Ever since I went over to the dark side, I knew that anime had something more for me than magical fights and Pokemon. I knew it when I became emotionally invested in the heroes of Gundam Wing. However, all my parents saw were robots fighting. I needed to prove to myself that anime was much more than these desultory generalizations.
Guess what? In the next year, I watched Elfen Lied. That in itself was enough to destroy most presumptions about anime: it was visceral, violent, and mature. A few months after, I stumbled upon Koi Kaze.
It’s already been twelve years, and I still haven’t seen any medium with a more realistic and better presentation of incest. I’ve watched the series twice, and the OP remains to be among the best pieces of music I’ve heard.
Thence on, I was attracted to off-kilter, heteroclitic anime. Although I could still enjoy series like Bleach, I would watch a lot more josei and seinen series. I’ve discovered masterpieces such as Tatami Galaxy and Honey and Clover, and great anime such as Kemonozume because of this predilection.
I didn’t expect much from Shimoneta. I was going to watch a raunchy series, and probably place it at the back of my mind after I’ve watched it.
And I was horribly mistaken: Shimoneta is a great anime.
The World of Shimoneta
One of the best things about Shimoneta is how the author constructed its world. Japan has become the world’s most ‘moral’ country because it has prohibited everything that has anything to do with sexuality. It’s like a reverse Brave New World: instead of bombarding the people with pleasure to control them, everything sexually pleasurable is removed in order to control people.
I honestly thought this would be a good solution to the overpopulation plaguing the Philippines. People think too much with their lower bodies than with their brains, and as a result the country is rapidly being overcrowded with unwanted babies and idiots, while I’ll be a wizard in a little over a year. Part of Shimoneta’s brilliance is that it shows that the removal of one’s sexuality is not the answer: Tsukimigusa Oboro and Anna are even more depraved individuals than the protagonists because their lives are devoid of their sexuality.
In a previous write-up, I wrote that Shimoneta was 1984 meets American Pie. Although that roughly approximates the series, there’s more depth within.
The whole series starts when Okuma gets admitted into the most moral high school in the country. He sought to be admitted into the prestigious institution because he admired the kindness of his senior, Nishikonomiya Anna. Because he has knowledge about sexuality (since his father was a ‘terrorist’), he ensconces himself in the Student Council with Ayame Kajou, Goriki, and Anna.
Ayame Kajou is the series’s deuteragonist. She saves Okuma from being imprisoned by ‘terrorizing’ the people with pornographic pictures. Nevertheless, she is in the student council because she and Anna are best friends. Her motives are gradually shown as the series progresses (alongside a lot of raunchy jokes), and they are noble.
Shimoneta is a brilliant series.
It’s a great series because it creates a dystopia that posits more problems than solutions if sexuality is removed from the world. One of its most tragic victims is Anna.
Prior to her accident with Okuma, she was a Yamato Nadeshiko: she’s the Student Council President, at the top of her class, and is very attractive to boot. Because she has no knowledge about her sexuality, however, she transmogrifies into a nymphomaniac after being saved by Okuma from stalkers (and kissing her accidentally).
It would be easy if Okuma was also a sex fiend: after all, he’s admired Anna for so long. Because Okuma is, ironically, also a decent guy with a perverted mind, he gets more and more turned off from her advances.
People say that it was improper of Okuma to invite his stalker to his house. There are, however, some sacrifices to be made for the better good: Okuma was already firmly entrenched within SOX and he had to inspire Otome for her to be able to produce erotic art they could use as weapons. If I recall correctly, he also didn’t know it was Anna (since Anna was avoiding him when they were in school).
Anna’s tragedy is the tragedy of not knowing about herself, or her sexuality. Kajou alludes to that by saying that Anna didn’t know how to differentiate love from lust: Anna was lusting after Okuma (and did so unhealthily), but since she didn’t know one iota about her own sexuality, she considered it all as love. And because Anna had a skewed perspective toward righteousness, she merely interpreted that ANY ACTION pursued for the sake of ‘morality’ was the right thing to do.
Her sexual repression also triggered a psychotic streak within her: she wants Okuma all to herself, but doesn’t even know that she’s raped him more than once, all in the name of her ‘love.’
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, indeed.
