Character Appreciation – Psycho Pass

Psycho Pass

It’s been a while since I posted one of these. I figured I should buckle down and tackle a few shows I watched earlier in 2016 before my rather unreliable memory decides to chuck out the finer details.

As the title says, this is intended to be a series of posts to appreciate anime characters that have made a lasting impression on me. I’m going by series for now since that seems easier but I expect there will be mixed posts somewhere down the line. The five listed here are also my top five favorite characters from Psycho Pass.

Psycho Pass is set in a futuristic society where technology is immensely advanced and most people lead happy, healthy lives… in Japan at least. The rest of the world is screwed. In Japan, the lauded Sibyl System keeps the people safe and content. It basically plans out their lives for them, using cold logic to assign jobs and arrange dates. A fair amount of attention goes towards eradicating crime by imprisoning people whose minds are even remotely inclined towards violence, i.e, latent criminals. Such a utopia seems too good to be true and sure enough, the darker sides of such a society are slowly explored by the show, culminating in a shocking reveal about Sibyl itself.

Psycho Pass is remarkable not only for its setting and plot but also its characters who range from a charismatic psychopath with humanist tendencies to an endearingly naïve newcomer to the world of Sibyl’s justice. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

[Spoilers for both seasons ]

01 Makishima Shogo

MakishimaI want to see the splendor of people’s souls.

This is the aforementioned psycho and is anyone even surprised that he’s on top of the list? Makishima was among my top five male characters in the 2016 Roundup post as well. He’s got quite a way with words so choosing a single quote was a struggle.

Makishima Shogo is the primary antagonist of the first season and his presence is felt even in the subsequent productions. Makishima is an aberration in the world of Psycho Pass. He is immune to Sibyl’s primary method of keeping society safe; his crime coefficient cannot be measured and thus his capacity and/or inclination for criminal behavior cannot be assessed. Simply put, he can slit a person’s throat with a smile and Sibyl won’t even register his actions. As he has no respect for the people puppeteered by Sibyl and absolutely no remorse for the chaos he causes, Makishima makes for a very effective villain. But it’s not his cold-blooded brutality that makes Makishima stand out. Rather, it’s the fact that no matter how repulsive he is as a human being, you can’t help but think during several points in the story that this crazy asshole’s got a very good point.

You see, Makishima Shogo loves human nature. He loves free will. He wants to free Japan’s people from Sibyl’s oppression so that they are free to direct their own lives. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? None of us likes being controlled and a man who wants to place humanity’s fate in its own hands could have, in other circumstances, been a noble hero.

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Unfortunately – mostly for the people involved with Makishima than the man himself – his way of going about his dream isn’t the best there is.  He is interested in human nature but since Sibyl’s humans are happy, smiling, oblivious unicorns, he tends to focus on the other end of the spectrum. Fear and pain are Makishima’s yardsticks for measuring people’s worth for he believes that only then are their innermost characters exposed. He believes in giving them power so that their true desires are unleashed. As the people he picks for these little social experiments are hardly paragons of mental stability, the outcomes are almost certainly nasty. Violence and chaos are the tools Makishima uses to manipulate the ragtag group of supplicants he’s gathered and the end results are atrocious not only for their victims but also themselves.

But despite all of this, Makishima is extremely compelling. We know he’s cruel but there’s a naked humanity to that cruelty. He sees himself as above good and evil, and if the flawed technological deity of his world that can’t adequately judge him, who’s to say he isn’t? If nothing else, Makishima seems content with the path he chose right until the end. Even his death is satisfactory to him for it also gifts him an irreplaceable place in his murderer’s heart.

 

02 Tsunemori Akane

AkaneSociety doesn’t always do what’s right. That’s exactly why we ourselves must live virtuous lives.

Akane is the show’s main character, the young graduate who’s new to the workings of Sibyl but who nonetheless tries her best for the betterment of society. Due to her naiveté and natural ignorance, Akane is initially not as engaging as some of the other characters but she proves soon enough that she’s made of tougher stuff than what one might assume and eventually finds her own place in the complex world she inhabits.

In the beginning, Akane was far from my favorite character. Her idealistic approach seemed downright ridiculous the context of the anime but as time passed and she changed with it, I started thinking that her idealism is actually a very important and meaningful part of Akane. Unlike her more experienced colleagues, the Akane at the beginning is a product of Sibyl’s perfect society. All she’s seen are the best aspects of the Sibyl System. Add that to the fact that she’s driven by genuine compassion and a sense of duty, it makes sense that Akane would have some pretty ideals about law and justice.

