Psycho-Pass Episode 17: Iron Heart
“When it comes to our name we are famous in a manner of speaking. People call us…the Sibyl System.”
The MWPSB are left to clean up the aftermath of the riots, with Chief Kasei informing Gino that the Ministry of Welfare will take over Makishima’s case, despite Gino’s unit being the team to successfully apprehend him. When Makishima wakes, Kasei is in his room, who divulges one of her identities as the missing Touma Kouzaburo, revealed to have been integrated into a group of hundreds of other human brains that make up the collective identity that is the Sibyl System.
Prior to watching this episode, I was helpfully reminded by a friend that today is Valentine’s Day – and on such an evening that supposedly should celebrate love and romance, I find it ironic that I’ve just spent the past 23 minutes watching what will probably be the most unromantic thing I’ll encounter all day. On the plus side, we were treated to large-scale info dumps that I’m going to have a lot to say about – maybe events weren’t as action-packed as last week, but the revelations definitely lived up to my expectations.
“Can we…say that we won?”
I wouldn’t necessarily describe the events of last episode as a victory for the MWPSB – the blow was well cushioned, and things could have gone a lot worse if Akane hadn’t shown up when she did. Makishima was arrested, and all the helmet criminals were rounded up, but ultimately the damage to society was irreversible right from when the actions of the first helmet user started picking up publicity all around the internet, as the entire population began to question their way of life and the reliability of the Sibyl System. In Shinya’s words, detectives are always the losers while doing their jobs, purely because they are called out only when victims have appeared – and from the position of someone who’s supposed to protect society, that’s a failure. I’m assuming the aftermath of the riots can’t exactly be fun to clean up either, with a large number of people needing mental care, and a lack of housing as well as an economic downturn that the country now has to deal with. Kagari is missing – and the MWPSB are pretty divided on his whereabouts and motives, with Gino naturally being the pessimist. They don’t know he’s dead yet, but it probably won’t be long until they find out. The second Enforcer that disappeared during the chaos interests me too – I don’t know how significant she’ll be given that the role of the antagonists are clear-cut now, but maybe she’ll turn up later on.
Relations within the MWPSB aren’t too solid now either – Chief Kasei has prevented the MWPSB from exerting authority over the case, and are sending in a special team from the Ministry of Welfare in their place instead. The most likely reason for that is that they’re coming dangerously close to knowing too much about Sibyl, and it’s even possible that had the police been comprised of much larger numbers, this particular unit would have been quietly broken apart or disposed of just in case – like how Kagari was silenced. Kasei holding Gino responsible for Kagari’s death is amusingly ironic, as of course she was the one that blew him apart with a Dominator to keep him quiet. And now to get out of this mess, the MWPSB have to look for a person that doesn’t even exist any more.
Let’s move on to the elephant in the room – Kasei isn’t Makishima’s mother at all. Hell, Kasei isn’t even strictly a human being – instead, she is the product of full-body cyberization experiments, except taken to a different level than what Senguji was subject to – the only human part left of her is a brain, yet one cannot tell the difference between her and a human body. No, I suppose that first part wasn’t quite right either – she isn’t comprised of a single brain. She’s the amalgamation of hundreds of different brains – the Sibyl System itself. Having all these brains unitized gives her the ability to swap personalities, and it just so happens that the personality speaking to Makishima is Touma Kouzaburo, the plastination guy that conveniently happened to “disappear”, with no records of what happened to him. Granted, nothing is actually left of Touma except his brain, but both Makishima and myself clearly saw how ironic it was that the sick and grotesque serial killer now acts as the head of the MWPSB. To be honest, the revelation was shocking to an extent, but I can’t say it was a complete surprise – nor was the idea that the supercomputer that makes up Sibyl is actually a massive system that involves the use of human brains.
…There must be hundreds of brains in there. The exact number is 247 if I remember correctly – and by paralleling the supercomputing system with the human brains and expanding the entire thing mechanically, the Sibyl System managed to acquired massive processing ability. Last week I speculated that Sibyl was likely to be a giant human brain or something, and Shinya himself hinted earlier in the episode that society probably had an inkling of what was going on, even if they pretended they couldn’t see it. It was safer for them that way, and created a peaceful society – but to be honest, what are the chances that the exact state of a person’s mind can be quantified by just technology? Kasei said it herself – without the use of human brains, there’s no way Sibyl would be able to get such a wide knowledge base and be able to draw inferences about humans, and could only monitor vague stress levels at best. Even if people hadn’t thought up something as wild as Sibyl being made up of brains (which would have probably clouded their Psycho-Pass instantly) normal deduction would assume that Sibyl has some sort of database its using to judge people, which would lead to more questions over what Sibyl used to base its judgement.
“Are you afraid of dying even after gaining the perception of God?”
I’ve noticed that the monitors on those brains have Crime Coefficient readings on them, and that’s when it first struck me that these 247 brains were probably special – and indeed they turned out to be criminally asymptomatic. By being able to judge things from an outside viewpoint with a personality who can’t even be measured by the omnipotence that is the Sibyl System, these people are judged to be suitable candidates to take on the role of God – and this offer was extended to Makishima. It was clear straight from the start that he wasn’t interested in omnipotence at all, and doesn’t want to sit on the sidelines as a referee. Someone like Makishima, who manipulates things from the shadows would probably take offence at the offer to sit out and not be able to directly mess around with the world. As Sword Art Online has stated, there’s nothing more boring than watching someone else play a game. Whether the decision to quote SAO was wise or not I’ll leave up to you, but those words are true, and I find it hard to reach Kasei’s conclusion that you do not lose any independence as an individual at all.
Makishima hasn’t been my favourite character throughout the show, but I admit that I was cheering him on as he fought Kasei to try to escape – I came close to finding him cool as he casually referenced Gulliver’s Travels and the idea that Sibyl tried to find omnipotence in the same way those politicians did; by cutting their brains in half and sewing them back together. Of course you get a fragmented product, and I suppose Sibyl’s issue is their arrogance in suddenly deciding that it’d be fun to play God, controlling society and deeming who ultimately prospers and who’s fated to live the life of a latent criminal. One thing I’ve learnt about characters who liken themselves to God is that such arrogance usually ends in their demise, and I did gain satisfaction watching Makishima brutally tear the cybernetic body apart, albeit feeling a bit sick at the same time. It was interesting to see Makishima actually help out Shinya and vaguely hint to him that Sibyl isn’t something worth protecting – this doesn’t make Makishima and Shinya anything close to allies, but I’d like to think that the more Shinya and the rest of the MWPSB discover, the closer they find a common enemy in the Sibyl System.
I have this vague feeling that Sibyl will end up being a major antagonist especially once its methods and origins are discovered – and if so, we get the ultimate irony Urobuchi and this show can offer in the sense that the head of the police turns out to be the big bad. This may just be wild speculation, but if you combine that with the theory that Akane is criminally asymptomatic as well, Sibyl’s failure to obtain Makishima’s intellect to join its own ranks might result in them trying even harder to expand themselves, perhaps going after Akane as well…
Oops this got a bit long didn’t it…