I like Kajou, because she reminds me of myself. I know a lot about psychology and sexuality, but I don’t really have much real-life experience. I have noble intentions, and wish to carry them out, but I also have a potty mouth to go with it.
She’s suffered because her dad was implicated in a crime he didn’t commit, all for the sake of pushing forth the anti-sexuality laws that were to govern Japan. As a result, she has a properly modulated schizophrenia: she appears to be prim and proper while at school, but is actually the terrorist leader of SOX.
I think I loved her epiphany in the 11th episode (the final episode was more of an excursion than anything): when all was said and done, Okuma was always there for her, and she was always there for Okuma when he needed her the most (although she couldn’t do much when it came to Anna). For someone repressed differently, to be able to say she loved someone as much as she loved dirty jokes showed that Okuma also meant the world to her.
I love romances that arise from a story not focused on it. It keeps the romance devoid of too much drama, but actually livens up the story. So I’m a solid fan of Okuma and Kajou. They deserve each other. 🙂
Yeah, she’s in love.
I won’t comment at length about the daddy issues, or that ostracism. That’s capably tackled in other anime, and by other bloggers.
It’s about his love – and Anna’s toward him, tangentially.
Love is not based on effort.
You want cold water. I fan the cup a million times, but someone walks by with ice for you. You have these expectations, and I work with blood and sweat (and love nectar) to reach them. Someone else came by with what you’re actually looking for, and so you go with them.
This is precisely what happened among Anna, Okuma, and Kajou. Okuma thought that he aspired to moral perfection in order to step out of his father’s shadow. It’s a sort of father complex: all we really see as viewers is Okuma’s father treating him like a father should, but leads to Okuma being ostracized for his father’s beliefs. What he actually desired was to be accepted for who he was, and Kajou did, warts and all.
And no matter what Anna does to show her ‘love’ for Okuma, he doesn’t reciprocate – because Kajou was whom he needed all along. At this rate, they’ll also end up together. Kajou already confessed.
Watch this for the sexually-loaded, promiscuous jokes. Most people would already be content. I hope, however, that with this post, people will take Shimoneta to be an anime much more than that. It may not be as a good a series as Tatami Galaxy, but it’s a masterpiece to me nonetheless.
Watch it, especially if you’re open-minded.
It has been more than six months since my last anime-related blog post. I have as much consistency as a schizophrenic does with his thinking. It’s been a few years since I have written volubly regarding anime. I’m not making any excuses: it’s not as if it’s surprising that working as a medical doctor takes a lot of time away from writing and enjoying anime. I’ve never really stopped watching anime, although I do it sparingly nowadays. I was still able to watch Zankyou no Terror recently, and while I planned a write-up on that one, it never really materialized because of its disappointing ending. I just think it would have been a better anime if it focused on Nine and Twelve and the girl in their quest for truth rather than introduce a confounder into the series which is counterproductive because the series is short at only 12 episodes.
I wasn’t as passionate with that series as this one that I just finished watching. I have spent the better part of two days devouring everything I could on Prison School. I came for the fun and the tits, but I stayed for the story: I say this with a straight face because the story has great insight on abnormal psychology. I am heavily invested in this series: I recall it was when Tatami Galaxy aired that I was this involved with a series, so it’s been a very long time. My only problem now is that I have to wait for the future chapters of the manga, although the chapter the manga is at during this article’s writing (ch. 208) is a great spot to elaborate my thoughts on the series. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve written three drafts regarding this film, and I think all my drafts have failed. It’s so hard to put this film into words. But since summarizing the movie didn’t really help me, I’ll just write about my perceptions regarding the film and hope it’s sensible and cogent enough.
Akira Kurosawa has been known to be among the greatest film directors in the world. His greatest films are among the most imitated: Seven Samurai has been adapted into different films, and even an anime series. Yojimbo became Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name. Throne of Blood was recognized by the preeminent Harold Bloom to be one of the best Shakespearean adaptations he has seen on film. Only Yasujiro Ozu is perhaps more revered by film directors and critics, and that’s even a coin toss.
I’ve watched Kurosawa’s Dreams about ten years ago, because it was required viewing by our tasteful English professor. I didn’t think much of it, although I thought it was a good film. While I’ve intended to watch his more popular films since then, I guess I didn’t really want to, as I didn’t prepare time for those.
