the Sibyl System valued logic and utility above all else. If it thought you had crossed a certain threshold — and as a result, you were a danger to society — it killed you regardless of the extenuating circumstances. If you were meant for this job, it put you in that job regardless of what you really wanted to be. If recruiting Makishima would help society more, then justice be damned. Let’s recruit Makishima! In other words, the Sibyl System didn’t have selfish motives. The Sibyl System didn’t desire to control the world. It simply did what it thought was logical, and controlling us was the horrific byproduct of its logic. You could certainly disagree with the Sibyl System and its premises, and Makishima definitely made a great case. He unfortunately targeted innocent people to get his point across, and at the same time, you also couldn’t deny that most people in this society lived in bliss and happiness thanks to the Sibyl System. The point of the first season was that both sides had their pros and cons, and that made it scary.
In the sequel, however, the Sibyl System has become all too human. It is now selfish. It is now absurdly evil. It is now involved in all sorts of conspiracies to help bolster its image and delegitimize others. Basically, it is now a moustache-twirling, evil mastermind. Worst of all, Kasei has become too involved in the sequel. She has always been the face of the Sibyl System, but now, it feels like she’s an individual with her own individual aims. This kills the idea of a bunch of linked brains valuing logic and utility above all. And again, this makes the Sibyl System seem all too human. And here’s the thing. Society’s reliance on the old Sibyl System is really just great cynicism, which is what makes the world in Psycho-Pass feel so dystopian. The idea is that man can’t govern himself. Man can’t make his own decisions. The question: what will bring about the apocalypse? The cynical answer that you hear all too often these days: man. Man will kill himself if you just leave him to his devices. Man can’t even pick the right career for himself. He’s good at X, but he’d rather do Y instead! What a fool! Therefore, society has welcome the SIbyl System with open arms. If man can’t rule himself, let’s have a computer do it.
Yes, the Sibyl System is made up of human brains, but the way it used to operate, it was more like an unfeeling, uncaring machine that only valued maintaining order and peace in society. But here’s the even greater cynicism: even a computer can’t rule us. The computer can only rule us by stripping us of our humanity, thereby turning us into extensions of the computer itself. The situation in the first season of Psycho-Pass was truly hopeless, because it seemed as though there were no right answers. Well, the second season undoes all of that. The Sibyl System has become all too human, and likewise, it is quite obvious what our heroes must do. Yes, they must stop Kirito “I’m a walking Swiss Army knife” Kamui, but they must also stop the Sibyl System at all costs as well. There’s no meditation on the nature of humanity. There is no great debate on what is ultimately the best course for society. Sure, the first season fell into the trap of pontificating a little too much, but all of that has gone out the window. You just have one angsty piece of shit in one corner, and one laughably evil mastermind in the other corner. There’s no ambiguity here. Just take them all down.
What we had before was something completely dystopian: the unfeeling machine maintains peace and order, but at the cost of our humanity. Now, however, the machine has become completely human with its own selfish goals. The first season toyed with ideas about humanity in a futuristic world. Can a man who has replaced 90% of his body still be considered human? Can people really consider themselves human if they let a computer make all the big decisions for them? How do we balance justice against the greater good of society? What if justice is simply the greater good of society? On the other hand, the sequel is just about overthrowing a corrupt king. Ultimately, the sequel disappoints because it has moved away from the very themes that the first season had established in such an extreme fashion. Of course, I don’t want the sequel to just repeat the same questions that the first season had broached, but it doesn’t even serve as a proper continuation. For all of his flaws, Urobuchi confronted some lofty questions about humanity and what awaits it as technology continues to improve by leaps and bounds. The sequel ignores all of that in favor of a simple, age-old story about an evil despot. Psycho-Pass 2‘s greatest flaw is that it has become ordinary.
Stray notes & observations:
— We even see a flashback where Sakuya’s mom beams with pride as her artificial son murders puppies. Knowing that Sakuya’s mom ends up becoming Kasei, it just drives home the point that the Sibyl System has lost its identity, and some fraud has stuck this caricature in its place. The old Sibyl System was obeyed simply because it was logical to a fault. The new Sibyl System has to involve itself in all sorts of conspiracies just to keep itself legitimate. It’s silly. Why have we gone down this road?
— What I find funny about this discussion on the omnipotence paradox was that I never got the impression that the Sibyl System was perfect in the first season. It clearly wasn’t perfect. It simply operated on a set of accepted premises and came to the best possible conclusions for society. For some reason, however, the sequel has suddenly decided to portray the Sibyl System as this entity that needs to be seen as perfect. But if this is really the case, then why would it need to involve itself in so many conspiracies? And that’s the funny thing about it. By wanting to become an omnipotent god, the Sibyl System renders itself all too human.
— I don’t remember ever seeing any skin from Akane in the past, but it’s the new Psycho-Pass age, I guess.
— Sakuya’s conclusion that Kamui must have killed Masuzaki is pretty faulty, but our heroes are none the wiser. Except Mika, of course, but she’s meant to be hated, so she won’t say anything.
— Sakuya: “My will is society’s will. Since you vowed to respect the law, you cannot deny me…” Simply because he’s the Sibyl’s “son.” Bah, this entire season is just getting worse and worse. The Sibyl System has lost its identity, replaced by these fools.
— Yeah, everything about this sequel makes my blook curdle.
— Everyone proceeds to stand in front of a burning building and calmly discuss the evilness of these politicians. And oh yeah, we have illegal immigrants being burned alive, but not just that, they were also modified to look like animals. It’s brutal. It’s twisted. But why? Why does the show need to go this far with these evil politicians without giving us any context? Rikako’s twisted sculptures in the first season had context. We understood why she created them. In the sequel, it’s just, “Oh yeah, these assholes turned innocent people into bizarre animals for their amusement, a fact which I’ll explain to you in this short conversation.”
— So uh, this Koichi guy has Aoi’s severed ear, but then at the end of the credits, we see Sakuya about to do something to the kidnapped grandmother. We know Sakuya had Mika look into the whereabouts of Akane’s grandmother. It’s clear that Aoi had been replaced by a fake grandma in an earlier episode, but what’s the connection here? Who had Aoi in their possession all along? Who cut off her ear? I assume that Sakuya wants to frame Kamui for Aoi’s death, and see if this corrupts Akane. But if Sakuya is the one who cut off Aoi’s ear, then how did it end up in Koichi’s possession? Are they allies? And if Koichi’s the one who cut off Aoi’s ear, then how did Sakuya find Aoi?