It’s episodes like these which really toss Psycho-Pass into a grey zone between “good” and “bad”. While a lot of the overarching plot and much of the dialogue is horribly mundane and ridiculously pretentious, the action choreography is excellent and the animation really shows itself as one of the most fluid and entertaining scenes this season. Take Exhibit A – a quote war with Pascal and Ortega, proceeded by a fluid hand-to-hand fight scene calling to the likes of Spike’s badass-ery in Cowboy Bebop. On the one hand, you have some terrible face-palming events which leave everything to be desired, and on the other hand, you have some excellent material which is executed as truly top of the line in the anime medium.
Remark: Given my predilection for not remembering unremarkable characters, I shall henceforth be giving most of them more appropriate pseudonyms.
At the start of the episode, some mundane plan-setting is placed into action on both sides, with Makishima going up top as a decoy and hacker weirdo going down below as proceeding with the central plans; on the other side, you have apathetic emo boy and shoujo self-insert face Makishima while boy wonder goes down to fight the other peeps. This seems all fine and dandy, and while the dialogue and plan-setting isn’t much worth babbling about, I should at least mention my main criticism – the fact that apathetic emo-boy is aware Makishima is the decoy, and yet allows boy wonder to go alone for the main plan. This doesn’t seem very realistic to me, and even if they meant to take both parties out at once, it strikes me as nothing but habadasher tomfoolery. Now you may be wondering, what da fuck am I talking about? Well, what I mean is that it makes little sense that apathetic emo-boy should always omit so much information until it fancies himself to provide them. Why doesn’t boy wonder get to know? Why doesn’t boy wonder know that his connection with hacker girl is out? How is everyone in this series so remarkably intellectual, excellent fighters, and yet veritably retarded when it comes down to the bare necessities? It’s small details like these which really trifle around with my enjoyment (and the objective quality) of the series.
On the plus, I’m a huge fan overall with how the plot suddenly takes a much straight-forward direction and more or less goes right to the punchline. Instead of delaying boundless time on whether Makishima Shougo would be captured or whether the “bad guys” would succeed, the whole assault operation starts and ends in this one “humble” episode. Shougo gets captured, hacker weirdo is killed, and sudden plot twists arise from the end. It’s these few moment that make the show quite interesting as the reveals were all done quite well.
Dialogue-wise, this episode continues to bicker about generic moral ambiguities that Urobuchi is known for, especially with how boring and typically done it is. Case in point, boy wonder and hacker weirdo’s conversation about the points of the Sibyl system, and whether boy wonder should join sides. The fact that boy wonder all too quickly answers the question at hand, and the fact that neither is well-developed enough for me to even care, makes the conversation entirely superficial and, well, boring. There is no drama here aside from the contrived events, e.g., all the sporadic action scenes, in order to keep us on our toes.
Second moral ambiguity and rushed scene I want to criticize? Whether shoujo self-insert should kill Shougo or not. Jesus christ, I really was hoping for her to kill him, not only because it would have made the scene all that memorable, but because it would have take the show in a direction less obvious and far more enjoyable. And while this is merely a personal preference for the direction, I could certainly see ways in which the canon choice could be executed well. But here, it’s just not. While I like the fast pace of this episode, some scenes sell themselves far too short, and like the above example, shoujo self-insert’s moral dilemma is also too clearly rushed. To call this worthy character development would be to call Kotoura-san an excellent series.