[Spoilers] Psycho-Pass 3 'First Inspector' finally exposes Bifrost and Roundrobin
Production I.G’s cyberpunk crime-action thriller Psycho-Pass has returned on Amazon Prime Video to finally conclude what it started in season 3, in a rather unusual fashion: a season titled ‘First Inspector’ with just three episodes.
The franchise released a theatrical version of ‘First Inspector’ in Japan, as a full-length feature film last Friday, while Amazon Prime Video put it out as ‘season 4’. Irrespective of their nomenclature, it is essential to note that the franchise recognizes ‘First Inspector’ as part of the Psycho-Pass 3 timeline.
Fans can rest assured that unlike Sinners of the System trilogy, ‘First Inspector’ directly picks up from where season 3 left us at — a heartbreaking cliffhanger.
What happens to Yayoi Kunizuka?
For those who need a refresher, last season left us flipping tables at the after-credit scene where former enforcer Yayoi Kunizuka encounters an accident. It seems Koichi Asuzawa is in some way responsible for the accident as he rides by in a motorbike at the scene, just to steal Yayoi press card.
But what happens to Yayoi who is bleeding to death? Without much ado, let’s get straight to the point and let you all breathe out in relief.
Yayoi Kunizuka survives.
Or at least, the makers spare her life. Of course, we are not told this until much further into the story and left to anxiously fish for information about her. For the time being, we simply know that Asuzawa had called and reported the accident and left her to her ‘fate’.
This ties up with the key conflict introduced in season 3: how members of Bifrost and the so-called ‘Inspectors’ responsible for several crimes, have been able to keep their crime coefficients low by leaving the end-result of their actions to either chance or unknown.
Or using the ‘Foxes’ as a chess-piece to do their dirty work without letting them become aware of the significance of such actions. This tactic had been proven effective so-far, given that it is giving Public Safety Bureau (BSB) and Sybil a hard time to zero in on them.
Koichi Asuzawa VS Public Safety Bureau
Asuzawa breaks into Pubic Safety Burae where the Governor has been kept protected, using Kunizuka’s stolen ID. With the help of Obata-chan(who was already kept prisoner there), Asuzawa hacks into PSB building controls.
From then on, shit hits the fan for BSB: the building is locked from inside out and vice versa, elevators and other mechanical exits stop working, poison gas is released in the basement floors and the prisoners are let loose.
TL; DR of ‘First Inspector’ episode 1 is basically Bifrost aligned rogue ‘flyboys’ taking over the PSB, leaving our detectives scattered and enforcers to fend for themselves. Without their internal coms-link working. And with inspector Arata Shindo knocked out cold and rendered immobile.
Asuzawa then lets in mercenaries from ‘Peacemakers’ (or is it breakers?) to capture Hosorgi, so he could threaten Chief Shimotsuki to handover governor Karina Komita in exchange. Classic hostage situation.
If you thought things couldn’t get any worse, Hosorogi jumps off from the top of the PSB building to take away Assuzawa’s negotiation leverage, but not without leaving those who saw the incident genuinely scarred.
Here fans are left to pull their hairs in frustration on how easily the Bifrost folks outsmarted The PSB people and took over the building like a piece of cake. Were Shomotsuki and the gang always this vulnerable?
Everyone lets you down. Everyone, except the analyst Shion. She successfully protects the governor and manages to counter-hack the Bifrost insurgent (Obata chan) with her makeshift Pillbug weapon called ‘Authur’.
The Pillbug VS Flybots fight sequence is one of the most heart-thumping moments in the First Inspector. (Never have I cheered more loudly for an android on the screen my entire life. Not even when watching Transformers.)
Things remain pretty much out of control until Foreign Affairs folks bring along Kei into the picture, for a timely rescue mission.
Kougami, Ginoza and the Foreign Affairs department
Fans of the OG cast, especially Kougami Shinya, are in for a rollercoaster ride as First Inspector doesn’t shy away from giving you all the fanservice moments. Along with Ginoza, he enjoys ample screen time – be it his pensive looks or breath-stopping action sequences.
Ginoza, too, gets to show off his moves and even takes on a giant robot by himself. Although when it comes to the actual plot, there is very little he contributes.
As Kougami and Kei infiltrate the BSB building from the top, Ginoza takes over assisting from outside the building, even taking out snipers targetting the PSB building from outside.
On the other hand, once inside, Kougami is kept busy by the mercenaries, who clearly have a personal vendetta against him, and seem to know him by face. Therefore, Kei moves on to support Arata, Shion, and the rest.
It ultimately came down to whether they could take back controls of the building through the server room. Shion bets her life on her super fast hacking skills to get this done.
Has Kei Ignatov gone rogue?
The last few episodes of season 3 were painful to watch for fans of Kei Mikhail Ignatov, the Russian immigrant introduced as an inspector along with Arata Shindo.
He is treated with prejudice for being an immigrant, and then his blind wife gets caught up in a covert-op that goes wrong. Arata, his best buddy, trying to empathize with the Governor when her team removes Kei from the protection team, was probably the last straw.
So when he accepts to cooperate with ‘congressman’ Homura, in exchange for freeing his wife, it’s painful to watch, but not really unexpected. To what extent would he go to work with Bifrost?
These questions nag us through all-three episodes of ‘First Inspector’. The writers don’t exactly make it easy to trust him. Kei secretly keeps in touch with the members from Bifrost but his motive behind it remains unclear to the audience.
At one point, he is faced with the choice to turn the Governor to Asuzawa to gain favors from Bifrost and save his comrades. The show never pushes it to the point where he actually has to take that call.
