Psycho-Pass Movie Review — Welcome to the Jungle

Enforcer Wins. Fatality!

Gen Urobuchi is sort of like the Production I.G. of visual novel writers: better than the pack in that he has a lot more on his mind than padding things out with lame, unfunny, and dull setup before quickly rushing into a story that’s not worth it half the time, but still nothing to get too excited about because being different doesn’t necessarily translate to being good. The guy doesn’t seem to understand that just because you take out the lame and the unfunny doesn’t change the fact that your dialogue and idea-throwing can still qualify as dull setup, you dullard. Not that the directors helped things – especially not in regards to Fate/Zero – but between shows that most people consider to be revolutionary but me to be gimmicky along with a movie that was about as engaging and thought-provoking as being lectured on thermodynamics whilst riding a very slow-moving horse, I’m really failing to understand why he has so much appeal. I mean I like a good amount of David S. Goyer movies, but it’s going to be a long f*cking time before I forget the existence of Jumper, y’know?

But Psycho-Pass was the one anime of Urobuchi’s I actually liked. It was as hit and miss in its execution as the writer and studio, but the story was generally strong and the concepts, whilst not exactly original, were always interesting even when they weren’t introduced in the most clever of ways. I even liked that maligned sequel, although that was mostly because it kept making me laugh in how stupidly forced it was, along with having a bad guy who might as well have been Kirito from Sword Art Online by way of Jim Phelps from the first Mission Impossible movie. Couple that with the fact that we rarely get good anime movies and I was looking forward to seeing what kind of sequel Psycho-Pass would be with Urobuchi back on the writing staff, how it’d fit in canon, and whether there would be a bunch of people exploding as is usual for this franchise.

Well for those who hated the sequel season, prepare to be disappointed that the movie not only acknowledges its existence, but that that bitch you guys all hate so much is just as obnoxious as ever. Which one am I talking about, you may ask? Eh, it doesn’t matter anyways, as aside from Akane and Kougami, the characters from the previous iterations are barely in the thing. In fact, Psycho-Pass Movie – and yes, that’s its actual official name without any boring attempt at a subtitle whatsoever – is about as much of a franchise sequel as Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood was to Assassin’s Creed II (and the entire Assassin’s Creed series in general). It doesn’t really shake up the franchise’s core so much as add more to it, which I knew beforehand because every single discussion I read whilst trying to discover when the DVD release date for this was kept bringing that point up.

Me: Hm, fine. What exactly does it add, Mr. Urobuchi?

Gen Urobuchi: Why, the same exact stuff as the first season, except in a foreign country.

Me: …so I can pretty much skip this movie if they ever made more of this in the future?

Gen Urobuchi: Well yes. But it has Akane meeting Kougami again, so anyone concerned about the fact that he didn’t get any closure will be pleased to know that he’s now become a wanted terrorist.

Me: But you clarified that he was wanted at the end of your first season and it was pretty obvious he wouldn’t be running a charity organization after that.

Gen Urobuchi: It has people exploding. Will that make you happy?

Me: …you’re still a fucking hack, y’know.

Gen Urobuchi: Pepsi is better than Coke.

Me: Oh screw you, dude!

Investment in the series is kind of necessary to enjoy this thing, as they don’t do too much to reacquaint you with the returning cast and the new characters they introduce are pretty much there so that a plot can actually exist. They’re not as lame as the new people introduced in the Tiger and Bunny sequel film, but the only way the governor of the South East Asian Union could have made his intentions more obvious is if he had a caption hovering over his head saying “I am the bad guy, yo”. And the only other antagonist who stands out in this thing does so because he’s black – and looks like Jax from Mortal Kombat for some reason. I remember a woman being introduced, but I think she got killed off real quickly, and the fact that I can’t recall for sure says all you need to know about her.

