Psycho-Pass 2: "Those Capable"

I had so much fun with my first Psycho-Pass post—the screencaps really make it!—that I’m ready to do episode 2. Onward!

Some administrivia: I don’t want to fill up my entire blog home page with these, so future Psycho-Pass posts will not show up there. If you want to keep up-to-date on them (and aren’t following me on Facebook), they’ll all be tagged as “Psycho-Pass watchthrough”.

And with that…

Pink holo-assistant of nightmares

SWEET SLITHERING SNAKES WHAT THE HECK IS THAT IT’S LIKE A JELLYFISH POKÉMON ON TOO MUCH COFFEE

I tried several times to get a picture of this thing at its most terrifyingly happy (during its initial おはよう!!!) but failed. It just moves so fast.

"Ms. Akane Tsunemori's Psycho-Pass Hue this morning is powder blue!"

Almost immediately Terrifying-Jellyfish-chan mentions Tsunemori’s “Psycho-Pass Hue”, and after having watched the full episode I think this is actually the most significant thing that happens. (Other than meeting all the characters properly.) Tsunemori had a terribly traumatic experience yesterday, and yet she’s still in a comfortably healthy mental state. Supposedly.

More on this later.

(Also, I automatically assumed the scale went from green to red, but now I think it goes from white to blue to green to brown/red to black. This doesn’t have much bearing on the actual show, but it’s kind of an interesting data point on cultural assumptions.)

Tsunemori gets up and goes about her morning routine, and I’m immediately assaulted with things I want to link to in this post. (They’re also nice little examples of worldbuilding.)

Her room decorations fade in on holo

Her clothes are also customizable

  • Madeon and Porter Robinson’s “Shelter
  • The short film “Sight
  • and that Doctor Who episode where going to Space Church means being naked, but they wear holographic clothes to make up for that. Does it actually matter whether Tsunemori’s wearing clothes? (Okay, with Kagari around it probably does.)

And not at all speaking of not wearing clothes, Tsunemori’s morning worries are a lot lighter than expected. She’s acting like she spilled coffee on the head of the agency instead of making a life-or-death decision.

"Why'd I have to... Gimme a break..."

I don’t know, even if you aren’t going to have conviction you could at least not just think of it as an inadvertant mistake.

Tsunemori heads out, and…

"So...you messed up, huh?"

OMG she has friends! And they’re just chilling at a high-rise balcony café!

To be honest, I was not expecting this. I thought we were going to be in Gritty Police Mode the entire time, with occasional jumps up to Light Police Mode (a la NCIS, perhaps?). So finding out that Tsunemori actually has friends, and maybe even a life, actually made me very happy.

And, as it turns out, this is also a great opportunity to do some worldbuilding.

"and yet, you're such a mental beauty"

Programmer Carmen Sandiego calls Tsunemori a “mental beauty” (メンタル美人びじん) for having such a good Psycho-Pass score. This points out something quickly established in the previous episode, but makes it much clearer: apparently anyone can check up on anyone else’s Psycho-Pass, at least in person. This allows it to become a point of status—like, I don’t know, having a lot of followers on Twitter—and indeed it has, if words like “beauty” are being used to describe it.

Both of Tsunemori’s friends are half-complimenting, half-teasing Tsunemori about her ability to have such a good score despite supposedly being upset about having screwed up at work. This could just be idle chitchat (and again, worldbuilding), but given where I expect the show to go, it’s probably a hint that the Psycho-Pass doesn’t really measure mental state, or at least not in all cases. The system currently needs Tsunemori, and therefore she’s going to stay light blue even after a night like last night.

…But we’ll see.

Tsunemori’s friends go on to establish that she was the best in the class, and my comparison to Judy Hopps continues to seem apt. This is a pretty tired trope, but what can you do?

Okay, time to go to work.

(giant octagonal black tower)

…I can’t find a picture at the moment, but after seeing thirty establishing shots of the tower in Revolutionary Girl Utena that’s all I can think of. (Plus the obvious associated metaphor.) But even without all that it’s a pretty ominous building—it’s set off from the other blocks, and it’s the only one in the shot that’s black.

Tsunemori turns off her pretty lunch clothes, revealing her usual professional suit, and she heads in. The first thing she does is check on Kogami (the guy she shot yesterday), which means coming by the office of Karanomori Shion, who’s in charge of…something. And is apparently also on *cough* good terms with Lone Diversity Hire Female Enforcer Kunizuka.

(Hey, “Shion”! I recognize that—I mean, no, I’ve never encountered that name before, why do you ask? *spoilery reference to another show*)

We get some more worldbuilding and learn that Kogami hasn’t really woken up yet (despite seeing him open his eyes in the first minute of the episode). Tsunemori isn’t really sure what to make of Karanomori, but she’s getting better at dealing with the Enforcers teasing her. Karanomori’s a little surprised her joke didn’t get a reaction.

Tsunemori gives no reaction to Karanomori suggesting that she might want to join Kogami "in bed".

