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Psycho-Pass Season 2 Collector’s Edition UK Blu-ray Anime Review

13 min read

Psycho-Pass 2 UK PackagingGoes one step forward…and two steps back….

What They Say:
Its been a little over a year since Inspector Akane Tsunemori chose to put her faith in the Sibyl System and keep its true nature a secret. Assigned to a new division with a few familiar faces, Akane and her team of Inspectors and Enforcers are charged with upholding the law in a society where just thinking about a crime is enough to get you locked away forever or executed on the spot.

Just as Akane settles into her new routine, a terrorist bombing in the centre of the city shakes the System to its core and launches an investigation that uncovers a network of latent criminals who claim their leader has the power to lower their crime coefficients. After Enforcers begin turning up dead with cryptic messages scrawled near their bodies, Akane starts closing in on the answers she s looking for completely unaware that an even deadlier threat is lurking closer than she could ever imagine.
Contains all 11 episodes with both the English dub and the original Japanese track with English subtitles.

The Review:
Audio:
We have a trademark 5.1 English release and a 2.0 Japanese release – a standard set up with no real issues throughout the track in terms of synching with the video, and the general settings didn’t need to be changed. No issues on any of the two discs with the quality (no slow down, no poor syncing with the video in either language), a good quality with every aspect of both language with the background effects (which is a major factor with a show like this considering the explosions, fights and gunplay involved) make this a quality release.

Video:
Set in the standard PAL format (anamorphic), with the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio on a full screen format, we have HD quality with the futuristic settings transitioning perfectly onto the screen where so much action happens – the animation combines animation with CGI making it very flowing and crisp, and it is hard to tell whether it is used because it flows so well. Because there is so much action intermixed with the police settings, whether bodies exploding or technological explanations, it all works and translates to the small screen perfectly, without any slowdown, pause issues or anything noticeable which would be a concern. A quality release.

Packaging:
There was no packing for this test release, however the special release does come in collector’s packaging.

Menu:
Both discs come with clips of the episode in the background with the clips on the right hand side and a grey column on the left hand side with your selections – Play All, Episodes, Set Up and Extras. As per most Blu-Ray releases, you can select in show a Pop-Up Menu without returning to the main menu if you wish to change episodes/languages, etc though you do have to return to the main menu for the extras selection. Very standard and sets up well for the show itself.

Extras:
We have a lot of normal extras in Psycho-Pass 2, we have the clean opening and ending, a US Trailer for the show, and some trailers advertising shows which at least have had some release in the UK – the recently reviewed Terror In Resonance and Noein, along with Tokyo Esp, Go-Rei-Zero, Black Lagoon, Danganronpa and Kingdom. If you order the special edition, you get a 56 page art book as well.

The main extras are three commentaries from the dub cast – first one on episode 4 with Zac Bol-ton (Director and voice of Hinakawa), Monica Rial (Shizue) and Cherami Leigh (Mika)- this is the first review I’ve done where they mention the broadcast dub format, where they get the release close to when it is aired in Japan, and dub it and showcase it in the US on the website/channels. They mention how Season 1 just flowed into Season 2 and didn’t know what was going to happen, and the theme of colour throughout and how violent it gets is a main topic as you’d guess. Of course, with a commentary that has Monica in it you’re not going to get 100% serious discussion, so reactions to the blood combined with joking about the girls height in retrospect to their characters does give it a comic edge, but it is thoughtful as they discuss the extreme nature of society and how the violence is super-intentional, where anime there is no limits to what you can do – it just reinforces the fact what this medium is capable of.

The second commentary is on episode 8, along with Zac we have Clifford Chapin (Kamui) and a late arrival with Chris Sabat (Togane – who hurt himself trying to get to the commentary by trapping his hand in the door – was of course immediately mocked – voice actors – tch…) – Clifford mentions how this was his favourite role but because he wasn’t involved in Season 1 during his first line speaking was schooled in what Season 1 was about and how his character actually was in Season 1 (which is revealed in S2) as the discussion becomes if Kamui is the bad guy – the morale between Sybil vs. Kamui is similar to S1 with Sybil vs. Makishima where morals you can’t make a choice against free will and danger. Other things mentioned are the roles of other characters, how voice actors can miss each other in real life due to how voice acting works and also wondering when the next DBZ commentary is going to be…^^

The final commentary is on episode 10, where joining Zac we have Kate Oxley (Akane), Linda Leonard (Kasei) and Clifford returning – this commentary is a bit different because it is a video one so we actually see the voice actors talking whilst watching the episode (shown on the bottom left-hand screen for the viewer) – this is a bit different and have only seen this a few times though isn’t new (first time saw it was in an Angelic Layer commentary over 10 years ago) but it is nice to see the actual reactions to the scenes whether OK or uncomfortable – it discusses mostly things discussed in previous commentaries but with the bonus of their reactions.

