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Psycho-Pass: The Movie Collector’s Edition UK Blu-ray Anime Review

12 min read

psycho-pass-movie-uk-coverThe return of the all-conquering hero…

What They Say:
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 Systems 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?
Contains the film on Blu-Ray and DVD with both the English dub and the original Japanese track with English subtitles.

The Review:
Audio:
PP The Movie returns to the formula of the 5.1 release in English and Japanese, and in a rarity as I watched it in both languages, the Japanese release tends to be the more powerful of the two though no options to turn the subtitles on or off (so you can’t get them on English or turn them off in Japanese without fiddling with your settings) – the English dub retains the cast from the original series (including the returning Kogami from Season 1) so a combination of continuity and quality is the name of the game for this release, especially as this did get a limited release in theatres (which they discuss with the mixing in the commentary), Psycho-Pass The Movie doesn’t disappoint in terms of the audio quality, no issues with slowdown or synching with the subtitles, or out of place with the lip flaps, and the general sound quality is top notch.

Video:
Set in the standard PAL format (anamorphic), done in 16:9 – 1.78:1 on a full screen format, the transfer to the UK screens gives us gorgeous animation in full flow with incredible attention to details with the tech, weapons, vehicles (mecha), martial arts and scenery amongst other things (the details of the shot of the alcohol dropping from the gun being a good example), it is mostly in the darker colours (especially with the war setting) but combining the dusty animation with CGI effects, combining into some great hybrids when you change settings from the tropical island where the mercenaries are based to more traditional army fatigue settings, to the mechas charging out – all these contrasts transition flawlessly and flowing, no issues with animation slowdown or choppiness when pausing, a near perfect release.

Packaging:
There was no packing for this test release however with the special edition you do get a collectors packaging and art book.

Menu:
The menu gives you shots from the movie with some haunting music in the background, almost like a horror movie like affect with the glitch camera in full screen. Below is a grey bar with your selections of Play Movie, Scene Selection, Set Up and Extras. Easily selectable with no real time lapse and same during the popup menu when want to change the settings or return to the main menu (though you can’t select extras).

Extras:

We have a lot of traditional extras – including two Japanese trailers for the movie as well as the US Trailer, and general trailers for several releases (Tokyo Ghoul A, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Assassination Classroom, Seraph Of The End: Vampire Reign, Black Butler: Book Of Murder, Yona Of The Dawn, Selector Spread Wixoss and Yurikuma Arashi).

The big extras is a dub commentary of the entire movie which is even split into two different casts – the majority is involving the dub cast – we have Zac Bolton (ADR director/voice of Hinekawa), Rob McCullom (Kogami), Kate Oxley (Akane) and Jason Liebrecht (Wong) – this part which is pretty much most of the movie bar the last half hour, is basically a lot talking about the return of Kogami and bringing Jason up to speed with the series as he wasn’t involved in the two seasons of Psycho-Pass. They talk a lot about movie vs. series, Akane’s development over the seasons from naïve newcomer to tough leader and the work of the cast prior to this (Zac mentioning he has been working in this since 2001, mentioning early roles like Baki: The Grappler + Desert Punk…that takes me back) – they mention the fact it had a theatre release (which gets more detail in the 2nd half of the commentary), how roles can change with long terms actors as they age and grow up, singing roles, whether the movie will have another sequel or season, how certain cast members get paired up with shows because of their chemistry, there is a lot of talk in general about the past and present so to speak in the dubbing industry.

The second part has Zac talk with mix engineers, Neil O’Malley and Nathaniel Harrison – a lot about how the theatre release sound mixing allowed them to basically play with some new toys compared to the DVD/Blu-Ray releases and with the previous seasons, what they are using with the sound stations compared to a normal setting for example; and how the time differs from using them and the impact they have, all the settings, subtle changes, how the mixing can affect certain voices and how the sounds in Psycho-Pass define the series. It is shorter but is a rare look into the true behind the scenes work inside a project like this.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Psycho Pass I have a real love and hate relationship with. Not hate actually, but the first season was one of the best series I had reviewed in recent years and when heard there was a sequel was ready to enjoy, and the sequel…whilst not terrible (Akane had really come along as a character) suffered from replacing one of the best characters in the show with a terrible replacement and whilst the villains were interesting didn’t hold a candle to Makishima. It seems this movie might have noticed it too as they kind of don’t mention much what happened in Season 2, and the focus is mostly on Akane reunited with Kogami. How they get to that is interesting though and to see if it manages to reconnect the same chemistry that Season 1 did…