…or maybe Tsunemori’s just distracted by the sight of Kogami recuperating on the screen. Karanomori relents, surprisingly, and says she can go visit him later. Tsunemori goes to do her regular office work for now.

(I didn’t bother to try to read the form she’s filling out, so I’m just going to assume it was the incident report from yesterday.)

Predictably, something goes wrong. Enforcer Masaoka tells Tsunemori they need to head out.

On their own.

"Now, let's get going, Ms. Inspector."

Poor Tsunemori.

The place they’re going is a mall with a Final Fantasy level in the middle.

Multiple levels? Check. Temple ruins? Check. Big glowy crystal thing? Check!

Masaoka assures Tsunemori that probably nothing will go wrong, and they put on their Creepy Happy Robot holo-disguises. This is…apparently tiring?

"I feel a little uncomfortable with my whole body being an avatar."

I don’t understand this part. Isn’t she just walking around? Is there some kind of motion capture suit that restricts motion? I would understand if it were “disorienting”, but she seems physically exhausted.

The show makes up for this by giving us a fight between a Happy Robot and a guy who was Just Kind Of Upset That Day And That Means He Needs Drugs.

Fight!

The robot wins, of course.

Tsunemori is a little upset that she didn’t do anything useful. Masaoka says that’s okay, her job is just to watch him do the useful stuff. Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t make Tsunemori feel any better.

She eats dinner in the work cafeteria, alone. Symbolically Loose Tie Kagari comes over to hit on her…and actually behaves himself, mostly? More than I was expecting? (He does call her “Akane-chan”, though, so I wouldn’t go as far as “respect”.)

Tsunemori tells him that she graduated at the top of her class, and that since she was the only one accepted to work at the MNOPQ she figured there was something “only she could do” there.

"I thought I should be able to find out why I was born here and now!"

Oh no, is this a Ghost in the Shell reference? It feels like a Ghost in the Shell reference. But not a good one.

Kagari’s thinking “fuck you, I was tagged as a latent criminal when I was five and never had any choices in my life, and oh by the way, fuck you”. He only says the middle part, but before that he inserts one last bit of key information.

"You're just like those old people before Sibyl was created."

Sibyl (really need a snark name for this thing) decides everyone’s futures by aptitude test, and so no one spends time thinking about what choice would be best. We’ve seen this idea in plenty of other sci-fi stories. Another key point is that Sibyl hasn’t been around that long—there are still people alive who remember what it was like Before. (Also familiar.)

Finally, Kagari was flagged as a latent criminal when he was five. This seems very young to me, but at the same time—without condoning the action—there probably are some things that can be detected that early (brain lesions and the like). But still.

Kagari asks again why Tsunemori became an Inspector. The scene ends without an answer.

Kogami wakes up in his hospital bed. Tsunemori’s there waiting to apologize, and to find one more person she can ask for advice on whether she did the right thing. Kogami notes that most Inspectors wouldn’t bother apologizing to an Enforcer, and basically validates her actions from yesterday. She’s very grateful, and says “so you’d do the same thing, right?”

Kogami stares at his giant hand

(yes, okay, it's just perspective)

and admits that he’s not sure. But he’s glad she joined the force. Or something. Tsunemori starts crying with relief.

Interesting to note: Kogami is perfectly happy to say he’s shot plenty of “criminals” before, even though as we saw yesterday they may or may not have actually committed a crime yet. It comes across as support for the whole notion of latent criminals, and I wonder if Kogami really believes he’s one. (For comparison, Masaoka certainly does, though that doesn’t necessarily mean he believes he’ll commit a crime.)


Last time, I said that I suspected Kogami reminded Tsunemori that she had the ability to shoot him. Today I’m not sure. Kogami doesn’t act like he had been looking for a way out; he talks about how his single focus was not dying down in the slums because of his Unfinished Business from the opening of episode 1. Similarly, Tsunemori’s morning worrying didn’t seem like it matched someone else giving her the idea.

That’s really the key point here, which I didn’t realize until after I posted the episode 1 analysis. Were Tsunemori’s actions a startled reflex? A quickly reasoned choice, taken on her own initiative? Or a hint from Kogami that left him plausible deniability? (Or even a taunt from Kogami…but somehow that doesn’t feel that likely.)

I had guessed that it was the last because that’s more interesting, and specifically it’s more interesting because it would mean Tsunemori’s still not making independent decisions yet. Whereas the normal reading is that she made one and now has to live with it.

I guess we’ll see if this comes up again.


The next day, Tsunemori turns in her incident report to Ginoza, which says she did nothing wrong. Ginoza asks Kogami if he agrees; the latter defers to Tsunemori.

Respect.

Tsunemori continues her ways of Treating Her Team As Human Beings Even Though They’re Supposedly Monsters by giving Kogami a bow, and the episode ends.

(seen from Kagari's perspective, interestingly)

I think I went overboard with both the writing and the screenshots today. I’ll try to trim the next one back down some. See you then!

Psycho-Pass is available on Hulu. (It’s probably available elsewhere too, but Hulu is where I’m watching it.)

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