Not advertised which is after the commentary is an outtake reel, again with a difference, as instead of the usual dub fluffs, it is instead reactions from the actors/actresses to the exploding bodies, ranging from ‘that’s awesome’ (Sabat) to Bleuughhh(mostly everyone else ^^) – they also mention they have licenced the movie and I understand Anime Limited has the licence so look forward to that in the future.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The original Psycho-Pass was one of my favourite series of the year – gritty, intelligence, morally questioning combined with some great characters on both sides of the coin (and some you wonder which side of the coin they are on) and the final episode set us up with a sequel though with-out some familiar faces – the big one being Kogami – it was going to be interesting how this would carry on with Akane knowing about Sybil and how she changes it, the new cast and the fact the show is half the length of the original. One of the new main characters actually was in the original series as part of one of the cases, and in the last episode was introduced as the new rookie, a la Akane. Fast forward a year and a half and let’s see what has happened…

So a year and a half after the initial series, we get a similar introduction that happened in said series, albeit with some new enforcers – a few of the old guard remain, Ginoza has been demoted to Enforcer, Yayoi and Shion still remain, and the complications of Sybil remain with Kasei, but the big one is Akane – who is definitely different. From her knowledge of what the Sybil system is, her fight against it is simple. Make sure her Psycho-Pass is never cloudy. Because of this, her personality is a lot more cynical and controlled, yet she still judges people as people, specifically her new Enforcers, the new main new ones being Hinakawa, a rather nervous young man who has a drug addiction but is extremely skilled behind the computers, and our new Kogami – a man named Togane, who is Akane’s right hand enforcer, just a much a snarker as Kogami was, and like him, seems to have something more interesting behind his demeanour…

This is in contrast with the new main protagonist Mika – who was one of the girls in the Rikako case of Season 1, and was introduced as a new inspector at the end of it. Now, she is a fully qualified inspector…who definitely doesn’t see things the same way as Akane – whether through jealousy or different theories, they aren’t the best of buddies and Mika has her own ways of doing things and believes in the Sybil system, treating enforcers not as people. This is immediately the main issue anyone is going to have with this season in comparison to Season 1. Will talk more about it later but Mika is going to be a very divisive character to say the least…

The big story here is basically around our new villain. When a fellow inspector of another division Mizue are following a lead, they find a man who doesn’t register on her dominator – he knocks her out, kills a fellow officer leaving the cryptic message ‘WC’ in blood. Turns out this man seems to have the ability to keep the crime coefficient down to avoid being turn into bloody pulps by Dominators. When the criminal that Akane stops in the first episode escapes and eventually killed, the name ‘Kamui’ is mentioned. Akane works out WC stands for ‘what colour?’ As Kamui’s MO becomes established – seeing the colours of people around even when they haven’t done anything wrong, Sybil judges them. Kamui however seems to be able to lower it so they have nothing to worry, yet his methods including removing Mizue’s eye so he can use it to get into dominators…yet she actually agrees with his methods thanks to his subtle brainwashing – of course this is cross-referenced with an episode where someone is able to violently maim people without getting his Psycho-Pass cloudy…and when the people attacked escape, they are killed by dominators from police because their Pass is definitely cloudy….double edged sword and where the conflicts of Mika and Akane stand.

The interesting dynamic however is Togane and Akane. Togane at various instances is shown to point his dominator at Akane, checking her Psycho-Pass. It is always stable but Mika definitely wonders why – it leads to the best part of the story when she is researching him, and he definitely seem to be very intrigued by her, almost stalkerish level. It is actually a clever tale when we discover who Togane is, and what link he has with the Sybil system, in particular it’s leader Kasei, and how pivotal it is for him to keep an eye on Akane. Won’t spoil it but it is quite a reveal and finale involves them…

The story is Kamui’s way of bringing almost an army against Sybil using his ability to nullify someone cloudiness (hence his fondness of saying ‘what colour’ and his MO at crime scenes) or managing to get involved with systems to cause deaths and blaming the police (one being taking control of a computer game and what the players are controlling are in fact drones – it is some great work from Akane which stops this and is the closest they get to Kamui) – it leads to again some choice who is right ideology and on morals, using an old face is Saiga who becomes one of my favourite characters in this season, pretty much being the straight man along with Akane but to a much more less used yet more humorous level. The details behind Kamui and why he is unrecognized by Sybil is clever (especially when you realise he was in the 1st season) but he does suffer from not having enough time to get his story together compared to Makishima who had a much more interesting characterization.