Akane by now is the leader of their gang in the MWPSB, with her knowledge of the Sybil system firmly in her mind , she is in a tight spot with both her ‘boss’ and of course her own mentality. A clean psyche helps, and seeing her friends get married helps with the resting, training, etc – however on her current case she and her fellow members (Ginoza you will be happy to know takes a much bigger role whilst Mika, the one everyone hated doesn’t par a couple of annoying comments – though pretty much everybody else is demoted to extra sadly) are dealing with terrorists who have entered Japan, and using more conventional weapons – however the Dominators do their thing and the one captured alive is ‘tortured’ (memory scooped) without Akane’s knowledge – whilst she is understandably pissed when she finds out, the information brings a startling revelation, her old Enforcer college Shinya Kogami is among the terrorists. Because of this, she receives special permission to travel to not China (known as the Southeast Asia Union/SEAun) who are starting to import the Sybil System technology from Japan – you can tell how rare this is when the pilot is so happy he gets to serve a flesh and blood being instead of a robot…

Akane is put under special supervision under the military leader named Wong where you can tell the differences between the two – in a very Battle Royale-esque vision, former criminals who have been cleansed have collars on, so if their hue goes above the standard, they are either anaesthesia or poison is injected and despite being taken care for by an assistant and meeting the leader of SEAUn Hang, Akane continues to quarrel with her thoughts of the Sybil system. However, the next day changes things entirely when she spots Kogami during a raid and she escapes the safety to find him (leading Wong to immediately declare Akane as a terrorist which should showcase something a bit more obvious) and indeed, the two do reunite in a quick fight section showing Kogami hasn’t lost it touch AND Akane has improved dramatically to be on level pegging with him. Kogami certainly has no ill feelings towards her, even saving her from a bomb thus the two flee together to his base, where it turns out the terrorists were part of his gang but deserted, he in fact fled to become a Freedom Fighter to save the national from Sibyl and the military dictatorship…which is proved further when Wong then calls some mercenaries to kill Kogami and Akane…

The heart to heart between Kogami and Akane happens, seeing Kogami finding a purpose in life though Akane worries he might becoming like Makishima as the two reconnect – however that is quickly ended when Wong’s mercenaries attack – Akane manages to escape but Kogami is captured alive as he interests the lead mercenary Rutaganda after managing to hold off 2 of his best operatives before he takes over. Wong of course denies his involvement and is about to deport Akane but surprisingly Hang overrules him – here, Akane uses this to her advantage and thanks to some sneaky tech from Yayoi, she is able to hack the Sybil drones which sets off the chain of events a bit later – however she is knocked out by her assistant (who is thanked by Wong in the form of a gun to the head) which reveals that the system is hacked by Wong to avoid their hues and the rest of the military, allows them to act without repercussion. The two groups reunite ready to kill Akane and in true villains, reveal their evil plan that Hang was actually a fake under their control but just before they die, the drones turns on them as the hacking is successful, and the rest of Divison One arrives just in time, killing Wong, his men and all the mercenaries bar Rutaganda, setting up the climax between Kogami and Rutaganda, Akane to pay Han a visit, and also Ginoza hoping to get that punch he wanted on his old colleague…

Whilst Kogami has visions of Makishima taunting him, he manages to fight through it in the fight with Rutaganda especially when Ginoza helps him whilst Akane finds out that Sybil is in control of the fake Han and that Akane was basically sent as a guinea pig allowing them to uncover Wong’s plans and they seize the country – Akane manages to turn the tables on them allowing the country to at least have a choice in the matter, with the end seemingly dealt with as Division One leave and Kogami returning to his purpose…

The movie is definitely a step in the right direction, even if the ending makes you want more and wonder what the future of a)_ the Sybil system will be and b) what will happen with Kogami. A post credits scene suggests there could be more on the way but as of this writing there isn’t anything further in the Psycho-Passverse. Whilst Season 2 does have good points, the movie seems to deliberately remove most of what happened in S2 as the new characters barely do anything (Mika has 2 lines though they are both snarky insults to Akane so you still hate her ^^) and the focus is on Akane and Kogami reuniting.