It’s only been recently that I’ve used great movies to bond with my father. I guess I’ve been exposed to real life and medical cases for too long that I’ve forgotten to enjoy films that pique both the mind and the heart. What I had started with Friedkin’s Sorcerer I kept up, until I eventually stumbled into Akira Kurosawa.
I’ve had Throne of Blood on my PC for about six months. I just didn’t really want to watch it. I wanted to watch a more contemporary film made by him, so I waited until I discovered that Kurosawa made a loose adaptation to Shakespeare’s Hamlet set in the 1960s.
Its title was The Bad Sleep Well. The Criterion Collection certainly made it look attractive: its front-cover picture was a white building on a black background with a prominent red X on one of its floors.
The only mistake I made when watching the film was that I watched it during night-time. It’s a film that takes its time with its build-up, so one needs to pay utmost attention with its conversations and character interactions: it’s not for those who enjoy the rampant shallowness and the anti-intellectualism that pervades Philippines today. Toshiro Mifune still stars in this film (Mifune starred in all of Kurosawa’s great films except Ran) but unlike his long-haired and bearded counterparts in Kurosawa’s samurai films he is clean-shaven and quiet as Nishi. This film shows that he is a masterful actor because he is equally able to present characters who are larger-than-life and violent as he is able to show brooding, quiet, and highly intelligent ones.
Mifune ditches the dirt and the beard and replaces the kimono with a suit, yet still acts extremely well.
The film is subtle: in fact, to me it’s been insidious. It’s the kind of film that one nods off to at times because of its deliberate pace but grows on the viewer after the ending credits have appeared. Looking back, it’s probably one of the best films I’ve seen this year. The opening scene is well-filmed: a momentous occasion such as a wedding of the daughter of the firm’s head is sullied by the suggestion of corruption at the highest levels of the firm. The press that covers the wedding is suspicious, but powerless.
The Bad Sleep Well is a 1960’s film, but it could have been alternatively titled ‘Welcome to the Philippines.’ The viewer first questions whether Nishi is a good or bad person. He crosses the line between good and evil too many times for the viewer to figure out until the film’s latter half. One, however, ultimately discovers his motivation and his struggle to be moral. Similar to Heneral Luna, however, the film ends on a somber tone: those who will good and do good are often buried in corruption and bureaucracy. The film has very strong historical bases, too: during the time of Stalinist Russia, it wasn’t those who were morally pure or idealistically noble who survived. Those who pandered to Stalin the best became his right-hand men. The sycophants survived, while the pure and ethical were murdered. The film was also extremely timely during its release: issues of deep-seated corruption pervaded the Japanese government during the 1960s as well.
It is a film I can recommend to very few people. It’s a film that takes patience and focus, both of which are in dearth in this time and age. It is a very rewarding film, however: first, it was done by Kurosawa; second, it’s a timeless commentary on the ills of society and sycophancy; and finally, it’s a damn good film with great actors.
The cake is a lie.
It took me quite some time before I could even write about Death Parade.
Call me lazy, I guess.
Goodnight, sweet princess.
I think that Death Parade is the best series to come out this year. Its episodic nature gradually revealed the color and depth of its major characters, leading to its wonderful climax and denouement. I think many people were impressed with its ending.
Do I agree with Decim’s choice at the end?
I do, and I’m going to use a philosophical basis for my answer. Although I disagree with the excessive austerity of Kant, his deontological (duty-based) perspective towards ethics is, I think, applicable to Decim’s condition.
Decim is an arbiter. It was what he was created for, and it is his role. He selects the people who deserve a second chance from the people who deserve to end up in the void. He is able to do it because people come across limbo (the different bars) as tabula rasa. They are devoid of their memories or of what they had done in their lifetime that their personalities can be assessed with little to no obfuscation.
Chiyuki was an aberration because she came in knowing that she had killed herself. In order to properly assess her true personality, he had to create an elaborate ruse where she had gone back to Earth and had a choice to sacrifice a person in order to come back to life.
Kant speaks of actions having moral worth only if they are done in accordance with duty despite the fact that the doer is absolutely against doing what he needs to do. Decim does exactly that, and Chiyuki doesn’t disappoint. He has performed a moral action.
