Psycho-Pass 1: "Crime Coefficient"

Okay, folks, this is happening.


I’ve had Psycho-Pass recommended to me for quite some time now. The premise: a world where everyone’s psychological health is automatically evaluated by computer, and if it ever strays into problematic territory, agents are dispatched to take them into custody—or to kill them, if necessary. Think Minority Report.

(Note: This show is definitely disturbing—violent and occasionally gruesome. Keep that in mind when deciding to watch it.)

The last anime I watched all the way through was Revolutionary Girl Utena, due to one friend being rather obsessed with it. Unfortunately, as a twenty-year old show—and a rather bizarre one at that—there aren’t that many other people to discuss it with, but I’ve still been enjoying reading random fans’ analyses online. While I’m sure I’ll have more people to discuss Psycho-Pass with, the Utena analyses have inspired me to do something more with this watchthrough…

…post about my impressions after every episode.

Like other watchthrough blogs or YouTube specials you might have seen, I’m not planning to do a detailed analysis, help other people into the series, or hide spoilers. These posts are meant to be read by someone else who’s already seen the episode, or perhaps the entire show, for both snark and actual analysis. I’m not heavily editing them either, so you’ll just have to deal with my train of thought not making any stops.

Here we go…

(Oh, and this took me years to realize, but “Psycho-Pass” (サイコパス) is a pun: it’s also the Japanese pronunciation of “psychopath”. Japanese doesn’t have “th”.)

So. After an opening scene whose meaning will surely be made clear later on, we get creepy Astro Boy robots

(smiling robots)

telling everyone to evacuate immediately. Then we get introduced to our main characters, Expert Professional Inspector Ginoza

(looking very smart in his glasses)

and Bedraggled Fresh-out-of-the-Academy Officer Judy Hops Tsunemori Akane

(poor Akane in the rain)

who have to catch a man who saw his psycho-pass go just barely over the limit and decided to make a run for it…into the slums…taking a young woman hostage.

My mind is pulling in associations from Ghost in the Shell and Dredd when a van shows up from Tron.

Glowing red lines everywhere. It does say "POLICE" on it, at least.

It turns out this van has their subordinates in it, the “Enforcers”, and that these people are actually “latent criminals”—that is, people whose psycho-passes are already well over the limit who have volunteered (?) to serve the police instead of being locked up in isolation for the rest of their lives. Ginoza warns Tsunemori that she shouldn’t think of these as real people; they are “beasts used to hunt beasts.”

Of everything introduced in this episode specifically (as opposed to just general background), I suspect this is the thing that will turn out to be most significant.

There’s a fair amount of data dumping here, since it’s the first episode, but the other takeaway I end up with is that poor Tsunemori has to deal with two (three? five?) experienced old hands who don’t think she can hack it in the real world. (She can’t, of course, and she knows it, but that probably just makes it worse.) I found this attitude wonderfully crystallized in Enforcer Masaoka’s calling Tsunemori お嬢ちゃん, which got subtitled as “young lady”. That captures it pretty well: it’s polite, respectful, and condescending all at the same time. お嬢ちゃん just heightens that in both directions, at least for me. (As a mitigating factor, Masaoka is not only more experienced than Tsunemori, but also clearly much older than her.)

I’m going to skip over the middle segment, which is mostly the “criminal” descending into madness (making the psycho-pass reading a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts) and Tsunemori realizing that yes, this is all really happening, and yes, these people she’s walking around with are dangerous. But I’ll stop to note that even the slums are surprisingly colorful.

Granted, it's *trash* that's lit up in rainbow colors, but still.

Eventually Enforcer Naruto Kagari finds the criminal and shoots him with the gun in stun mode, but it doesn’t work and he gets away with his hostage. The computer system that controls their guns upgrades them to “lethal eliminator” and Tsunemori and Masaoka chase after him. And then we get the most interesting bit of the episode:

"Hey, your Psycho-Pass looks exactly like mine now."

Is this a sign? Are we already seeing that the system is flawed? He injected her with the same drugs he was on, and that made her seem like she had a broken psyche? Or, wait, hang on, drugs can actually affect someone’s mental state, so maybe he actually did affect her?

…oh, no, I guess this is just “Psycho-Hazard”, where being in a stressful situation can affect people. Uh, I mean, where a “Crime Coefficient” is contagious. *adds Psycho-Pass to the list of stories that don’t know what “coefficient” means*

This is the other major theme I expect to be revisiting in later episodes.

They eventually catch up with the criminal, who threatens his hostage to get Tsunemori and Masaoka to give up their guns. Of course, this is all part of the plan: the gun doesn’t work for him (obviously??), and Tsunemori’s other Enforcer, Kogami, shoots him from the balcony. He explodes in a completely unnecessary shower of blood and guts (no, no screencap for that), and the hostage freaks out even further.

No, wait, that’s because Masaoka drew his gun on her. She’s passed the mental stability threshold herself, by quite a bit, and needs to be brought in, at the very least, for therapy. But Tsunemori’s pretty upset by the idea of shooting a victim to bring them in for therapy, and…grabs Masaoka like a child to keep him from doing it.

In the confusion the hostage escapes. Kogami catches up with her, but she’s now so terrified that she’s been upgraded to an actual danger, and the gun again switches to “lethal eliminator”. Tsunemori still thinks this is ridiculous and tries to get Kogami to stop. He mouths something at her, and though I can’t read lips in English, much less Japanese…

…I’m pretty sure he reminded her she could shoot him.

Which she does, and then successfully talks the hostage down from committing suicide rather than being taken in…at which point Expert Professional Inspector Ginoza shoots the hostage anyway (in stun gun mode), and the mission is over.

Ginoza is Not Happy with Tsunemori, and she’s left to brood during the closing credits, (presumably) wondering how to reconcile her violation of procedure with the fact that she actually saved a woman’s life today.

(brood brood)

I’m calling this as Probable Recurring Theme #3, and with that I’m through with Psycho-Pass episode 1.

…and oh hey, having the design on the back of their jacket be a medical staff is a nice touch.

There are twenty-two episodes in the original series, but doing this writeup took more than twice as long as actually watching the thing, so I’m not going to try to hold myself to any kind of regular schedule. Still, this should be fun.

See you next time.

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