Friday, January 18, 2013

Psycho-Pass - 13

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“The horror!  The horror!”

- Mr. Kurtz, Heart of Darkness
As always, Urobuchi-sensei reveals his hand quite by bit in the choices of literature he chooses to reference – both as to the kind of writer he is, and to the specifics of the story he’s telling.  Heart of Darkness is a story about many things, but among them is certainly the notion of a “good lie”.  It’s also something of a musing on reductionism – the notion that everything can be broken down to the interactions of its constituent parts – in the person of its protagonist, Marlow. 

As such, the book is an apt symbol to frame an episode where the focus of the story shifts at last to Ginoza (though it was in fact Kougami that was reading it).  Ginoza has been much less a factor in the story so far than it appeared might be the case at the beginning of the series.  Mostly he’s been a mouthpiece for the system and a foil for both Akane and Kougami, but he’s never contributed much in terms of insight or shown any real value as a detective.  Up to this point Gino has been a company man, plain and simple.  Now, however, we can see that he’s truly a man caught between unpalatable alternatives, and I suspect the coming episodes will sorely test whether or not there’s a core of strength and decency in him.

The most obvious development in this episode concerning Ginoza is confirmation of something that many of us have suspected for weeks – that Masaoka is in fact Ginoza’s father.  There have been ample hints, but now we have at last an acknowledgement of the fact – and it colors both everything that has happened with Gino up to now and what might happen in the last nine episodes.  This revelation comes courtesy of another – that Gino’s crime coefficient is on the rise, to the point where the agency is concerned for his future.  The police shrink recommends that he speak with his father – “the only one still alive” from his family – but I suspect if he’d done his homework he might have rethought that advice as it relates to Gino managing his stress.  To say that he’s carrying a lot of bitterness is an understatement – he blames his father for seemingly everything that’s wrong in his life, including the death of his mother.

There’s some suggestion that Gino’s rising crime coefficient has been a long-term issue, but there’s no doubt he’s under particular stress at the moment as a result of his conversation with the Commissioner.  There, he’s been told that Kouzaburou Touma was in fact arrested  - and possibly executed – in secret two years earlier.  This feels like such a betrayal that even Ginoza is momentarily indignant, but the Commissioner goes on to lecture him as to the glories of the Sibyl system, stating quite memorably that “It’s not important if the system is perfect – it’s important that the people believe it is.”  Sibyl is a system built on lies, so this might seem like just another on the pile – but it’s a pretty big one.  Not only does she tell Gino all this, but also that Kouzaburou was “asymptomatic” – his crime coefficient never rosé no matter what atrocities he committed, and that roughly 1 in 2 million people share this trait.  In order the preserve the illusion it’s necessary to cover up the holes (the ones that have been found and acknowledged, anyway) in Sibyl’s net, so that the people’s belief in the system that has brought "unparalleled peace and happiness to the world can be protected.  Gino is now in on the secret, and its incumbent on him to lie about it too – including to the men and women on his team who risk their lives every day executing Sibyl’s wishes.

There’s a definite contrast being drawn here between Ginoza, who with this development is seeing the accelerated breakdown of his stability along with his faith in the system that governs his life, and Akane.  She, as Kougami states, is “already a full-fledged detective”.  She risks her crime coefficient by undergoing a “memory scoop” – a traumatic process whereby the image she has of Makashima is extracted from his mind.  Of course she’s the only living witness who knows what Makashima looks like, but the procedure requires that she relive the moment when Makashima slit Yuki’s throat as she stood by, unable to act.  Yet in spite of this her crime coefficient recovers almost immediately – a marked contrast to Gino’s own growing existential crisis.  There’s no question that Akane is a brave young woman, and that there’s something very different about her psyche.  Different, but perhaps not unique – as the links between she and people like Makashima and Kouzaburou may be more direct that we might think.

All this comes together in the excellent scene where Gino calls Masaoka for a one-to-one talk, where the truth of their relationship is formally acknowledged, though it’s already quite obvious by this time.  Gino asks Masaoka how it is that Akane can maintain such a clear hue through such intense trauma, and the older man can only reply that she has a total faith in the sheer rightness of being a detective.  A faith he once shared (an admission that brings a fond smile from his son) but “One day I was suddenly given a gun that speaks.  And I was told that from then on I just had to shoot people when it told me to.”  This shook his core belief in his life’s work and apparently started his downward spiral – as Gino says, “You deserted Sibyl and Sibyl deserted you.”  The level of resentment on Gino’s part is truly profound.  He resents his father for questioning Sibyl, and for remaining a detective and bringing great travail upon his family rather than simply quitting.  He resents Akane for being stronger than he is.  And he resents himself for feeling the same self-doubts his father feels, no matter how he tries to deny them.  All Masaoka can do is caution his son that when those feelings start, he’d better be damn careful – but one suspects that Gino has already gone too far down that road to return unscathed.