Although the romantic in me wish that they’d end up together (in a psychological suspense anime, yes, I know), what made Death Parade a great show was that it did not compromise with its viewers or its ideals. The series dealt with its aberrations wonderfully, and had a most pertinent ending: Decim learned to understand a bit more of humanity, and Chiyuki understood, finally, the gravity of her past actions – even if they were justifiable.
I have always believed in the saying that ‘if you watch what everyone else is watching, you’ll think what everyone else is thinking.’ I’ve always been disgusted with intellectual stagnation, so I tried to avoid immersing myself in only what was popular. That philosophy allowed me to watch a film as old as Cavalcade, which was the Academy Award-winner for Best Picture back in 1933. (I don’t recommend watching that film: it’s a slog, and not even Noel Coward’s screenplay could save it. It’s probably among the worst Best Picture winners I’ve seen.) Most of the dated films I’ve seen were most definitely not as bad.
This scene was immaculately and painstakingly filmed. I was blown away with how it was executed – in 1977.
Casablanca still remains to be one of the most well-written and well-acted films I have seen, even though it was initially shown in 1942. Sorcerer also lies in the opposite spectrum from Cavalcade. It’s one of the best films I have seen. It was directed by William Friedkin, who is better known for his Best Picture-winning French Connection, and his seminal horror, The Exorcist. As I wasn’t and still am not into shock-horror films, I abstained from watching Exorcist. (I do watch films such as The Night of the Hunter and The Shining, however.) Because I was fond of thriller films, I watched The French Connection. It was merely a bonus that I saw the talented Gene Hackman play as an anti-hero instead of his later villainous roles. It was a good film then, and is a good film now.
Sorcerer, however, is a better film in my opinion than French Connection. Although Roy Scheider was never a notable a leading man as Gene Hackman was, Sorcerer had a more engaging and well-wrought story. It was a truly gritty, well-directed and well-acted thriller: Wikipedia even revealed that due to its close-quarters filming back in the 1970s, stuntmen were not utilized much: most of the stunts were performed by the leading actors themselves. The director contracted malaria after filming the movie. It was as manly as any film could get.
Despite its merits, however, few people know of the film nowadays. Why is that?
The answer is simple: it came out during the same year that Star Wars came out. The 1970s marked the period where people transitioned from enjoying films featuring earthly suspicion and paranoia toward the more iridescent space operas. I think Sorcerer was among the latest attempts by a talented and well-awarded film-maker to ground a picture in realistic cynicism and bleakness. We all know what happened to Star Wars: there’s even a movie coming out later this year! Sorcerer, on the other hand, was left in the lurch. Only fans of good thrillers or great cinema search for it: I only stumbled it when I had already seen most of the notable 1960 spy films.
The plot of the film is simple. Four down-and-out men belonging to the lower depths in different societies somehow end up in Nicaragua. They live sordid lives there, and wish to get out. There are almost no options left until an oil well explodes, and the oil company searches for four desperate, daring men to carry nitroglycerin to stop the fire. (This is probably where the saying ‘fight fire with fire’ came about.) Things don’t get any easier when these men have to traverse through the forests of Nicaragua with such terrible terrain: exaggerated vibrations can cause nitroglycerin to explode.
Though the film’s first hour may be slow to people used to watching Michael Bay films, the explication and build-up is worth it. By painting the four major characters with the desperation they need to tackle such a suicidal job, the gravity of their job is magnified. The second hour makes up for it with a number of suspenseful, taut sequences depicting their struggle to successfully deliver the goods. The four major characters certainly do not disappoint, and Roy Scheider was at his absolute best here.
I recommend this film to movie-watchers looking for a cerebral thriller with a dash of social commentary, as well as to those who are simply fond of well-made films. I am not exaggerating when I say this ranks among my top 5 films. To me, it really is THAT good.
I didn’t watch a J-drama for the longest time. The last J-series I completed was Proposal Daisakusen back in 2006. I am, after all, more of an anime and K-drama fan than a J-drama fan. I was intrigued, however, by the poster of this series. It was such a teaser. It hadn’t been anything deep as I didn’t look what Subete ga F ni Naru was about: I just knew I was going to give it a chance, and was going to watch its first few episodes.
I admit, the teaser was what hooked me.
