Mind Masters

Animation Magazine - - Anime -

Afran­chise takes a dis­turb­ing and ex­cit­ing look into the heads of po­ten­tial crim­i­nals. By Charles Solomon.

lthough Ja­pan pro­duces some of the most so­phis­ti­cated elec­tronic de­vices in the world, a pro­found mis­trust of tech­nol­ogy and its po­ten­tial for abuse runs through many anime se­ries and fea­tures, from Tet­su­jin 28 and Akira to Full­metal Al­chemist, Har­mony and Steins;Gate.

In Psy­cho-Pass, which be­gan as a TV se­ries from Pro­duc­tion I.G in 2012, sen­sors through­out Ja­pan linked to the all-know­ing Sy­bil Sys­tem mon­i­tor the men­tal state of ev­ery­one who passes by, gaug­ing each in­di­vid­ual’s psy­cho­log­i­cal con­di­tion and their like­li­hood of com­mit­ting a vi­o­lent crime. If that rat­ing — the per­son’s “Psy­cho-Pass” — reaches a po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous level, the sys­tem alerts the au­thor­i­ties, which dis­patch armed in­ves­ti­ga­tors and en­forcers. It’s to­tal­i­tar­i­an­ism on the most in­ti­mate level, but with a smi­ley face.

The se­ries fo­cuses on In­ves­ti­ga­tor Akane Tsunemori (Kate Ox­ley) and En­forcer Shinya Kogami (Robert McCol­lum), who work in the Pub­lic Safety Bu­reau’s Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tion Di­vi­sion. Akane be­gins as an ea­ger new­bie in the tra­di­tion of N oa Izumi in Pat­la­bor. Kogami is hard­ened and in­tense: he’s at home on the mean streets of dystopic neigh­bor­hoods that echo Blade Run­ner and Ghost in the Shell.

Un­der the icy di­rec­tion of Nobuchika Gi­noza (Josh Grelle), who de­spises Kogami and the other En­forcers as so many hunt­ing dogs, Akane fights crime in the real world and in bi- zarre cy­ber realms. The set­ting and tone of the se­ries of­ten re­calls Ghost in the Shell — both Oshii’s orig­i­nal film and the broad­cast spinoffs — as well as some Amer­i­can noir films.

In Psy­cho-Pass: The Movie (2015), Akane is more ex­pe­ri­enced and as­sured; Kogami has left the bu­reau and Ja­pan. As Akane and her old boss sift through the ev­i­dence gath­ered at the site of an abortive ter­ror­ist raid, they find a pos­si­ble link be­tween Kogami and the would-be at­tack­ers, who came to Ja­pan from the SEAUn su­per­state (South­east Asia Union). But they’re reluc­tant to be­lieve their for­mer col­league would be fo­ment­ing rev­o­lu­tion in a re­gion al­ready torn by civil war.

Work­ing with the Ja­panese Pub­lic Safety Bu­reau, Chuan Han (Daniel Penz), the ruler of SEAUn, has re­cently es­tab­lished a Sy­bil-con­troled haven: the float­ing city of Shamb­hala. This sys­tem pro­vides Akane with a rea­son to do some on-site in­ves­ti­gat­ing un­der the watch­ful eye of Han’s thug­gish of­fi­cer Ni­cholas Wong (Jason Liebrecht). Ig­nor­ing in­struc­tions from the home of­fice and Wong, Akane ditches her armed es­cort and en­ters the no-man’sland out­side of Shamb­hala.

Akane finds that Kogami is not a ter­ror­ist but a charis­matic free­dom fighter who loathes Han as a war­lord who ex­ploited his al­liance with Ja­pan to es­tab­lish a bru­tal dic­ta­tor­ship. But as she plunges deeper into the morass, Akane learns that she, Kogami and even Han are pawns in a larger, darker plot than she could have imag­ined. The film­mak­ers use a quote from Mar­cel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time as a sort of MacGuf­fin, much the way writer/di­rec­tor Kenji Kamiyama used lines from J.D. Salinger in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Com­plex and Eden of the East.

