PSYCHO-PASS – 05
「誰も知らないあなたの顔」 (Daremo Shiranai Anata no Kao)
“No One Knows Your Face”
No one in this show seems to be familiar with the concept of interrogations, but at least some are still somewhat knowledgeable in philosophy. From luminaries like Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Plato to lesser-known minds such as Terayama Shuuji, it is heartening to see that even in PSYCHO-PASS’s dystopian future – where Sibyl’s computations seemingly cover every single facet of society – intellectualism hasn’t been suppressed. In his more recent works, Urobuchi Gen has reveled in placing his characters in quandaries that are designed to test their ideologies, oftentimes making them suffer while doing so. While this hasn’t really occurred in this series yet, the mere referencing of actual philosophers and their ideas in this episode does provide several fascinating frameworks with which to analyze various aspects and characters of the series.
Probably the most surprising twist of the series so far is the revelation that Kougami was not only once an Inspector, but that he was also Ginoza’s partner. The former is somewhat of a predictable development, but it’s doubtful many could have foreseen the latter given that there was a red herring of sorts in the considerable tension between Masaoka and Ginoza in an earlier episode.
Masaoka may have brought up the stag hunt dilemma from Rousseau’s Discourse in Inequity with the expressed purpose of illustrating humans’ social nature to Tsunemori, but he may as well been describing the relationship between Kougami and Ginoza both in the past and present. The former partners are the two hunters, but instead of a stag as their prey, it is criminals that they hunt. As revealed in the personnel files Ginoza sent to Tsunemori at the end of the episode, Kougami’s demotion to the ranks of the Enforcers was the result of his dedication to an unsolved MWPSB Special Case 102, which likely the “big prey” that both he and Ginoza were trying to “hunt”, and possibly the case in which Makishima is involved in somehow.
In game theory, the stag hunt dilemma stipulates that in order for an individual hunter to succeed at hunting a stag, he/she must have the coöperation of their partner. Without social coöperation, the hunters are only able hunt hares successfully, which as a smaller prey, is worth much less than the stag. At some point in the past, being partners, both Ginoza and Kougami were probably trying to solve Special Case 102 together, but they never succeeded because they had limits to how far they would coöperate with one another – a classic example of the tension that exists between a good cop and a bad one. Ginoza, who is by all indications a cop who always plays by the book, sometimes even blindly so, was no longer able to coöperate with his partner because Kougami broke all the rules. He became so obsessed with the case that not only did his crime coefficient begin rapidly increasing as he understood more and more of it, he also neglected his mandated therapy. Without the benefit of social coöperation, of two Inspectors working together, they were doomed to fail. So the PSB must settle for nabbing small time criminals while a criminal mastermind like Makishima and his right-hand man Jae Guseong (Masutani Yasunori) remain free to pull the strings behind these murders and who knows what else.
Hopefully, this episode’s coöperation between Kougami and Ginoza won’t be the last as only together were they able to catch the man responsible for both the avatar users’ murders and also the imposter avatars, Mido Masatake (Mizushima Takahiro). Kougami in particular was impressive with his intuition (sensing something was off about Spooky Boogie), observational skills (noting she used the word ‘police’ instead of ‘MWPSB’), and deductive reasoning (culprit as a common fan, and then narrowing down the statistics to find a specific pattern). Since now it is known that he was once an Inspector, it’s not a stretch to assume that much of his talent was either acquired or at the very least, honed while on the job.
Given his now revealed past, Kougami’s dialogue to Tsunemori while he was still recovering makes a lot more sense in hindsight. His change in character from a “hunting dog” of an Enforcer to one that strives for true justice and protecting people likely stems from his days as an Inspector. Now that she is armed with new knowledge about his past, Tsunemori’s dynamics with Kougami as his superior takes on another dimension, and it will be interesting to see whether she will eventually lead him back to becoming the Inspector he once was, or drive him further away.
Aside from lending Mido his men and resources, Makishima’s motive in murdering the avatar idols and then taking possession of their avatars to impersonate them is still unknown at this point in the series, which is acceptable given that there’s a lot of story left to tell in its two-cour run. However, the motive of the man whose hands are stained tomato red with the idols’ blood and was tasked with presumably programming impersonations of the avatars, is much clearer – and the answer again lies in a philosopher’s ideas.
Compared to Rousseau’s stag hunt dilemma, the connection between Mido’s motives and Plato’s theory of Forms (also sometimes erroneously known as the one over many principle) is not as clear cut. When Mido described the avatars that he had taken over as being close to Plato’s ‘Idea’, he presumably was referring to the Classical Greek philosopher’s theory (per Wikipedia) “that non-material abstract (but substantial) forms (or ideas), and not the material world of change known to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality.” In other words, Mido sought to embody Plato’s Idea by removing the physical body behind an avatar’s ideas. Thus, their ‘ideas’ only existed in a virtual world, and was non-material and abstract.
Psychopathy, which the show’s title appears to be a play of words on, seems to afflict many of the shows characters and Mido is no exception. In fact, he is probably a prime example of someone with the disorder. What exactly Mido intended to accomplish might probably never be fully answered, but it’s probably safe to assume it was a product of his psychopathy, as was the abrupt change in character from a coldhearted killer to an antisocial but brilliant mind who took solace in virtual avatars. As future criminal cases will inevitably come to light in PSYCHO-PASS, an aspect that is turning out to be worthy of keeping an eye out for are the various types of psychopaths that inhabit its world and whether they are the result of Sibyl’s existence in the world, or just a part of human nature taking its course.
In any case, like Fate/Zero and Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica before it, PSYCHO-PASS is also shaping up to be a series that allows for multiple levels of interpretation, and multiple avenues for enjoyment. Basically, to paraphrase the words of a wise friend, “You can either turn off your brain and enjoy it, or turn it on and take your chances.” Sure, some episodes might require what seems like almost an encyclopedic knowledge of dystopian stories or philosophy to fully understand it the way the showrunners intended. However, for those of us who are willing open some books, PSYCHO-PASS could end up being one of the rare shows that not only entertains our minds, but also expands it.
- Sorry for the late post – was busy, feeling under the weather, and had to do a decent amount of research to write it. Hope you enjoyed my foray into philosophy again!
- Also, if you’re wondering why I’m using the diaeresis in words like coöperate, I read it used in The New Yorker recently and decided to emulate their style for fun. =D
- Full-length images: 02, 15, 15.5, 26, 34.5.