Akane’s choice of career is not just about serving others either. Akane has an excellent academic record and Sibyl’s assessment is such that she has the aptitude for a variety of sectors, which is great from an objective standpoint but it also means that unlike the majority of her peers, Akane has to agonize over her choice for the future. Just like every average person in our society. Her opting for the Public Safety Bureau is not out of pure altruism but also because she was the only one who qualified for it, leading her to think that there’s something only she can do there, that the Bureau is where she’ll find her purpose in life.

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Of course, it’s not that easy and Akane’s very first day lands her smack dab in the middle of a messy situation where her morals clash with Sibyl’s cold judgment. Her morals win and that sets the tone for her development.

Even after her naiveté is brutally ripped from her and she’s forced to see the darkest parts of her picture-perfect society, Akane manages to keep her head above the water. She soldiers on. She perseveres. She doesn’t take the law into her own hands like Kougami or lose herself to the darkness like Ginoza. She feels her emotions freely but doesn’t let them control her actions and reactions. In short, she manages to balance her head and her heart all the while possessing a moral compass that points squarely north. She might still harbor her ideals but she works towards them not with blind optimism but hopeful rationality. In short, she’s fucking great.

And in the end, Akane does find her place, her purpose. She’s unique for the way she manages to accept the unsavory truth of what Sibyl truly is while still retaining the practicality to understand that society sill needs the system.

 

03 Ginoza Nobuchika 

GinozaAs a leader, you need to learn from the mistakes of others, not your own.

Ginoza starts out as Akane’s senior officer, the one who’s supposed to show her the ropes and get her acclimatized to the Bureau. However, Ginoza’s rigid adherence to rules and his hostility towards the Enforcers clashes with Akane’s softer approach, and the two take some time to find a good rhythm.

Like with Akane, Ginoza is a character that grew on me slowly. At the beginning, he’s far from pleasant. He comes off as cold and harsh, treating the Enforcers as mere bloodhounds and doling out a fair amount of condescension towards his new partner. It’s not until later that his prickly exterior is revealed to be a defense mechanism as well a shell born out of a lifetime of bitterness. Ginoza is someone who lost his father to Sibyl’s judgment and had to grow up with the stigma of being the son of a latent criminal. Though he chooses to pursue the same career as his father and even ends up working with him, that old resentment and fear remains persisted. Losing his first partner Kougami to latent criminaldom doesn’t really help in that aspect. Ginoza, perhaps a little selfishly, sees the demotion of both his father and his friend to be personal betrayals and treats them accordingly.

So, yeah, he’s not really a nice guy. But he gets better and evolves. So does his hair but that’s probably unrelated.

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Ginoza gets a sharp (metaphorical) slap to the face in the course of season 1 and is forced to re-evaluate his priorities. His fear of becoming a latent criminal like his father, which has driven his actions for a long time, ends up taking a backseat as his sense of duty becomes more prominent. Once he lets go of his fear of himself and resentment for his father, Ginoza changes for the better. He accepts that his job is hardly a good one but that it needs to be done all the same.

It’s ironic how Ginoza’s greatest fear of becoming a latent criminal is what ends up giving him a measure of peace in life. Ginoza as an Enforcer is visibly more happy than he was as a Detective. Maybe it’s that his father’s death and his subsequent breakdown gave him a new perspective in life. Maybe it’s because he gets better when the constant dread of clouding is psycho pass becomes a non-issue. Either way, by the end of the first season, Ginoza is drastically different from how he was at the beginning.

He’s much more open, smiling and laughing with more ease. He also displays more care and concern for his friends/colleagues. He seems to become more efficient in his work as well, shedding his old inflexibility to eschew the rules when the situation calls for it. Though the circumstances leading to it are less than idea, there’s no denying that Ginoza has changed for the better.

 

04 Kougami Shinya

KougamiBeing a detective isn’t about bringing someone down, but rather protecting someone.

Kougami is a character who’s as much of a main character as Akane during the first season and a good majority of the story follows his struggles against the constraints imposed by his own society while he hunts one who defiantly thrives outside of those same constraints. In other words, he wants to kill Makishima dead but Sibyl has other ideas so our boy’s frustrated.

If I’d made this list during the first half or so of Psycho Pass, Kougami would have been on top of the list. But while I still like his character and his contribution to the anime, he’s no longer my absolute favorite.

