Blu-ray Review: Psycho-Pass – Season 1

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Attention Psycho-Pass fans the wait is finally over; but was it worth it? Well lets find out in our Review of Manga Entertainment UK’s Blu-ray release of Psycho-Pass – Season 1.

Synopsis:

Brace yourself for a hardboiled, sci-fi thriller from the creator of Madoka Magica and the studio that brought you Ghost in the Shell. Welcome to a world where just thinking about a crime is enough to enough to make you guilty. Bad intentions can no longer be hidden, and the police know exactly which tainted minds are about to cross over to the wrong side of the law.

The great equalizer in the war on thugs is the Dominator, a futuristic weapon that can read minds and assess the risk that a citizen will turn criminal. Cops work in teams made up of Enforcers and Inspectors. Enforcers take out the bad guys, Inspectors stop their partners from going rogue, and the all-powerful Sibyl System keeps a watchful eye on us all. Society is paralyzed by its deepest, darkest desires, and trial by jury has been replaced by the wrath of the Dominator.

Welcome to the future. How guilty are you?

Our View:

From the moment you press ‘Play’ you are left with a big impression of the series; the atmosphere, the music, the characters, the action and of course the dominator – you aren’t quite sure what’s going on or why but you immediately know you are going to like what’s coming. This is the opening minute of Psycho-Pass, a futuristic, but realistic, crime detective story that sees MWPSB Enforcer Shinya Kōgami attempting to take down the criminal mastermind known as Shogo Makishima; but obviously this case has more than meets the eye and all shall be revealed within this 22-episode set.

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Let’s begin from the start; the year is 2113 and due to the successful integration of the Siybl System, a system which performs cymatic scans on the public to deem their crime coefficient levels, latent criminals can now be caught and punished before they even commit a crime; However if they do manage to commit a crime that’s when the MWPSB steps in to take action. This is where the lead female protagonist Akane Tsunemori comes into play as during her first day on the job as an inspector she is assigned to arrest a criminal who has exceeded the safety guidelines of their crime coefficient level. It’s also here we are introduced to the remaining members of the MWPSB along with our lead male protagonist; Shinya Kōgami and the differences between Inspectors and Enforcers.

Both Inspectors and Enforcers are members of the MWPSB, or more commonly known as the Police, but while Inspectors are there to protect the public and maintain watch over the situation the Enforcers are actually latent criminals being put to work by the NWPSB as opposed to serving their time in isolation. More importantly Inspectors have the power to subdue or even kill the Enforcers by the way of the Dominator; a unique weapon which will automatically judge someone’s Psycho-Pass level once pointed at them and depending on their current evaluation depends on whether or not they will live or die.

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It sounds rather complicated, but it is actually pretty simple; basically if your mental state goes over the safety line then the Siybl System will deem you likely to commit a crime, the higher the reading the more sadistic your crime will potentially be. Understanding all of this is the first ‘step’ to enjoying this series as while there is plenty of violence, action and detective work there is also a fair amount of discussion regarding Psycho-Passes, Hues and Crime Coefficient levels; basically if you aren’t paying attention you’ll probably miss something important – it’s a series that needs your attention span; which is probably why i enjoyed it so much.

The storyline as a whole is about finding and apprehending Shogo Makishima, a man who has been behind some of the most notorious criminal activities within the history of the city; and not only do the MWPSB want him for questioning but Shinya Kōgami has some unfinished business with him and he’s not going to stop until he sees Justice. Of course while Makishima is the main antagonist of the series there are plenty of other stories to be told; whether it be the origin stories of other MWPSB members, the various criminal activities taking place in the city or the secrets behind the Syibl system and it’s Dominator; there are plenty of different storylines to cover each are just as satisifying as the next but amusingly all come full circle to one man.

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This is what’s so entertaining about Psycho-Pass it has storylines which, at first glance, seem like a new story within the Psycho-Pass universe, but in fact it’s actually a continuation of the same case. This unique storyline, along with the fluid story progression and intense confrontations, makes it one of the best anime series of this generation; especially if you prefer realistic story-driven series as opposed to magical monsters and ditzy love stories. Ironically what brings Psycho-Pass to life is none of the above but instead its superb soundtrack; I can’t put a word on it but it offers that realistic cinematic experience that I haven’t seen from a series since Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, which is amusing as that’s the show which sort-of inspired Psycho-Pass.

Extras:

When it comes to bonus features included on English releases we usually only get the bare-minimum of songs and trailers, and while this may be the case with this UK Blu-ray release of Psycho-Pass we also get treated to two forms of English Exclusive content; namely English Cast Commentaries and behind-the-scenes styled footage at Sakura-Con.

Disc 1:

  • Episode 5 English Cast Commentary
  • Textless Opening Song (Abnormalize)
  • Textless Closing Song (Namae No Kai Kaibutsu)

Disc 2:

  • Episode 11 English Cast Commentary
  • Psycho-Pass at Sakura Con (Part 1)
  • US Trailer

Disc 3:

  • Episode 13 English Cast Commentary
  • Textless Opening Song (Out of Control)
  • Textless Closing Song (All Alone With You)

Disc 4:

  • Episode 18 English Cast Commentary
  • Psycho-Pass at Sakura Con (Part 2)
  • US Trailer

The English Cast Commentaries, as always, provide an insight into what it was like to dub the show into English and with each passing commentary features a different set of voice actors explaining their experience and impressions of the show. Despite the series being highly entertaining and complex these commentaries I found to be rather stale and boring as the commentators would usually pause for relatively long periods of time and discuss topics not relevant to the show; but this being said some useful insights can be found – you’ve just got to look for it.

