Season aired: Fall 2019
Number of episodes: 8
Genres: Sci-fi, Mystery, and Psychological
Thoughts: Psycho-Pass returns for a third season with a unique format of 45-minute episodes with only 8 episodes total. The Psycho-Pass journey has been long and winding for the fandom. After the explosively well-received first season, the second season seemed to fuel major disappointment with its movies returning back to great applause. However, the third season differed drastically from the prior ones as the two protagonists are not at all related to the prior season protagonists we’re used to seeing – namely Akane. Instead, we are introduced to Arata and Kei, two new inspectors who lead Unit One.
Many railed against the absence of Akane, Kogami, and Ginoza, but I personally didn’t mind the new protagonists. Arata is a sprightly, friendly inspector who has an uncanny ability to understand people’s minds and motivations. By extension, he has an increased capability to manipulate those around him than normal citizens are capable of. He’s in the similar vein of Makishima – incredibly smart, acutely aware of the darkness and goodness of humanity, and observes humanity from an outside point of view. The key difference here is that Arata uses his more socio/psychopathic tendencies for good as he later admits that he finds humanity incredibly interesting and beautiful for all its flaws, a love that was likely nurtured by his affectionate and caring father who died prior to the start of the season.
Kei, on the other hand, is a passionate, emotionally involved, and sterner man who, despite all their differences in personality, has a familial relationship with Arata. In fact, Arata is so close to Kei and his wife, Maiko, that the younger inspector is often eating dinner at the couple’s home. The way the two protagonists’ relationship work with their contrasting personalities is how I imagined Makishima and Kogami would’ve been if Makishima hadn’t turned his disorder to serial killing rather than Arata’s heroic view and tendencies. I love yin yang relationships and parallels between prior seasons, so, despite the lack of the original protagonists, I still enjoyed the two new ones onscreen.
However, the plot, in my opinion, didn’t work for me. Considering this is still part of the Psycho-Pass world, I felt as if prior themes that prior seasons had worked so long to build up was almost completely thrown away. The incredibly poignant observation that Sibyl System is extremely morally questionable – considering a bunch of psychopathic and sociopathic brains are leading society – felt like an afterthought in this season. In fact, the Sibyl System didn’t really make much of an impact, if at all, and sometimes I wonder if the system can be truly considered to be in power with all the things that go awry, and not in a manner that Makishima was able to craftily stir violence and chaos.
The new antagonist is a completely new AI system called Bifrost with three new evil chair-sitting characters, called Congressmen, who use people like chess pieces. There was no background given on how Bifrost came to be, who these three congressmen are and where they came from, or even any motivation from any single individual of them.
I am not lost on the metaphor that congressmen are real-life politicians and the system of Bifrost is the very governments today that often collude and use unaware civilians as pieces for the game of life-changing culture, economies, and values through minute manipulations whose effects eventually ripple out into something big.
With that in mind, however, the introduction of Bifrost as the primary antagonist against the Sibyl System just seems to be written in poor taste. Is Psycho-Pass series suddenly insinuating that the Sibyl System is good, and that it’s okay for humanity to put its entire faith in an AI system who calculates humanity on a numeric scale with no recognition of gray morality? Despite the fact that Makishima, in an iconic antagonist move, actually convinces a protagonist that he is fundamentally right even with his psychopathic tendencies? Despite the fact that Akane is shown again and again the weaknesses of the system and remains critical of its existence and function? Because Psycho-Pass certainly isn’t trying to suggest that Bifrost is the right way to go considering how many evil deeds were done by the congressmen. As much as I enjoyed all the mysteries and arcs that the two inspectors worked together to foil, I am left thoroughly confused at the theme this series is trying to tell its audience now.
The loss of direction in the series’ theme disappointed me a lot because even though the second season paled to the first season, I still held onto the franchise because of what the writers are trying to tell us about human nature and human’s increasing dependency on AI for decision making. Now, I no longer know what the franchise wants us to think or consider.
At least the production value hadn’t gone down. Hand-to-hand combat animation continues to be Psycho-Pass’s signature fights, and beautiful sequences, in particular, one with Arata when he danced across buildings with a wire tied around his waist, continued to dazzle the screen. The soundtrack still never fails to impress me, especially during the fight scenes. The seiyuus do their range of characters well, and chemistry definitely existed between Kaji Yuki and Nakamura Yuichi who voiced Arata and Kei respectively. But with the storytelling in such a weird place, I am left feeling heavily conflicted on how I viewed this season in particular to the Psycho-Pass franchise.
Voice acting: 7
FINAL SCORE: 73