Be­low the Sur­face At times, Kat­suyuki Mo­to­hiro and Naoyoshi Shiotani, who directed both the fea­ture and the TV se­ries, rely a bit too heav­ily on the stan­dard tropes of anime ac­tion fea­tures: cy­borgs, mer­ce­nar­ies, bat­tle ro­bots, sin­is­ter bu­reau­crats and nick-of-time res­cues. But they use them well, and never lose sight of the com­pelling ideas be­neath the vi­o­lent sto­ry­line.

Some otaku will take the shoot-’em-up ex­cite­ment of Psy­cho-Pass: The Movie at face value and en­joy it as an es­capist ad­ven­ture. More thought­ful view­ers will rec­og­nize a warn­ing against the threat posed by what Mo­to­shima Hi­toshi, the late out­spo­ken mayor of Na­gasaki, called “the in­dus­trial-aca­demicbu­reau­cratic com­plex.” Ja­panese view­ers have good rea­son to be dis­trust­ful: Busi­nesses and gov­ern­ment min­istries have a long his­tory of at­tempt­ing to cover up med­i­cal, sci­en­tific and tech­ni­cal disas­ters, from the in­dus­trial mer­cury poi­son­ing that caused the crip­pling “Mi­na­mata dis­ease” in the 1950s to dis­in­for­ma­tion about the melt­down at Fukushima.

After the re­cent reve­la­tions of col­lu­sion among in­dus­try, academia and gov­ern­ment on is­sues that range from cli­mate change de­nial to the health ef­fects of sugar to the ex­po­sure of armed ser­vice mem­bers to Agent Or­ange and atomic ra­di­a­tion, Amer­i­can view­ers may wish they had Akane, Kogami and Gi­noza work­ing for them. [

Gone Fish­ing, Voice of the Is­lands, Things You Didn’t Know About… (Q&A with cast and crew), Is­land Fash­ion, They Know the Way: Mak­ing the Mu­sic of Moana, Fish­ing for Easter Eggs, The El­e­ments of … (Mini-Maui, Water, Lava, and Hair), deleted song “War­rior Face,” seven deleted scenes, and a multi-lan­guage reel of “How Far I’ll Go.”

Big ad­ven­tures can come in small plas­tic pack­ages, after all!

[Re­lease date: March 7] cial Edi­tion sets glitz it up with The Mak­ing of Sing, Find­ing the Rhythm: Edit­ing Sing, Mak­ing a Mu­sic Video with Kelly, “Faith” mu­sic and lyric videos, “Set It All Free” lyric video, Sing & Dance, and The Mak­ing of the Mini-Movies.

The best part of the home video ex­pe­ri­ence? You can cat­er­waul along to the all the songs with­out some­one call­ing an usher. Not that I know what that’s like ...

[Re­lease date: March 21] the Sec­tion 9 se­cu­rity team. Her quarry is the mys­te­ri­ous “Pup­pet Mas­ter,” an elu­sive hacker gain­ing ac­cess to bod­ies and minds.

The orig­i­nal Ghost in the Shell is one of the most crit­i­cally ac­claimed and in­flu­en­tial films in cin­e­matic his­tory, and de­serves an hon­ored spot on any an­i­ma­tion or sci-fi fan’s shelf.

[Re­lease date: March 14]

The two-disc Blu-ray combo pack ($29.98) in­cludes an ex­clu­sive be­hindthe-scenes bonus fea­ture: The Mak­ing of Miss Hoku­sai, which fol­lows di­rec­tor Hara and the Pro­duc­tion I.G team along their cre­ative jour­ney. The DVD re­lease of­fers an ex­cerpt fea­turette from the “Mak­ing of.” Pick it up now and you’ll be even more ex­cited when GKIDS brings it to the big screen!

[Re­lease date: March 7]

Psy­cho- Pass: The Movie

Psy­cho- Pass

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