Recently I completed watching Psycho-Pass anime. To my surprise, it’s a really though-out and well-executed anime, which hits all the pain points of a perfect system like “Sibyl”. It tries to further investigate the possible loopholes and drawbacks of such a system. It explains how humans can become slaves to technology even though it was made for the betterment of humans’ life. Let us dive deeper and understand what Psycho-Pass actually tries to deliver to the audience using its crisp storytelling.
The following review contains an analysis from seasons 1 and 2 of Psycho-Pass.
There is no such thing as a “perfect” system
A perfect system is something that humanity has always been looking forward to. Everybody wants a fair and just system that is equal for all and does not discriminate against each other on the basis of religion, caste and other things. A system that will take care of criminals by using a fair calculation or algorithm.
With such a system in place, criminals won’t be able to proceed forward with their plans as they will always be under its radar. Moreover, the system will also have the ability to increase its cognition levels based on past experiences and human input. A system like this is a dream for many and there is no doubt about that. This system will ensure that people have more freedom, better and longer life, perfect decisions based on their aptitude and they don’t have to fear losing anything.
Even though such a system can prove to be a great boon to society, there will always be exceptional cases. If someone is able to bypass the system, it opens tons of opportunities for that person to decide and do anything they want. Basically, for criminals, a bypass through this system is like a lottery. For inspectors and detectives, it can take a great deal of effort to fight through such cases, because eventually they are also entitled to keep their Crime Coefficients below the threshold range to avoid getting blacklisted in the Sibyl database. This is where the challenges kick in and the anime uses this flaw to further develop the flow of its story.
Psycho-Pass is one of those animes that has quickly grabbed my attention due to its very realistic nature in explaining the limitations and strengths of a flawless system. The concept of having a perfect Sibyl System that governs the life of everyone in the country based on people’s psychological data, is in itself, very intriguing but at the same time, it is scary too. There is only a handful of animes that keeps the real-life challenges in front of the audiences through storytelling and Psycho-Pass is one of them. I was amazed by this concept because not only does it explain the importance of a stringent system to govern people, but it also explains its flaws. It dives deeper into how this Sybil System takes control over people by making itself more and more intelligent.
Season 1: Surrender to the System OR Follow your Heart?
This is the question that the anime tries to put forward in front of the audiences in the initial few episodes and it serves as a very good foundation for all the upcoming events in the later episodes.
We as humans are capable of creating systems but we are not always governed by rules and regulations. Humans are social animals, hence social and emotional cues play a major part in our decision-making process. Despite the sibyl system in places, inspectors and enforcers are needed to maintain peace and order in the society as described in the Psycho-Pass anime.
Hence it implies that a decision made by humans carries more weight and importance than a decision made by the Sibyl System. Despite being perfect, Sibyl can be considered as only a “monitoring and assessment” device. The real actions and decisions are solely in the inspector’s hands. Dominator guns are primarily based on the Sibyl System, and that is the reason why they cannot think ahead or try to change the situation. It just gives a command based on current coefficient values, and in the process, fails to do impact analysis or try other options. This is one of the major flaws of the Sibyl System. Dominators and the Sibyl system fail to understand the cost of human life.
Psycho-Pass tries to explain to us that human decision is priceless and there is no entity or system that can replace a decision made by the human brain.
Season 2: People Protect the Law
Law is the creation of humans. In order to maintain peace in the world, this law is enforced on everyone to provide justice. However, it is necessary for the law to maintain and upgrade itself. If people lose trust in the law and order of the country, there could be some devastating consequences.
Law is just a system so even if it has its own AI and brain, it still will have flaws. If these flaws are visible to the general public, they will cause havoc. At that time, since the Sibyl system is responsible for the judgement, it will have to “judge itself”. Hence the role of inspectors and their decisions is crucial in order to maintain continuity of the sibyl system.
Even though a perfect system like Sibyl has cognitive intelligence, it is still a slave to humans.
My Thoughts on Psycho-Pass
I think overall this series is really very good. I am not sure why it has not got a very good popularity and rating. But I feel this series deserves an 8.5/10. The execution is really good, the animation is above-average, and the concept is really intriguing. Every character is very important to the story. However, only one problem in the story and plot is the lack of information regarding the Sibyl System. It would have been better if they had focused more on understanding how the sibyl system was put in place. Was it gradual or was it all of a sudden? Who were the people behind the creation of this system and what were the challenges at that time?