Psycho-Pass. It’s an anime series that I stumbled upon a few months ago and immediately became engrossed by. The series caught more than just my attention; it caught my dedication toward completing an entire series. Not only did I watch through each episode of Season 1 and 2 twice, but I was so enamoured with the series that I even bought the limited edition collector’s set of the visual novel game, Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness. When I heard that a film was releasing, I made very sure to pick up a copy to add to my collection.
Psycho-Pass: The Movie, is thematically similar to the anime series and the visual novel, in that it is still very much a science-fiction thriller about a dystopian society ruled by the artificially intelligent collective known as the Sibyl System.
Unlike the anime series, which is set in Tokyo, Japan, this film is set in the fictional superstate known as the Southeast Asian Union (SEAUn), which has begun to implement the Sybil System’s method of government. Main character and lead inspector, Akane Tsunemori, returns and once again challenges the methods of the Sybil System, as she makes her way to SEAUn after terrorist activity in Japan suggests that her former colleague, former enforcer Shinya Kogami, who played a prominent role in season 1 of the anime, has become a terrorist.
Akane’s investigation in the SEAUn ruffles some of the state heads’ feathers as she stumbles upon the local military’s plot to abuse the Sibyl System for their own gain. In addition, her reunion with Kogami is not at all what she had expected as she learns the truth about what has been happening at the SEAUn.
While similar in style to the anime series, the film’s plot isn’t as interesting as the series, or even the video game. In fact, while entertaining as something to watch, the film was rather lacklustre and was disappointing in that it didn’t highlight much of Akane’s brilliance as a detective nor the depths of Kogami’s character. That, and the villain of the film was nothing short of flat, unlike the twisted Makishima and intelligent Kamui, the villains of the anime series.
In addition to the characters being rather dull compared to their anime counterparts, the excitement of technology and use of dominators is done away with in the film, removing the notable cyberpunk theme of the anime series from the film. Not to mention that none of the supporting characters, such as Akane’s team of enforcers, are given their due. Ginoza, the former inspector turned enforcer, seems to be undergoing a slow character death throughout the progression of Psycho-Pass, from being a tight-ass inspector constantly on everyone’s case, to an enforcer who cared a bit too much about Akane and her recklessness, to a guy with a pony-tail trying hard to look ‘cool’.
One of the aspects of Psycho-Pass that I love is the soundtrack. Both seasons 1 and 2 of the anime series as well as the video game had soundtracks that were incredible. The film’s soundtrack however, didn’t quite do the series justice. Together with the lack of the core ingredients that makes Psycho-Pass great, such as brilliant futuristic themes, the film just doesn’t feel like a Psycho-Pass film.
Another aspect of the series that I really appreciate is the dynamic and futuristic visuals. While the visuals in the film were decent, I was disappointed at the lack of a more futuristic, thematic visuals that were more in line with the anime series.
Despite many of its flaws, the film did convey some important messages, which is the idea that sometimes you have to bend the rules, have faith in your team and look for the truth in order to lead a happy and fulfilling life.
Psycho-Pass: The Movie is definitely a film that is watchable and entertaining, however, viewers and fans of the Psycho-Pass series need to remember not to take this film too seriously and to appreciate it as a standalone film of sorts.