Archive for August, 2013

Psycho-Pass: just when I thought I didn’t like anime anymore

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

In great examples of media that feature an opposition of ideals, the villain (or antagonist) is just as important as the hero. The Dark Knight is one of the more recent examples of this: although Christian Bale’s portrayal of Batman was cerebral and well-acted, it was undoubtedly Heath Ledger’s Joker who stole the show. He was irrational, brutal, and yet extremely effective. I even sincerely believe that as far as villains go, his was the best (and consequently, the worst): most people would agree, as he had won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. An actor portraying a supervillain winning an Oscar was unprecedented, yet most people were in approbation of the choice. The Dark Knight was nominated as one of the best pictures of 2008, and is recognized by many to be one of the best, if not the best superhero film of all time.


Psycho-Pass possesses the same dynamic: in a futuristic world that is half-Neuromancer and half-1984 (as Makishima connotes), crime is prevented before it has even occurred. The series undeniably borrowed elements from The Minority Report (written by Philip K. Dick, and also alluded to by Makishima) as well. The story begins relatively innocently, with an intelligent rookie joining the Public Security Bureau. As the crimes progress in severity and brutality, however, the idea that a mastermind acts as a puppet-master to all the heinous crimes recently committed surfaces. As the story unfolds, he was a familiar figure in Kougami Shinya’s past (the Batman of this series).

Makishima (or the Joker) is a bit of an anarchist, although like Joker he enjoys destruction in and of itself. The whole series is essentially a cat-and-mouse game between these two characters. Like The Minority Report, however, the Sibyl System that holds together the society that everyone currently enjoys actually comes from dubious sources. The question of ‘free will’ looms over the characters, and like Louis Salinger of 2009’s International, Kougami has to go beyond what is defined to be ‘law’ in their place to actually enforce justice.

I love the literary allusions, from Rousseau, Kierkegaard, Foucault, and even Jeremy Bentham. Is it truly all right to sacrifice one man for the good of mankind? Is he not a human being all the same? The series offers no easy answers, and the ending, while by no means surprising, is actually a revisit of the themes that pervaded Nolan’s Dark Knight: sometimes, the only ones who could dispense justice are the ones that go beyond the law.

It’s a brilliant series that has restored my faith in anime once more. It’s been a while since I truly wrote about anime, and while not as special to me as Tatami Galaxy, Psycho-Pass is a great anime to watch, to think about, and to enjoy.

Shark (K-drama): thoughts

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

I think the only point I was a bit turned off by Shark was when Yi Soo finally found out the truth behind his father. His breakdown, or ‘heroic blue screen of death,’ was a bit over-the-top and funny. Other than that the series was, at least for me, quite a well-planned series. I can only compare the show to movies like The International and The Parallax View: similar to both those films, Shark doesn’t really have a happy ending. Realistically speaking, however, I think that’s what happens when one tries to take down a person in the highest echelons of society: one must wade in the muck, and at times get dirty, to drag that person down to justice. Without really breaking any laws (other than his initial spark with Jung Man Chul), he dived deep into the mud and yet never really strayed again toward murder until Chairman Jo was caught. He still couldn’t escape Jo’s power, however.

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Do I think it’s a fitting conclusion for him? No, because Kim Nam-gil is a great actor and I could really empathize with Yi Soo’s search for balance and justice. Realistically speaking, however, he was going to be incarcerated for murder; he would have had to still die for the sake of Yi Hyeon if he was going to save her. I have much respect for the show because they used ‘autoimmune hepatitis’ as a disease entity. We had one small-group discussion regarding that disease, and no one in our class got it right. It’s a bitch of a disease because of its protean manifestations: when I speak of protean, I pertain to non-specific signs and symptoms that may be confused with diseases which are more obvious. These are examples such as fatigue and malaise. When it comes to the point of Yi Hyeon (and we’ve been introduced ever since the earlier episodes that it wasn’t really just starting), it may have been a progressive disease that led to cirrhosis. Complications of cirrhosis include coagulopathy, which means that clotting is impaired. I think Yi Hyeon’s encephalopathy was reflected by her persistent loss of consciousness in the car. I’m no gastroenterologist, but the show was pretty accurate with the disease they chose and its manifestations: in intractable cases of hepatitis, liver transplantation is the only answer.

It was undeniable that he was going to give his life up for the sake of his sibling; he was already willing to pay for what his father had done, but most of the affected people (even Yi Soo) had moved on from the past and essentially just sought justice.

I don’t find the non-love story between Yi Soo and Hae Woo to be tacky, essentially because as a rational man, Yi Soo never really took advantage of Hae Woo as regards to her emotions toward him. He loved her, and that was reciprocated, but he never even dared to have sex with her even though it was obvious that she wanted it despite the fact that she was married. He wanted her near him, but it never really got beyond his kisses and hugs. The status quo in the love triangle was essentially maintained: Joon Young loved Hae Woo even though he knew she still loved Yi Soo all those years. I doubt whether they’d still have a child after all that but only time will tell. She probably wouldn’t betray her love for Yi Soo again, though.

It’s not as complicated and as intelligent as Joseon X-Files, but it’s one of the better dramas I’ve seen. The foreshadowing was well-done, the intricate exchanges and the chess game between Chairman Jo and Yi Soo were properly thought of for the most part. There’s just a little bit missing, but I certainly wasn’t disappointed in it. I loved how Yi Soo tried to pay for the sins of his parents after he realizes he was deeper in the muck than he initially imagined, and made peace with the people his father victimized. I like it better than the brutality of Devil, and it certainly had more closure than that series, although of course I wished for the more hopeful light of Resurrection. I wasn’t disappointed with what I watched, though: in the end Yi Soo became someone I could really cheer on because he did it his way, and did the right thing.