Kougami, when we first see him, is a classic anti-hero. He’s rough and ruthless, and shows no compunctions about executing Sibyl’s order despite their questionable morality. That said, he’s far from cruel and while he is undoubtedly hardened by his time as a Detective and then as an Enforcer, he has not allowed it to freeze his heart. In fact, it could be argued that Kougami’s problem is that he has too much heart. But unlike Akane, whose emotions manifest in largely positive ways, Kougami is led by his feelings towards the darker end of the spectrum. The re-emergence of the man who’s responsible for the loss of a treasured friend and colleague, which is what destabilized his psycho pass in the first place, sends Kougami into a desperate quest for revenge that doesn’t end well for any parties involved.

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However, Kougami wasn’t always so fixated on vengeance. He used to believe that the duty of a detective wasn’t action but protection. He nobly wished to safeguard the innocent. But that wish got twisted when he realized the law can’t always protect people, that it will sometimes be powerless to stop the real monsters – monsters like Makishima.

It’s easy to see Kougami the Protector even in Kougami the Avenger. His revenge isn’t wholly a selfish thing. As much as he’s driven by the loss of his friends at Makishima’s hands, it’s also a genuine desire to stop any more needless tragedies that prompt him to abandon Sibyl’s law in favor of a more hands-on approach. It’s hard to say whether or not he’s right but there’s little doubt that Kougami believes that he is. And his method certainly is effective even if he royally screws himself over in the process.

Makishima does a real number on this guy. More than anyone else in the series, Kougami is his victim even after the latter’s death.

 

05 Kunizuka Yayoi

YayoiIt’s okay, let your emotions out now, otherwise your Hue will get cloudy.

Kunizuka Yayoi is a young Enforcer with Ginoza and Akane’s team. She’s a side character with only a little screen time and few lines but she manages to stand out all the same. Yayoi is perpetually stoic front but there are plenty of hints to suggest that she’s very much kind person.

Some of you may find it odd that Yayoi made it on this list rather than Masaoka or the Sibyl System itself. I know she’s an unlikely choice given that she’s not someone of great importance to the plot and since most of her character exploration is confined to a single episode. But all the same, Yayoi is a favorite of mine and I’m fairly sure it has more to it than my penchant for women in suits. Though that’s a valid reason on its own…

Yayoi is a victim of love. That sounds melodramatic but it’s more or less true. Prior to becoming an Enfocer, she was the guitarist of a Sibyl-approved band but she becomes drawn to the singer of a non-approved band with anarchist leanings and her hue darkens by association. After a brief but maddening stint in a rehabilitation center, Kougami offers to make her an Enforcer. She gives it a trial run in hopes of seeing Rina, the aforementioned singer whom she’s heavily implied to be in love with, but ends up finding that Rina is part of a group of rebels. She even attempts to apprehend Rina but fails. Yayoi soon leaves behind her music and takes up justice. Basically, her entire life got turned on its head because she liked the wrong girl.

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My fascination with Yayoi began before her day-in-the-limelight episode but afterwards, it was kicked up a notch. The Yayoi from her musician days is far more expressive than the Yayoi who’s an Enforcer. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that the change is related to Rina’s betrayal. Something personally devastating like that could harden anyone, especially when that person is soon exposed to the criminal underbelly of their perfect little society.

But it’s also clear that despite her cold expression, Yayoi is not a cold person. Quite the opposite actually. She cares for her colleagues and is visibly upset when one of them disappears while investigating something. We even see her taking the time to console a distressed girl whose friend has been killed. She’s a woman of few words but when she does speak, she doesn’t waste her words.

If there ever is a third reason of Psycho Pass, I’d like to see much, much more of her.

 

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About D

Just another avid anime fan.
This entry was posted in Anime, Characters, Psycho Pass and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Character Appreciation – Psycho Pass

  1. Adam says:

    There’s something wonderful about a charming villain, the type who can carry on such rich conversations, who seems so full of wisdom, and yet they are also a monster.
    I think one of my favorite episodes was when one of the protagonists visits a mentor, and together they profile Makishima. It’s very interesting to imagine the formative experiences that led to Makishima as the audience knows him. Like all good villains, there’s a potent tragedy in his past. In some ways he reminds me of Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen, isolated by his brilliance, and how thoroughly people misunderstand him. Underneath his mask I imagine Makishima is a maelstrom of emotional tormoil, held together by his complex ambition, and his firm policy of keeping everyone around him at a distance.

    I think Akane’s journey may be one of my favorites in the series. While at first she seems naive, over time I feel she really proves herself. She’s tested, and while she admits that things are not perfect, she doesn’t allow the flaws in the system to break her. She genuinely believes in doing what’s right.

