The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Psycho-Pass: The Movie

Title: Psycho-Pass: The Movie
Genre: Sci-fi/Action
Company: Production I.G
Format: Movie; 113 minutes.
Date: 19 Dec 2014

Synopsis: Since the death of Makishima Shougo four years ago, the Sibyl System has expanded beyond the Japanese borders into Southeast Asia, now recognized as SEAUn. Now in the midst of a civil war, the system has been brought in as a solution to uphold law and order in the region. However, cracks begin to show as SEAUn rebels infiltrate Japan in order to sabotage the system. Inspector Tsunemori Akane gets to the heart of the problem after learning that the rebel leader is a familiar face.

The Highlights
Plot: Devoid of intricateness that defined the series.
Characters: Focused only on two leads; others were only in for the ride.
English dialog: Praiseworthy effort, cringeworthy result.
Fanbase pandering: Blatant.

Psycho-Pass is one of my favorite shows of 2012. There was something riveting about watching an anti-hero like Kougami Shinya pursuing a charismatic villain like Makishima Shougo in a Minority Report-inspired dystopian setting. Psycho-Pass S2 brought it up to the next level, although it suffers from over-the-top plot twists and fizzles towards the end. Psycho-Pass: The Movie is the series’ third production which finally makes it to the big screen. As a fan, I wanted to see what the movie has to offer. Unfortunately, I was met with a movie that had an uninspiring plot and nigh zero character development, one that serves merely as a side story to the main series.

Psycho-Pass S2 sorely misses the elements that made the main series great. The first season shows how human lives are being controlled by a draconian system with dark secrets that upsets the fabric of the utopian society it strives to accomplish. The second season illustrates how the extreme fallacies and shortcomings of the system can tip a society into chaos. The movie, however, is a simplistic civil war story that forsakes hypothetical self-scrutinization and plot development. Lazy writing renders the movie feeling like a fanfiction-inspired B-grade action film that spares no effort in trying to emulate the depth of its prequels.

The movie focuses on merely two characters: protagonists Tsunemori and Kougami. Their reunion is inevitable and, given the tumultuous history shared between them, their meeting should be one that invokes many questions. However, the shared moments are superficial and underwhelming at best; they exchange clichéd ideas of social upheaval and glimpses of their views of law and order. Character development is nonexistent in the story, and especially so for the rest of the cast who are nothing more than extras on the set.

Although the writing is lazy and the plot is lacking, Psycho-Pass: The Movie puts in a lot of effort on the dialogue. Specifically (and unusually), the script is filled with English speeches earnestly voiced by Japanese voice actors to contrast the multiple languages used in a non-Japanese setting. Whilst their attempts are commendable, the result is unfortunately amusing at best and cringeworthy at worst. Awkward pronunciation, choppy sentences and unnatural conversation patterns make it hard to follow what the characters are saying without the help of English subtitles. Suspension of disbelief has been the saving grace for every other anime titles in such a situation, and the movie could have simply opted to do so instead of trying to conquer the language head-on.

Psycho-Pass: The Movie turns out to be what I feared: a cheap package to pander to Psycho-Pass fans. Whilst some fans will be delighted to simply see more of their favorite characters in action, I am the type of fan who yearns to see something that matches or even surpasses its previous works. The movie’s high production values are overshadowed by the shortcomings of its fundamentals, and it personally saddens me to see the title come to this. If there is a third season in the works, I certainly hope it returns back to its old ways and continue to invoke commentary about society and law and order.

The Rating: 4

Reviewed by: AC

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