At first glance, the worlds in Psycho Pass and Shin Sekai Yori couldn’t be any further apart. One has a megalopolis where humans have come to rely on machines so much that a central system now dictates everything they do. The other has people living in villages with wooden houses and no electricity. Taking a closer look at both worlds reveals that their social structure and method of reasoning are nearly identical. How did two vastly different worlds arrive at the same social structure?
Before discussing how the worlds of Psycho Pass and Shin Sekai Yori arrived at the same social structure, lets first elaborate on what this means. Both worlds have a clear entity or group that controls all aspects of society, the government, so to speak. In Psycho Pass that position is held by the Sibyl System and in Shin Sekai Yori it is held by Tomiko and departments such as the ethics committee. Unlike most governments of today, these governments rule the population with an iron fist: thought processes are strictly controlled, individuals are constantly monitored and evaluated, children are raised to fill specific roles, and the government’s enforcement arm is widely feared. Any undesirable elements are quickly disposed of to maintain peace. The society in Psycho Pass and the one in Shin Sekai Yori are both Orwellian – neither are open or free.
How the worlds of Psycho Pass and Shin Sekai Yori arrived at such strikingly similar systems is largely based on the circumstances of the society’s creation. Both societies grew out of the ruins of large-scale destruction; implied to be a result of humanity’s violent nature. Learning from the mistakes of the past, any new society would likely spend many resources controlling aggression and preventing conflict. In order to do this, one must be able to predict which individuals are likely to cause trouble and remove them from the population. In Psycho Pass, the psycho pass was developed, a measure of the likelihood that a person will commit a crime. Scanners are deployed across the city to constantly measure people’s psycho pass and those reaching a certain crime coefficient are immediately dispatched by the Ministry of Welfare.
The people in Shin Sekai Yori didn’t have such technology so they relied on more traditional methods, a program of genetic manipulation and trials that all children must pass. Those children that fail are dispatched by the Board of Education. While the systems employed differ, the result is the same: a society largely free of aggression and conflict.
Ironically, the societies in Psycho Pass and Shin Sekai Yori made the same mistake when establishing themselves. As the saying goes, they could not see the forest for the trees. Both of them were so obsessed with stamping out every potential little troublemaker that almost all of their resources went into this activity. Because both societies believed that their systems were perfect, neither made plans to prepare for any large-scale conflict. In the case of Psycho Pass, large-scale rioting was thought to be impossible and so they had no means to stop one. In Shin Sekai Yori, it was believed that an Akki would never appear, so when one did, the villagers were helpless against it. By removing people’s fangs and claws, it left them defenseless.
As both series near their end, we will soon see if the societies represented in them manage to survive. I have really enjoyed how Psycho Pass and Shin Sekai Yori have shown how good intentions can lead to negative consequences and for me personally, I think that’s what makes both series worth watching.