    I was also very fond of Shuusei Kagari. While he didn’t have a compelling journey, I felt he added some much needed levity to the group dynamics.

    It’s always fun discussing characters with fellow fans. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • D says:

      Thanks for dropping by.

      Compelling villains are the gem of any story and Makishima is right up there with the best of them. I enjoyed the profiling part too and the second-hand insight we get into what may have shaped Makishima into the kind of person he is during the series. In fact, I’d love to see a story about his formative years and how the rejection of his society’s system affected him on an intensely personal level.

      Akane does prove herself and I feel it’s impressive that she does so while maintaining her ideals. She’s very strong. Kagari’s light-heartedness did lend its own charm to the show. I was sad to see him go.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. raistlin0903 says:

    As far as Animeseries and characters go, I think Psycho Pass pretty much ranks up as my nr 1. favorite. Psychopass is all about the characters and that is why it is such a good series. I could go on and on about how much I like this series but you already know that 😀
    I think my favorite character is still Kougami (yet I still have to see season 2, so thst might change), with Makishima a close second (and wow, what a scary dude that guy is, still sends chills down my spine). Even though the show has a fantastic storyline, it’s the characters such as those two, that are the heart of this series.
    What can I say, I loved this post. It was well written, and it is nice to revisit this series again through this post. Keep up the great work (Ah, what am I saying, you already do that lol 😀).

    Liked by 1 person

    • D says:

      It’s close to the top for me as well. I do haha – you made that very clear in your review. I understand though. It’s a fascinating series.

      Kougami used to be my favorite but as time passed, he dropped down on the list. Ginoza and Akane just overtook him with their development. I look forward to what you think of the next season and the movie. The interplay between Makishima and Kougami really is the greatest strength of season 1. I couldn’t get enough of that honestly.

      Thanks so much. I’ve been long overdue for a Psycho Pass post and I’m glad you liked this ridiculously long gushfest. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • raistlin0903 says:

        Haha,some things just can’t be too long 😊 I am currently starting with episode 6 of Knights of Sidonia. Might go for Psycho Pass season 2 after that, not quite sure yet. So true..that was exactly what I liked about the first season as well. Every scene between those two was absolutely fascinating 😊

        Liked by 1 person

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  4. I am not stalking your blog….definitely not…😅
    Anyway, I found this post to be interesting and insightful, and I found myself agreeing with a lot of what you were saying. While I would also say Kogami is a favorite, I ended up preferring Akane and Ginoza for the same reasons you did: I didn’t like them at first, but their character development (Akane’s in particular) was amazing. With Akane, her idealism peeved me at first, but as it went on and it proved to be her greatest strength, I found myself admiring her and thinking things like, “I wish I could be as resilient as her.” I have problems with anxiety and stress myself, so to see someone who could balance her heart and her mind so much really made an impression on me. And Ginoza’s story is general may have been somewhat predictable for me, it still felt really realistic and understandable.
    And who can resist an interesting and incredibly well written villain? I really wish I took notes on Makishima’s character; I’m a writer, and I can say he was one of the most interesting parts of the show, and is just an outstanding villain in general. Even if he made me feel like an uncultured idiot with my book choices 😅
    This post in general was really well written and made me laugh a lot. Like, “He is interested in human nature but since Sibyl’s humans are happy, smiling, oblivious unicorns” (😂), “he tends to focus on the other end of the spectrum”, and then I nearly died when this: “So does his hair but that’s probably unrelated.” came up. (Sorry for the lengthy comment)

    Liked by 1 person

    • D says:

      Suure I believe ya. Don’t worry, I appreciate some healthy stalking.

      Thank you! I’m happy to know this post entertained you.

      Akane is someone I admire precisely because I can’t ever be like her. The way she holds on to her ideals and optimism is amazing. I dabble in writing too and yes, Makishima is truly a fascinating creation. Right there with you on feeling uncultured. Plus theres nothing wrong with ebooks!

      Glad those made you laugh and thanks again 😉 (Don’t apologize – I enjoyed reading every word)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lol good 😅
        And exactly! Akane’s resilience is amazing; I like how she was kind of frustrating at first, but once she goes through stuff that would break normal people and still retains her optimism, I found myself liking her more and more. And I didn’t know you write! That’s cool, what do you write about? (Besides blogging). Yeah, whenever he was talking about one of his books, I would have a moment of: (looks away from screen, looks at huge stack of uncultured books. Cries on the inside) 😂. And while I may not like ebooks myself, it comes down to sensory stuff; for some reason, I don’t like scrolling down a screen with patches of text. But I can read Webtoons just fine…strange. And besides, if ebooks encourage people to read more, I am all in favor of the,?
        And haha, they were really funny. I can appreciate some sass in an otherwise serious post. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • D says:

        I dabble, mostly. Nothing impressive 😉 Fiction – fantasy and romance or both. Usually both. Always lgbt because I’m queer as hell.

