This review does not contain spoilers of the movie, but does contain spoilers for both seasons of the series.
Prior to the release of Psycho-Pass: The Movie, which premiered in Japan last week, the big question on the minds of many fans was whether the film would more closely resemble the Gen Urobuchi-penned first season or the recently-finished second season lead by writer Tow Ubukata (Ghost in the Shell: Arise).
In the end, with series director Naoyoshi Shiotani heading the project and season one writers Gen Urobuchi and Makoto Fukami returning to the franchise, Psycho-Pass: The Movie leans toward the former, with a fully developed storyline balanced with proper character development.
As with the series, the movie starts in the not-so-distant future where Japan has eliminated most crime by eliminating the latent criminals before they can do any harm under the use of a brain powered intelligence called the Sibyl System. Investigator Akane Tsunemori (voiced by Kana Hanazawa) and her team prevent an attack on the system and Japan by a group of foreign terrorists. Following the leads left and forcibly taken by the terrorists, Sibyl System discovers that they were in cahoots with Akane’s previous partner and role model, Shinya Kogami (voiced by Seki Tomokazu).
Akane is sent to a foreign country, SEAUn, that has begun using the Sibyl System in order to prevent war. There she plans to follow the newly established military government in order to find her mentor, but is disgusted by the SEAUn’s frivolous dispatch of the labeled terrorists. Seeing Kogami in the fray, Akane leaves the sights of SEAUn’s general Nicholas Wong (voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya) to confront him. Together, they unravel the secrets of the SEAUn and its manipulation of the Sibyl System.
The movie continues after the end of the second season and plays on newbie investigator Mika Shimotsuki’s blind arrogance to advance the plot of Akane’s new trial with (and against) the Sibyl System. The action has been taken to a new level with longer, fully choreographed fight scenes and a rating of 15+, allowing director Shiotani to animate the series’ iconic dominator guns to their full bloody potential.
Fans watching anime in recent years have no doubt noticed an increased use of English. Psycho-Pass: The Movie, with its international setting, is no exception, with quite a bit of English (with occasionally questionable pronunciation) throughout the entire film. While the accented English occasionally makes things difficult to understand, on the whole, it gave the movie a more realistic feel with the multitude of languages being spoken. Japanese is used when Akane was around, thanks to her handy auto-translating watch.
Original series fans will be happy to hear Psycho-Pass veteran band Ling Toshite Shigure opening the film with their new single “Who What Who What,” and a fantastic ending theme with Egoist’s “Namae no nai Kaibutsu.”
Psycho-Pass has traditionally been heavy in dialogue and explanations, and the first 20 minutes of this film reflect that. But the moment Kogami and Akane meet again in an intensely quick (and, if you excuse the fangirl analysis, sexy) scuffle, the action is nearly non-stop for the rest of the movie.
Talk of the film on Japanese social media has centered around the film being a mix of old and new coming together to make an attractive new film. Is it the sexy new female cyborg assassin? Akane’s ever growing personality and strength? Ginoza’s outrageous ponytail?
Those who have yet to see any Psycho-Pass are discouraged from seeing this film first, as it assumes viewers are already familiar with the universe, spending virtually no time on any character’s backstory. But Psycho-Pass veterans, and especially those who missed that Gen Urobuchi touch while watching the second season, will find a lot to like in this new film.
This story was originally published in the 1/19/15 issue of Otaku USA e-News. If you’re not on the mailing list, click here to subscribe!
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