Sibyl's Judgement: A Review of Psycho-Pass Season 1

Originally released in 2012 by Production I.G. Psycho-Pass has offered anime fans an excellent blend of sci-fi, action, mystery, and crime fighting. It’s a story that captivated audiences. Even earning itself a second and third season. Now, with a new film coming in Spring 2020, let’s take a look at the series that started it all, Psycho-Pass season one!

One of the biggest allures of the series is it’s setting. Psycho-Pass is set in a future Japan. This Japan is very different from the one we know of today. It’s cities are massive, technologically advanced, crime has nearly disappeared, and Japan is a self sufficient nation cut off from the rest of the world. The country is governed by an all-seeing network of psychometric scanners called the Sibyl System. Sibyl keeps the population in check by constantly checking their “psycho-pass” a scan of the brain. There is also “crime coefficient,” a measure of how likely someone is to commit a crime. When someone’s crime coefficient exceeds a certain number they become targets for enforcement. Taken away for treatment to make them a better member of society, or, if necessary, killed. 

Enforcement is left to the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigations Division. This is coincidentally where the story of Psycho-Pass begins. A young new inspector, Akane Tsunemori, is on her first day when she has to hunt down a dangerous criminal with the help of the enforcers, latent criminals who serve the PSB in hunting down other criminals. The series follows Akane and the enforcers as they, well, enforce. Each episode there’s a new criminal to track down. But, there’s some strange going on just beneath the surface. What if these crimes aren’t organic occurrences? What if someone is giving these sick people the means to live out the twisted fantasies they wouldn’t have been able to live out otherwise? 

This is where the main villain of the story comes into things. Motivated by his hatred for the Sibyl System and his dark humanist belief system. He is incredibly charismatic and manipulative. His ultimate goal is the destruction of the Sibyl System. He plans to do this through any method possible. Including murder and terrorism. 

The story of Psycho-Pass is a great one. A great villain is a great boon for any story and Makashima is such a villain. His action, while heinous, enhance the story and make it exponentially more exciting. He’s honestly one of my favorite characters in the first season. The crime solving aspect of the series is also done very well and is complimented well by the dark atmosphere it has. This also has the added benefit of allowing the viewer to be brought to many different parts of Japan under the Sybil System. Psycho-Pass is essentially a sci-fi detective story. It’s exciting, it’s fun. But, it’s still a detective/mystery story and these stories tend to have certain cliches around them. Cliches such as the alcohol/depressed detective, a current case forcing a protagonist to confront their past, or the detective have personal issues related to family or relationships. None of these are necessarily bad. They don’t take away from how exciting and dark the story in Psycho-Pass is.

The characters are entertaining, if not a little cliche. We have the grizzled old detective (enforcer), the young wide eyed newbie, among others. Despite being a bit of a cliche, Akane is a great character in the series. She starts out very wide eyed and unsure of herself. But, she grows throughout the story and her character arc is a rewarding one. A lot of the characters change throughout the series. I won’t give anything away. But, you may be surprised at some points. 

The animation style lends itself well to the subject matter delay with in the series. The dark animation style goes well with the series’ more grim scenes.The music is also excellent. Abnormalize by the Japanese rock band Ling Tosite Sigure perfectly captures what the series is about. 

Overall, if you’re a fan of mystery, crime thrillers, or sci-fi then this is the anime for you. It offers all of these in abundance. The story is entertaining and fun, the setting is mesmerizing, and watching the characters grow is rewarding and a lot of fun.