First Reactions: Psycho-Pass Episode 20

No matter what happens in the ending of Psycho-Pass, Urobuchi Gen and his star power will get too much credit, and the director, Katsuyuki Motohiro, will get too little. Considering this episode was almost all dialogue, half of it internal, it’s easy to see how the things it’s doing visually right will be overlooked.

Contrary to my expectations, this episode was not a dive into action so much as it was a continued exploration of Akane’s character, albeit confronted with some pretty radical circumstances. It was pretty amazing to watch the Sibyl System fearlessly outline all aspects of their operation (0-for-1 in predicting this series so far), effectively hidden behind the ironclad knowledge that she would feel she had to cooperate with them no matter what. For the system this is a somewhat unexpected benefit derived from the riots Makishima engineered, since those were explicitly what convinced her the system and the order it conferred were ultimately necessary.

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Though she certainly doesn’t like it very much

At this point, it’s fair game to point out that Urobuchi Gen wrote the script for Madoka Magica, because at times all that brain was missing were red eyes and a curved smile. The Sibyl system itself, though hilariously corrupt in its own way, is never going to measure up to one of anime’s 3 greatest villains. Though Sibyl and Kyubei sort of share motives, both ruining individual lives to protect a larger cause, Kyubei’s aggressive salesmanship gave him a kind of ruthless appeal that Sibyl lacks. Speaking of Madoka, though, what made this episode really dynamic was Akane’s internal struggles, which were impressively depicted through body language, as she gnashed her teeth and swung her dominator around wildly out of growing frustration and rage. That’s the kind of stuff that gets too little credit nowadays, because it really isn’t easy to pull off. I wish we would see less bland faces from the other cast members, who, with the exception of Ginoza, have largely been closed-lipped stoics.

Part of this internal debate was less impressively (but still interestingly) shown via a sort of internal dialogue, where Akane chatted with various dead people as a way of making her decision. Frankly, the most interesting part of that scene was how it started: with a smash cut away from Akane at the peak of cold fury. Though the monologue did touch on some interesting points, it seemed an awful lot like it was reducing characters to single-facet caricatures in order to write a debate scene. Or, in some cases, relying on characters with barely any development at all.

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Not pictured: A Worldview

I at first thought I would be somewhat disappointed if Akane’s full condition for cooperation with the system is Kogami’s pardon after everything she’s been through. It would’ve felt light, and I almost felt like Kogami wouldn’t go along with it anyway. Then I realized that, if he didn’t, it’d be a pretty powerful scene in its own right; either Akane will convince him she did the right thing, or she’ll watch him die anyway. So it’s potentially a decent setup, depending on a few factors. Like, say, whatever happens at the granary Makishima is currently sabotaging.

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