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Psycho-Pass: The Movie Blu-ray Anime Review

10 min read

Psycho-Pass SEason 1 CollectionStepping outside of the controlled world of Sibyl.

What They Say:
Psycho-Pass The Movie is set in a futuristic Japan. The Sibyl System is charged with keeping the peace. Using extensive surveillance and biological monitoring to gauge the likelihood that individuals will commit a crime, the police are able to use weapons called Dominators to remove potential criminals from the population before they become a problem. Confident with the success of the System within their own borders, the Japanese government has begun to export the technology to other countries, planning to ultimately spread the System across the globe.

When the state of SEAUn brings the Sibyl System in to test its effectiveness, it becomes a haven of peace and safety—for a time. Eventually, terrorists from SEAUn begin appearing in Japan, somehow slipping through the System’s security and attacking from within. Desperate for answers, Inspector Akane Tsunemori is sent overseas to bring the terrorists to justice. But when her investigation forces her into a standoff with an old ally, will she be able to pull the trigger? Find out in the feature film of critically acclaimed series PSYCHO-PASS.

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release is pretty good overall as we get the original Japanese language track in 5.1 as well as the new English language adaptation, which also gets the 5.1 treatment, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show is one that focuses largely on dialogue and mood for a lot of it and that means some solid forward soundstage material, especially with the sound effects from the digital devices and the weapons. There’s something of a solid somber feeling to it that works well to it and a kind of restrained aspect that helps. With the film bumping up things a bit in terms of action and scale, the 5.1 mix makes out a bit better than the TV series as it works larger events and some bigger explosions and chaos thanks to the change in location and structure of the story. The encoding works well here as the end result is something that is definitely clean and clear throughout and really showcases the strengths of the series.

Originally released in 2015, the transfer for this feature film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Animated by Production I.G., who animated the first season but not the second, there’s definitely a great design to the show that carries through on what we had in both those works while upping it just slightly for theatrical presentation. The TV series kept its time to the darker side of Japan with the city and mostly at night, but this one takes us overseas to the rusting decay of the world and the harsh sun that falls on it. It’s definitely distinctive and a real change from how the TV seasons played out. It’s definitely a richer looking film with the backgrounds as well because of the location changes. The transfer has a pretty good feeling about it as a whole as the numerous dark areas maintain a properly solid feeling but also having that run down feeling within a lot of it. The vibrant areas definitely stand out and some aspects of it are striking but other times it blends in really well with the design. The look of the show is familiar yet distinctive overall and what we get here is a clean and largely problem free transfer as outside of some minor noisy areas, there’s not much to complain about during regular playback.

The packaging for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case that has an o-card with it that replicates the case artwork itself. The front cover hews to what we had before with the muted greens and darker shadows for the background with the symbolism while the foreground here puts Akane and Kogami together with serious looks as that’s all they usually have. It’s a decent enough look that fits the show, but the series is a hard sell with key visuals in general. The front cover is a little obscured by the UltraViolet sticker as well, but I hate UltraViolet so it bothers me even more. The back cover carries the green background with it and we get a good summary of the premise with white text that’s easy to read, a nice selection of shots from the show to check out, and a clean list of the discs extras and technical information with the grid along the bottom. It’s a straightforward design that borrows from the previous regular editions so there’s some welcome consistency here. The case itself replicates the card but it has a good visual on the reverse side of Akane with her weapon in front of the city. The set includes the UltraViolet redemption information as well as a small set of five paper inserts that have the MWPSB logo on the front and different pieces of character artwork on the rest of them.

The menu design for this release is straightforward as we get the navigation strip along the bottom with the baseline selections you’d expect with a feature film while the rest is given over to clips playing with a bit of a stylized look to it. Add in the film name in the middle and it’s effective even if it doesn’t stand out much. The navigation uses the green colors from the theme of the show with white text that’s nicely stylized to give it a near future kind of feeling. The layout is the usual submenus so there’s no surprises there. Submenus load quickly and the extras are accessed easily enough, though only when you’re not in regular playback of the disc. The languages are easy to access though they’re locked so you can’t change anything on the fly during regular playback. It’s not the most engaging of menus overall but it serves the material well enough and is definitely functional.

