What if you lived in a world that determined your worth to society based on how mentally healthy you were?
That is the world of "Psycho-Pass," a 22 episode cyberpunk anime that exposes us to this possibility, where stress levels are to be maintained or you would be considered a "latent criminal."
The story follows Inspector Akane Tsunimore, a rookie who is brought into a crime unit that investigates crimes involving these latent criminals. The unit works with other latent criminals called Enforcers, who are charged with sniffing them out. Using special guns called Dominators, the Enforcers and Inspectors can read your "crime coefficient." If it's above a certain level, the gun will simply paralyze you. But if it's too high, you are targeted for elimination.
But this isn't just Akane's story. We also follow Enforcer Shinya Kogami, a former detective who let his readings get too high after an Enforcer, who he considered a partner and friend, is killed and discovered in a gruesome manner. Their recent cases, which point to a seemingly untouchable criminal, seem to have a connection to the same person responsible for his partner's death, driving him to possible revenge.
In the first couple of episodes, we are given a peek into this world, told all the rules, and even get some idea of why Akane chose to go into this line of work. By the time we get into the third episode, we get our overreaching arc of the series -- what if you go up against a criminal who can beat the system?
The writing on the show is very smart, examining all the facets of this system that has given this society peace for so long, but also has some major flaws to the system, as well. For example, in the first episode we are exposed to one of these problems -- Akane not only finds herself protecting a victim from her captor but also from Enforcers because her levels had gotten too high from the stress of the situation.
Probably one of the downsides of the show is that we don't delve too much into how the other characters became Enforcers for the system. There's only one episode that focuses on how the only female Enforcer in the unit got her job. And all other relationships are kind of hinted at, including one relationship that isn't revealed until halfway through the run of the series.
The ending does leave you wanting more from this world to see how it will eventually be resolved (which we will be getting in season 2 when it airs in October), and it brings up a lot of questions on the real benefit to this type of society. If you're looking for some good police action with some science fiction thrown in that gives you something to think about, check out "Psycho-Pass."
"Psycho-Pass" is currently available from FUNImation Entertainment as a two volume DVD/Blu-Ray series, or as full season Premium Edition Blu-Ray set.