Hello one and all, it’s once again time for my seasonal dose of adorable underdressed anime fun with Matt! My collaborations with him are my chance to see some shows on the more moe ecchi side of things that I wouldn’t necessarily get around to otherwise so it’s a good way to broaden my horizons. So naturally this season Matt suggested Psycho Pass! I had no objections….
Some more astute readers may know that I (much like a whole lot of anime fans) have a very soft spot for the series. I talk about it a lot and to this day this messy fever dream of a post remains one of my favourites!
But enough about me, Matt what are your thoughts/feelings about the franchise?
Hello Irina, everyone, it’s me. My thoughts on Psycho Pass’s first season? Absolutely excellent, one of my Top 20 anime of all time. Thoughts on the second season? A rushed mess that does a disservice to the events of the previous season.
So season 3… Whenever a beloved series gets a new entry, there’s always a sort of backlash from fans. A weird fear that somehow it can go back in time and change what the original was. It’s counterproductive. Which is probably why Matt warned us on Twitter not to immediately compare it to the original…But Boy did this first episode make that hard!
There were parallels to the first season Everywhere you looked. The art style is instantly recognizable, and the environments remain almost untouched (aside from the CG but we’ll get back to it). The colour palette is very close, only slightly warmer and the framing and angles are perfectly consistent. The OP was purposefully similar which made the inclusion of that demon-like creature really stand out.
Beyond that though, we saw glimpses of the iconic Syble control room, the dominators in action, Shion back in force (oh hecks yeah) and even just a hint of Akane. And one of the first scenes was of inspectors Arata and Kei arriving on their very first day at the job, at a rainy crime scene in an opener that directly mirrored season 1’s first episode.
I know you don’t want us to compare the two, Matt, but it certainly seems the show isn’t about to let us forget its roots.
There’s nothing wrong with calling back to things that happened in previous seasons, in-fact they were some of my favourite parts of the episode. The problem is when people dont give a show a fair chance to stand on its own because their too busy holding it up to its predecessors shadow.
There’s something of a deft balancing act done here by making this part sequel and part soft reboot (at least that’s my impression) and I think it pulls off both very well.
To me though, this was an homage, not a rip-off. Tonally, visually and atmospherically it was very reminiscent of Psycho Pass but the character dynamics, faster and grimier corruption storyline set up and quick-fire dialogue are fresh. Not to mention the completely new mind trace gimmick. So far, I like it, but it has the potential of just turning into plot destroying “sci-fi magic”, what do you think?
It’s funny you mention the mind trace “gimmick” because (aside from the visuals) that was my favourite thing about this episode. I don’t know if you’ve seen Bryan Fuller’s ‘Hannibal’ tv series from a few years back but our protagonist in that show has complete empathy which allows him to become other characters which is almost exactly what Arata has (down to the wording) of his trait. So not only was I immediately on board with this but I was excited to see where it would take his character. Oh I vaguely remember it. I was actually thinking of Sherlock myself.
Arata is a light-hearted happy go lucky protagonist. For someone like me, whose favourite character was Kagari, it’s a thrill, but what do you think Matt? And ho do you think audiences will react. It’s a pretty big departure from previous protagonists.
I think a lot of his light-hearted disposition is a coping measure for having to deal with having complete empathy. I enjoyed this kind of protagonist compared to brooding and dour but I still think it’s a bit of a front.
O.k., I’ve avoided it so far but let’s just mention the CG for a bit. I didn’t like it. It wasn’t horrible but the integration was hardly seamless and honestly, it took me out of the moment on several occasions.
Hmm, I have to disagree, I thought it looked wonderful and very dynamic and interesting. I’ve heard streaming things with a lot of small details can look ugly so maybe that was the problem for you? I ~acquired~ a 1080p copy of the episode so maybe that’s why I thought it looked so good? No for me the issue was more that the light and shadow physics where calculated at a very slightly different angle that made the CG pieces sort of stand out in one frame and not the next. Once I noticed I kept on noticing. Also, I disliked the textures but that personal taste. Actually, I got to give it to prime, the quality if their streams are really good!
Overall, here is what I got from the first episode of season 3 of Psycho Pass. The narrative seems to be more action-oriented with hints of humour, rather than dramatic noir. There is a lot more emphasis on tech which leads me to believe we’re going to stray into cyberpunk territory. Political machinations are afoot.
I think it was a necessary change, this felt more like a US crime procedural along the lines of ‘Person of Interest’ so arguably not world’s away from what it was but different enough to feel like it’s carving out its own identity and not resting on everything that it’s previous seasons set up.
There were some red flags. The addition of what seems to amount to incredible psychic powers in Arata is a very tricky narrative element and unless used carefully and sparingly could either render stakes inconsequential or completely undercut and tension in the story. Moreover, the little we saw of the villains did seem a tad too goofball to be taken seriously and, in my experience, this universe really benefits from a strong antagonist.
In the closing scenes, there is a line seemingly spoken by Akane: “We must protect justice even at the cost of a peaceful society”… This was meant as a sort of handoff to a new cast and although a bit heavy-handed still cute. Except that to me, it sort of goes against what Akane stands for and negates some of her most important and powerful character moments (by the way, I’ve seen season 1, the old movie,
Seeing Akane at all was kind of unexpected–the opening monologue and the sort of revelation that she’s still imprisoned (I think that’s what they were going for–its been a while since I watched season 2) hit me harder than I expected.
On the other hand, I pretty much fell head over heels for Mika. Every scene she was in made me smile and glued my eyes to the screen. I always wanted to know more about the tech of Psycho Pass and that seems to be the direction the season is heading in and although we don’t know much about Kei and Arata, I like them both so far.
I like all the characters (both new and returning ones) so far, I quite liked the banter between our two inspectors and their chief–she seems like a pretty understanding woman–hope she doesn’t end up working for the bad guys!
From what I can remember of my very first impressions of the franchise at all, this is pretty much on par. I mean I’m way more excited but I’m bringing that down because a lot is due to fuzzy nostalgia feelings. I didn’t really have any expectations for this episode, all I wanted was a strong narrative and characters set in the familiar future fictional Tokyo of the Psycho Pass universe that I’ve got a lot of fondness for and on that front it absolutely delivered. If I have one complaint it’s that it introduced a lot of characters that didn’t do much (specifically those three mysterious characters who are either politicians or something I’m not quite sure) but there’s still plenty of time to find out what their deal is. All in all, I thought this was an excellent continuation and new beginning for the series.