Friday, January 11, 2013

Psycho-Pass - 12

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In a week full of premières that have generally defied my expectations (for better or worse) Psycho-Pass returns to the schedule with an episode that does just the same.


OP2: "Out of Control" by Nothing's Carved in Stone
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It’s become something of a trend for Urobuchi Gen series to take detours to the past at seemingly odd stages in the narrative, and this episode is certainly one that matches that description.  Smack in the middle of the most intense arc in the series – and coming off a two-week break for New Year’s – we get an episode that leaps three years backwards to give us the backstory on Kunizuka Yayoi, a character who’s barely registered as a blip on the radar screen in the first eleven episodes.

In principle, I think this is a good idea.  It’s high-time we got a little background on Yayoi, who’s had remarkably little presence for someone who’s been as close to the action as she has.  In practice I’m not so sure.  It’s not as if the series was desperately in need of another strong character, and her relatively untapped potential would have been quite a tolerable flaw (though still a flaw).  Is fleshing Yayoi out worth taking a week away from the simmering drama at the heart of the story?  Especially coming on the heels of a two-week hiatus it seems to pose a real risk of draining momentum from the narrative (that was a problem with the second season of Fate/Zero).  I suppose we won’t be able to ascertain the worthiness of this episode until we see what direct dividends in pays in future ones, both in regards to Yayoi’s character and the other elements it introduces.

Taken in a vacuum, I think this ep was a perfectly solid one – certainly not as good as the gripping run of episodes that led into the break.  It turns out that Yayoi’s route to being a police dog ran through the clubs and warehouses of Kitazawa, where she was a journeyman rock guitarist for a band that played Sibyl-approved tunes while the real rockers plotted anarchic revolution behind the scenes.  This notion of Sibyl and its relationship to art is the most interesting element of the episode for me.  Gino remarks that “I hear that there are many cases where a person’s hue can become clouded when they’re deeply involved in their art.  A strong passion such as art, something capable of moving people, can act not only as a medicine but as a poison.”

I don't want to wax all poetical about rock ‘n roll here, but it’s simply not a form that can be managed and sanitized in the way Sibyl seems to try and do so here – and it’s symbolic of deeper flaws in the system.  No matter how much packaged corporate rock the labels spew out there’s always an underground, a place where creative energy flows in opposition to “the system”.  It all boils down to what Johnny (Marlon Brando) said in the “The Wild Ones” way back in ‘53 – when asked “What are you rebelling against?” he answered “Whaddaya you got?”  No matter how many holes in the dam Sibyl fills with her enforcers and detectives, the water will simply flow somewhere else looking for an outlet – it’s human nature.  And the brutal conditions under which the people preemptively imprisoned based on Sibyl’s intuition do nothing to reinforce the idea that this is a viable and desirable way to govern a society.

For Yayoi, it seems her hue got a little dark from mixing too much with the wrong element and she ended up in one of Sibyl’s rehabilitation centers, unwilling even to get a request for guitar strings approved.  Gino and Kougami (still a detective then) pursue her diligently after Sibyl IDs her as potentially a useful dog, but it’s only when a whiff of revolution in the alleys of Kitazawa reaches The Bureau that Kougami shows up bearing the coveted strings as a bribe – and it’s enough to get the recalcitrant Yayoi to at least help with their investigation.  That investigation eventually leads to Club 27 (though seeing Masaoka out of his element in the “Yellow Hood” was my favorite moment), where Yayoi runs into the singer she deeply admired (and probably loved), Rina Takizaki (Watanabe Akeno) and sees the truth of just what the free thinkers are Kitazawa are really after.

All in all I didn’t feel as if Yayoi’s story was especially moving or powerful, or provided any deep insight into her character – it was superficially interesting but not much more than that.  Of greater long-term import, I think, are the glimpses it provides of yet another way in which Sibyl isn’t nearly as in-control as it thinks it is, and of a very important figure in the main storyline – Sasayama Mitsuru (Asanuma Shintarou).  He of course was the enforcer that later died in the serial murder case, and whose death sent Kougami over the edge into a dark-hued abyss.  He’s revealed here to be a somewhat reckless and arrogant chap – it’s that recklessness (which Kougami warns him against) which leads to Club 27 turning into fiery chaos and the coup-plotters (including Rina) escaping.  That element of Sasayama’s character likely wasn’t introduced by chance – in fact, it could have actually been the real point of this entire episode – and I expect it to play a role on the story later on.

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ED2: "All Alone With You" by EGOIST
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15 comments:

  1. If they're going to do a detour, might as well do it after 2 week break. I don't remember when they did the kiritsugu special 2 episode detour (was it also after a lengthy break? Somehow I feel they did it in the middle of 2nd season without any break in between) for F/Z, but this move makes sense, Enzo. They didn't do any backstory on Yayoi in the beginning and they'd have to do it at some point.

    And unlike the old man (who is suspected to be a father of megane detetive), I don't think Yayoi's backstory is as important, so they couldn't just hold onto it much longer. Perhaps they could've done this introduction earlier in the running, maybe before the painter killer girl arc, but this move is the next best option.

