Sunday, April 1, 2018

Psycho-Pass: The Movie

Psycho-Pass: The Movie; animated science-fiction thriller, Japan, 2015; D: Katsuyuki Motohiro, Naoyoshi Shiotani, S: Kana Hanazawa, Tomokazu Seki, Hiroshi Kamiya

Tokyo, 22nd century. It's been four years since the death of criminal Shogo Makishima. The Sibyl system is still operating in Japan. Its police officer, Akane, is sent on a mission outside the country, to South East Asia Union (SEAUn), to find Kogami, her colleague who disappeared. She arrives to SEAUn's capital, atol Shambala Float, which aims to become the first importer of Sibyl system outside Japan in order to ends its bloody civil war and bring stability. The war is waged between the dictator Han and his commander Wong on one side and the rebels who want democracy. Akane encounters Kogami who joined the rebels and finds out SEAUn's army all have critical, criminal Psycho-Pass levels, but are concealed because they are useful to the system. In the ensuing fight, Wong is killed. Akane finds out that Han has been killed and replaced with a robot-clone by Sibyl in order to export its system throughout the world. Kogami escapes while Akane returns to Tokyo.

The movie spin-off of the critically recognized anime series "Psycho-Pass" is a proportionally well made achievement that changed the setting from Tokyo to a (fictional) foreign country, yet still stayed faithful to its theme of "techno-Totalitarianism", as well as all the intelligent, ambitious and subtle ingredients that go with it, already established in the series. A small minus is that it builds up a fast pace without much explanation, and thus viewers unfamiliar with the show will be utterly lost as to what it happening and who is after whom. Another perplexing thing is that the story is rather grey and schematic at times, with only some occasional "lively" moments that 'twitch' it from this bleak-monochromatic atmosphere: one of the best is the sweet "stolen" scene in the opening act in which Akane punches air with her fists while talking with Ginoza about catching Kogami ("Punch him for me." - "No need for that. I'll bring him here, so you can punch him... yourself!"). As with the series, the storyline presents a futuristic world in which technology paved a whole new set of possibilities for convenience (one scene shows a girl looking at herself in the mirror, while her futuristic dress changes colors until she finds the one she likes), but also the possibilities for dictatorship through dangerous infiltration of technology into the private lives of people. It may also be a sly allegory on the Syrian Civil War (in the fictional state of SEAUn, engulfed in a civil war, dictator Han is using the "Poisoning-the-well" and demonization arguments by labeling every rebel automatically as a "terrorist", which is mirrored when mercenary Desmond cynically says that "violence has been privatized" and that the "state now has a monopoly on violence") and on corruption and dishonesty in general (Kogami jokes by posing the question what would happen in the Psycho-Pass criminal levels would be used to scan dictator Han, as well). A somewhat stilted and too serious, though undeniably clever and ambitious film adaptation of the series.


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