「聖者の晩餐」 (Seija no Bansan)
“The Saint’s Supper”
I’m not sure anyone’s Psycho-Pass hue could stay clear after this episode. Halfway through its run, this series delivers one of its most suspense filled and tense episodes yet – and if that wasn’t enough, the developments which unfolded and the questions that were raised made it one of the most emotionally powerful episodes of the season as well.
The times may be different and the technology and society nearly unrecognizable, but some things never change. Since the beginning of this series, we’ve seen various characters struggle with and chafe at the limitations imposed by the Sibyl system on their lives. It didn’t matter what their social standing was – latent criminals, who have obvious reasons to be discontent, share the same sentiment as people who are the cream of the crop, who seemingly have everything made. In one way or another, they are all searching for what it means to be alive. Whether it’s a rookie detective or an aspiring artist, a rich construction tycoon or a criminal mastermind, each and every one of these personalities shares this elusive goal, made all the harder because of Sibyl’s pervasive reach.
Judging by his social standing, Senguuji is someone who doesn’t appear to have any discontent with his life (or the one Sibyl has given him), and thus has no need to search for what it means for him to be alive. After all, he himself willingly paid for nearly his entire body to become cybernetic, and he has prepared rebuttals for anyone questioning his decision to become a cyborg.
Many people have probably suspected that Makishima would turn out to be the character whose psychological makeup would be perfect for exposing the failings of Sibyl, and this episode essentially confirmed their suspicions. It is reasonable to assume that Sibyl’s inability to “accurately” calculate Makishima’s Crime Coefficient is where his notion of a person’s value originated. After his “criminal” intent failed to set off any alarms, he likely began questioning the Sibyl system itself. In fact, according to Tsunemori’s Dominator, it appeared as if the closer Makishima came to slitting Yuki’s throat, the lower his Crime Coefficient became. Like many smart viewers, he realized that Sibyl doesn’t take will into account at all, since his own criminal intentions did not set off any warning flags. Conversely, people like Masaoka and Kougami were tagged as latent criminals, despite not displaying any will towards committing criminal acts.
It was only a matter of time before Urobuchi Gen’s cruel and sadistic imagination would have our innocent main character undergo the trademark suffering that the screenwriter is known for putting his characters through. There is probably going to be a fair number of people who are angry at her or consider her stupid for not hitting Makishima, but there are several possible reasons that might explain her inability to do so. First of all, she’s likely in a lot of shock from many sources at once. Not only is one of her closest friends being held hostage, her Dominator flat out refuses to fire. On top of that, she has to grapple with the possibility that the Sibyl system she has come to rely on, the basis for all her police work, can no longer be trusted. Also, it appeared that Tsunemori really did intend to shoot Makishima, but since it’s doubtful she’s ever had any training with a gunpowder-based weapon (Masaoka mentioned how rare their usage is), the considerable recoil caught her off guard, causing her to miss.
- Kougami didn’t know that he was being hunted by a cyborg, so he probably thought when Senguuji’s left arm was blown to bits, he would be too caught up in all the pain to immediately whip around and return fire. Also, slowing down the scene shows that Kougami’s hit was not a direct one, as some of the shot hit the concrete wall next to him – probably saving his life.
- Makishima’s machinations seem like they are so ingrained into his personality that he always tries to manipulate others in order to judge their bared souls, usually by cornering them into a situation where they are either forced to kill or faced with imminent death. While it is possible that the entire time his final target was Tsunemori, too many dominoes would have had to fall in line in order for him to setup the fateful face-off with her. It’s far more likely that he took Yuki hostage as a precautionary bargaining chip in case he found himself running into the police. When the situation presented itself, he used Yuki to force Tsunemori into using Senguuji’s hunting rifle. After all, Makishima knows that the police, as one of the methods where Sibyl most visibly exerts its influence, has grown too reliant on it. They turn to the system for everything: definitions of justice, of good, and of evil, and most disturbingly, they shift the responsibility and burden of killing another person onto a computer system. For all intents and purposes, the police of PSYCHO-PASS can be considered only slightly above mindless killing machines.
The halfway point of a show may not necessarily be a critical juncture, but it can be a reliable marker to judge what the show has accomplished to this point and the direction it intends to take the story. By all measures, PSYCHO-PASS has laid a strong foundation for an entertaining, smart, and compelling second half. The fascinating dystopian society has been well detailed, most of the main characters have been fleshed out, and now the main antagonist’s true intentions have been fully revealed. Makishima is the clear antagonist and his inability to be judged by Sibyl makes for an intriguing challenge for Tsunemori, Kougami and their fellow Inspectors and Enforcers to overcome. As we await the latter half of the series, the main question becomes whether the Sibyl system changes in order for the police to stop Makishima, or if the police themselves change.
- Sorry for the delayed post, I had holidays, families, festivities and what not. Hope that all of you are having wonderful holidays with your loved ones too!
- PSYCHO-PASS will not be airing for the next two weeks. It will return the first full week in January.
- Full-length images: 01, 03, 06, 10, 14, 23, 33.