As the old carnival sign says, “This is a dark ride”.
This was another thought-provoking, interesting and smart episode of Psycho-Pass, which continues to descend further down the rabbit hole of Urobuchi Gen’s psyche. It was a flashy episode too, full of signature moments and speeches and crescendos of violence. But my favorite moment was a quiet one, when Kougami took Akane to the correctional facility and casually told her, “When you or Gino decides I’m no longer of any use, this is where I’ll be locked up and never allowed to leave.” It was said without a trace of audible rancor or judgment – just matter-of-factly, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. And it was all the more damning of the system at the heart of the series because of that.
Kougami is definitely emerging as the real main character of this series in the sense that it’s Akane’s role to react to his character, not the reverse. He’s the closest thing to a living, breathing example of what Sybil has to offer – the proof of its impact on the lives of the people who are effectively slaves to it. It’s become quite clear that Kougami is a brilliant detective – most obviously compared to the seemingly witless Gino, but compared to his fellow hunting dogs as well. Akane is whip-smart, but she’s still stinks of mother’s milk – she doesn’t have the street knowledge that Kougami does. Even more, it remains to be seen whether she has the instinct and guts to do what he does – to get inside the mind of the criminal and follow wherever that harrowing road leads.
Earlier on, Nietzsche’s “Gaze long into the abyss and it also gazes into you” was referenced, and while it bears obvious relevance for Kougami I think it was also ticketed for Akane’s development. There’s no question that Kougami gazed into that abyss, and we’ve seen the results – though I suspect there was already a goodly chunk of abyss in there to begin with. It’s my feeling that the finale of the series will hinge on what happens when Akane stares into the abyss, but for now we see the great difference between the two of them as detectives. The display that Kougami put on could have taken place in 1900, 2000 or 2100 – it was simple, old-fashioned deduction. He looked for the patterns, and saw the mind of the criminal in the crimes themselves. He used basically no tech – just profiling and deductive reasoning, and got to the heart of the matter while Gino and the others (including Akane) were still chasing their tails.
What’s really interesting to me is that Kougami saw a kind of youthful idealism in the newest killings – no hippocampi stuffed up anuses here – still another indication that Urobuchi sees a sort of purity in serial murder that he finds alluring. In terms of Makashima, the pattern repeats itself yet again – he uses a talented deviant to cause as much of a ruckus as possible, then when their usefulness has been used up, eliminates them. Oryou Rikako certainly got a spectacular sendoff, stepping in a bear trap before being hunted down by robot dogs and having her head blown off by the same gentleman we saw in the “Ode to Joy” scene last week – indeed, he was humming it as he stalked his prey this time. Lacking any contrary evidence I’m going to say this is Toyohisa Senguji (Chou Katsumi) and he’s one of the loose ends in the story – he tells Rikako that he has no worries about Makashima tiring of him, because he’s one of the masters of this game too. But what his connection to Makamshima is, we don’t know.
Are there clues in Makashima’s choice of the words of Tamora, Queen of the Goths (Titus Andronicus – Shakespeare is all the rage in anime lately) as a soundtrack for Rikako’s execution? Tamora’s story is very much one of revenge, against the Emperor Titus for having ritually executed her son in an effort to appease the spirits of his own dead sons. Perhaps Makashima has a more specific grudge against Sybil and the people who enforce its will, rather than simply a political agenda. I’m also quite curious as to whether it was also Makashima who was the enabler of Kouzaburo Touma – Choe Gu-sung’s presence seems to indicate that – and whether Touma disappeared because he met the same fate as all of Makashima’s playthings. There’s more to this connection than meets the eye, but for now Makashima has turned his attention to Kougami, who has entranced him with his deduction and intuition (which one suspects are endangered species in this world) and seemingly makes sure his conversation with Rikako is overheard by Kougami as a lure.
I’m certainly engrossed by the story at this point, though I’m still a bit skeptical that a system so obviously incompetent as Sybil could continue to rule society with so little challenge. It’s certainly created a harrowing place – no juvenile protection under the law, prisons designed to be converted to gas chambers at the push of a button, men stripped of their position and consigned to an eventual life as a prisoner because their grief and pain has made them “unfit” for their jobs and acceptable society. In short, it’s a mess – and as barbarous as Makashima is, one suspects that Gen might just be setting him up as a sort of hero – a necessary evil, at the very least. That would be right up his alley as a writer, and based on what I’ve seen of the world Sybil created, I’m not so sure I’d disagree in this instance.