The relationship between Masaoka and Gino is complex indeed, and from the beginning I’ve sensed in Masaoka the most compelling personal story of anyone in the cast.  He’s a living bridge to a lost era, a ghost – and a daily reminder to his son of everything that he’s lost in his life.  As for the main plot, we have one more revelation that’s sneaked in at the very end of the episode, one shrouded in mystery.  The Commissioner seems to be linked directly to Sibyl somehow, and she seems to know more of Makashima than she’s let on – at least, that’s the strong implication in her referring to him as “Shougo-kun”.  There are definitely characters to root for and identify with in Psycho-Pass – Kougami, Akane and Masaoka at the very least – but I’m more convinced than ever that even if there are good people, there is no “right side”.  Makashima is a psychopath, but he might be the greatest threat to expose Sibyl for the monumental fraud that it is – and that doesn’t seem like an entirely bad thing to me.  If Gen’s history as a writer tells us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t be an “everybody wins” solution to all this – if anything it would be a surprise if we get an “anybody wins” one.

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22 comments:

  1. Actually, I don't think Touma is dead... I think he might have been turned into an experimental rabbit.

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  2. I'm wondering if the Commish and him are related. They both have simmilar hair color.

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    1. By him I mean Makashima.

      Also someone else said they are surprised Akane is back so soon. Knowing Gen the way we do I'm starting to think Akane is more like Makashima then we would like her to be. I'm guessing by the time this series is over she will be going down a very dark path and will not be the same person she was when this series started.

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    2. I think that what makes Makishima and her special is that they are not guided by emotions like most humans are (and which is what Sybil monitors) but by their own free will so both can choose their own paths rather than be force into them by events... however lack of emotions also means that your consciousness doesn't control you so it ain't that shiny either.

      What is scary about Makishima is that he ain't crazy: technically, he is probably more sane than a normal human being actually. You don't need to be insane to be a vicious criminal, you just need to commit crimes. Makishima decided to fight the system and since he is not guided by emotions, he won't feel remorse or pleasure (or more exactly, concentrate and ignore them... which is why his PP got more stable)... there will be nothing and thus Dominators can't affect him (as they measure your emotions).

      Akane is similar in a way that she can bend her emotions depending on her will. She is not on Makishima's level yet, but even if she reaches it, knowing her character the worst that can happen is that she becomes a more ruthless detective and a reformer rather than a violent revolutionary. And seeing how coldly she pointed her Dominator at the "love of her life" in OP1, that may have been hinted to happen.

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    3. Lack of emotions is one the big characteristics of psychopaths....

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    4. I don't think it's a "lack of emotions", it's more like control over them. Since episode 1, we've seen Akane make decisions based on her emotions. In episode 1, she had just met "the love of her life", she had no feelings for him yet, so pointing the gun at him wasn't cold. Also, she was pointing the gun at him to save a civilian whoose only crime was to be traumatized after being kidnapped and almost raped.In episode 12 and 13, we've seen that she is deeply affected by the death of her friend...but she pulled herself together. Just like she did following the events of episode 1. Akane is not lacking in emotion, she just has a great control over them. Like she said she "accepts reality, and moves on".

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    5. Sorry should have made it clear I was speaking of Makishima, not Akane

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  3. This episode I think did a good job of making Gino a more sympathetic character. I mean he's still kind of a douche but now we know that at least part of that is because he's stuck in a situation with no good choices, anybody would be stressed in his shoes. He probably needs some therapy to work through his daddy issues though.

    And I have to agree with your last comment Enzo, this IS Gen we're talking about so anybody who is expecting a happy resolution to everything should probably brace themselves for some serious disappointment times.

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    1. Agreed on Gino, I (and probably everyone else) suspected for a while that a lot of his issues had to do with his dad and this episode finally confirmed that and illuminated them a little more. Plus, after seeing that conversation with the commissioner, I think he might be disillusioned enough with Sybil to start acting a little less by the book (he's already being a little nicer to Akane it seems).

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  4. We're finally back on track! I'm a little surprised by how soon Akane recovered from the trauma, and changed her mindset into determination that she'll "finish Makashima off" the next time she meets him.

    I think Sibyl system was a product of desperation from what was hinted in this episode. We're told that the current society has achieved a prosperous level far beyond any other society before, and Ginoza mentioned the country have "recovered" under the new system. It sounds all fine and dandy, but we were not shown directly just how beneficial Sibyl system really is, and mere words like "prosperity", "maximizes happiness", and "safety" does not really add much weight to the statement, especially when we're told "people no longer need to worry much" in making decisions affecting their whole life (I wouldn't call that beneficial).

    Add that to all the things we've seen in PP, the cracks here and there, how people became wholly dependent on a supposedly infallible system, and that the "maintenance" job was handed to a small team of people hand-picked by the system itself, and we have to wonder why such a system was implemented in the first place.