The extras are a bit weaker this time around, though that’s not a surprise, as we get the trailers for the film and an English language cast and staff commentary to talk about it and their experiences with recording for it.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Having thoroughly enjoyed the first two-cour season of the property and certainly enjoying the second season more than most other fans, I was definitely looking forward to the Psycho-Pass movie. With the series working longer arcs and deeper explorations of events and themes, the film has to condense it all down to two hours while making it an engaging experience as a whole as opposed to weekly installments of twenty minutes or so. You could, for the most part, break this down into something like a five or six episode arc and not really mess with it much, but adhering to the theatrical structure of storytelling helps to keep this engaging for its entire running time, especially since it builds upon what the two seasons did.

The film essentially gives us something that I craved from the TV series but wasn’t getting. The focus on Japan is certainly to be expected since that’s where it wants to be, but with the way the Sybil system had upended society and put them on a unique path in a world of chaos it left me really wanting to see what the rest of the world was like. The smaller focus with the grand themes of self determination and free will were best explored as the show did it previously and placing it in a seeming utopia with real questions as to the cost of it made sense. But we knew that the world was in a bad place as the system was adopted and that Japan stands out by being a real oasis of civilization compared to the rest. But that was all mostly just talked about and sometimes you really want to see it. And the movie delivers on that big time, which reinforces why so many would adopt the Sybil system and all its problems.

The premise works well enough as a group of guerilla fighters have snuck into Japan to try and do some damage to the Sybil system as the basics and testing phase is being exported to a SEAUn country with a floating platform of Shambhla. Amid a wartorn area with numerous warlords and plenty of chaos, the idea is to see how well this can work in making inroads in raising humanity’s happiness elsewhere by digging into one of the many dangerous areas that’s close by – and a potential future threat, of course. The invaders have their own reasons for pushing back against this to be sure but it serves as a solid opening to connect us to where Japan is as we see Akane and her fellow inspectors and enforcers dealing with the threat using all their tools. It’s tight, exciting, and very controlled as is the way they operate. With it being three years since the end of the first season it also serves to show how much Akane has grown into her role as Inspector and the things she’s learned from the second season with Sybil and those behind it. She’s in an interesting position of power where she’s a threat but a necessary one because of the variables she represents.

So it’s little surprise that she’s sent overseas to investigate, particularly as one of those that’s tied to this resistance group appears to be Kogami. With his fate a mystery it’s only natural that it’ll be a motivator for her. What we see of the outside world is striking as it plays to the whole falling apart theme with everything looking like it’s rusting away and turning to nothing, a people that are worn and scared about their future, and those in positions of power looking to ensure it. Akane going solo here has her working with the local military through a commander named Wong and interacting with the prime minister to try and resolve things as they’re all so focused on bringing the Sybil system on board in full in order to lead the failed state into a new future. That we see the way things aren’t working well is nicely done, since it’s not hidden, as it reinforces how different people/cultures will interpret and adopt the Sybil system. There are some really great scenes of dialogue and exposition about all of this and good chunks of the film from visuals to philosophical reminded me a lot of the original Ghost in the Shell film but nowhere near as pretentious.

The film works plenty of smaller moments with the characters as Akane investigates the place and how it operates, bringing a few fun gadgets into it, and we get some great action sequences as she makes her way out into the wilds where she eventually gets to chase after Kogami, who clues her into some of the mysteries of what’s really going on. The middle act is a little muddled with what it wants to do, mostly because of how the pair fall into old patterns that are somewhat believable, and it has to the stage setting for what’s to come before it ramps it all up. I like what it explores with Kogami as his work as an Enforcer in the past and the path he’s chosen after getting out of Japan digs into the way his mind works and how he views the way things can get accomplished. At the same time, the film does some good stuff in digging into Sybil’s larger goals here and casting them as something where you can see both the good and bad of it and feel uncertain about both going forward and not going forward with it once you see the state of the world.

In Summary:
The Psycho-Pass movie essentially tells me that I’m not done with this property and has me hoping for more. After two TV series that focused on Japan I really enjoyed getting out more and seeing how others would view the Sybil system as it operates in Japan and then attempt to use it to their own ends – and how Sybil would deal with that. The smaller focus with Akane and Kogami works since both have different arcs to work off of and getting to see how this part of SEAUn is coping with the state of the world was fascinating, from the politics to the military and then to the social side of it as well as just the visual design. The film ticked all the right boxes for me in delivering an engaging experience that expanded the world of the TV series rather than just repeating it in a new way, advancing the stories and concepts instead of coasting on what’s come before. Definitely a very solid part of the overall franchise.

Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Commentary, Trailers

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

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: June 7th, 2016
MSRP: $34.98
Running Time: 113 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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