Hi there. It's been a while since I've written a review so allow me to preface this by saying I haven't been watching a lot of anime lately and don't know what's good or what's bad this season or the past three seasons for that matter. The only reason I decided to watch this was a feature in Otaku USA. And no, I do not subscribe nor ever read Otaku USA, especially considering how amazing they reviewed Blood C (one of the most god-awful pieces of rhinocerus shit on the planet). But I did read this month's feature on Psycho-Pass because they talked about it as some sort of ultra-smart anime that we rarely see in this day and age of Hayoire Nyaruko-San and overrated jars of piss like Sword Art Online (which is, by the way, the reason I stopped watching anime for a while. Halfway through I quit, wondering why the hell it's so popular when it's so generic, uninteresting, and ultimately crappy that it produced as much a positive uproar as it did).
Anyway, enough about that. Let's talk about Psycho-Pass, an anime written by Gen Urobuchi, everyone's favorite slayer of prepubescent magical girls. As the writer of some of my favorite anime, I was already well aware of what I was in for the moment I started. Nihilistic and depressing setting/characters/plot/ideology, lots of unnecessarily violent death, and lots of unnecessarily long dialogue concerning philosophical questions ripe for young minds to ponder and old minds to groan about.
Psycho-Pass was touted in Otaku USA as being mind-numbing and like Ghost in the Shell as far as intelligence is concerned. And I'm not going to refute that it is intelligent, but it's a very pretentious and douchy and literature professor kind of intelligent. Characters pull quotes out of the air, long quotes mind you, that come from Pascal and Gulliver's Travels, using them to explain the ideas of the series. Characters sit around reading unnecessarily pretentious literature for no reason. One of the arcs in the middle considering a hunter and his prey seems a lot like The Most Dangerous Game and borders on pretention because of that. Ghost in the Shell had it's moments, but it was a very smart show in it's own sort of science fiction way. And while Psycho-Pass has those moments, they're sprinkled with such attempts at trying hard that it hurts to watch sometimes.
The plot concerns a policing organization in a sort of Orwellian future where everything is controlled by a central computer system. These cops at the MWPSB use Dominators, guns that read the psycho-pass of a person. If it's above a certain level they can kill them, otherwise the guns paralyze the person. The inspectors in the organization use latent criminals, those with high psycho-passes, as the hunting dogs. It's a very cool idea that is fleshed out well. Throughout the show the small group of people goes after a guy wanting to cause as much havoc as possible by providing weapons of crime to people who would otherwise not be able to commit them. It's clever and fun to watch unfold.
The characters are all likeable, though nobody stands out. It's not so much a show about characters as the plot. The few times that characters are being fleshed out it's arbitrary and used either to enlighten us further of Gen's views of the world or to advance the plot.
There are a few errors I came across. First of all, why isn't the Sibyl System more heavily guarded? If it's the brain behind life in Japan, why is there absolutely no defense system aside from a coded padlock? Also, in episode eighteen, there's a point where Kogami is wearing no jacket while he talks to another criminal. Then he's wearing a jacket. Then he's not again. It was a strange error that I thought would be hard to mess up in an anime. But I guess not.
One of the most commendable things is the fluid martial arts fighting. There are a few scenes of beautiful action that I wish you'd see more of in anime. None of the fights were highly impressive in any sort of way, but the martial arts did remind me of the first and last fights of Samurai Champloo, with fast motion and hard hits.
Overall, I loved Psycho-Pass. It wasn't as smart as Ghost in the Shell, definitely not as mind boggling (this is pretty easy to understand science fiction); but I'm glad to see that one of Gen's philosophy courses in college is doing him well and he's able to cram all kinds of tidbits of unwanted knowledge into bad guy Makishima. Seriously, the guy is a decent bad guy, but an even better reciter of random quotes (which, by the way, always makes a good bad guy. If you have a bad guy who doesn't quote the Bible and some old philosopher at least once, then you can't make an anime).
Fun to watch, fast-paced, and entertaining. It's recommended.