Psycho-Pass – First Impressions

Gen Urobochi is a genius, but is it something we can understand?

I was excited by Psycho-Pass because it was being made by one of my favorite studios, Production I.G., and one of my favorite writers, Gen Urobochi. For those of you that don’t know, Urobochi is responsible for Fate/Zero, Madoka Magica and Black Lagoon, some of the best series in their respective genres. The man is a genius, but is it something we can understand this time around with Psycho-Pass?

The vistas in this show are absolutely phenomenal. Dark hues and neon outlines come together to create a stunning futuristic city. At times I’m reminded of Batman Beyond’s  Gotham, where there was beautiful interplay of light and shadow to create a very somber atmosphere. I love the attention to detail in every frame as it shifts from the city’s outskirts, to a grimy red-light district, to an underground sewer. Some could argue that their isn’t much diversity in these settings because the similar color palette’s across the board, but the textures are wildly different. From wooden patterns to cold steel, the whole gamut is run here.

Usually I say CGI takes away from a shows visual fidelity because it doesn’t fit well with the setting. It usually breaks the immersion of a show, by forcing our attention to the computer generated objects. Production I.G. show’s that they’re one of the best when it comes to CGI.  It’s seamlessly embedded into the environments, a rare occurrence that is a delightful surprise here.

The character designs have a great deal of variety to them as well. From the more grizzled seinen designs to a bit of moe charm, the production shows off its diversity. My personal favorite is the enforcer with a metallic arm whose hardened looks are tempered by a smile.

On the aural front, I am adoring Kana Hanazawa’s performance. The dire ongoings are in desperate need of her light and emotional voice. The rest of the cast comes off as a bit emotionless, but considering their professions, it makes complete sense. Kinryuu Arimoto is also a standout, as his delivery shows the most range of the cast. He deftly drains  his voice of warmth to give a cold performance.

The music also works for the setting. Electronica definitely falls in line with the dark futuristic city. The opening, “abnormalize” by Ling Toshite Shigure, advances this theme as well. It’s not an exceptional song, but it does solidify the motifs and moods of this series. “Namae no nai Kaibutsu (名前のない怪物)” by EGOIST is an effective closer in this regard too. It’s a bit catchier than Shigure’s song, which is surprising, but it helps temper the dark atmosphere with an upbeat track.

 

Psycho-Pass isn’t an easy show to watch. I can’t recommend this to everyone. The first episode throws a rape scene into your face and asks you to come to terms with how gruesome this series can get. It’s not just the physical depravity that is abounds in this series. There is a deeply psychological element that shakes you as well. Psycho-Pass showcases a society where computers can determine the probability a human will become a criminal. Law Enforcement takes a more proactive approach to justice than a reactive one. Citizens that display a penchant for such behavior get detained before they can harm humanity. It’s one of the colors that paints this dystopian future, where the totalitarian system controls humanity. It’s heavy stuff.

Just this picture…

 

4 thoughts on “Psycho-Pass – First Impressions

  1. So it seems like Fall 2012 is the season of rape. I find it a bit ironic that out of all this, the comment in Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun gets the most flak (especially after Btoooom!).

    I certainly got more out of Psycho-Pass than I did out of K. Maybe it’s because we’ve seen a world like this before. To me I was reminded a lot of Ghost in the Shell, and even Blade Runner. The visuals were really familiar, although almost to the point of cliched, having seen those same cityscapes in every dark, gritty, police drama anime, well, ever. They were well done, to be sure, but they were almost expected.

    The premise is believable enough, and the apparent conflict between Tsunemori’s not-yet-jaded compassion and the rest of the crew’s almost inhuman surrendering of the choice of life or death to the machines in their guns is what seems to be the interesting thing to come.

  2. You’ve got to expect the psychological aspect when it comes to Urobu(tcher)chi. He’s one of the best writers ever. I think I remember reading somewhere that the directer banned the word ‘moe’ when it came to Psycho-Pass. 😀

  3. I don’t think Urobuchi had anything to do with Black Lagoon, the writer for that would be Rei Hiroe.

    This episode left me a bit worried about the criminology of it all. I didn’t feel like it had the level of intelligence it needed to back up the dark broody atmosphere it was trying to create. After Madoka and Fate/Zero I am both curious to see what an unchained Urobuchi will come up with, and a bit dreadful. Honestly I didn’t like this first episode very much, but I know better than to write Psycho-Pass off at one episode.

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