Ramen Noodles, A Commentary on Power Play in Devil's Crossroad
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Ramen Noodles

I realized this needed to be updated. So, I am a 24 year old cis-white-female and I currently work in Japan. I am teaching English to Japanese youth and am currently located in Toyama. I like a variety of things, and every once in a while fanfics and translations will pop up! I try to tag for spoilers as well as I can, but do be weary of them.

Okay, so, these thoughts turned into an essay, essentially. I wrote this in one sitting, and have not properly sat down and read this, but since it is after 2:30am where I live right now, I just want to get this up and then go to bed. 

Note: There are spoilers for this episode (and previous episodes) of Psycho-Pass, as well as for Nineteen Eighty-Four (it has also been a very long time since I read this book in junior year of high school, so I may have slightly messed up in my references to the issues found in that text, feel free to correct me if that did happen).

So for this reason, as well as length, my thoughts will be placed under a Read More. Now, read, enjoy, feel free to add comments and whatnot, and simply have fun! :D

EDIT: I made some corrections on the parts concerning Sasayama, because I am an idiot who forgot that he was an Enforcer, not an Inspector. (This is why I should not write at 2 in the morning). 

First, I am going to start by analyzing the name of this episode: Devil’s Crossroad. This is obviously meant to reference Yayoi’s choice to become an Enforcer or to join a rebellion. Devil’s Crossroad is basically another way of saying “making a deal with the Devil,” but I think here it could also imply that she was in a “between a rock and a hard place” decision. No matter which she choice it would have been bad.

But, in the end, Yayoi chose the Sybil system, she chose power.

And power was a very, very important and prominent aspect of this episode. First, we have music. Music is a very powerful thing. Music exists in all countries, all cultures, and all human societies in the world - and music exists among animals as well. People can be moved to tears by the sound of a piano note, people can be invigorated by strum of a guitar, and people’s bodies can involuntarily and spontaneously move to the steady beat of a drum. Music can do all that before words are even involved, and the moment you add lyrics - messages can get out.

Messages are a very dangerous thing, and therefore, music is dangerous in how universal and powerful it is and just how easy it is for a medium like that to spread messages like wildfires.

So, this society “regulates” music and musicians, and tries to control it. Music and messages can be dangerous, but only when in the wrong hands, or so, this is how the leaders see it, the ones controlling the Sybil System. In their hands, it is a powerful tool that they can use to keep the masses in check through propaganda, I did not need to hear a single lyric of Yayoi’s groups songs to know that that was what they were. Of course, with something as powerful as music, there is no way it can be completely and utterly “regulated.” It is simply impossible. And Yayoi’s love interest, Rina, showed us that.

Yayoi seemed to be in love with Rina, those are all the hints we were given. Yayoi was moved not necessarily by Rina’s music, but by Rina herself. She wanted to be with her and near her. She wanted to keep her nails nice and wanted those guitar strings, not because of her love for music (she was selected to be a musician by the Sybil System) but because of her love for Rina. Rina, who chose to be a musician. There is, of course, a huge difference there.

Urobuchi commented on romance in the world of Psycho-Pass, which you can read here, and it certainly appears as if the system simply ended up having more power than love. Just like in another society that was already hinted at in this series. During the episode with the internet meet up raid, Makishima was shown to be reading Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell.

This is a novel, which contains an all knowing system called Big Brother (which is symbolized by a giant eye) and a fascist (and communist) society that cannot see that it is fascist at all. There is a supposed Resistance, which the main character discovers, but resistance in this society (especially one that has the movement of going from the outside, in) cannot and does not exist for long, or even at all. To put it simply, Big Brother is behind the Resistance, as well.

Once one has been caught, they are brought to the Ministry of Love, where they are physically, mentally, and emotionally broken down (and any and all remains of romantic love are squashed) through means of torture and then brainwashing. After this, the person has “love” - “love” for Big Brother and the society in which this individual lives.

