「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.

  Rousseau’s Stag Hunt Dilemma

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.

  Plato’s Theory of Forms

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.



  1. I actually like the main lead’s haircut. It sets her apart from the generic trailing long hair girls.

    Show Spoiler ▼

    That and I thought it’d be interesting to point out that there are detectives who have a hard time detaching from their emotions during cases, especially some that hit the sore spot (like kids being abused, etc.) If Sybil existed in Law & Order: SVU, let’s just say Stabler and Benson would be dead ages ago LOL. There’s been many cases where both detectives have gotten passionate and personally involved, even when they were told to stand down, their humanity forced them to keep on going, to incredible lengths to solve the case, even at the cost of their own life.

    Tsunenori(sp?)’s humanity and the way Kougami logically picked apart her reasons for blaming herself and reassuring her was really sweet. It comes off as really crazy foreshadowing though because my mind keeps going back to that awesome, stuctured OP where Tsunenori has a blank, lack of empathy stare and Kougami is percieved as the one with humanity and trying to save/hunt her down.

    I am so, so excited for this show. 😀

  2. About the concept of interrogations… It doesn’t seem like a necessary skill to have for people who are trained to carry out the sole task of “hunting down” criminals. With Sibyl’s system that allows them to decide whether or not an individual is a threat before they even speak to the individual… I guess things are a littler more simplified that way. Shoot first, ask questions never, maybe? Justice is served as long as you pull that trigger, regardless of the circumstances?

  3. Actually, interrogation as well as general investigation work seem to be in decline due to most of the criminals being eliminated by Sybil/Enforcers system before acting. The few that actually manage to slip thru the net are probably most intelligent and dangerous ones, adept at hiding and evading the system. Kinda survival of the fittest…
    What this means, unfortunately, is that organzed crine can be hard to trace, since individuals getting caught are usually killed instantly via Dominator, instead of old and tried way of interrogating the small fry to catch the big fish. I wouldn’t be surprised if the criminal bosses would have sort of “fake psycho passes/jamming” to hide their true colors,possibly to the extent of getting Dominators useless?

  4. I hope the show will limit the use of the Lethal Dominator and its people-exploding shots. I can only take so much comedy!

    Kougami being a former detective isn’t really surprising. He’s showed amazing deductive skills and a sense of justice. He probably had a personal stake on a previous case (most likely involving the white-haired guy) to the point that he got so obsessed that Sybil labeled him as a Latent Criminal.

    Masaoka is still the best character. Anyone who who lugs around a bottle of booze and kick ass is awesome. The more I like him, the more I fear for his life. Damn you Urobuchi!

  5. Ginoza (after shooting Mido into a lump of minced meat): Just who was he talking to?

    Well, perhaps you could have just asked him the old-fashioned police interrogation way if you weren’t such in a hurry to blow him to bits simply because the Dominator suggests you to do so.

    I wonder if police attitudes regarding high coefficient psychopaths in that future is to regard them as contagious viruses to be eliminated on sight rather than taking them for questioning and risk “Psycho Hazard”, muddying one’s own Psycho Pass level like Kougami had.

    Kinny Riddle
  6. Thank you Verdant! Your analysis was well done. It was worth the wait 🙂 I am glad you associated the stag hunt dilemma to the relationship between Kougami and Ginoza.

    Sybil system is even more flawed than I thought it was at the first episode. It makes me think that the system is not really appropriate for catching criminals since it kind of backfires when you have talented inspectors demoting to enforcers. However, for example, we do see Sybil “choosing” the correct occupations for the people in the society. With that, the reference to the novel 1984 (from last episode)is indeed befitting: a dystopian society under a single all-controlling system. Heck, people have to take pills to keep their Psyco-Pass stable.

  7. They knew they were going up against someone that could hack the VR systems… the police don’t have some sort of anti-vr goggles or something they could have put on? Or heck they could have had the vr system in the building or the power cut so he couldn’t pull anything.

  8. I’m guessing that interrogation is probably an outdated idea. Sybil might have the power to eliminate most threats before people can form some sort of large criminal syndicate. So interrogation becomes less effective since Sybil can fish out most criminals anyway. Or it could be that interrogation itself is dangerous as it might increase psychopass level.

  9. Well, I appreciate the lengthy post, but had it been one more day late, I’d have thought this was for this week’s episode. If the post is too late, it sort of becomes in danger of being irreverent, I’m afraid.

  10. “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.”

    Or creativity! And I’m going to briefly reference back to episode 4 here: I also like that even under the flawed system, Masaoka can still engage in artistic expression as well even as an Enforcer. Going back to episode 5 though, self expressing via many social networking avatars on the other hand meant losing one’s own sense of self. So it is interesting that it’s not really a matter of suppressing any intellect (and therefore self expression coming out from having that knowledge) that makes this work dystopian.

    And I hope to wrap my head around this more as episodes come out on the origin of the Sybil system and the antagonist’s motives, but Psycho-Pass sets itself apart from other dystopian works in a way that it doesn’t necessarily try to brainwash or even restrict the populace from doing what they would normally do. It makes me wonder how things will really get much worse later on.