Since I started working and had gone back to playing DotA 2, I forgot about this series until about a week ago. When I looked up the upcoming series for Noitamina (one of the best anime blocks ever), I saw F as an upcoming series. I then recalled about the drama, and decided to watch its first episode.
True to my intuitive side, I was hooked. The initial interview of a cute Emi Takei (of Rurouni Kenshin) towards a seemingly intelligent and twisted doctor was a bit out-of-place, but was entertaining enough. When the two leads started investigating the first case, I knew I was going to love this series.
When I was younger, I read most of the stories in a short story collection. One of them featured Jacques Futrelle’s The Problem of Cell 13. The story had impressed me a lot that I would often appreciate media featuring locked-room mysteries. Even before Cell 13, I had already read most of Poe’s Dupin mysteries, including The Murders at the Rue Morgue. I was attracted to the cases and their resolution as well, so it was no surprise when I was impressed at how the first case constructed the locked-room murder.
Two colleagues who were about to get married were found murdered in the middle of an experiment, and a locked room mystery was revealed. Like most good cases, there were quite a few red herrings, and the culprits weren’t whom I had expected. It was a good case, with a good resolution.
The second case, however, was more impressive. It was an even simpler locked room, with only one room and no other way to exit or enter. The resolution, however, was a bit more elegant. I was able to narrow down the culprits to two suspects, and I was right with my hunch. How the locked room was created, however, and how the murder weapon was conceived was a lot more creative than the first case.
I also welcomed the interplay between the two major characters, because the lady, despite being intelligent, has an obvious crush on the even more intelligent professor. Both of them have a history, and while the professor cares for the lady, it remains to be seen whether he will realize his emotions by the end of the series. (When Moe solved the difficult math problem mentally, I knew I would have a hard time letting go. Intelligent heroines do me in.)
Some drawbacks of the series include the cheesy multiple-personality synthesis of facts by Professor Saikawa in his resolution of the case, and the occasionally saccharine desire of Moe to be, at least, tended to by her professor. Other than that, the construction of the cases were very well-thought of. The high incidence of suicide among the cases also offer more color to the series, leading to the difficulty of actually guessing the culprits. To be fair to the series, however, careful, analytical viewing leads to results: at the very least, it will help remove the red herrings of the series. Since I didn’t pursue a major in Physics, the science is sometimes beyond me, although I was quite impressed with how the weapon in the second case was constructed.
Fans of quirky detective cases with colorful main characters will probably like this show. I like this show doubly because there is an undercurrent of romance present. As with my favorite anime series, I love shows that have romance as a focus, yet the romance is not its sole focus. That was the case with The Tatami Galaxy, illustrating a bildungsroman with a romance; that was also the case with Steins;Gate, being a science-fiction story with a romance as well.
I hope you guys could give it a shot.
I was in third year of medical school when I first watched Steins;Gate. I recall being delayed with watching the TV series: I watched it during the December prior to my clerkship period.
I’m sorry, just being one of the great anime films of all time.
To be honest, I had many doubts with the series. I have experience that the popular series are most often not critically good. I wasn’t impressed with the first few episodes, however. It all changed during the sixth episode, however, when the series became more and more intriguing. Like a freight train going at full speed, either, it never stopped. It became better and better.
It was late in the series when I realized that I had been watching one of the best series I had ever seen. It was extremely rare that I’d root for the primary couple in any show: whenever that occurred, it would most likely be a very good series as the two protagonists are well-fleshed out. That was the case with The Tatami Galaxy. It was also the case with Cross Game. Steins;Gate was no different.
Okabe took some time to grow on me, but I fell in love with Kurisu the moment she appeared in the series. I’m a sapiosexual, and she was special among anime heroines in that she was very intelligent. When she finally bared all her feelings toward Okabe during the 22nd episode, I knew I had been watching something brilliant. That kiss was scintillating, and despite being bittersweet, it simply congealed the unspoken feelings between the two. She was also heroic in that she was willing to part with him so long as he could save the two people most important to him: on the other hand, Okabe was willing to say goodbye to the world line that had Kurisu fall in love with him. He instead decided to live in a world where despite the fact that Kurisu doesn’t know him, she and Mayushii both live. This world is known as Steins;Gate.
