Today we are celebrating Magane day!  This super fun little traditional was started by Mel over at MelinAnimeLand. Last year I shared my love for the feisty bespectacled baseball player Miyuki. This time around, I’m going to use the occasion to talk about a character I’ve actually been meaning to feature for a long time: Ginoza.

It’s rather fitting that I go back to Psycho Pass for this character study series. You may not know but that’s where it all started. Back when I was still a baby blogger, I wrote a short but heartfelt post about Shusei Kagari. It wasn’t very good but it was full of the best intentions. It’s also my most viewed post by far.  I have often thought that I should rewrite it but I can never bring myself to do it. It’s special to me.

I wrote in that post that I could have probably write posts for each character in the cast. I really meant it. Psycho Pass spends a lot of time fleshing put the characters. As a result, we end up with an impressive cast. Of course, I have always had a very soft spot for Kagari, however a close second and occasional favourite (they trade places a lot) is tortured squad leader Nobuchika Ginoza.

is this an excuse to post fan art? Of course not!!! (from Leo Pon)

*** Nobuchika remains one of my favourite names. If l get to name anything in the future, I’ll name it that. ***

Ginoza is one of the few characters to survive the events of the series, but pretending he got away unscathed is just laughable. Nobu had it rough and the narrative went about meticulously unraveling his character until he crumbled completely. He really couldn’t get a break. The fact that he managed to keep it together as long as he did was pretty impressive. In a way, Ginoza was the plot’s punching bag. He was there to show us everything that could go wrong with the Sybil system for the little guy.

The point of Sybil, and the conceit behind Psycho Pass, was that the average person gives up a certain degree of freedom, obeys the system, and in exchange is guaranteed a generally prosperous and carefree life. Sybil will keep you safe and happy. That was the deal.

Nobuchika is a man who obeys the rules. He is the definition of “by the book”. Not only that but he chose to dedicate his life to protecting the Sybil system and enforcing those rules. In a society where people are completely isolated from any form of strife or violence, it takes a very special type of person to willingly put themselves in the path of danger. Clearly Ginoza firmly believed in Sybil and the greater good it represented to society.

he’s actually surprisingly optimistic (here)

And this, despite the fact that he had seen the flaws first hand. Even before the events of Psycho Pass, the Sybil system had ravaged Ginoza’s family and left it irremediably shattered. Nobuchika’s father Masaoka, is widely believed to be an early “victim” of the system. While Sybil was still fairly new and the kinks were being worked out, it was not unusual for the Psycho Pass results to yield false negatives. A lot of people are thought to have been mistakenly labeled as latent and incarcerated accordingly, but this was never officially acknowledged nor remediated. After all, the system demands unquestioning obedience (faith if you will). If the populace believes it to be fallible, then the whole thing risks crashing down.

So Masaoka, another good man who trade his life in the service of society, saw himself stripped of his title, his family and his freedom. One of the biggest problems with the Sybil system is that it’s one way track. Although the theory is that once your Psycho Pass returns to clear state you will be free to rejoin society, the reality of human nature means that being incarcerated and treated like a criminal is necessarily going to put more stress on you which will end up making your psych results worse. It will make you even more worried, then your pass will fall, and you will despair even further and so forth. The set up guarantees that one slip up is all you get. And a man like Masaoka, who had been exposed to the worst society had to offer was of course more likely to that particular slip. And once he did, his life was over. At least his life as he knew it.

