PSYCHO-PASS – 09
「楽園の果実」 (Rakuen no Kajitsu)
“Fruit of Paradise”
Even the lull before the storm somehow manages to be more thought-provoking than most episodes of other shows. However, while some of the issues that are brought up in PSYCHO-PASS are connected in one way or another to Sibyl, lately it seems like other dystopian ideas unrelated to the Crime Coefficient system are also being explored by the show.
One of these ideas in particular hits close to home because of how immediately relevant to our world it is. With this being a sci-fi series set one hundred years in the future, it was inevitable that a number of advanced technologies have been introduced, some more crucial to the plot than others. Several of these technologies such as holo clothing seem very much out of reach to the point of being in the realm of fantasy still, but other technologies seem like a logical and natural progression of our own. A good example can be found in this episode in the televised interview with Senguji Toyohisa (Chou Katsumi), who apart from his nervous system, is completely made up of cybernetic body parts. Given one hundred years of medical advancements, it’s not too hard to imagine that there will be people who are able to achieve some measure of immortality, or at least as long as their wallet allows. Yet like with any new technology that has a significant impact on the world, there are the philosophical questions that follow, especially when the technology in question deals with the fabled ideal of immortality itself.
Since the last time we saw Senguji he was mercilessly decapitating Ouryou Rikako with a hunting rifle for pure sport, many of us were probably rooting for the interviewer to somehow knock him off his pedestal and put him in his place. While the poor lady did have some good questions and rebuttals, she seemed to back down too easily and left some questions on the table that probably would have really challenged him.
Senguji claims that since she has a portable information terminal, holo clothing, home automation and AI secretary, and that since she would unable to do work without them, she is also a cyborg to a certain degree as well. Yet that would mean that many people today would be considered cyborgs too, since they carry smartphones that are capable of information and home automation at their fingertips. There are also rudimentary beginnings of an AI secretary in Siri and Google Now as well. Despite all this technology pervading people’s lives today, it’s highly probable that none of them would ever claim to cyborgs. Even if all data were lost people were no longer able to use their technology, they would still be able to function as a normal human beings. People can still walk, talk, etc., without the help of technology. Senguji’s argument is flawed because he’s basically saying that any piece of technology that is essential to doing work like books or eyeglasses makes people cyborgs.
The line where cyborg should be delineated is when the loss of a cybernetic component leads to the loss of a basic human function. In Senguji’s case, if any part of his cybernetic system were lost and no longer usable, he would lose some of these functions. It’s not simply a question of the degree of “cyborgization” or “cyberization”, as he calls it.
Cyborg definition aside, the real question is about the value of the immortality that Senguji is trying to attain with his cybernetic body. It’s a question of how much of our humanity is tied into the inescapable knowledge that we are mortal beings. Even Makishima alludes to this when he says, “The energy that comes from thrills… It’s a dangerous reward that goes hand in hand with death […]”. There are simply certain aspects of our humanity, like certain emotions and certain behaviors, that only exist because we know we are mortal beings with mortal bodies. Perhaps this is why Senguji came to enjoy hunting other people for his thrills – he knows he cannot use his own immortal body for them.
One can’t help but also feel that some part of humanity is lost with an artificial body and a brain that is increasingly dependent on artificial stimulation and pleasure, even if the end result isn’t immortality. Is a body where it is difficult to tell where a human ends and an AI begins, worth it?
Senguji embraces technology to the furthest extent possible, and he seems to have lost much of humanity and replaced it with depravity. In contrast, Kougami’s former teacher Saiga Jouji (Yamaji Kazuhiro) is a professor of clinical psychology and an expert criminal profiler who, because of the nature of his work, has come to eschew much of the technology that has come to define PSYCHO-PASS’s society, and has become more in touch with certain aspects of humanity as a result. By focusing on humans and not technology, he’s able to uncannily profile Tsunemori to a degree and accuracy that seems to at least match what Sibyl is capable of, if not beyond, at least judging from her reaction. It’s just a shame that something so human as being able to read body language and various other psychological signs can potentially cloud Hues and raise Coefficients. This is yet another example of how technology like Sibyl can be detrimental to our humanity.
In the span of one episode, which is probably just the setup for Kougami’s showdown with Senguji, PSYCHO-PASS still manages to explore the effects of technology on our humanity by comparing and contrasting two men who lie at the opposite extremes. It all definitely makes for compelling content, but the verdict is still out whether the inclusion of these other dystopian issues unrelated to Sibyl itself makes for a good narrative. At the very least, it does give viewers food for thought, so that they may exercise their minds to keep them young and healthy. Coincidentally, that is what Senguji really wants, right?
- Candy dressed up as Sherlock Holmes was pretty awesome. After all, this is a detective show too, and a comment in the previous episode makes an interesting theory that connects the two series quite well.
- Also loved Tsunemori having the (metaphorical) balls to stand up to Ginoza, who seems to carry a lot of emotional baggage and manages to anger or alienate practically everyone on his team.
- All Tsunemori’s blushing before and during their “date” has to mean she has some feelings for Kougami, right?
- Saiga has a very good taste in architecture because he lives in a recreation of one of my favorite houses, American architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. Color me extremely jealous!
- How depraved is Senguji to make a set of tobacco pipes out of Rikako’s bones? This is really messed up stuff right there.
- Wonder why Makishima smiles at the thought of Kougami. Is it because he wants Kougami to be his next “project” like Rikako and Senguji, and he feels that Kougami has the potential to be his best “project” yet?
- Full-length images: 01, 02.