PSYCHO-PASS – 07
「紫蘭の花言葉」 (Shiran no Hanakotoba)
“Symbolism of Bletilla Striata”
Ouryou Rikako redefines what it means to be a ladykiller – and a society that is able to give its citizens a life free of stress and suffering redefines what it means to be human.
When the series began, some people might have felt that a system with crime coefficients and Psycho-Pass hues wasn’t necessarily a detrimental addition to society, at least with the exception of the whole guilty-before-proven-innocent aspect. It could be argued that such a system would be merely akin to a genetic screening for any health risks and susceptibilities, only encompassing the realm of mental health as well.
So far we’ve seen a society employing this system having very low crime levels – so low that in a city as large and dense as a Tokyo one hundred years in the future, the Ministry of Welfare’s Public Safety Bureau appears that it only needs to have one Inspector on duty at a time, who covers a precinct that stretches from the ultra-dense city center all the way to factories located in its countryside outskirts. We also see in this episode a society that through advanced technology has given a path for its non-latent criminals a life free of any despair, stress, and suffering. What then is exactly the price to be paid for a system and a society centered completely on crime coefficients, Psycho-Pass hue assessments, and aptitude rankings?
The most obvious costs to humanity comes from a society that whether through aptitude rankings or crime coefficients, segregates people and in essence, determines the path that they must take for the rest of their lives. We saw this most clearly in the last episode how such a society prevents its citizens from reaching their full potential or following their true dreams. Is this where the costs end however? Are they worth paying for a realization of the closest place to a nirvana on Earth?
The Buddhist and Hindu concept of nirvana is essentially a state of being that is free of suffering – but also free from desire, and sense of self. In some ways, it’s similar to the society that is being portrayed by PSYCHO-PASS in that it can also be considered as something that might not be inherently beneficial to humanity and nihilistic in nature. However, there exists a fundamental difference between the two concepts. To attain nirvana and the cessation of suffering, the journey comes from within each person. It’s an internal process that comes by following a spiritual journey such as the Noble Eightfold Path. In contrast, the society of PSYCHO-PASS is one where the cessation of suffering and stress comes from outside each person. It comes from external sources such as medical anti-stress treatments and care.
This externalized path to a life free of stress and suffering incurs a biological cost that humanity must pay. These treatments leave minds so devoid of stimulation that their autonomic nervous system, the system that governs the human body’s ‘fight-or-flight’ (stress) responses, has atrophied from disuse and the body falls into a vegetative state that is neither living nor dead – a condition the show has aptly termed “eustress deficiency cerebral infarction”. Instead of a stroke (cerebral infarction) occurring from a lack of oxygen, it’s one that occurs from a lack of eustress, which is a name for the moderate or normal psychological stress that is considered to be beneficial for people to experience. Nirvana has no such biological cost as far as we can surmise.
There is also a cost to humanity that is more fundamental in nature and essentially redefines what it means to be human. It’s exemplified by Makishima’s message that “Life is nothing but suffering.” and Rikako’s paraphrasing Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard that “Unless you know despair, you cannot know hope.” Basically, if one believes that what differentiates us from animals and makes us human is defined in some part by our capability to feel suffering, despair, and stress, then a society free of all these emotions essentially diminishes and redefines what it means to be human. If one does not feel suffering, can one feel joy? If one does not feel despair, can one feel hope? Even with all the truly disturbing and macabre murders that are occurring in PSYCHO-PASS and all the issues surrounding the segregation of latent-criminals, it is this cost to humanity that most clearly says that this is without a doubt a dystopia in every sense of the word.
Of course, all this information has to be kept hidden from the general populace, but then how did Makishima learn of the brain condition and of the declining life expectancy statistics? A very faint but plausible possibility is that armed with this knowledge and the ideology that was born from it, his true intention is that of a twisted revolutionary – he desires to bring Sibyl and the society that centers on it tumbling into the fires of anarchy. It’s also possible that Makishima, like Choe Guseong, cannot stomach some or all of the methods that are best able to sow the seeds of mischief and chaos that will “shake up society”, which is why he has given his resources to the most unstable and psychopathic of characters that are able to convey the message that “Life is nothing but suffering”. It’s a message that has proven to be effective, as its capability to cause downfall Kougami can attest to.
In these past few episodes, the pervasive effects of Sibyl’s system on society have continued to be detailed, and as a result, a grim picture has begun forming of PSYCHO-PASS’s futuristic vision of Tokyo. It is a picture that is kept hidden and unquestioned to many of the dystopia’s denizens – because if they knew of the steep toll humanity must pay in exchange for their society, many would deem the price to be unacceptable.
- Creativity and artistry still exists in this society, but seems like most are only done for fame and fortune rather than for the sake of art itself and the emotions that can come from art.
- They say that there is a thin line separating genius from insanity, and Rikako might be a prime example of someone falling completely on the wrong side of the line. While her father was a man with strong morals, he unfortunately only passed on some of his artistic talent to her. While it is a provocative and creative step in bringing the message her father wished to convey through his artwork onto a more public stage through sculpture, but to do it with actual bodies of your classmates and to relish hacking them apart is disturbing on so many levels. . Not to mention who knows exactly what she’s been doing with the naked bodies while sharing a bed with them. It doesn’t feel like mere revenge, and calling her a psychopath would be putting it extremely lightly. Also, is Rikako’s current painting the sculpture she has planned for her third “prank”? More importantly, with Kawarazaki Kagami (Kusumi Aiko) now in trouble, will Shimotsuki Mika (Sakura Ayane) end up coming to her rescue?
- Kougami might be one of the best protagonists of the season. We already knew he has many of the intellectual abilities required of a great detective, but now we know he also possesses physical abilities like an excellent proficiency in hand to hand combat. And to top it off, we find out Kougami is not one to regret and blame external factors for his demotion to Enforcer, but instead blames himself for not being able to solve Special Case 102. This is a guy who mans up and takes responsibility for his own actions. Oh and don’t forget, he has a wry wit as well, with all his amusing teasing (or subtle flirting) of Tsunemori. She was checking out his impressive physique after all…
- Full-length images: 02, 03, 13, 17, 18, 25.