More literary references I don’t bother to seek out.
Psycho Pass has always elicited some strong reactions from its viewers. Being a series that practically begs you to put it in context with what’s happening in the real world, strong reactions are inevitable.
This series is like a balancing act and it is far more difficult to pull off than a sugary sweet slice of life series or an off-the-wall romantic comedy. Psycho Pass is closely examined by the audience because this is a world more familiar to us than that of many other titles surrounding it. As such, even the smallest mishaps in execution are magnified ten-fold and logical leaps appear ludicrous. Episode number fourteen is a stellar example of this phenomena.
To peel off the layers would be too time consuming. Instead, let us look at the one scene that started it all (for me at least).
Seven minutes in and we are treated to a scene in which a man whose face is obscured by a helmet, corners a woman in the street. He later begins to violently assault her with a hammer in front of numerous people. Bystanders are seen quietly observing the crime while others have their phones out. In the crowd is one amused Choe Gu-Sung, who records the scene and comments, “This is good, some real brutal stuff.”
This can easily be justified with what is called the bystander effect. But it seems to be a far more personal story than that. Shingo Minamino a music producer at Nitroplus was murdered on the busy streets of Osaka last year. Gen Urobuchi worked with him on titles like Saya no Uta.
The scene in episode fourteen is designed to upset us. But this is where Psycho Pass trips and falls flat on its face only to continuously spiral downward in what may be its most disappointing episode to date. It sets off a domino effect that can only be described as disastrous.
Before anyone accuses me of being overly sensitive, I think I have a good understanding of media violence. I’ve had a great deal of experience with very violent films (a good number of my favorite films are excessively violent) and I just recently went to the cinemas to watch Django Unchained, a film that switches from cartoony gore to horrific violence which I thoroughly enjoyed, thank you very much.
Running for a full minute long, this scene crosses the line from shocking, apprehensive to exploitative. Why, I’d say it’s almost sickeningly voyeuristic. This scene becomes a tool for the creators to exercise their smugness, a shallow attempt on any real kind of social commentary. Choe Gu-Sung’s line that closes off the scenario is almost spoken in a condescending tone. The idea of this scene almost becoming a mockery of its real life inspirations does not sit well with me. This may not be the intention of the creators or the staff, but by poorly handling an integral scene like this, the staff seem just as incompetent as Psycho Pass’ Public Safety Bureau.
A lot of scenes in Psycho Pass can be justified in many ways, but its execution? So much less.