Arata gambles on his life to find a way to work-around to save the governor. With a bit of help from her AI alter-ego Ma-Karina, they are able to fake her death to dupe Asuzawa. But had that not been the case, would Kei still save the governor?
We know what choices he had, but we never find out if he actually swayed. It all comes down to whether we are ruled by our prejudices or by our faith in his character. Something the writers made an effort to hang a lantern on.
The truth behind Bifrost and Roundrobin
Last season built Bifrost up as an organization with equal, if not more, power to challenge the Sybil system. It kept its operations under the wraps by taking advantage of cracks in the Sybil justice system. Basically, playing by Sybil’s own rules, but only to ace it.
It operated on a network of people who knowingly and unknowingly were responsible for many criminal activities, like smuggling, murder, human trafficking, and religious terrorism. All the while staying out of Sybil’s radar by keeping their crime coefficient low.
At the center of Bifrost’s operation is a poker-like game, tabled by the mysterious entity ‘Roundrobin’, which literally lets the players or ‘congressmen’ make bets on situations created by the cogs in its wheel.
It’s a high-risk high reward game that electrocutes the loser to death at the end of each round. Shirogane and Shizuka Homura are the two ‘players’ left on the table in the latest season and the fate of the Public Safety Bureau is what they bet on.
While Shirogane bets on Asuzawa successfully removing the governor from the picture, Homura bets on the PSB keeping her safe. Since Arata manages to dupe Asuzawa and save Karina, Homura gets the last laugh.
Homura initiates a hostile takeover of Shirogane’s assets, as the latter is obliterated by the system ‘Roundrobin’. Meanwhile, Arata manages to capture Asuzawa in a final showdown that ensues in what I call ‘Sybil’s brain room’.
As the final winner, Homura is called upon to invite an opponent to continue the game and he shocks everyone by nominating Sybil system. It is then that the revelation is made: Homura was working to destroy Bifrost all along to help Sybil eliminate Roundrobin.
More specifically, ‘Roundrobin’ was Sybil’s debugging program that was responsible to keep it error-free in the initial days of the system’s launch. This comes as a bit of a letdown, given how Bifrost had the potential to establish itself as Sybil’s nemesis.
After Sybil disintegrates Roundrobin, Homura agrees to accept Hosorogi’s (another one of her clones) offer to work for Sybil instead, on condition that Akane Tsunemori is freed.
Final thoughts on Psycho-Pass 3:‘First Inspector’
While we could go on for another few thousand words and still not be done analyzing the layered connotations hidden in Psycho-Pass 3. But we narrow it down, Psycho-Pass 3 was a commentary on ‘prejudice.’
Right from introducing immigrants from conflict-ridden ‘outside’ world, into Japan’s almost zero crime society managed by Sybil dystopian laws, writers made a consistent effort to highlight the prejudice they face, and if Sybil manages to successfully integrate them.
Prejudice and assumptions go hand in hand, and we saw this from how the PSB and the political figureheads handle Kei, as we have discussed in-depth above.
Religion was another angle from which ‘prejudice’ was addressed in this season. Sybil accepted faith and its institutionalization almost like it was throwing a carpet over the inability to process the nuanced conflict that came with the immigrants.
So long as their hues remained ‘healthy’ it was the conflict resolved whereas the reality was far removed from it. We learn it the hard way with Torri’s betrayal. It would be intriguing to see if the franchise would expand more on Sybil’s interaction with religion and god in the upcoming seasons.
Arata Shindo is finally revealed as another Criminal Asymptomatic character like Akane Tsunamori who’s Crime Coefficient is not affected much by his actions. While the hints were always there, this threw a much-needed context to his ‘mental tracing’ powers.
Although, as mentioned in our review of the previous season, ‘mental tracing’ almost felt like a hocus-pocus addition to the otherwise quite rational universe of Psycho-Pass and remains to be so.
For an animation coming from the Psycho-Pass franchise, ‘First Inspector’ keeps its promise. It gives us a lot to admire visually: nail-biting areal action, explosions, lots of well-choreographed hand to hand combat sequences and of course the theme songs.
But when it comes to the fluidity of animation, Production I G disappoints. There are several parts in the series where the movements seem slow, and the action on screen doesn’t match the pace of the background music or the mood of the scene.
The jarred animation gets obvious on non-combat scenes where the reaction times feel laggy. Moreover, much of the giant robot vs human sequences may be pleasing to the eye but uncharacteristically add little value to the storyline.
Story and subplots:
Even with the giant gaps in the plot, somewhat forced resolution to the central conflict and just passable animation, Psycho-Pass 3 First Inspector comes out as satisfying to watch. Much of what it lacks is made up by the opulent doses of fanservice we get.
The show also does a beautiful job of addressing the various romantic subplots, a little more than ambiguously this time. For example, Shion finally leaving PSB after she manages to bring her Crime Coeedicient down, and moving into the same apartment building as Yayoi.
Governor Karina buying Arata perfume, and then saving him in crisis, is a good throwback to how he saved her in the first few episodes of season 3. There is definitely something brewing between them. And who would have thought Irie would have the guts to get romantic with Kisaragi?
How can we speak of romance and not address the elephant in the room: Akane and Kougami? The scene where Akane Tsunemori finally walks out from the correctional center (after being locked up inside for two whole seasons) to find Kougami Shinya waiting for her, is simply to die for.
Although Psycho-Pass 3 ‘First Inspector’ doesn’t confirm if they actually get together, the after-credit scene from the theatrical release does promise to answer the other burning question: how is Akane Tsunemori connected to the case Kei and Arata were investigating?
For tying most of the loose ends satisfactorily and setting us up for another installment that will center around Akane Tsunemori, First Inspector gets a solid 8 out 10!
(Featured image credit: Twitter- Rayana Wolfer)
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