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Old 2013-02-15, 06:24   Link #67
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Newfoundland, Canada
Age: 37
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I have somewhat mixed feelings about this latest episode.

This anime is consistently good-to-great for two particular things:

1. Sheer entertainment value. It has awesome feel, look, and style for a futuristic dystopian sci-fi extravaganza. The characters are also fun, diverse, and engaging. Psycho-Pass definitely has "the sizzle".

2. Being thought-provoking. The show raises ideas, and concepts that are very interesting. Yes, many of them have been explored in other similar futuristic dystopian stories (such as the ones that Makishima himself has referenced), but this one manages to feel fresh to me by borrowing a little bit from each of those while putting its own modern spin on things. I think it also helps that this anime is increasingly Japanese in its focus, which certainly distinguishes it from a lot of other futuristic dystopian works.

And this episode is certainly no exception when it comes to "sheer entertainment value" and "being thought-provoking". It delivers both of the above beautifully.

That being said, the way the plot and setting and "the Sibyl system" contorts itself to give the anti-Sibyl forces at least a fighting chance is, yes, becoming increasingly hard to swallow. Without having pure magic to fall back on (as was the case in Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero), Gen seems to be having a bit of a hard time crafting believable ways for central characters to do what he wants them to do. I almost think he should have just given Makishima outright superpowers if the alternative was this.

With both Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero, there were very few (if any!) times when I felt that key characters made blazingly obvious mistakes that broke my suspension of disbelief. Characters certainly did make mistakes in these shows, but they were for easily believable and deeply human reasons (freezing in horror at the sight of your opponent being different and stronger than you thought, succumbing to the desire to take a huge risk to help someone you deeply love and/or admire, pursuing a particular ideal with reckless abandon, etc...).

But the gaping holes in how Sibyl conducts itself is starting to become a bit much. I just can't think of any good reason to make "an offer you can't refuse" to Makishima until you really do have him in a place where he literally can't refuse it. In other words, until you have him in a place where there really is no way for him to escape - Either join the Sibyl Collective or die. As Alpha Male as he is, Makishima is still just a man, so it's not like it's impossible to negate any risk when making an offer to him.

To be fair, antagonists who are undone by their own arrogance can work, and ultimately the Sibyl system is now 247 antagonists. But that's part of the problem. One man letting his megalomaniacal ego get to him isn't too hard to swallow - but 247 making the same mistake all in one shot? it's rather disappointing that out of 247 brains determined fit to rule, that none thought it might have been a good idea to take stiffer precautionary methods than this with Makishima.

To be fair again, I've certainly read supposedly super-smart comic book supervillains like Lex Luthor and Magneto come up with far more hare-brained schemes than anything Sibyl has done. Urobuchi's writing is still tighter than that of a lot of other writers. But for a man who was nigh-impeccably tight with Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero, I'm slightly disappointed with the plot holes that are starting to creep into this narrative.

I hope there's not too many more, or my views will shift much closer to that of Ultramarinus.

But even in a worst-case scenario, this anime still retains its two main strengths that I mentioned before. This episode was indeed a very entertaining and thought-provoking watch. I just hope that the contextual base for all of this can be the strong foundation that such a skyscraper of entertainment and intellectual allure deserves to have.

One other observation: It is indeed fascinating to think of what the wider world is like in Psycho-Pass. If nothing like Sibyl exists outside of Japan, than Sibyl must go a long way to determining what the non-Japanese think of Japan in the world of Psycho-Pass. Relations between Japan and other countries almost certainly must be strained.

Still, given the public face of Sibyl, I can easily imagine some political activists in America, Canada, Australia, etc... arguing that their countries would be better off emulating the Sibyl system used by Japan as it brings with it almost total employment and relative lack of crime. I find it interesting to think about political debates raging in various countries over the merits/demerits of the Sibyl system. It would probably be similar to our own debates over it here on Anime Suki. Ultimately, it looks like the libertarian critics of it would be largely (if not entirely) right, going by this episode at least.

Last edited by Triple_R; 2013-02-15 at 06:37.
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