Welcome!!! It’s been a long while, almost two months since my last post but I’m back with another OWLS post. I do have plans for a more regular segment but it’s still in the planning stages so keep an eye out for that along with some other posts to stop this drought of content.
OWLS Theme: Movement
We join movements, organizations, and systems that align with our own personal values and beliefs. Sometimes we join these groups because they believe in doing good and making positive changes in society. However, these movements can turn sour when a dictator arises or behind the good intentions, there’s a hidden agenda of oppression. It is in these groups that individuals start to shape their identities by questioning their values and beliefs or conforming to the system. This month, we will be examining “real and/or fictitious” movements, organizations, or systems in anime and other pop culture mediums, and the positive and negative effects they have on individuals and society.LynLyn, OWLS Chief Creative Officer
When I first heard this theme I was a bit stuck as to what to write about. Scanning the list of thematic suggestions and Psycho-Pass was listed. I realised this was an opportunity to talk about a Visual Novel (VN) I played recently, Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness.
Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness
In case you’ve not played Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness, it’s set in Tokyo in 2112. At the start of the game you choose to play as either Inspector Nadeshiko Kugatachi or Enforcer Takuma Tsurugi; both new members to the Division 1 team.
It’s a typical VN in the sense that there are multiple ending based on the choices that you make throughout. There are bad endings, good endings, and true endings. By witnessing these endings you can more and more information about what has actually occurred and I recommend you start as Nadeshiko for a more natural discovery.
Movement in Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness
Now you know a bit about the theme of Movement as well as the general premise of Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness you’re probably wondering how does this VN fit into the brief.
There will be minor spoilers ahead
When Nadeshiko Kugatachi joins the Division 1 team, she has no memory of who she was previously. Part of that discovery of her past occurs from the gameplay and I will avoid spoiling that, however we can look at how the society works; something the player discovers at the same time as Nadeshiko.
The world in 2112 is somewhat similar to the world that we know. People have children, go to school, get jobs, and have children of their own. All in all society seems much the same with the addition of everyone being very aware of mental health.
And that’s where the extreme nature of this VN comes in.
Every citizen has a device, much like a smart watch, that monitors their mental health by displaying it visually by colour, called the Hue. You have a device that you can see within the User Interface and at certain points throughout the game your Hue will change; depending on the choices that are made. Anyone with a clouded Hue becomes a latent criminal – someone who is more likely to commit a crime – and their future choices are severely limited from that point forwards.
In order to maintain clear Hues, people have the option to take supplements with a calming effect.This is a choice you, as the player, can decide to do or not and will also affect the story; Hue’s are a big deal.
Throughout the story you get the opportunity to play through three different cases. One involves a missing girl; another is a rescue mission involving a baby; and the third is based in a school. In all three you get to witness the effects of having a clouded Hue, whether that be how society views it to how it affects an individual seeing their own Hue change.
It’s a very powerful story as the members of Division 1 are also changed by what they witness through the three cases. Enforcers, already latent criminals, are under the care of Inspectors who themselves are expected to always keep their Hue clear. Being able to experience this game as both Inspector and Enforcer brings a different spin to the stories.
What does this Movement show us?
Other than the very obvious conclusion of “not everything can be neatly defined” this VN really got me thinking. At first it seemed a good way to help people keep a track of their mental health; but people are so much more complex than any linear system could allow.
The idea that once your Hue has clouded you’re a latent criminal for life is an extremely harsh outlook. There is a supposed justification within the game, but this idea that the psychological aspect of someone cannot be changed really makes me feel as though the world is based on the needs of the many to the detriment of the individual.
I find it very hard to comprehend that this world found no better way to cope with, or even understand, potential criminals. It’s almost as if dealing with mental health was too much effort for them and, rather than seeking to understand it, the world decided it was better to just destroy those that stepped out from the normal bounds. It makes me somewhat thankful for the world we have, as flawed as it is, that at least we seek to understand mental health and help those with issues. Yes, our world still needs to get much better at accepting and helping, but the world of Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness will never get there; hence the mandatory happiness.
Well, that is all we have time for today. This was a really hard post for me to write and I’m not entirely sure I managed to present the point with the clarity I was attempting. Hopefully a more frequent posting schedule will help to loosen these thoughts more!