In the world of Psycho-Pass, to do a comparison with the above, you have the Sybil System. A system which, by name alone, can tell you that it is meant to “see” everything. We most commonly think of the Sybil System in conjunction with crime and punishment. In this episode in particular, the Denominators get referred to as the “Sybil’s Eyes” and when Yayoi, who was not given permission to use the gun (was not given power) she was essentially powerless at stopping the woman who she once seemed to love from leaving her behind and heading off to a possible (and likely) execution. After all, with all of the parallels to Nineteen Eighty-Four, I would not be surprised in the least if this “resistance” that Rina mentioned turned out to be something created by the ones working the Sybil System, for the Sybil System.

(Also, a side note, Yayoi was just as powerless here as Akane was with a non-Denominator gun).

But, the Sybil System does far more than that, it selects and decides for someone (unless you happen to be a special case like Akane) the job that they are going to have. And all jobs are seen as being the same, while some may be ranked as more elite than others, everyone gets paid the same (this is noted in the link posted on romance in Psycho-Pass). The Sybil System also has it’s own “Ministry of Love,” which is the Rehabilitation Center.

The individuals there have no free will, no power. They are constantly monitored, the sound system repeats the same mantra of “improvement” over and over and over again, and the “patients” are given gas that makes them pass out when their hue darkens. They have everything stripped away from them. Some stay there forever, never improving, some probably die, and others are able to go free (because the indoctrination process was a success, so to speak).

In Ninteen Eighty-Four, the main character is also released, but unlike Yayoi, he is not offered a position where power is, finally, granted back to him. Instead he becomes just like everyone else and sits, drinking tea and loving Big Brother, powerless. Yayoi, though, is given the option to have power. More power, most likely, than she even had before she got taken in by the Rehabilitation Center.

Working from the outside, in order to bring about change won’t work. The Resistance is still powerless, because no matter how much power they think they might have, they really don’t have any at all. Yayoi though, she is able to feel power, and the weight of it, in her own hands. She holds something that could allow one to try working form the inside, out in order to bring about some kind of change. So, Yayoi chooses power.

Moving away from Yayoi, Kougami, who in this episode was still an Inspector, used power as well. He basically bribed Yayoi at first into trying out being an Enforcer. But, he does not only use power, he gave power as well. He shared his power with Yayoi, even if it was only a bluff in the end. When it comes to our two Inspectors (and one Enforcer): Kougami has power and distributes it, Gino has power and utilizes it, and Sasayama (from what I was able to gather in this episode alone) has power and takes advantage of it.

When I first heard Kougami describe Sasayama I was put off to the character, but I also just kind of shrugged it off, too. But in this episode, when we finally got to see Sasayama in action, I was actually disgusted by his behavior. He was so quick to pull the trigger on those two men by the bar, so quick to pull the trigger on his gun. He is ready and waiting to shoot the musician and the girl he took hostage (after he was attacked first by the Inspectors and Enforcer) before the Crime Coefficients of either reached a level that would require action.

This is so vastly different from Akane who couldn’t pull the trigger of the Denominator, despite knowing that the person in front of her was most certainly a criminal. When Akane shoots off her Denominator, the Sybil System is most definitely the one who is doing the thinking and the killing.

When Sasayama pulled the trigger of the Denominator, he was the one doing the thinking and killing. Sasayama had power, he liked the power that he had, and he used it every chance that he could -you can see it in his eyes when it was in the club, that was not just “reckless” behavior, he was getting off on being able to exert power over others. He appears as if he is getting drunk on power.

This makes me realize just how much of a latent criminal Kougami really is not. The other Enforcers present don’t really seem to have this same type of behavior, either. Case in point being Yayoi. She pulled that Denominator trigger after a long, hard debate within herself. Of course, like Sasayama, she was the one who pulled the trigger, not the Sybil System. But, unlike him, she did it out of her love and desire to protect Rina - not out of some power trip.

Really, this shows how the Sybil System may be able to catch one or two people who are actually a danger to society, while also imprisoning many who simply need some therapy, freedom, and love. 

And now, I will wrap all of this up by saying that I really enjoyed this week’s episode and the issue of power play that was brought up in it!

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  4. bombasticplastic said: Excellent commentary. I had almost the exact same thoughts concerning Sasayama. His disregard for the hostage’s life and his eagerness to use the Dominator was not endearing, to say the least.
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