This arc is only two episodes long but deals with a huge part of the Psycho-Pass world, the internet. This two episode stretch is really our only good look at how the internet operates under SIBYL and it’s a very interesting case study.
We get our first real sub-villain, Mido, a man who kills internet celebrities and assumes their identities online. It brings up questions that not only exist in the Psycho-Pass world but scarily mirror our own. When the show aired in late 2012, social media was really starting to be huge and the duality of one versus their online persona is more prevalent now than it was then. With things like snapchat and instagram we are now able to construct this entirely different view of ourselves for those who don’t know us very well.
The interesting way Psycho-Pass comments on this is through Mido’s character and how he sees these internet personalities, as separate from their creators. In a world where the virtual world is so advanced, how different is it from the real one? You’ll notice how in two episodes Psycho-Pass manages to do everything Sword Art Online wanted to do and did it about a million times better.
We also get our first glimpse of Makishima (and Choe), which starts off his masterful introductory arc which we will be commenting on more in the next two posts.
Episode 4 – Nobody Knows Your Face
We open with Akane, as her internet avatar, asking the internet personality Talisman for advice on her situation with Kogami, continuing that thread from the last arc.
We then have Akane asking Masaoka about Kogami. One of my favorite things about these scenes with the enforcers is just how much their rooms convey who they are as people. Masaoka is painting whilst talking to Akane, his room has absolutely no holo on it, it’s barren and has a very real and perhaps nostalgic quality to it. I’ll comment on the enforcers rooms as they appear.
We get some more info on Kogami through Masoaka who says that to understand Kogami one must think like him and that means becoming a latent criminal. “Gaze into the void too long and it will gaze back into you”. We again get this picture of Kogami being tainted by the void that we will later learn is Makishima.
Akane is then torn away to go check on an apartment in which the owner has been missing for quite some time. When they learned he was unemployed Akane says that’s very rare nowadays. It is of course because he makes “affiliate income” through his online avatar. It’s both a subtle way of hinting at this being connected to the opening scene of the episode and also brings up another SIBYL system allowance or flaw depending how one looks at it.
In theory one could spend their entire life in an apartment in the Psycho-Pass world if they were making money online. This would allow them to avoid street scanners and as such they could live with a cloudy Psycho-Pass without ever being caught. Why is this important? Well as we will see later the internet is somewhat of a safe haven for those who might not approve of SIBYL. Like the internet nowadays it has communities in which people talk about things they never could in real life. Spookie Boogie for example presents herself as an anarchist to the public, something very anti SIBYL.
And we will find out much later, again by inferring from something else, that SIBYL very much allows this. When we get to Joji Saiga much later, we will find that he accesses the dark web to get certain info, meaning that it’s info SIBYL does not want on the internet. This means something like Spookie Boogie’s anarchist community is approved (quietly) by SIBYL. I think this is because of a couple reasons, firstly it gives people a place to vent that isn’t in the real world, this can be important for maintaining order as if certain people felt too restricted they would not stand for it, SIBYL can’t lock up everyone, so this pseudo freedom citizens are afforded sates a large part of the populace.
Second, as we’ve seen before separating a part of oneself into an online persona one could safely vent into a space where SIBYL is (sort of) not watching. By getting these dangerous thoughts out onto the net means that they don’t act on it in the real world which lowers their crime coefficients. another example of SIBYL bending it’s rules so that it can actually work.
We find out that Spookie Boogie, an internet personality, is an old classmate of Akane’s so she decides to kelp her out by setting up a party which Talisman’s impersonator is forced to attend. This is a surprise to Akane as Boogie is noted anarchist, but she says that she has a public and personal side again that duality popping up.
When we arrive at this meet up, where everyone is dressed up in holo-cosplay of their online avatars, Kogami notes how insane he thinks it is, going into a room not knowing who those around you are that “This is the real world, you can bleed” to which Akane notes that thinking this way is what clouds his Psycho-Pass. We see here an early example of Akane accepting society for what it is and how she remains healthy in a mental capacity because of this unwavering acceptance, Kogami in fact says she’s made a valid point.
Akane enters the party and Talisman alerts Choe Gu-Sung, Makishimas right hand man, who turns every persons cosplay into Talisman simultaneously. This is just a cool moment, no explanation required. It’s our first time seeing Choe and already we can see he’s leagues above your average villain, he’s got the MWPSB in shock at his capabilities. The guy just oozes evil right down to his design, but I’ll talk more about him later. His reveal before Makishima (sort of) keeps building the tension as we simply don’t know what Makishima can do.