***For those of you unclear, the actual crime of having your Psycho Pass fall into unacceptable parameter, means you were stressed and prone to thoughts that are considered undesirable.***

The young and impressionable Nobuchika saw all this happen. Saw a great injustice levelled at a man he considered his hero. Saw that man accept it. And Ginoza chose to stand by the system rather than his own father. He must have known how unreasonable his choices were. Not only to go along with the system but to follow his father’s path in law enforcement. That was basically asking for it. We know that Ginoza is much more sensitive than, well pretty much everyone on the force. I really wonder how he passed the exams to make it into the field, in the first place.

it gets so much worse… (original)

But he did pass them, and dutifully carried out his assignments until he made it up the ranks. Then he saw the system act up again. Kogami’s case is a little less ambiguous than Masaoka’s. It’s clear that Shinya does have violent tendencies and his drive to avenge a fallen colleague and punish a criminal outside the confines of the system, were a clear breach of protocol. I’m pretty sure any legal system would have punished Kogami for his actions (unlike Kagari or Masaoka). However, the Sybil system made it impossible for him to simply pay his debt to society and become a useful member again. As such, they lost an excellent detective and Ginoza lost a partner and a long time best friend.

Yet once again, Nobu stood with Sybil. Once again he brushed aside feelings and personal considerations and put the greater good first. Even though his own system was becoming dangerously strained, he persevered down the road he had chosen. He stuck with the Public Safety Bureau. As a supervisor of Division 1, he did what he could to guide his team. He honoured his duty to serve and protect. And he obediently submitted to clinical observations. He underwent all the tests and prescribed psychiatric exercises. He did everything he was supposed to and went above and beyond. He obeyed the system, to the letter.

And in the end, the system methodically broke him, just to punish him for being broken. After being a hero who lead a team to restore order during one of the most traumatic events to ever take place in Japan. After burying half his team, who happened to be his only friends and family. After giving everything he had to uphold Sybil and ideology he believed in. That very system turned on him and labeled him less than human…forever.

Ginoza.Nobuchika faces
this pic is irrelevant but I really wanted to use it (here)

No social political system is perfect. They are all carefully balanced assortments of compromises. All systems demand a certain degree of sacrifice. Ginoza represents that sacrifice.  All the inadequacies and lacks of Sybil were heaped upon him. He was the perfect citizen yet he still ended up a lamb. And the narrative if Psycho Pass was all the more powerful for it.

After all, even having lost absolutely everything, Ginoza still believed in the system. That moral ambiguity made what could have been a good vs evil story into so much more!

And to get back for a second to Megane Day. I chose Nobuchika particularly this year because of what his glasses symbolize. Rather than a simple design choice to better distinguish him from the other attractive men on the force, the glasses actually play an important narrative role. At the end of the first season, we find out that he doesn’t need prescription lenses and his glasses are an affectation rather than a necessity. Not because he’s an emo Not just because he’s an emo hipster, but as a way to distance himself from the father he considered a traitor to the cause. Nobuchika had been told his entire life that he had his father’s eyes, so when Masaoka was labeled latent, he cut his ties to the point of trying to hide his own eyes. Nobuchika’s willingness to give up those glasses mirrors his character’s evolution!

When looking around for pictures for this post I found that my awesome OWLS leader :Kate GrimmGirl Sade, had written an amazing post on Ginoza way back in 2015. You should go read it too – it’s not like you can have too much Nobuchika!!!

Ginoza.Nobuchika no glasses
he does look decent without the glasses, I guess… (original)


46 thoughts

  1. Nice blog post. Love the title. “People protect the laws not laws protect the people,” said Akane. I guess people like me are already broken. 😉

  2. “I have often thought that I should rewrite it but I can never bring myself to do it. It’s special to me.”

    You’re smarter than George Lucas. Don’t rewrite your old material! Leave it for us to enjoy! Being able to witness the effects of the journey can be an amazing thing!

    Plus, you should start a service selling titles. Seriously, I’ve rarely encountered anyone with your combination of light touch and strong evocative imagery.

    Given that titles can make the difference between a reader stopping to read and one skipping to the next story, that’s a powerful skill to have!

      1. One minor correction!

        I _never_ flatter. I’m an Aristotelian Thomist, which means a) I’ve had one too many beers tonight (why else bring up theological/philosophical tradition — except that it’s secretly relevant!) and b) I never give praise. I only try to relate what I see as I see it. Anything else would be dishonest.