You know one other thing I’ve continued to notice about Gen Urobuchi over time is how much he really wants to be Christopher Nolan. I made the comparison before that Expelled from Paradise’s style reminding me of Interstellar’s if it wasn’t executed nearly as well, and Psycho-Pass: The Movie’s (and arguably Psycho-Pass’s in general) style kept bringing Inception to my mind. They have different stories obviously, but they both try to accomplish combining thought-provoking ideas with big budget action and the former doesn’t even come close to achieving the level of intelligence it wants to because it’s mostly just saying stuff we’ve seen before. And it kind of stands out in the movie’s case, since we have seen it before in all sense of the phrase. The idea of applying a different form of the Sybil System to a different country has potential, but when you get down to it, it’s mostly the same thing all over again except with an active terrorist force opposing it this go-around.

So how about that action then? It’s still pretty damn good even though you knew as soon as this movie was announced that Kougami would be doing all the dirty work and Akane would just be elbowing a thug or two. Actually, she does put down a terrorist in the opening act when he refuses to cooperate, so her hands aren’t just mildly untainted this go-around. I did like how a good chunk of the movie takes away the Dominators, forcing our characters to rely on good old-fashioned guns and bombs, and making it so that when the characters do use them it’s all the more impactful. And the setting change from a city to a jungle-like area has that sort of Rambo feel to it, if you made the main character the cop chasing Stallone and moe. It’s not all perfect though. There’s this one action scene in the middle that has a fucking horrible frame rate and felt like I was watching (reading?) well-choreographed flip books whilst on a speeding train.

One thing Urobuchi seems to have improved on over his last few works is the pacing. I actually feel like I’m watching a real movie with this thing rather than something that’s 80% setup, 10% action climax, and 10% dragged-out ending. The movie seamlessly switches back and forth between dialogue and explosions the same way your mom switches from sweet to stern (not that I’d know for sure), and aside from one conversation with her friend before jumping into a hellhole, Akane never catches a break and the discussions are on-point with the surroundings, so the momentum never really stops. It never felt like I was waiting for a story that never came unless you think random cryptic dialogue in an unspecific timeline counts as a story, and I know I’m going to sound mean and maybe sexist for saying this, but watching Akane get screwed again and again puts a smile on my face. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I like seeing that sort of torture when it happens to characters who have determination without coming across as creepy and stalkerish. You know, like a certain person in that other anime conceived by Urobuchi. Fuck you guys. Inaho was better, if only because I found him kinda hilarious in the few episodes I watched of that show.

Okay, I’m going to have to state at the end of the day that Psycho-Pass is still fun to watch in an “it’s the same good, but why fix what ain’t broke” sort of sense, but the series reached its prime long before the first season ended, and as much as I like Akane, I think I’m more comfortable with leaving her future to the imagination whilst staying away from the crappy fanfics. Best to move on from this thing now before it ends up like the inevitable Madoka sequel when Homura reunites with Madoka in order to fight in an Earthrealm tournament against Shang Tsung and his out-of-place Joker transformations.

PS: I know it’s more Aztec Ruins/wasteland city than jungle, okay?

2 responses to “Psycho-Pass Movie Review — Welcome to the Jungle

  1. Urobuchi’s popular for obvious reason: He is among the best “pure” writer in the anime industry. By “pure”, I mean he’s not involved in directing or music, his only job is write the story. In other famous acclaimed series like Universal Century Gundam, Ghibli films, Ikuhara stuff,…. the directors heavily influenced every aspect of the show. This means the writers are overshadowed.

    You can hate Fate/Zero all you want, but after reading Fate/SN visual novel, I respect him for being able to make a decent story out of that mess. In series he actually wrote, the stories are at least servicable. Compared to others visual novels writers, who seems to lost their writing ability once they jumped to anime. I love Steins: Gate , but just look at Plastic Memories…

    • You can hate Fate/Zero all you want, but after reading Fate/SN visual novel, I respect him for being able to make a decent story out of that mess

      And I disrespect ufotable for directing that show horribly.

      Compared to others visual novels writers, who seems to lost their writing ability once they jumped to anime. I love Steins: Gate , but just look at Plastic Memories…

      Jeez, I’m not sure Naotaka Hayashi still had his writing ability between then either (cough Robotics;Notes cough)