Often animes play it safe, pandering to what they know the audience will eat up. Taking risks is just not something that is common for studios, especially fledgling ones that find their niche audience early on. Whether this show is one case where risks are taken or they are just feeding a niche audience that doesn’t often get what they want. Whatever the motivation was, its success is undeniable and its existence a reminder of how quality can come from what appears to be cliche.
Let’s take a look at Psycho-Pass.
A review copy was provided by FUNimation Entertainment.
Don’t forget to check out Inverseman’s review of this anime as well!
Psycho-Pass may seem like your typical dystopian future show but honestly, it goes further than most shows would. It takes place in 2113 in a world that is now civil and mostly crime-free. How? The technological development of a system that allows police to see if a person is likely to commit or to have committed a crime. Our story begins with newbie Akane joining the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division, those who take down criminals. As Akane and the team take down more and more cases, things begin to unravel both in their personal lives and in society.
What I think Psycho Pass does well, better than a lot of the other anime is atmosphere and imagery. Let me be totally clear here — this anime is not for the faint of heart nor for the weak of stomach. Some of the scenes are gruesome, and even though it’s animated and even though I love horror, there are a few instances where I have found scenes difficult to process. This show does not pull its punches, it doesn’t turn away when something bloody and terrible occurs, and that’s what makes it so good. There are moments of incredibly high tension that work amazingly well and since the show has 22 episodes to tell its whole arc, it takes its time to built up tension and suspense, doling out twists and turns when its most effective.
In terms of characters, each member of the team is an interesting case that eventually unfolds for the audience, showing that mentality and personality isn’t as simple to characterize as the show’s Sibyl system wants to make it seem. Even though Kogami and Akane are the main character, each team member gets their story told to different degrees and they are all fascinating. They are also each designed differently, rather than the copy-paste designs some animes use for their characters of the same age and gender.
The animation is also stunning, mixing 3D computer animation with traditional hand drawn characters, leading to a very unique and flowing style that looks excellent. My advice is, if you can, watch this on the Blu-Ray, it’s so worth it. The visuals are meant to be enjoyed in the highest definition possible, even if it does look fine in standard definition. The music is also excellent, with a great opening theme called Abnormalize by Ling Toshite Shigure (thought both opening and ending themes are great tonal fits).
In terms of voice acting, I heard the Japanese first so it’s weirdly near and dear to my heart but the dub is well done and is charming in its own way. I prefer Akane’s Japanese voice actress because I feel as though her voice is a better fit and that she has more range, but it is not a bad voice over by any means. The rest of the voices are well matched, with similar tone and pitches to their Japanese counterparts and I can listen to them both Even the robots are equally adorable sounding, making them exceptionally creepy in later episodes. The dub really does keep the horror intact, putting in equal amounts of emotion into every line.
At 22 episodes, this show is longer than your typical season, and since it was popular enough to get a second season, you can be sure they will going all out once more. Psycho Pass is a show that understands that a show doesn’t have to be pretty or cute to be good or popular. In fact, it’s gritty and harsh nature is what makes it so entertaining, so engaging, because it asks its audience to be genuinely disturbed by what they see. If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, you should find a way before the second season comes out, or even if you’re just a fan of well written drama or horror.
– Excellent visuals and music.
– Excellent writing,
– Excellent atmosphere and horror.
– Strong dub and overall acting.
– Some of the dub actors aren’t as good as their Japanese counterparts.