    1. Shared sentiments. It’s always bothered me that all dystopian portrayals have chose to eliminate the presentation of creative culture. At first PSYCHO-PASS was doing a subtly decent job defying this, showing Masaoka painting in his free time and Tsunemori going on a casual date with her friends, but now it’s definitely stepping it up revealing cultures like the virtual reality avatar world. Looking forward to what else Gen’s got written for us.

    2. They may also be showing Masaoka painting to illustrate that he’s what counts as a “dangerous” person in Sybil’s world, ie, intellectual and creative. It also stands as a contrast with the high-tech diversions that Tsunemori takes more for granted. Masaoka is old-school.

  11. This took way too long to publish, but when it finally came out, I’m glad it was very well put together. I especially liked the explanations of how the quotes tied into the story. I wouldn’t have thought anything farther than what was being explained in the present otherwise.

    1. While I can understand where you’re coming from, saying this post came “way too late” is a bit harsh, without taking into account the poster’s real life obligations and other external factors (being ill, part or full-time job, family matters, etc.)

      Not my favorite show for certain, but it is undeniably a thought-provoking one so I can love that aspect of Psycho-Pass for all it’s worth.

  12. Thanks for the very well written post. Especially for pointing out the significance of the “stag hunt’ reference.

    Plot-wise, the link to Plato’s quite clear. Yet, they intentionally broke the conversation so that the relevance of the “stag hunt” quote remain opaque. But I think your probably are right on that one.

  13. Verdant, your blogs are hands down the most intelligent and well written blogs on this site in my opinion, so there’s no problem if you are behind in your schedule. Your blogs are always worth the wait, and I eagerly await to see your thoughts on this weeks upcoming episode. In short, it’s cool man. Keep up the good work!

  14. OMG tl;dr – but I will read it when I get home! In the mean time, just wanted to say that the Plato namedrop seemed awkward (or as you say, “not as clear cut”). I don’t like it when they throw random theory references into anime just to be perceived as deep, the Rousseau thing was good and all – probably b/c it worked – but the Plato reference didn’t even seem like the writers understood the idea of the Cave and the forms that they were referencing. Well, I guess at least the character speaking didn’t understand it. Like in Penguindrum, some references enhance the experience, others just seem like they’re trying too hard.

    But, good ep.

    1. This is Urobuchi we’re talking about (the same guy who wrote the famous three kings speech in Fate/Zero). I don’t think he’s one to haphazardly throw things around anywhere at any time. He often gets his research/homework done and explained; if not at the moment, more elaborated and stressed upon later on.
      That said, I actually do hope Plato will be elaborated a little more in future episodes; it appeared to be a foreshadowing of sorts when his name was mentioned.

    2. Yeah I get that its Urobuchi – I did think about this before I wrote my first comment and I am a fan of Urobuchi – but I felt like the Plato scene was as if, after Madoka died to save the magical girls from suffering but in doing so became eternal and beyond time and space, Homura started directly referencing passages from the New Testament.

      The content of Urobuchi’s work generates references and meaning that the viewer is able to parse without being spoon-fed. While Masoaka’s comment on the stag hunt was in character – he’s always saying stuff like that – Mido in his desperation spouting Plato seemed like an undergrad who took Philosophy 101 but didn’t really get the meaning behind the material. But maybe Urobuchi was pointing out that Mido’s motives were on shaky philosophical ground, it was Mido talking after all. Masoaka and Makishima reference Rousseau and Terayama Shuuji like it’s nothing, but Mido can’t even use Plato right. He’s subpar. Maybe that’s what Urobuchi’s going with. Or like you say maybe there’s some more Plato to come, have to see.

      1. Mm. And I do agree that if Mido’s point about Plato is just left alone like that it would be indeed pretty awkward placement. But like you said, maybe that is the point of his character to do so as he was getting disillusioned with his avatars. We’ll have to see!

    3. Well. Plato is a pretty standard reference when talking about mind-body separation or ideology as being more important than physical embodiment. Relating to the Plot, those characters in VR world are the ideas and their owner the physical body. The culprit thought those physical bodies were hindering the ideas so he eliminated them.

      So Plato’s kind of fitting here if not that inspiring or a bit cliché.

  15. Also, I didn’t think anything of the people sinking in the water and swimming downward in the OP since people sinking in water is kind of a standard image in anime, but after last ep and the whole flushing people down the toilet and the drain thing, couldn’t look at the OP the same. Sure it’s unintentional but, damn.

  16. Well Verdant, after reading your post, it feels like I’ll have to marathon the epiodes thus far. Watching an Urobochi work when you’re utterly exhausted from a day’s work ain’t a good idea. I might’ve missed out on the little details and the questions raised thus far.

    Though that aside, I’ll have to admit that after Madoka Magica, I’ve been converted into an Urobochi fan… Now I wonder if any company would animate Saya no Uta. I’ve got the game but I’ve yet to play it


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