Parallel Worlds: Psycho Pass and Shin Sekai Yori

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  1. I hadn’t really thought of this comparison at all until now. One of the biggest things I’m looking forward to from both is how society changes at the end of the show. Especially Psycho-Pass because up until a few episodes ago, it didn’t seem like there was anything that Akane could specifically do. Now it seems like she’ll be the biggest instigator in that change.

    I don’t know if that made much sense but eh
    Fang-tan recently posted..Help Get A Shin Sekai Yori Novel Translation!

    • I’m also looking forward to seeing if and how the societies in both series will change. My guess is that if they survive, the societies will become more open to free thought and the measures in place to restrict the development of hostile elements will change.

  2. Preventing bad things from happening, is an honorable thought, but humans seem to be unable to develop a working theory to live without violence.

    I only watched one ep of Psycho Pass, it seemed really messed up world there, no wonder some people turned into psycho’s ^o^

    In Shin Sekai Yori, the authorities have learned nothing after the first fiend, it seems they never thought that their way of doing things was wrong or searched for flaws.

    still If I would have to choose I rather take a ticket to Shin Sekai Yori.
    Wieselhead recently posted..Nanoha – Mahou Senki Lyrical Nanoha Force by Alpha Max

    • I’m not sure which world I would prefer. Psycho Pass actually seems nice because everything is laid out in front of you and you don’t need to make any decisions. Shin Sekai Yori is nice because everything seems peaceful and stress-free. Then again, both have their problems that you don’t really see on the surface.

  3. Ahh now that you mention it, they seem immensely similar. What I like about both shows is how deep they went into the study of society and humanity, one quite sci-fi, while the other a bit traditional. The main characters in both shows are struggling with their own free will rather then being controlled, and it’s interesting to see what they will contribute to the ending of both shows.
    Kai recently posted..Psycho-Pass – The Choice Between A Humanized And Cybernated Reign

    • Free will is definitely a major theme in both series. With the endings coming soon I’m curious to see if they decide that free will is more important than security or if the safety of the society is more important.

    • It depends on your preferences. I don’t think Psycho Pass is as thought-provoking as Shin Sekai Yori, but it does have a lot more bloodshed.

  4. Very good post! I was thinking about the similarities for quite some time. Now I see the end will possibly be similar, too. Next week we’ll know for sure. I hope for an escape route where freedom will be recognized as of higher value and the old systems won’t be able to continue existing anymore…
    Foxy Lady Ayame recently posted..A Naughty Journey- a Smut Peddler review

    • I’m not sure if they’ll abandon the old system completely, but it’s starting to look like they’ll have to make some major adjustments. My guess is that both series will allow a bit more freedom, but still value security in a lesser form.

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