        And you write titles that make me want to read your posts.

        I have no idea why I’m using pseudo HTML…

        I think it’s safe to say that your struggle with titles has yielded something we editors call skill (yeah, I’m a better editor than I am a writer — and yes, I know that’s obvious!). That’s another reason to leave your old stuff alone! It’s like you’re leaving little signs of hope to those of us who _still_ can’t come up with good titles — namely, that applied effort and experimentation might someday pay off!

        And knowing this, you are now under a moral imperative to preserve your old writing for posterity!

        1. And the pseudo HTML didn’t make it into my comment… Which means it makes even less sense than usual! Sigh…

  3. Wow, this was an amazing piece. It’s been a while since I watched Psycho-pass and now I’m in the mood to rewatch it. :’)

  4. This was such a fantastic post to read. Ginoza is a character who really does represent everything that is wrong with the system even as he works to uphold it, though he does make the choice to continue working rather than prioritising his health care even when it is clear his levels are getting dangerously close to crossing the line. Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed reading this.

  5. Ginoza is my second fave character from the series. He is just sooo sexy!! I love him waaay too much, haha. Wonderful post! This is a delightful way to wake up in the morning. ♥

  6. Don’t rewrite your old post! Save it as a reminder of where you came from. I never stop rereading old posts and correcting grammar, punctuation, spelling and occasionally clarifying a muddy point but never a full on rewrite. It would be like faking a resume.

    Oh, wait. That’s a requirement for advancement in this world. No wonder I never rose to the top.

    1. See I don’t even go that far. The typos and mistakes are an illustration of me getting super excited about my thesis and tripping over my own words and keyboard. I can see when a paragraph becomes incromprehensible because I just really wanted to say something oh so very badly.
      The theory is cute – the practice makes reading my posts laborious…

      1. LOL! My errors are usually because I just can’t type. I could be as calm as a sleepy dog after dinner and there’d still be errors laughing at me. Making fun of me I say!

    2. “Don’t rewrite your old post! Save it as a reminder of where you came from. ”

      This post speaks deep truth!

    1. When I clicked on your post I was expecting a review of interesting megane-ko and instead got an in depth review of a show I don’t watch. So I decided to give you the above meganeko. Take it for the humor it is.

  7. Nicely put! I didn’t realize the intricacies of Ginoza’s character until you put it into words—what a terribly ironic life he lived! At least now he exists within the story to help guide Akane in her mission to keep Sybil in check. God, I love this franchise!

    Happy Glasses-kun Day~!

    1. I love it as well. Some day I’ll try to put together a list of the increadable number of themes explored and moral questions brought up by the series.

  8. Excellent post! Ginoza is hands down my favourite character in Psycho-Pass, and your post definitely did him justice. I’ve never thought of him as the Sibyl System’s sacrifice, but I like this take on it. And how did you find all that good fan-art?!
    Also, I suddenly wondered, is Oct.1 Megane Day because “10/01” looks vaguely like glasses, with 2 circles in the middle and two sticks on either side? (Unless I’m thinking too much into it)

    1. ok 10/01 just Blew My MIND!!!! Bits o brain everywhere!
      I may or may not have a pinterest board dedicated to PsychoPass fan art….

  9. Wonderful post once again Irina! Your writing skills never fail to impress, truly mean that. Great choice of character for Megane Day. I’m a huge fan of Psycho Pass, and I agree it’s filled with an absolutely amazing cast. (Maybe even one of the best ones that I have ever seen in an anime).

    1. Thank you Raistlin! PP is a story that keeps on giving – so so much to unravel yet still fun(ish) to watch.

  10. A touching exploration of character–your love shines through, Irina. (A whispered word of warning from inside the machine, though: the “fictional” system described isn’t so different from the system in place. . .)

    1. Well it’s much smoother… I mean Sybil works like 98% of the time – we can only hope to get there.

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