That said, the way to try and get Akane to get her Psycho-Pass up is rather bloody and upsetting and it is kudos to the girl to not snap – combined with Kamui trying to overload the Sibyl system and Akane hunting him, it is a race of mind and time as Akane wonders if she needs to kill Kamui or actually follow him in his path against Sibyl. The ending is left both open (setting up the movie) but also closed in relates to Kamui…

…this is why this season definitely feels a bit weak in comparison to the first. Now don’t get me wrong, this is still a good show, with a couple of really good things – but let’s get the first major problem out of the way. Mika. She is a really unlikeable co-protagonist due to the fact whilst she has her own views, she always gets into trouble and never seems to accept that it is her fault. Occasionally she has her good moments (her moments with Yayoi are sweet and a reference to Season 1, and her investigating of Togane is her best in terms of using her brains) but for a lot of the series, she really can be quite aggravating. Plus, what is worse is that by the end of the series, she actually doesn’t even learn. She actually accepts what happens in the end, despite being the forefront of a lot of the nastiness when she learns what Sybil is about. This is hugely grating especially in moments where she blames others for her own mistakes making her incredibly unlikeable. I know Akane had her detractors in the first season but personally I thought she was a good character and at least learned through her journey. Granted, she had an advantage with season 1 being twice as long, but that also showcases that PP2 should have been longer, which leads to problem 2.

The villain, Kamui, whilst is a decent villain – as mentioned before has no obvious history during the short space of time outside of some clever narrative of what his motives are. Granted, it is simply showcasing that Sybil should be got rid of and he actually helps Akane out by the end, but in comparison to season 1’s Makishima, his establishment is quite limited. He does have some info revealed about his past, but it is more of a past that is a tad ridiculous whilst Makishima was a more relatable type of villain. Part of this problem is simply that the show doesn’t have enough time to establish the characters – fan favourite Kogami is barely in it outside of two short flashbacks, Ginoza have been demoted and barely in it, Yayoi and Shion also are still very underused, and even the fun new character in Hinakawa has too few moments to really enjoy his shy but smart side. The one main new character Togane, is a decent replacement for Kogami especially when you learn who he really is – but again, the time is too short to really establish his story and feels quite rushed.

The one really good part that PP2 did though was Akane. As mentioned, she was a character that fans were mixed about – her character seemed out of place and whilst she improved, her initial naivety just made her seem clueless. However in Season 2, she has all the clues and is a much more hardened investigator but still with her morals. Whilst her way is pretty much proven right time after time over Mika, she isn’t overbearing or egotistical – she still has the high ground, and knowing what she knows, she is the greatest weapon against Sybil. It comes to a head when a real nasty incident involving her family happens which does threaten to cloud her Psycho-Pass, but she is still able to avoid disaster. She has to contrast with what she knows against Sybil with how Kamui’s ideals would benefit…but has he taken it too far? These questions drive the show and save it a lot, as the heart of Psycho-Pass is still there, with the intelligent dialogue, the character interactions, the excellent animation and style, and also the odd fun moment. The betrayals that Mika discovers is well told as well as the subsequent aftermath, hence why this is still a good show.

It just wasn’t the great show I thought it would be. The issues with some characters really are noticeable with the shorter length and it is a show that you need to see the first season beforehand (and appreciate). With the movie coming out, it will be interesting how this follows through with it, but for now, it is a good sequel to the original, but not a great one.

In Summary:
Psycho-Pass 2 carries on the story of Akane and her development is centre stage – strong, smart, and much more confident, her weaknesses from season 1 are removed and she holds the story well, whilst holding her morals at the same time. This is good because unfortunately the new cast mostly hold her back – one in particular – and whilst some fun moments are there, there wasn’t enough time to develop them all within the time frame. Some tense moments and a good finale definitely make it decent enough for fans, but I can tell people would have issues with this as a worthy successor. Still good though.

Features:
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Dub Commentaries on episodes 4, 8 and 10, Clean Opening And Ending, US Trailer, Funimation Trailers

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: Anime Limited
Release Date: 16/05/2016
MSRP: £39.99 (mega special edition price, DVD is £14.99)
Running Time: 275 minutes
Video Encoding: PAL
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 – 1.78:1

Review Equipment:
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.

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