Psycho-Pass is straight-up science fiction. It takes an idea (computers can tell which people are mentally unstable enough to commit a crime, thereby allowing quick and easy enforcement of the law) and expounds upon it, looking at a variety of both forseeable and unexpected consequences of this technology. It’s also (separately) the story of the hardening of a rookie cop, who has her own ideals confronted with harrowing experiences that show her it’s not possible to maintain order and enforce justice perfectly at the same time. Both of these are fairly standard devices, sufficient fuel for a good story which, after a non-negligible waiting period, pulled me in very nicely.
Oh, and having amazing fight scenes like this didn’t hurt either.
Beyond the choices it’s made as a science fiction and character story, Psycho-Pass as an anime breaks down fairly simply. The first 9 episodes, with their episodic presentation of different murder cases (albeit ones with a common underlying connection), were distinctly aimed at world-building and creating a sense of familiarity with the noticeably unfamiliar society. Everything since has been a combination of dynamic thriller/action, with many of the thriller elements derived from the world the beginning of the show built up. I don’t disagree with that choice of presentation. Rather, my issue comes from the fact that buildup itself was less interesting than it could have been. I feel, at least on some level, like Urobuchi Gen was more focused on the climax which needed the buildup than on the buildup itself, which resulted in a less interesting beginning than, say, Fate/zero. In the modern anime industry, where a show competes with 30 others in any given season for attention, that’s an uncommon mistake.
I’ll definitely be finishing Psycho-Pass, and it’s definitely one of the shows I enjoy more right now, but I don’t think I’ll be able to give it full marks largely because of that less captivating beginning third. Still, I’d be perfectly happy to be eating these words come April.