We’re back where we started, especially with Akane and Shinya. Only, everything is the opposite.
This episode was clearly a parallel with episode 1, but also is in the contrast. In many ways, Psycho Pass has come full circle in many of its themes and its introduction is over. Episodes 10 and 11 are basically 1 and 2 in quality and in terms of storytelling, making me wonder why the hell weren’t any of the 7 in-between episodes this good/interesting.
I think I know.
Because the creators didn’t give a damn about the episodes themselves. Rather, they were interested in them as mere building blocks that would set up things for the last two episodes. They were focusing on four things: Akane, Shinya, Shougo and the world. Other characters like Nobuchika, Shuusei and especially Yayoi and Shion (basically, the rest of the female cast got shafted) were either pushed aside after a brief introduction, or have their characterization thrown in randomly.
It was all for the sake of what is to come.
The series is 22 episodes and we’re exactly in the middle - episode 11. Exactly in the middle, we have returned to the first two episodes.
Akane is again our guide, only this time, she’s gradually separating herself from the audience. Shinya acts completely differently as well.
We’re going to miss this Akane one day. I already miss this Akane.
DISCLAIMER: None of the gis are mine. The screenshots, however, are.
We begin with symbolism that for once, isn’t a philosophy/literature quote inserted clumsily in the dialogue, making it pompous and pretentious.
In the beginning of the first episode, Nobuchika threw Akane her Inspector jacket.
In the beginning of this episode, Akane herself drops it.
Is this foreshadowing for her soon-to-be-destroyed career as an Inspector? Or it’s foreshadowing for her failure to save the victim (Yuki), in contrast to the first episode, where she saved her?
Future will tell.
Shinya gives us his own parallelism/contrast as well.
In the first episode… well, look:
Shinya used Akane and Masaoka as unwilling decoys (they had no idea) in order to shoot the criminal. He put their safety at risk in order to reach his goal. And he feels completely relaxed about it. It was just business for him. No guilt, no second thoughts, no consideration. He simply doesn’t give a damn if they are in danger or not.
He didn’t give a damn about the victim either. He obeyed Sibyl and went to shoot her.
When Akane meets with him, he’s standing tall and proud. Akane keeps her distance from him. He speaks to her and the focus is on his mouth while he smiles. We don’t hear what he says, but he’s definitely mocking her.
In episode 11, things are different.
He did the same with Yuki. He used her as a decoy in order to get the hunter. However, there’s an ocean of difference:
When he meets with Akane, he’s down in the ground, barely alive. She gets close to him and they’re close in this scene. He speaks to her again, the focus being on his mouth again. This time, we can hear it.
He’s giving her instructions in order to do her job. A job he trusts her to do the right way.
He’s close to death from his injuries, but he insists on going to help her, even though he’s bleeding.
Few realize/admit to themselves this, but Shinya admires Akane. He also finds her naive and innocent and a tad immature, but he does admire her for something very specific.
He said so:
Man, aren’t you corny, Shinya…
There you have it. This is the reason why Shinya was so good during episodes 10 and 11: Akane’s decision to go against Sibyl and pass her own judgment. Call it inspiration, call it a wake up call from the three years Shinya has served as an Enforcer, call it a reminder of how he used to be as an Inspector himself, this is it.
This is also where Akane failed in episode 11.
In episode 1, Akane answered Kougami’s mockery and shot him, despite Sibyl saying that he was executing its wishes (the victim’s CC was sky high).
In episode 11, Akane shot as well, but her faith in her own judgment had been shaken.
She was torn between Sibyl and her own instincts, as indicated by her image of holding both the hunter’s gun (her free will) and the Dominator (Sibyl’s judgment).
Question is, what caused this to Akane? Or rather, did something caused this, or Akane’s demonstration of her free will in episode 1 was a one-time-only thing?
If Shinya’s change for the better (under the more or less same circumstances) was because of Akane demonstrating her free will, was Akane’s change for the worse because of Shinya?
Let’s see these:
No, the irony doesn’t escape me in the slightest.
Here we have Masaoka telling Akane that leaving everything to the Enforcers is all she needs to do. She needn’t do anything. She needn’t make her own judgment calls. Just let the others do everything.
Going a little later, we have this:
Nobuchika tells her more or less the same thing. Use the others, don’t include yourself. Trust Sibyl and stay behind.
Akane disagrees with both of them. Shinya told her that her free will was what made him change his views and he proved his change of heart during episodes 10-11 (see above).
Yet, when she faced the test Shougo created for her and demanded she acted like she did in episode 1, she failed.
Shougo was disappointed that she didn’t exercise her free will, something that Shinya not only appreciated, but cherished, something Sibyl, Nobuchika and Masaoka advised and yelled against.
(On another note, Shougo would have adored Akane of the first episode and despised Shinya. Feel the irony in your bones, mates. Feel it hard.)
