Psychos, Rakugo and Power Dynamics

As I watched the pilot episode of Psycho-Pass and after meeting most of the cast, something very specific stood out to me. Aside from the legitimately cool setting and succinct storytelling, what stood out to me the most was the power dynamic between Akane Tsunemori and Shinya Kogami.

From the very little art I had seen prior to watching Psycho-Pass for the first time, I always thought the dynamic between these two would be, something along the lines of the main characters in a buddy cop movie. Now to some extent that is true – a rookie and a veteran do work together to stop crime – but the interesting thing to me is the fact that Akane has authority over Kogami.

If you look at the progression of the first episode, you will notice that, at first, Akane is trying to catch up to the rest of the team, even though she is the one who’s in the supposed leadership position. However, by the end, she is to some extent calling the shots to Kogami… to some extent (I find this very hard to articulate…).

Let me give an example of a shifting power dynamic from a different show to illustrate my point. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu is one of the best dramas anime has to offer, and you all should watch it right now.

Anyway, in the first episode of Rakugo Shinjuu, an ex-convict named Yotaro wants to perform a form of theater called Rakugo, but his friend (who is a part of a crime organization which Yotaro himself also was a part of) tells him it’s a waste of time and that Yotaro should come back to the gang. In the end, the friend agrees to come and watch Yotaro preforms. Now – and here is the most important part –  the following scene is Yotaro’s entire performance, and in one scene we get to witness the change in the power dynamic between Yotaro and his friend.

At first, the odds are against Yotaro; yet, as the performance progresses, we witness along with his friend Yotaro’s style, and get a better understanding of him as a character. By the end of the scene the gang member is willing to stop bugging Yotaro about re-joining the gang, and Yotaro moves on to study more and get better at performing.

All of this takes place in one scene, with spectacular directing and excellent writing.

The same can be said for Psycho-Pass. Both shows depict in their first episodes a sort of shifting power dynamic, both in an interesting way, and I love it.

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