        If I had to choose between the two, I’d pick physical books too because there is something great about the full experience of them. But where I live, variety among physical books is scant so I had to turn to ebooks and online fiction out of sheer necessity. The text on screen doesn’t bother me.

        On the other hand, the combination of texts and images in manga and webtoons doesn’t really work for me. I really can’t explain why ;/

        Liked by 1 person

      • I like fantasy! I find it hard to write though, for some reason. I think it’s just the insane power that comes from building up your own world and rules that intimidates me. And I also appreciate those who can write a good romance; I never can, everyone ends up just being good friends in my stories 😂
        That makes sense. I’m lucky I live (reasonably) close to a bookstore, which is good and bad; on one hand, I always have enough books. On the other, I’m always wasting my money, haha.
        That’s interesting! People all have different tastes and likes. It’s interesting to find someone who has the opposite likes when it comes to e-reading.

        Liked by 1 person

      • D says:

        I tend to write short-ish things so a lot of the world building details are left vague haha. Most of my more elaborate constructions remain inside my head, doomed to never be put into paper (or word doc) haha.

        As for romance, that’s honestly because in real life, my inclinations towards romance is very limited. But I like it in stories though I am picky. And everthing I write turn out character and/or relationship focused.

        What do you write? I meant to ask then forgot.

        Ohh that’s great! I used to have to travel 2 hours to get to a reasonably good bookstore and then it closed down.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, I usually try to write full length novels. Try being the main word here. Aside from my self published book (it reeks of a debut novel, trust me), I can never bring myself to finish anything.
        Yeah, I’m usually really picky with my romance in stories, so that may be why I find it so hard to write.
        Oh, I enjoy writing psychological thrillers, mysteries, and some fantasy and science fiction (those are my more recent ideas).
        Oh no! 😢 That’s terrible. Even my local bookstore isn’t that far away…that’s so sad.

        Liked by 1 person

      • D says:

        Hey, I’d say managing to self-publish something is a great achievement! And nice pick of genres!

        I just stick to short stories and sites like fictionpress. I do have ideas for novels but well. I think I’ve written more for faniction that I have for my original stuff. *insert shrug emoji*

        We do have other bookstores closer, just not any that caters to my taste. Actually now that I’ve started reading queer stories, there are literally no bookstores catering to said tastes so e-books it is.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks! I just wish I’d waited, but oh well. It was for school, and it was the best school project I’ve ever had!

        I’ll have to check out Fictionpress. I’m not having the best of luck with Wattpad, so it may be for the best for me to check out other sites. And there’s no problem with writing fanfiction!

        That’s odd. It sounds like even my school library has a larger amount of queer fiction. Hm. Who would’ve thought? (My school library has been surprising me lately, it doesn’t have super popular books like Six of Crows, but does have amazing underrated stuff that I love).

        Liked by 1 person

      • D says:

        Sure sounds more fun – and productive – than any school project I’ve had 😉

        Yeah, Wattpad is a festering pile of crap most of the time. Fictionpress is good and so is AO3’s original content tag. Good luck!

        I live in a very conservative country. Thankfully, being gay/bi/trans isn’t illegal but things like queer media is pretty low in output. I make do.

        Funny, my school librray was like that too. A strange collection but some real hidden gems.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh heck yes. It’s my favorite school project I’ve ever had. And the teacher who gave it to us is one of my favorites. On stressful days he would even let us watch The Twilight Zone in class, to help give us ideas.

        Okay. That’s good to know. I just know some people who actually got a lot of views on Wattpad and decided to try. I’ve kinda failed 😅. I will definitely check out the sites you mentioned when I have time, thanks so much!

        Ah, that makes sense. Where I live, we’re becoming more and more open to it (it mainly depends on the location of where you live in my country, I used to live in a considerably more diverse area than I do now).

        Yep, I used to really dislike my school library for never having what I wanted, but now that I have somewhat different reading tastes than I used to, I’m liking it more. Funny, they don’t have some of the most popular fantasy, but they do have a very underrated mystery/thriller book series that I’m basically binging. It’s great.

        Liked by 1 person

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