I’d forgotten about Steins;Gate when I started my fourth year in medical school. I forgot about anime altogether. The final years of becoming a medical doctor is never easy anywhere, and I wasn’t an exception. Although I’d still sporadically watch anime series, I forgot about Steins;Gate until a month ago.
It was then that I discovered that the Steins;Gate franchise had released a movie. I let the movie percolate in my computer for about a month, only watching it a few days ago.
After watching the movie, I had re-awakened my love for the franchise. It was just as brilliant as the series, because the movie finally showed the perspective of the other half of the main duo: it showed Kurisu’s perspective. Despite the fact that the Kurisu in the Steins;Gate world line wasn’t familiar with all of Okabe’s sacrifices for her, feelings cross the disparate lines and manifest as deja vu. In short, the other Kurisu’s feelings reverberate through the Steins;Gate world line, and she still has strong feelings for Okabe.
The movie, similar to the series, gradually reveals the depth and gravity of her emotions toward him. She only comes to realize how she truly feels toward him, even in Steins;Gate’s world line, when no one else remembers him except her. She was the very first one to palpably feel his loss, and she was also the one who actively sought him. As if forming a complete circle, she also felt how he had felt after losing him to an accident during one of her time-skips.
To make him remember everyone, and where he belongs, she had also given him his first kiss. This ties into Okabe giving him her first kiss in the original series. Akin to the circular flow of Finnegans Wake, their feelings and love recirculated toward one another, saving the both of them.
It’s an absolutely brilliant movie from an absolutely coruscating series. I highly recommend this film if one’s a fan of the series already.
Under the law, everyone should be equal. In essence, this is what propelled the five American justices to allow the legality of gay marriage. It makes perfect sense: people should be free to love whom they love, whether they are of the same sex or not.
I believe in Christ, however. While that does not make me a Christian, as I am extremely sinful, the foundation of my belief lies in one book known to many as The Holy Bible. God loves us all: he does not choose among us, and loves us all equally, whether one tends toward the same sex or not. It is, however, also clearly stated in the Bible, no matter what translation you look at, that sodomy is an abomination to God.
Leviticus 20:13 (NIV): ‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.’
These terms are in no way unclear: the act of sodomy is detestable to God. Homosexuality is not a sin, but if you are going to get married legally and still be within the tenets of Christianity, then the marriage should be platonic. If you are to remain a believer in Christ, there must be nothing carnal within a homosexual marriage. If one can’t tolerate this, then better change religions – or be an atheist.
The Philippines, with a very strong church, will make the passage of a law such as this nigh-impossible. It is very hard to put the idea of ‘gay marriage’ in consonance with Catholicism.
I made this post in response to the people who speak of homosexuality not being condemned in the Bible. In a way, they’re right. But there has to be little else. The sensual and erotic side of such a marriage must never exist within the bounds of Christianity. There is, after all, a reason why male-to-male intercourse is known as sodomy: God destroyed Sodom.
For the past few weeks I have been borderline anal with regard to English grammar. Mere peccadilloes seem to incur my wrath. As I reflected on my thoughts, I’ve grown to realize that my anger was uncalled for. To remind myself of my fallibility, I have decided to brush up on my English grammar. This serves a two-fold purpose: first, I can sublimate my irrational anger towards the procurement of knowledge; second, by reading about wise people and their works that reflect their wisdom, I become humbled as I am reminded that I still have much to learn about the synthesis of perfect sentences.
My plan has been mostly successful: instead of being angry at others, I have directed my energies to honing my ability to speak and write in English. I’ve also realized that I had no right to judge other people’s inability to speak or write proper English seeing that I still have much to improve on.
Anyway, the book was great: despite the age of Samuel Johnson’s hortations, the work still brims with wry wit and humor. I find that his descriptions of the letter ‘Y,’ then considered a vowel, to be quite funny: ‘Y is a vowel, which, as Quintilian observes of one of the Roman letters, we might want without inconvenience, but that we have it.’
Johnson has this to say about adjectives: ‘[t]he comparison of adjectives is very uncertain, and being much regulated by commodiousness of utterance, or agreeableness of sound is not easily reduced to rules.’
While a lot of the rules and observations regarding English grammar still apply today, the asides to me were more entertaining and offered a colorful picture of what the English language was at that time. It may not be as successful nowadays as a guide for grammar, but the book is enlightening as a zeitgeist of the English language during that time.
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.