The Psycho-Pass at Sakura-Con featurettes on the other hand are an exceptional piece of bonus content if you are a fan of the series as it sees Katsuyuki Motohiro (executive director), Naoyoshi Shiotani (director) and Jouji Wada (prodcuer) explain how the series was created and what it was like working on the Psycho Pass Project. In addition to this these featurettes also feature clips from Sakura-Con, such as the Psycho-Pass Panel, as well as a brief snippet from the invite-only Psycho Pass party whereby selected members of the public were able to have their items signed by the staff members. It’s something completely different to what we usually receive as a bonus and its nice to see some variety.

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To round out the list of bonus content is of course the inclusion of the mandatory textless opening and closing songs as well as the original US Trailer but more amusingly is that while Manga Entertainment UK have the rights to use the Japanese trailer on their YouTube Channel it’s not included on the discs in this Blu-ray release. This isn’t entirely a big deal as the Japanese Trailers weren’t available on the US release either, besides the inclusion of two 20 minute-long styled feaurettes more than compensates for the lack of Japanese orientated content.

Specs:

Media: BD50 x4
Region: B
Running Time: 2:17:06 (Disc 1), 1:54:10 (Disc 2), 2:17:00 (Disc 3), 1:54:10 (Disc 4)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (English) & LPCM 2.0 (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Aspect Ratio
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

Psycho-Pass is a highly entertaining series that sees the MWPSB attempt to track down and apprehend the notorious Shogo Makishima but along the way solve various murder cases and uncover a dark secret within the Sibyl System. It’s a relatively complex storyline that offers drama, suspense, action and detective work nicely wrapped up in a futuristic police setting and offers traits seen within the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex anime series, or put bluntly if you liked Ghost in the Shell you’ll enjoy this.

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As you can probably tell I really enjoyed watching Psycho-Pass but it is worth pointing out that if you decide to watch the series in English then you SHOULD be watching it with a Surround Sound system, anything else will just reduce the cinematic experience. Why? You ask, well for various reasons. To start off with this UK Blu-ray release uses a DTS-HD 5.1 Audio track for its English audio, a more louder and cinematic experience that enhances the explosions and effects used within the series, to that of the original Japanese LPCM 2.0 – but what’s more interesting is that this UK Audio is different to that of US Release as theirs only featured a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track; which is of lower volume and less cinematic approach to delivering the sound. Basically if you want to watch this through a surround sound kit then our UK release is better than the US version as it is louder and more enticing; but be warned it may annoy the neighbours.

Unfortunately while this UK release may have the better audio quality we do receive a few disappointing faults. To start off with the subtitles are grey, seem to be amateruishly made and can sometimes be relatively awkward to read during dark scenes but  not only that the “signs and songs subtitles track” does not feature any subtitles for the opening and closing songs. To me this isn’t “that” disappointing but I know a fair amount of people enjoy having the songs translated as subtitles when watching the English Audio track. Fortunately this ‘subtitle issues’ isn’t the biggest problem with this release as the biggest issue is with the odd-chapter markings. For instance most anime releases, as well as the US release of Psycho Pass, feature five or six chapter points (Prologue, Opening, Part A, Part B, Ending and next episode preview) where as in this UK release the chapter marker is at every 4 minutes so if you wanted to skip just the opening song you’d end up missing around 2 minutes (give or take) of episodic content.

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Combining all of these elements together, such as the different audio choice, menu design, subtitle issues and chapter markings, suggest that Manga Entertainment UK opted to use their own Blu-ray disc masters as opposed to ones created by FUNimation (or at least Madman Entertainment). This is not necessarily a bad thing but considering it ‘slightly’ botches up this release then it is quite disappointing and leaves me in a marmite situation, whereby i love the series and its DTS audio quality but i dislike the subtitle choice and chapter markings. On the positive side though the subtitles can be turned on (or off) at will, meaning you can watch it in Japanese without any subtitles appearing – a feat which was not possible in the US Release due to subtitle restrictions.

Overall Psycho Pass is a highly entertaining series and will appeal to those who enjoyed Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, plus with the additional bonus content and the improved DTS-HD English Audio this release by Manga Entertainment UK comes highly recommended; however the disappointing chapter markings and amateurish subtitle production does make it a rather obscure release. Yes this release has flaws but the pros, such as its entertaining values, far outweigh that of the cons however if you are thinking of watching it subtitle form then you may want to think twice about purchasing this UK release of Psycho-Pass.

Score: review-stars-5

Psycho-Pass – Season 1 will be available on DVD and Blu-ray from the 1st September 2014.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

2 Responses to Blu-ray Review: Psycho-Pass – Season 1

  1. Anon~ says:

    The big question is, which release looks better?
    UK or US? I know FUNi botches their encodes but are these any better?

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