Psycho-Pass: care to try a different way of thinking about the world?

The empirical fact that certain themes seem to emerge in pairs, as has often occurred in Western film (Armageddon/Deep Impact, Saving Private Ryan/The Thin Red Line – to name a couple I actually remember), seems to happen in anime too. The last two seasons, viewers have been able to envelop themselves in two different dystopian societies. Having not seen Shin Seki Yori though, I can only focus on the other for the moment.

And yes, in Japanese, that’s also how we’d write “Psychopath”…

This is a world in which the mental state and personal tendencies of humans can be quantified. In this world, where all sorts of inclinations are recorded and policed, the measured number used to judge a person’s soul is commonly called “Psycho-Pass.

Forgive me for cutting to the chase, but whilst there is a mountain of things I could write about for this show, but to me, the most important issue to discuss is what viewers might be able to take from the way it ended. To do that, I shall begin by outlining some of the major criticisms of Psycho-Pass, and my own reactions. The common theme I find running through the critiques is that Western viewers in particular are bringing certain expectations to both the characters and the show itself. I contend that the these expectations and the foundations that they are built on need to be recognised, understood and critiqued, and the themes of Psycho-Pass analysed with that in mind.

Spoilers, as always, under the cut…

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Switch OVA: on the perils of having a voice fetish

And once again, the title of this post refers more to me than to the show itself… Though it wasn’t just the seiyuu I’m completely into that led to this particular impulse buy, it’s also the work of a manga group I like and had been following for a while and not to mention, this being the clincher for me: the included SCRIPT* (I’m a student of Japanese, after all!) But guess what? In the end, I haven’t even really had time to sit down and explore these OVAs properly. *sighs*

*LOL. Come to think of it, Japanese closed captions would have worked just as well…sadly, I’ve never seen them included on a DVD! And they’d be so useful for the Bakemonogatari commentaries! But let’s stop that thought here…

Switch brings viewers a glimpse of the drug underworld of Japan, as we follow two new investigators in the Narcotics Control Department (aka the “Matori”). In this OVA, the two (Hal and Kai) both go undercover in order to investigate the spread of a new drug, and the department finds itself chasing after vague shadows of a secretive but highly influential organisation…

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GITS S.A.C. 2nd Gig – Appreciating what you can…

…or what to do when the main background issue pretty much goes over your head…

     Tachikomas

I can’t remember exactly where, but I once read an opinion of one of the creators of this series, stating something to the effect of “those who aren’t Japanese probably won’t understand the refugee issue here in Japan enough to fully appreciate what the series is about.” I distinctly remember feeling somewhat offended, especially since I’ve met many Japanese people whose non-interest in politics can hardly hold them in better stead. But at least one other observer (fan, if you wish) has noted an absolute truth about this series, i.e. as with anything conceived by Oshii Mamoru, GITS: S.A.C. needs repeated viewings before one can fully appreciate the intricate plot, much less the themes that found it.

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Quick Review: Dogs: Bullets and Carnage OVA

This OVA is based on Dogs: Stray Dogs Howling in the Dark, the prequel volume of an ongoing manga by Miwa Shirow. It consists of four shorts depicting events in the live of the four protagonists – Mihai, Batou, Naoto and Heine – before they became entwined in the web that Miwa-sensei has been spinning since 2001.

Dogs is a rather…violent manga, what with the main character being virtually immortal, with another wielding a samurai sword (messy injuries, you see) and two other gun-toting individuals with links to the underworld. The manga is a messy read, minimalistic and heavy perspective (guns pointing at the reader), and recently, an even greater propensity than Kubo Tite to stretch out fights. However, the prequel starts out at a much slower pace, and, for the most part, succeeds in bringing life to the story.

I found Mihai’s story somewhat bittersweet (and what an ending! though only til the next episode) and Badou’s ridiculously hilarious, but it’s the 3rd episode that’s really worth watching. It may only be because a pair of blades crossing will always be far more interesting to me than gunfights, but the depth of Naoto’s story is the glue that is holding me to a story I might otherwise have dropped by now. Fuyumine’s thoughts when he decided to take her in are of particular interest, but the chances are that we won’t ever find out.

If there’s one thing I would have to complain about, it’s that they ruined the last story. 15 minutes was the perfect length for the first three, but somewhat lacking for Heine’s tale, which is twice the length of the others in the manga. The climatic gunfight also looked quite fake thanks to the slow motion the animators chose to employ. A pity, since I like how they change the focus, not to mention the fact that some of the perspectives are quite nice. I was also taken aback by the English that he uses at the end of the episode…even though Sakurai is my favourite seiyuu, I’d really rather not hear him swear in Engrish…

(I just had to put something of Badou in – I really love how the people around him abuse his ‘cigarette problem’.)

Review: Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~

BEETRAIN’s Phantom ~Requeim for the Phantom~ is yet another show based on an ero-game. Phantom -PHANTOM OF INFERNO-, an interactive visual novel created by Nitroplus, was released in Japan in 2000. An OVA was produced in 2004, and this 26 episode series was broadcast earlier this year. In it, we follow the fate of Reiji, a 15 year-old Japanese student forced to join the mafia organisation, Inferno, after he witnessed the killing of a reporter, as the relationships he forms during his assignments force him to make choices perhaps unbefitting of an assassin.

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Review: Ryuusei no Kizuna

The dramas that have come out since Last Friends ended haven’t really enticed me. Even after watching the 笑ってもいいとも! Autumn special, nothing beckoned, although the セレブと貧乏たろう episode that I caught on TV was kinda interesting, if only to see a certain actor (whose name I don’t know actually) up the sleazeball ante from his character in ハチクロ. I ended up watching Ryuusei no Kizuna (流星の絆) on a whim, and the humour in the first episode kept me watching what turned out to be a pretty interesting series about three siblings who decide to take justice into their own hands as the deadline of the statute of limitations on their parents’ murder approaches, complicated of course, by growing romantic feelings and certain inconsistencies that lead to a dark secret…

Ryuusei no Kizuna

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Review: Death Note & The Last Name

Ok. I finally got round to watching Death Note: The Last Name – around a year after seeing the first movie. Read more of this post

Reviews: Ghost Hound and Shion no Ou

Since I was watching these two around the same time, I think I’ll attempt them together too. To be honest, I thought that this particular season (Autumn 2007) wasn’t particularly interesting, but I have to say that these two were actually pretty good for the most part – though I’ve kept one and not the other…

GHOST HOUND

A Couple of Outstanding (as in previously ‘uncompleted’ as opposed to ‘excellent’) Reviews

X3 won’t be done again. It was way too short – perfect for those who enjoy action flicks, but we’ve been spoilt with so many ‘intelligent’ superhero flicks in recent years that I wanted to cry about everything that was ignored because they combined two storylines that could have been taken separately.

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Russian Dolls and Inside Man