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One of the most anticipated series of Fall 2012 Anime Season is unquestionably PSYCHO-PASS. The brainchild of Gen Urobuchi and Production I.G wrapped up in Akira Amano's exquisite character designs, has racked up some hype and teased us much like K has.
One difference between this series' first episode and K's: PSYCHO-PASS was more memorable.
I mentioned recently how much I adore Western influence in anime and vice-verse when its done properly, and this episode is just proof that it can be done. From the beginning I was reminded of some detective TV shows you see in the USA, which depending on the individual is a cool idea or a deal-breaker. Well for those of you wondering why it feels so much like a Western anime, the word is that Urobuchi-sensei is a huge Equilibrium fan and has even written his own fanfiction for it and there definitely seems to be some inspiration carried over into PSYCHO-PASS.
The western detective style introduction was enough to get me into the story. I knew it was generic, over-used and whatever other adjective you want to use to describe it but familiarity is sometimes not the enemy. Our heroine Akane Tsunemori is that fresh of the boat police detective with high morals that have yet to be tainted by the enforcers such as Shinya Kougami, who is the "experienced" one who knows how the world really works. If that doesn't sound familiar then I don't know what does but fear not because as western as this feels, Urobuchi-sensei made it his own.
The solution was simple: include philosophical dialogue and a dark moral issue in the episode to really stir the pot. Both of the aforementioned writing techniques are what make Urobuchi-sensei memorable, and it was when we had the philosophical mini-speech by Tomomi Masaoka followed by the attempted rape scene that I was truly able to recognise this as another Urobuchi anime. In essence, mixing more philosophy and morality into an already morally debatable setting where you can monitor everyone in 1984-esque manner, is like adding a truck of gasoline to the forest fire but it just works.
Another interesting point in the episode for me was the character presentation. Initially we were shown Shinya in what I assume is a future confrontation between him and the main villain but then our focus is automatically switched to Akane. Akane remains at the centre of main character attention until the end, at which point a little moment between her and Shinya makes it harder to discern who is the first lead and who's the second. This could be used in future episodes to give a possible mystery sub-plot some spice and generally make the story even more interesting by having a dual-protagonist lead like the one in Tiger & Bunny.
With a good story and direction you'd expect nothing else to matter right I would have but I was listening and watching intently without actually realising it. Production I.G is a very good animation studio and with the massive budget this series clearly has, you can enjoy it for the animation and the varied soundtrack. Nevertheless, the balance between story, animation and soundtrack has been the strongest out of all the Fall anime series, which have excelled in one area and neglected another. Unlike the rest, PSYCHO-PASS hit all the right notes and left me with nothing to complain about.
If you skipped until the end of the review to get the gist, then here it is: watch PSYCHO-PASS. It reminds me a little of last years UN-GO with a western detective twist, which I know I will love.