Rant: Akane Tsunemori’s Concept of Law (Psycho-Pass)

Psycho-Pass is a sci-fi dystopian tale and psychological thriller animated by Production I.G. and aired in Fall 2012. It’s been in my top 5 favorite anime since I first saw it in 2015. I’ve probably watched it about 6 times all the way through. Anyway, in a later episode of Psycho-Pass season one, Akane and Kogami have an interesting discussion about the law. By rephrasing what is said and providing a little more detail, I’ll tell you my interpretation.

It starts when Kogami Shinya asks Akane Tsunemori why she follows the law when it law cannot judge Makishima Shougo or protect the people it’s supposed to protect.

Akane responds, “The law doesn’t protect people. People protect the law.”

Some countries have much better justice systems than others. As a citizen of the U.S., I have to agree that the law doesn’t protect the people it should. Ethnic minorities are treated differently than white people in almost all cases. Women are treated differently than men in many cases. People who need protection the most are the ones who have unfairness heaped on them.

Meanwhile, “white-collar crime” tends to go unpunished. It’s the same with acts of violence by police. No system can protect everyone all the time, but that’s not an excuse for the level of injustice in my country. Sure, things are getting better… a little… in some States, anyway. But that doesn’t change or lessen the existing corruption.

Next, Akane says, “People have always detested evil and sought a righteous way of living. The law is the accumulation of the feelings of those people. They are neither the provisions nor the system. They’re the fragile and irreplaceable feelings everyone carries in their hearts.”

Bigotry is abundant, some criminals are never held accountable, and some innocent people are wrongfully punished. Still, as much innate “evil” as there is in human nature, there is a roughly equal amount of innate “good.” Or so I believe. That’s why kind people, and those who care about an orderly and just society, have never stopped trying to discourage “evil.” They are fueled by their passion for fairness or their disgust for cruelty and selfishness.

The provisions of the law include things like arrests, trials, judgement, sentencing, etc. In the world of Psycho-Pass, one of the provisions is the denotion of certain individuals as “latent criminals” and the way they are used in policing as Enforcers. The system of the law is the setup of how it works in reality, complete with its boundaries, biases, and shortcomings. In Psycho-Pass, of course, Sybil is the system.

Akane does not believe the provisions of the law are always right, and she despises the system. She protects the law as a police Inspector for a very different reason. By her definition, the law symbolizes the combined will of all people, past and present, who seek or sought a good and just society. That’s why it carries so much weight.

Inspector Tsunemori summarizes everything with her next words. “Compared to the power of anger and hatred, they (the feelings of the people) can easily break down. That’s why, all throughout history, people have wished for a better world. In order for those wishes to carry meaning, we must try our best to protect the law to the end. We cannot give up on it.”

Do you agree with Akane’s concept of law as the wishes of the people for justice? Is that a good enough reason to keep working within something like the Sybil System in Psycho-Pass? Is it true that the law breaks down because of the negative feelings of people, like hatred and rage? What do you believe? There is so much to think about in this one anime scene.

The definition of law that Akane gave was a totally new idea to me when I first watched Psycho-Pass. It’s something about her character that really impressed me. Her unique thoughts, and her dedication to continue in a corrupt world, making small changes from within, are things that make me love Akane Tsunemori.

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