    In any case, this week's episode is much better compared to last week's bland episode in terms of pacing, character development and the amount of new info revealed. Then again, last week's script was not handled by Urobuchi, so....oh well.

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    1. As a person worrying about my future I can totally see how Sibyl could make everyone's life better, there's countless people that are wasting their talents on things they can't do and don't like, countless of people that are doing things that they are unable to do properly (especially in politics) and so on.

      With the help of sibyl those people don't need to worry about those things and can center on being good at what sibyl told them they were good at, also only capable people is moving on their field (which will obviously be reflected in the life quality of people) compared with our current system where any idiot could do whatever he pleases, is a much more efficient one.

      Also we are shown the cracks in the system because we only have people who work to fix that as the focus, we can see in the background how this system works in a big scale (people walking safely and only worrying about keeping their toughs in check), it's just not the focus, the focus is in the aspects in which this system doesn't works.

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    2. Agree with above anon. You won't believe just how many incompetent fools and bastards and corruptors enjoying strategic positions in my country's government. They ruined the country and people's happiness overall. With Sybil, such a thing won't happen. Shougo was just a rare case of one among two millions. <-- if the old lady was speaking the truth.

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  5. I had the same thought when the Commissioner called Makashima "Shougo-kun". They must know one another -- perhaps by their names only and not in person; otherwise, she would have known how he looked like. Perhaps Makashima was indeed that old man mentioned in a few episode before and transformed himself into another person with another look, and he worked with the Commission on creating the Sibyl but later rejecting the idea...lots of thoughts here.

    I like Akane better in this episode -- she has matured. I wasn't too fond of her from the start of the episode probably because of my personal bias of rooting for intellectually stronger female protagonist. Akane didn't come across as one and because of her inexperience -- although she was put in difficult position -- that caused unpleasant results. I like that in this episode she's shown her growth and that we were told of her positiveness and strong belief -- it added more colours to her personality in my view.

    I still like Masaoka the best. I like his calm demeanor -- as once again shown in this episode -- and the richness of his stories beneath the calmness and what he represents in the story...he makes me think of the pain that he bears as a father, a husband, a detective...and latent criminal/enforcer. I wish that we could be told more about him. To be honest, if we could afford to have a flashback side story last week, I wouldn't mind having another one on him, but I doubt...

    I also like Kougami -- particularly of him in action and the contrast that he represents (a good detective of our world without Sibyl and one living under the Sibyl system).

    ~Ronbb

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  6. So who was these people complaining and freaking out over how there would be 2 more flashbacks episodes? They look stupid now. It's like these apple fanboys freaking out every single false rumors. ah ha ha ha. Shame on these gullible people. You know who you are.

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    1. It's certainly nice that rumor turned out to be false. But wouldn't this episode have made much more sense if it had aired last week?

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    2. Umm... more sense? Not really. I understand that you don't like mid-season flashback episodes but I really don't see how the episode would have made more sense last week.

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    3. Look harder.

      The events of this episode clearly and immediately follow off the events in episode 11. Would there have been any noticeable disconnect if the 12th episode hadn't been there to link them? It makes no sense from a narrative standpoint. That episode may have some tangential import later, but it stands out like a sore thumb now. I don't know whether it's an Urobuchi thing of a coincidence in the way he's adapted, but it does seem to be a trend. One-off episodes to develop side characters are kind of a crutch, even if they can individually be entertaining.

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    4. Well, I really do not agree. I feel that this was the most logical place in the story to stop for an interlude. Would it have been better not to have one at all? Maybe, it depends on whether the events in the flashback have any import later in the story. But if they are going to stop, this is the place to do it. A major event has just wrapped up and the characters are in "recovery mode", trying to figure out their next move and licking their wounds from the previous encounter. If the flashback ends up serving no purpose later then I will gladly agree that it was out of place, but until then I will operate on the assumption that it was important somehow and if that is indeed the case, then this definitely felt like the right place for it.

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    5. Well last week's script was actually managed by Takaha Aya, not Urobuchi Gen: http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/PSYCHO-PASS#.E5.90.84.E8.A9.B1.E3.83.AA.E3.82.B9.E3.83.88

      I dunno who made the decision on that detour, but I'm just gonna ignore episode 12. It simply doesn't fit into the bigger picture the series is painting right now.

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    6. I simply do not understand the logic of choosing to ignore an episode when nobody except the writers have any idea whether it will be important later or not. Now I'm hoping that the rebellion leader singer from that episode will become a super important character later so that people will be forced to acknowledge the episode as serving a legitimate purpose.

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    7. Nah. Remember Rin's loli adventure episode? I bet episode 12 is a totally useless and disconnected story. That belief of mine has become stronger after you people revealed that it was written by another person. It would be underwheling for Orubutcher to make a side character, written by another person, into a character who plays important role in the whole story of P-P.

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