- Posted by Carl Lyon
- On March 15, 2016
- 0 Comments
- anime, funimation
2116: The world is in shambles, with most of the world living in a chaotic, anarchic state. Japan restores order using the Sibyl System, a computer that measures the mental state and personality of Japanese citizens and determines the likelihood that they will commit a crime. The resulting assessment is called a “Psycho-Pass,” and individuals whose Psycho-Passes determine that they will commit a crime are hunted down by the Public Safety Bureau. The higher their “Crime Coefficient,” the more lethal the force that the Bureau is allowed to use on them, up to and including death by full-body explosion. Tasty!
After a group of terrorists sneak their way into Japan, a Bureau detective named Akane Tsunemori is sent out to the military dictatorship known as SEAUn (the South East Asia Union) in order to track down her former Bureau-mate Kougami when he is thought to be connected to the terrorist attacks. Once there, she finds that the SEAUn’s ruler, Chairman Han, is using his own version of the Sibyl system to try and establish order, with mixed results.
Feeling lost? Yeah, I was too. Psycho-Pass: The Movie is the cinematic follow-up to the anime of the same name, and while your understanding of the plot and characters may suffer without knowledge of the series, it does surprisingly little damage to the film as a slice of visceral cyberpunk.
Psycho-Pass: The Movie manages to entertain even the non-fans with its slick animation, gorgeously realized world, and hyper-violent action. It wears all of its influences on its suit-sleeve, ranging from the obvious (the dystopian mixture of glitz and grime calls back to Blade Runner) to the more vague (winks to Appleseed and Apocalypse Now), which makes the language it’s speaking seem familiar and comfortable. The idea of the crime-detecting Sibyl System seems only a few hand-swipes removed from Minority Report, and I even detect some underlying notes of video games like the works of Hideo Kojima and even a hint of Deus Ex. It’s all very typical, even a little cliché, but it certainly reduces the amount of investment for people going into this one blind.
While it may be lacking a bit in originality, it more than makes up for that fact with its positively gorgeous presentation and gut-churning action. The firefights that erupt between criminals and the Bureau are shockingly repulsive in their matter-of-fact violence, with the Bureau’s protean pistols reducing the more hardened criminals to chunky showers of guts and gore. By the end of the movie’s two hours, you’ve seen more bloody chunks and intestines than a sausage factory, and more arterial spray than all 8 seasons of House combined. It’s unapologetically gruesome, but it helps build out the Psycho-Pass world, where human life is sadly qualified and quantified based psychological criteria.
Animation-wise, Psycho-Pass is absolutely gorgeous, mixing traditional 2D animation with CGI for its many military mechs. The world is packed with tiny details that tell a story without uttering a word: cybernetically-enhanced mercenaries release puffs of propellant when they deliver their crushing blows, the Bureau’s firearms morph in real time to disable or dispatch criminals, and the sterile streets of Japan stand out in stark contrast to the warzone of the SEAUn. Even as I was left bewildered by callbacks and unknown character motivations, I was left slackjawed by the movie’s stunning visuals.
Finally, there’s an eerie sense of authenticity to Psycho-Pass’ vision of a dystopian future. While the cyborg mercenaries may come across as a little over-the-top, the military hardware is scarily plausible. Assaults are carried out by remote-controlled drones, human soldiers are supported by bipedal robots that seem like the great-grandchildren of a Boston Dynamics prototype, and the misuse of the Sybil System is all but a foregone conclusion with human nature being what it is. For all of its body-bursting bombast, Psycho-Pass examines its future world through the lens of what would actually happen if the corrupt were given the keys to the kingdom, and it’s absolutely terrifying in its honesty.
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- Psycho-Pass: The Movie DVD
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