Mido then kills Akane’s classmate, Spookie Boogie’s user, and steals her avatar. We get our first glimpse of Makishima as Mido cleans up the evidence.
Episode 5 – Nobody Knows Your Mask
The titles of these episodes alone will tell you they’re about the dual nature of the self. When you blur the line between your face and your mask, who is the real you? And are your face and mask both you or different yous? Makishima will provide us with his conclusions on this later.
We start this one with Akane talking to Mido disguised as Spookie Boogie. He tells Akane he was a fool to ever work with the MWPSB and kicks Akane out of the chat room. Akane and Shion (the analyst) seem to buy this fake Boogie but Kogami instantly knows something is up. We see how great his detective skills are when he’s on the ball.
Kogami replays Akane’s chat with Boogie on a hunch that’s she has been taken over by Mido, he confirms this hunch by noting that her wording changes between the two conversations. Mido says police whereas Akane’s friend had said MWPSB, something he confirms she always did when looking back at her logged uses of the word Police vs MWPSB. This not only show Kogami’s detective skills but brings up the idea of the “mask”. When Mido can portray these characters so convincingly that even people who know each other can’t recognise the difference, is the mask you or a product of multiple peoples.
Kogami notes how figureheads cannot become so on their own, that an avid fanbase is needed to push their own distorted views onto these people to create what they eventually become. Psycho-Pass gives it’s take on the human condition and the phenomenon of the celebrity all at once. One thing to note is how these avatars become more popular after their users die, mirroring the success acts like Michael Jackson and Queen had after Jackson’s death and Queen front man Freddie Mercury’s passing. The two acts sold fair better post death, the image they created for themselves was far bigger than they ever were. A real life basis for these avatars popularity although in a much more sadistic manner.
By going through Akane’s old classmates and filtering them by affiliate income they find that Boogie is in fact dead. Akane seems to blame herself for her classmates death and Kogami comforts her. But the way he does so is very important I think, he explains to her very matter of factly why she has little cause for blaming herself, asking if she intended to use Boogie as bait and the such. No words of actual comfort just solid reasoning as to why she’s not at fault, we see his more Psychopathic side, the one he’s gained from Makishima. Then he dilutes the blame by saying that everyone in Division one is partly responsible in a way, something someone like Makishima would never do. It shows us Kogami’s cold side whilst also showing how he’s not completely lost to it. In the opening in fact there is a few seconds of Kogami fighting himself, which I think mirrors this inner duality he posses whilst also showing how he and Makishima are alike as well. (Maybe I’ll do a breakdown of the OP)
We get a some scenes of Division 1 chasing Mido after tracking him down, complete with some great visuals. Mido escapes but is gravely wounded, taking refuge in his house with holo versions of his stolen avatars to comfort him. He sees these avatars as seperate from their original owners, again the face/mask theme, and talks to them as such. Then Makishima takes control of these holos and speaks through them to Mido, we get a real look at just how sadistic he is telling Mido, a man whom apparently (according to Choe) was his favorite, how worthless he is as he faces death. He tells Mido how a man capable of imitating others so seamlessly has no core personality of his own, and he wanted to see what Mido was like because of this. Mido screams at him to stop speaking as “them” before the MWPSB burst in and kill him.
This scene sets up Makishima as one who gets off on the suffering of others, a sadist. He brings people close to him with his charism, makes them feel worth something and then tears them down for fun. I’ve written about it before but Shogo is a sadist before all else, again more on that later just keep it in mind.
This arc does four things:
- Starts the long and tension filled introduction of Makishima.
- Deals with the internet and celebrities in Psycho-Pass’ world
- Comments on our current world by proxy
- Gives some great scenes that are just cool, without even having to dig into them.
I particularly like the scene where Choe hacks the interior holo allowing Mido to escape, the visuals are fantastic. Also dialogue in the episode implies Akane is 19, that’s like my age. I feel old.
I could’ve lumped this in with the set-up arc but I thought that with it’s take on the internet it had enough by itself. The next arc though is where things really start to get great, Rikako Oryo is one of my favorite villains and the next arc is hers, it’ll offer us more viewpoints, more questions, more violence and most importantly more Makishima.
Thanks for reading,