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Psycho-Pass: Part One

FUNimation // Unrated // March 11, 2014
List Price: $64.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Kyle Mills | posted March 14, 2014 | E-mail the Author
I heard a TON about this series before I actually sat down to watch it, much like a few other series, Attack On Titan or Jormungand, which were hyped up to no end by others. The problem with shows being hyped up for me, is that they usually fall a bit flat, Tenchi Muyo, Gurren Lagann, Evangelion are a few examples of this. There was nothing that made this show look like a standout for me, it just seemed like a typical detective catches bad guy every episode. So does the series stand up to it's own hype?

The story of Psycho-Pass revolves around the life of Akane Tsunemori (voice of Kate Oxley), a young woman as the series opens is starting her very first day as an Inspector at Unit One of the Public Safety Bureau's Criminal Investigation Division. What the PSBCID does is that of a detective, they go after potentially criminals that the Sibyl system deems dangerous by actively measuring a person's mental state, personality, and the probability that a person will commit crimes, by scanning their brain, this test is called a Psycho Pass. If red flags are raised, the PSBCID dispatches their Inspectors and Enforcers (latent reformed criminals) with something called "Dominators", a very large gun that scans Psycho Passes and will lock if their Psycho Pass is under a certain percentage, to subdue them by any force necessary.

Her first day on the job, turns out nothing like she thought, partnered with the enigmatic Kogami (voiced by Robert McCollum), are sent out to apprehend a man who has kidnapped an innocent woman. Once they track them down, Kogami executes the man in front of the woman and Akane. In doing so, the woman's Psycho-Pass goes over into the red and Kogami is given the order to execute her as well, not being able to handle what's happening in front of her, Akane uses her dominator to temporarily paralyze Kogami. Due to this, Akane feels she's not suited for the job, physically, mentally or emotionally if it means murdering someone the system deems dangerous, even if they're innocent.

Kogami convinces her to stay as he sees a person who doesn't judge him for his rocky past and who has potential. She relents and stays. Together in these first eleven episodes they take on various cases including a dismemberment at a drone plant. A Kller murdering at an all girls school. One of my favorites involving a man online known as Talisman is murdered, who is now being controlled by their killer. With these cases comes my favorite thing about the series. Each case somehow weaves in character development, and it's done perfectly. We get to learn more about Kogami, why he's an enforcer and about his mysterious past. These were my favorite moments of this first collection.

Along with Akane and Kogami as apart of Unit One are Nobuchika Ginoza (voiced by Josh Grelle), the leader of Unit One who has a bit of a mysterious past and doesn't like to get his hands dirty. Masaoka (voiced by Jason Douglas), the oldest member of the unit who is somewhat of a mentor to Akane as she's starting out. Shusei Kagari (voiced by Scott Freeman), the care free member of the unit whom is constantly cracking jokes. He secretly distrusts the Sibyl system. Yayoi (voice of Lindsay Seidel), probably the toughest member of the unit, she does not back down to danger and is not phased by even the most gruesome crimes. Lastly, Shion (voiced by Lydia Mackay), the groups technical expert who never goes out into the field, she is lovers with Yayoi.

Over the course of these first eleven episodes, the series stays episodic throughout and mainly focuses on the cases or the relationship between Akane/Kogami, but we're also given brief chunks of an overall story. Enter Shogo Makishima (voice of Alex Organ), the main antagonist of the series as well as Kogami's eventual personal rival. Makishima is a unique person embodies violence, he relishes in it. Despite loving cruelty and savagery, red flags are NEVER raised on the Sibyl system for some reason, to which he claims it's because he was born to murder and his brain recognizes it as normal. When I said Makashima is unique I didn't mean just for the show, but in general. He's a villain that doesn't seem like too much of a threat at the start, but as the series continues, he's the problem for literally everything. He gets shit done. There is no posturing with him and a legitimate sense of danger when his character shows up, not only that, but he's cultured and sophisticated. More shows need villains like this one.

As the first collection comes to a close, the series gives us a hook leading into Part two, Makashima reveals himself to Akane and gives her an ultimatum. He has an innocent woman that Kogami knows. Makashima will slit her throat if Akane does not kill him, and since she has no authorization to kill him (he's not declared dangerous by the Sibyl system), she has to make the decision herself. Kill him and suffer the consequences or follow her orders and watch her die, more than likely destroying her with guilt. Either way, the decision is going to weigh heavy on Akane's moral compass, and I'll be looking forward to see how her decision develops in Part 2.

- Positives:

+ Beautiful setting.

+ Rich, well developed lead characters.

+ The way they use the episodic stories to develop the leads.

+ A villain that doesn't seem like a typical cookie cutter standard villain.

+ Excellent dub work. Several of my favorite voice actors are in lead roles, Rob McCollum, Kate Oxley, Jason Douglas, Josh Grelle, Lidsay Seidel, and Scott Freeman, whom all turn in some incredible work. The standout for me though is Alex Organ, I've never seen/heard his work before and he blew me away as the lead villain. I honestly cannot wait to hear more from him in the future.

- Negatives:

- The series doesn't really come into focus until the end of these first eleven episodes.

- More development on the supporting players would be nice.

Video and Audio:
The animation quality for the series is fantastic. My favorite aspect is the setting. Psycho-Pass takes place in a futuristic setting, and the creators were able to visually make that stand out beautifully. The character designs all stand out as unique, each one standing out in their own way. The gore is pumped up a bit and a high level of detail goes into the action shots. It's overall a terrific effort from the Studio, Production I.G.

The audio is available in two tracks. The first is a English TrueHD 5.1, and the second is the original TrueHD 2.0 Japanese track. As usual with my reviews, I watched the English track. The dub work was fantastic throughout. There were no noticeable dropouts or distortions in these first eleven episodes.

Extras: - Episode 5 commentary with Scott Freeman, the voice of Shusei, Lindsay Seidel, the voice of Yayoi, and Lydia Mackay, who handles Shion.

- Episode 11 commentary with the two leads, Rob McCollum, the voice of Kogami, Kate Oxley, the voice of Akane. They're also joined by the voice of the primary antagonist Makishima, Alex Organ.

- Psycho Pass at Sakura-con: A 21 minute interview with the creators of the series, along with some highlights from the convention.

- Textless Opening and Closing themes.

- US Trailer for the English dub.

- Standard FUNimation trailers.

Psycho-Pass: Part one is an exhilarating thrill ride from the first episode all the way to the end of the eleventh. The series has some solid characters who are developed nicely as the series progresses, the action scenes are fantastically well done, and we're left with a nice hook going into Part two. The first collection of Psycho-Pass is Highly Recommended

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Highly Recommended

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