The creator of Psycho-Pass, Gen Urobuchi, is known for having a distinctive dark style. He did the script and series composition for Puella Magi Madoka Magica and he authored the Fate/Zero light novels. He personally wrote the scripts in this anime as well.
Purpose: Masterpiece. This was exceptionally done. It displayed a huge degree of delicacy and intelligence in the goal for this anime. In sum, the anime is a discussion between the creator and the viewer about very deep concepts such as human nature, the role of society, and the nature of the law. Everything in the anime helped develop different perspectives and worldviews that were then presented to the viewer for evaluation to see which one appealed the most. On a bit more of a technical side, the anime paid a great deal of attention to where they were going through the way it was structured. The first handful of episodes don’t do terribly much with the characters – the characters are mostly serving to expand the world at the early point. Once the world was firmly developed, then the anime starts using the characters to display varied insights and opinions as to the world that developed, but in a intelligent way. The way they handled the overall path was exceptional.
Characters: Masterpiece. The characters were also exceptional in a couple of senses. First, they were all strong, unique, and distinctive characters on their own. They were developed in a way that gave them a great deal of life and personality. Second, and this is where they really shined, was their use as a vehicle to discuss the world with the viewer. The characters all had unique perspectives on the world based on their past and experiences. Basically, the characters represented a different worldview. However, they weren’t simple view “priests,” where they loudly proclaimed that view to convert others to their side. Rather, the views were almost represented as the personal views of the character – a person’s perspective on the world and events happening. The views for several characters developed, grew, and even changed based on the events that happened, giving both life to the character and credibility to the view they represented. Thus, character conflicts (as often happens in real life), stemmed from a difference in opinion – a difference in how they viewed the world.
World: Excellent. Highly interesting in itself, the world is also part of the dialogue between the creator and the viewer. The setting borrows quite a bit from western works, both film and literature. The world is set as a utopia/dystopia, similar to what you’d find in Minority Report, with strong influence from Philip K. Dick’s novels. The world has a great deal of character and, itself, represents a certain viewpoint. It’s through the character interactions with the world that it really hones, refines, and polishes their worldviews.
Plot: Excellent. There were two kinds of plot present here – the world plot, and plots involving the characters. The world’s plot involved what the characters were doing within the world. These were the plot points that progressed us through the story. The second set of plot points, the character plot points, served to refine the characters within the world. They both worked well together since they played off each other, representing a constant evolution of both world and character. One thing I usually find commendable is when there is a difficult or painful plot point that has lasting impact. By that I mean, the plot point itself is strong but also that the story doesn’t pull the punch. When characters are forced to deal with really impactful plot points like that, it leaves an impression because it usually marks a very large contour in the path of a particular character or event. I really appreciated what they did here.
Storytelling: Masterpiece. They way they managed to interweave the two different kinds of plot was exceptional. It was essentially seamless storytelling that wove the plot points together in a way that would either work off each other or use each other as steps to raise both to the next level. In addition, it was the storytelling that added a tremendous amount of power to scenes, making a great deal very memorable. Most memorable, perhaps, was the handling of the plot lines that tested a character. Now, tests of characters are exceptionally difficult to do in a believable manner because they require that the storytelling convey the appropriate information necessary to develop a deep character. Then they have tell the story in a way that conveys the true nature and depth of the challenge to the substance, the essence of the character. In accomplishing that, they have to make sure the challenge itself is presented in a powerful manner to represent a genuine threat to the character they have built. Finally, they have to manage the dramatic tension to really strike those points home. There were two such scenes that were attempted and successfully accomplished. Brilliantly done.
Pace: Excellent. The pace did a lot of heavy lifting here, so was relatively unnoticeable. It managed to convey an astounding amount of information, yet keep it in a relatively digestible manner. You weren’t overwhelmed with information, yet the pace ensured that a tremendous amount of depth was accomplished. The depth was built in a way that wasn’t rushed and gave you what you needed to know, when you need to know it.