Akane is a fantastic example of how good character development can be over time. Season 1 she was the new girl, idealistic and a tad annoying, but as she learned the horrors of the Sybil system and her run ins with Makishima, she grew up – still a bit timid but wise to the world. The best thing about Season 2 was her knowledge was almost like an in-between between the police and the Sybil System and how despite Mika second-guessing her every time, she was still mature and focused. The movie could have easily made her like a love-struck puppy meeting Kogami again, but she is more professional, works with him and listens to his side before deciding justice, and despite the fact she was tricked into going there because of her past with Kogami, she still manages to get the last word in on the fake Hang. She still isn’t perfect (being drugged by the assistant shows she didn’t consider that anyone with Wongs’ fingerprints was out to get her) but the development is still very good.

The return of Kogami is the big selling point of the movie, but ironically some of his stuff is the weakest part. Not because of the character, but because we don’t know that much of what happened between Season 1 and the movie. His story is basically that he didn’t have a purpose when he left being an Enforcer and joining the freedom group is a purpose, but outside of that there isn’t much. It is great to see him again and the little smiles he gives here and there with both Akane and Ginoza suggests he did miss them and enjoys their company (even when getting punched in the face) – plus you get to see him in total badass mode against the mercenaries, but you just wish there was more, especially as in the ending he is separated from them again barring any future seasons/sequels.

The villains were hit and miss as well – Wong is a capable and corrupt leader where you realise early on due to his deeds why is Sibyl not targeting him as a lot of his deals are quite unscrupulous. It does lead to Akane figuring him out and Division One making the save, but he does feel like a necessary end – his goals however aren’t easily explored outside of having control over the country and the mercenaries are not much better, because only the leader really talks and isn’t that interesting (he even makes a quip that Kogami is far more interesting hence why he would prefer he joined them rather than them killing him). Hang himself is the interesting reveal and the confrontation with Akane at the end defines the Sybil relationship – you just wish there was more to it in the end, but a movie can only tell you so much hence why it isn’t the worst thing in the world.

The story however of getting Akane and Kogami reunited was well told and smartly manipulated so it definitely felt like something the Sybil System would do to their number one pawn. The gorgeous animation combined with all the intricate details of the weapons, the martial arts, there is a lot of work into this. Nice toughs like Ginoza who got demoted in Season 2 getting to play a big part in the end, the fact the Sybil System seem to no longer be as petty compared to S2 and much more like a true villain with its manipulation is definitely a good thing. It is a shame most of the cast barely got any screen time though (hence would have liked this to be longer, also the villains are still not exactly Makishima level and whilst you think the social and political aspects would get more attention, it is the action scenes that shine through. You get the feeling if this had been a TV series instead of a movie it would have been amazing. As it is, it is still a very good movie and a must for PP fans, especially if you weren’t a fan of Season 2.

In Summary:
Whilst Psycho-Pass The Movie doesn’t get everything as good as it could (mostly just from needing more time), the return of Kogami reuniting with Akane is enough of a selling point as anything else. The smart story, great animation and the return of the magnificent bastard that Sybil was originally been makes it a great watch. I would say you would need to see the original series first definitely (you could almost skip S2) and the fact most of the Enforcers barely get any screen time (as does the mercenaries) will make it a case of ‘what it could have been’ but what we do get is still great.

Features:
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Commentary: US Staff/Cast, Japanese Trailers #1 and #2, US Trailer, Trailers

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

Released By: Anime Limited
Release Date: October 31st, 2016
MSRP: £19.99
Running Time: 113 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

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

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