“The law doesn’t protect people. People protect the law. People have always detested evil and sought out a righteous way of living. Their feelings, the accumulation of those peoples feelings are the law. They’re neither the provisions, nor the system. They’re the fragile and irreplaceable feelings that everyone carries in their hearts.”
Life Under Sibyl’s Watchful Eye: a wondrous utopia with daily mental health weather forecasts… Wait, WTF!?
Rewatching Psycho Pass has been a surreal experience. While I have no complaints about the dub, watching the subtitled extended edition with my Urobuchi/TYPE MOON goggles on make left me feeling as if I had watched a completely different show. One one hand, I enjoy the voice acting a bit more in dub. On the other, hand, I feel like it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the visuals without being forced to read the dialogue. The extended edition has the benefit of a few short monologues bookending each episode that completely shift one’s perspective as they head into the show.
Until I took it upon myself to watch this version with a critical eye, I feel like watching the dub casually was tantamount to watching Kara no Kyoukai: Paradox Spiral (a notoriously confusing but enjoyable movie full of easter eggs and obscure references that fly over the head of even the most dedicated KnK super-fans for years) in English. Long-story-short, it would be impossible to put all the pieces of the film together without having to essentially read a novel on screen at the same time; but hot damn, the zombie & monster fights would still look awesome!
The obvious subtext of this scene is that the “utopia” created by the Sibyl System is a double edged sword. Before watching the extended edition, I walked away from the show thinking I’d give anything to live in the world Akane Tsunemori does. The philosophical questions about the Sybil System being a collective of psychopaths seemed irrelevant in the big picture, but was morally ambiguous enough that I could see how other viewers could reasonably take the opposite position. Between the recovery of the woman who was raped and nearly murdered in the premier of season 1, and the subplot giving us an inside look at Yayoi’s experience in season 2, I didn’t see why people put up such a fuss over cloudy hues that might result in a short stay in a mental health facility until the climax of season 2.
If Yayoi’s experience was truly the worst thing that could be visited upon someone living under the Sibyl System, I think it would be a vast improvement over the world we live in today. However, the first episode of the extended edition makes it painfully obvious that detainment itself is the least of the average citizen’s concerns.
The driving force behind this “utopian” society is not Sibyl’s management of the mental health of the population. It’s the stigma that comes with showing any mental “weakness,” keeping people in line. Normal human reactions to mildly stressful situations aren’t just criminalized - they’re pathologized. I’m using the term “pathologized” in a very literal, restrictive sense. Stress is treated as a contagion on par with an airborne viral infection. Those who have elevated crime coefficients are treated as if they are lepers.
Sibyl isn’t checking in on who needs a little help here and then. Even the simple idea of the Sibyl system acting as an “all seeing eye” is off base. In accordance with an old Japanese adage, Sibyl is merely a virtual hand wielding the rest of society as a hammer to “smash down any nails that stick up.”
People aren’t truly afraid of therapy. Hell, they don’t even seem to know that dominators only work when being held by specific law enforcement officers!
What people truly fear is the reaction of the people around them if they find out that their hue is some scandalous color. The man pictured above went on a “fuck it all” rape and murder rampage because he genuinely believed that he would never be able to find employment, preserve friendships, or have a family because of the stigma that would come with having undergone medical treatment. He goads his victim into believing the same would be true for her since being near him had “infected” her with stress.
To add insult to injury, apparently the general population is told that therapy is akin to torture. It can certainly be draconian and considered to be a form of psychological abuse itself if it drags on as long as it did for Yayoi, but nobody seems to be mistreated with malicious intent. The facilities are merely sterile and uncaring…like the rest of “healthy” members of society.
The judgement of the people around you are what truly makes life under the Sibyl System horrific. Everyone knows what the hues of people around them look like. Reports of stress levels and supplements to ward off the “contagion” are literally a part of the morning weather forecast. Such a system is perfectly tailored to stripping “healthy” members of society of all empathy. They stroll out into the world with their guard up, trying their best to avoid “stress lepers.”
Ultimately, the concept of empathy as a character flaw is at the heart of the narrative and characterization of every member of the main cast in season 1. The enforcers, Shogo Makishima, and Akane Tsunemori are the only characters that have a sense of empathy. Makishima and Akane are the only empathetic people in the cast who aren’t punished by the Sibyl System for their empathy. I think the whole idea of Makishima and Kogami being opposites, mirror images, or two parts of a whole is a brilliant red herring.
I’ll expand on my rationale for the above statement in my review of the first two extended edition episodes (four episodes of the standard edition) in the coming days. ^_~