Why didn’t she do it? Why wasn’t this Akane the Akane of the first episode?
Because that’s the story.
Psycho Pass is all about contrast. The character designs (Shinya = Black, Shogo = White), the similarities/contrasts in personalities (both Akane and Shinya were brilliant Inspectors, the manga goes further in having Shinya having been the same prodigy Akane is, Akane and Shogo’s CCs are clear no matter what happens)… everything in Psycho Pass is duality.
So, when Shinya rises, Akane falls.
What made Kougami a better person (Akane’s free will) and he praised, was viewed as a flaw from everyone else (Masaoka, Ginoza…) and was advised against by them.
Akane’s free will freed Shinya a lot and thus he attracted Shougo’s attention with his own judgment, which was protected by Akane’s rank as an Inspector.
Had Shinya not have Akane by his side, he wouldn’t be able to go to the prison to ask about Oryo, he wouldn’t be able to go to the school, he wouldn’t be able to trespass Nobuchika’s authority on him (glasses guy wanted to stop him) and thus he would never have attracted Shougo’s attention.
In other words:
Shougo got interested in Shinya because of Akane.
I’ll give you a moment to swallow this.
So, Akane doing what Sibyl, Masaoka and Nobuchika told her and leaving the situation to Sibyl (even though her free will wasn’t completely dead, as she did fire the gun, but she hadn’t rejected Sibyl completely as she did in the first episode) had this as a result:
Not exactly something one would expect from a supposedly “perfect” system, huh?
Yuki means snow. Snow is pure. Snow fell as this episode ended.
Yuki was pure, yet Sibyl didn’t protect her and viewed her murder as something good. Even holy. Shougo’s CC was 0 when he killed her.
Sibyl is a monster. So is Shougo.
This episode closes with the ending “Monster Without a Name” playing for the last time, after we close with a shattered Akane.
I think I know who this “Monster Without a Name” is. Or rather, what.
I’ll let you answer this.
Back to Akane, because not everything has hit rock bottom for her (yet).
In the first episode, she was troubled.
In episode 11, she is devastated.
However, there’s a silver lining: Shinya. Not the Shinya of the first episode, the one who didn’t give a damn, the one who didn’t think his actions and obeyed Sibyl blindly (THE IRONY! IT BURNS!). No, it’s the Shinya she helped (re?)appear, the detective who knows what’s important, who is thoughtful and caring
In the first episode, she was all alone with her worries.
In episode 11, Shinya is there.
He’s been shot in a much more dangerous way than he had by Akane, yet the very first thing that comes out of his mouth when he wakes up is to ask where she is. It’s snowing, it’s cold and he has got open wounds, but he goes to her regardless.
Did I mention that you’re corny, Shinya?
So… what happens from here on?
Urobuchi writes, so all we’ll see from here on is tragedy. The circle is completed, the two ends met and the parallels will continue to run. Compare and contrast everything from now on, people. Things will come back, only to be reversed.
In the first episode, Akane says that Shinya and Shougo understood each other perfectly.
Oh yes, they’re the same and the opposite at the same time.
Both value free will and cherish it. Only Shinya does this in a much healthier way than Shougo does. Yet Sibyl, views Shinya as a criminal, a sinner and Shougo as a saint.
Feel the irony, I say!
How does Akane know this, however?
It’s because she’s the same as both of them.
But, where does this leave Akane?
Shinya met Akane in her best, so he cares about her.
Shougo met Akane at her worst, so he gave her despair.
Akane is the same as both Shinya (prodigy Inspector with a bright future ahead) and Shougo (clear PP).
There will be more and more parallels as the series goes on. The story has just begun. The title of the 12th episode is “Devil’s Crossroad”.
In the second episode, we saw what made Akane choose the Bureau as her future. The title of the 12th episode implies that there shall be a choice and a deal and it’s going to cost.
See, the phrase Devil’s Crossroad relates to a pact with the devil. Google it, it won’t take much. No, Kyuubey from Madoka won’t appear, even though Urobuchi would love it.
We all know that a deal with the Devil has one cost: your soul.
In the opening, Akane is far from the one we have known until now.
She looks dead as she aims the Dominator passively, obediently. As if she’s a puppet.
Ha. Shougo would really have adored Akane in the first episode.
Kougami, on the other hand, looks very worried. He’s running to her
corny, he’s stressed. He’s moving on his own.
And when he reaches her…
Where have we seen this before?
Ah, yes. Shinya was like this in the beginning.
So, Akane stands in the place he was in the beginning.
Where had he been in the beginning?
A puppet of Sibyl.
As I said above, Shinya rises, Akane falls.
Prepare for tragedy. Yuki’s life was the price to pay for this cycle.
And for God’s sake, at least know what exactly you’re doing when you hate Akane. It’s because of her that the story exists and it’s because of her that Shinya and Shougo became acquainted.
See you in two weeks, when the next episode airs.