So I’ve been busy recently which is why my posts have been less frequent. I caught up on Psycho-Pass season 2 today. While I was going to wait until Thursday to to a 3 episode roundup, episode 3 sent my head spinning with wild theories, predictions, and thoughts. And no, none of it had to do with Mika. I’ve seen plenty of people complaining about her and I just couldn’t care less about such a thinly sketched character. So, lets talk Kirito Kamui. This isn’t a proper episode write up, so expect it to be short and not hugely related to the show as a whole. Proper stuff will come on Thursday when I see episode 4.
My greatest concern for this season was that they would never be able to find another villain, another character as great as Makishima was from the first season. He was very Heath Ledger’s Joker in the way that you found yourself half-agreeing with him when it came to talking about the justifications for his crimes. I think they may have found a suitable replacement, and we already met him way back in 2012 before Psycho-Pass even aired for the first time.
Here’s my question that might make me sound stupid, but I’m willing to risk it- is Kirito even a real name? In Sword Art Online, it’s simply described as being a name merged from the Kanji of Kazuto Kirigaya. I assume the Kanji fits, but is it a name people even use? I’d really like to know, because I find the naming of our villain to be somewhat suspect. Even putting Kirito aside, the use of the surname ‘Kamui’ meaning ‘divine being’ according to google and my time with Kill La Kill makes for an incredibly holy, possibly even pretentious name. I want to make some comparisons between Kirito of SAO and the Kamui of this season so far, but first I want to make something clear- I don’t necessarily believe that the staff intentionally chose to name Kamui Kirito as a direct reference to SAO, especially if it does turn out to be a real name. Nevertheless, this naming choice alone got my brain active, so here we go.
Not only do they have the same name, but they also look fairly similar too. Kamui is obviously older, being an adult, but they both have the same short black hair and soft expression. In any other show, Kamui may have had a character design reminiscent of the typical male anime protagonist. He’s so boring, he even wears a cardigan! Compare with Makishima’s distinctive white hair, stone cold expression, and more striking dress sense which informs us that he means business. Kamui is non-threatening even in the scene where he is introduced, which in any other context with any other character would be pretty damn disturbing and rape-y, which in a way only makes the scene feel more uncanny. He had just finished extracting a woman’s eye for christs sake. In a similar vain, as protagonist, Kirito is obviously non threatening, we are supposed to route for him during battles after all.
Neither officially exist. All right, Kirito obviously has an identity and a family, but Kirito is still just an online persona. Despite bad writing, apparently someone who knows Kirito in real life cannot recognize him while online, even though they both look exactly the same. My point is, Kirito is just a construct, no matter how similar he may be to the real deal. There is a huge difference when it comes to Kamui, however, there’s no dual identity at play and Akane and thus the MWPSB know the name and what he does at this point, but according to Sibyl, he doesn’t even exist. Makishima could commit crimes without raising his crime coefficient, but apparently Kamui doesn’t even have a registered crime co-efficient to raise, seemingly able to go wherever he wants and leave is ‘WC’ message like some kind of ghost. Both characters have actual personalities and a physical presence, but they’re both ‘ideas’ nonetheless.
They exist in a similar environment. Kirito lives in the near future with all that wonderful VR tech, and most of the show takes place inside a (supposedly) meticulously designed system, a game. VR not only exists in Psycho-Pass, but there’s practically no distinction between the real world and the virtual world. So much of society is computerized, we have the Sibyl system of course, but robots are everywhere and almost every environment has a holographic layer above it. Even clothes are holographic! And the police can’t even use their guns without the system telling them they can. Both Kirito and Kamui exist in a digital system, and both fight against it. At least in the first season of SAO, Kirito goes up against Kayaba, who had trapped them inside this game world, and Sugou, who wanted to use his MMO to brainwash his player base. In both cases, the creators of the systems are in the wrong (well, Kayaba is another matter according to the show and no one else) and in Psycho-Pass, we know what Sibyl is and that society is screwed up, and we know that Kamui wants to fight against it. He doesn’t want to let any one criminal die by its hands, and he is determined to rehabilitate them, and he probably wants to tear down Sibyl in the long term. Both are self-proclaimed freedom fighters.
They both ‘fix’ individuals and their psychological issues, and in both cases it appears to be through raw charm and likability. Kamui might be using a drug, but unless such a drug is in his bloodstream (which is actually a fairly strong possibility) then he brought down his victim’s crime coefficient pretty damn low, at least, that’s how the scene is framed. He is almost holy in his ability to clear people’s hues, and consequently he can unravel and fix their psychology. I don’t think I need to go on about Kirito’s harem, suffice to say that both males and females seem to absolutely adore both characters, although females are most prominent.
Both have followers. ‘Kamui’ means divine and he is represented by his patients as such, and Kirito is so Gary-Stu that only Mahouka would make a better ‘how to write a shit character’ guide. In any case, they’re both extremely charismatic and people thank them and follow them for all they’ve done for them. In Psycho-Pass, because they love Kamui so much and believe in his peaceful and just ideals, they’re willing to resort to brutal violence in order to get their message of justice across. Irony.
So what’s the difference, and what does it mean? Well, the big one is that Kirito is a protagonist, but Kamui is a villain, and as a result, the show knows that Kamui is a threat, not a boon upon society. In telling criminals that they’re not so bad, and providing them a way to clear their hues, not to mention demonising Sibyl even more than it already is, he’s essentially giving them more plausible justifications for their crimes. It’s the difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter- terrorists will never believe that they are actually terrorists, and no sane person in a battle will ever admit that they are the bad guy. Intentional or not, Kamui is essentially reinforcing their behavior. As for Kirito- well, SAO is a fairly accurate representation of where the gaming community is right now, at least the first season was- SAO’s second season has been showing improvements. It is still bad, but it doesn’t represent the worst of gaming in the way it once did. Yup, right now GamerGate is doing a fine job of that. And GamerGaters believe they are on the side of ethics and justice, using violent threats in order to bring across their message of peace. In Psycho-Pass, these threats are represented with literal violence. And oh hey, look at that, against a woman.
Of course, I want to state again that I don’t believe Psycho-Pass is intentionally commentating on SAO or GamerGate- Heck, GamerGate isn’t even a Japanese thing- but the themes so far have lined up pretty damn nicely with both subjects, haven’t they?