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  2. I must say, Sibyl had a point driving that godawful poppy rock songs that the band indulged in the beginning into the underground. Gosh, what a dreadful noise that was :P. That wasn't rock 'n roll. Rolling stone, Led Zeppelin are rock 'n roll. That was pop song with rock elements pretending to be edgy and cool. Like Chris Daughtry+adam lambert, Robbie Williams.

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  3. I've been hearing that the flashbacks are going on for two more episodes, which slightly worries me. I expect the point of this to be to show the viewer even more weakpoints of Sibyl and Sasayama's death, but I wonder if eight episodes will be sufficient to finish the main plot afterwards.

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  4. Wth are you kidding me! Annoyed enough that this will be a flashback ep and now theres two more after this One. they better be good because i was looking really forward to knowing what was going to happen next. booooooooo

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    Replies
    1. I don't know for sure. People were speculating based on episode titles, but then I heard that the director tweeted that next ep is either back to the main plot, or the last flashback. Not sure which.

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  5. Right now (provided that we get back to the main plot after this and space out the flashbacks a bit more) I think this episode fits in pretty well where it was since it shows how both Yayoi and Akane were in rather similar situations, confronted with the choice to shoot or not shoot and then realizing they couldn't shoot but not by their own choice (I'm in the minority that says that Akane didn't miss with the shotgun on purpose but just couldn't aim well shooting with one hand and really was trying to hit Makashima with it). Obviously Akane ended up in a much worse position because of it but I'm pretty sure the viewers were supposed to pick up the parallels here, as well as give a surprising amount of worldbuilding and character development (is it just me or does it seem like Gino was a bit less harsh three years ago? I'm guessing that he was impacted by Ko's spiral into darkness more than we previously guessed).

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  6. I liked the episode, despite the lack of follow up for Akane and Kougami from the last episode. Really liked seeing Sasayama in action, reminds of of Kagari (who was absent all episode, so I guess he was brought on to the team later? I'd love to see an episode on him as well)! Agreed with you, Enzo, that the episode felt a bit out of place, wish they could have developed each side character's story in a more well transitioned manner like Jormungand did. :)

    Thanks for your review!

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  7. More flashbacks? Please tell me it's a lie. T_T
    I hate flashbacks. I still remember that pointless Kiritsugu's flashback. Why did UfoTable put it in main story is totally beyond me. It's supposed to be just a side story, in the last pages of the novel.

    Also Yayoi is not really an interesting character to begin with. She's does nothing but sit around and be pretty. I would be happier if they show the flashback of:
    -Masaoka, how he turned into a latent criminal, as implied in his talk with Akane
    -Kagari, because from his talk with Akane, it seems that he got quite an interesting background, unlike Yayoi, who's just a guitarist (?)

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  8. Having just watched this episode after marathoning ep 1-11 I have to say this ep was a change in pace, after I had finished ep 12 I feel as if I have been trolled hard, as I was expecting some soft of conclusion towards Akane and her feelings about the Sybil system and catching Makishima maybe some 'revelations' on behalf of the foreshadowing first cour's OP.

    Sorry if this didn't make to much sense it is rather late and I'm reallt tired.

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  9. I actually think that having the flashback episode here works pretty well. I thought that Yaoyi had an interesting backstory that helps build the world while also possibly progressing the overarching plot. After the week hiatus I felt that the intense feelings of the previous episode started to ebb and teasing with this episode might work well in lulling us off guard for the eventual Gen-moment. What I could see happening and working is a small string of flashback episodes that slowly fill in background while building toward Kougami's breakdown and at that point juxtaposing that event with Akane's to have them build and play off of each other to make a even bigger event with Akane's rise or fall. I personally could see this working out extremely well but is also very risky but if it works out it could take the story and show onto another level.

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  10. I suppose I'm on the side that liked the flashback, it was interesting to see Yayoi’s backstory and I liked how the episode managed to multitask into showing us insights into Kogami's previous line of work before he became an enforcer (and I have to admit it never crossed my mind that Yayoi's admiration for Rina went that deep, nice call) I can expect for her to show up again at some later point and interweeve into the main plot so I wouldn't worry too much on the worth of the episode, I'm just curious now as to if we'll see the other enforcers pasts, since in my opinion they're the more interesting group of characters in the show. and finally as for the placement of the episode I thought it worked just fine, While I personally liked R;N's 12th episode a tad bit more for getting me on a emotional level, the transition to this episode feels alot more smoother.

    Also reading your paragraph about how sibyl was trying to handle the world's(?) music aloud in a stoner voice was amusing~

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    1. I am also on the side that liked this flashback. Moreover, i think the character yayoi let escaped will have an impact on the main plot. Somehow i think this flashback want a waste of time.

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  11. Kind of old-skool, isn't it? Have a bunch of backstory eps play right after serious sh*t went down. Used to see that quite often in series from decade, though I don't remember any of the old stuff being quite as jarring. Knowing how crude/in-yer-face the writer's style can get, I suppose it's intentional.

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  12. I find it interesting, after all the conversation between Yayoi and Rina, in which Rina explains how flawed Sybil system is, in the end it is proven that Sybil is correct in its decision of identifying Yayoi as a potential enforcer.
    I am also on the side that likes the flashback, anyway :)

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  13. hmm, as long as the flashback is good, does it matter?
    haters, there's always the option of re-watching episode 11 or so, if you forget the tension

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