Shogo Makishima: the Villain who Should be Hero

 

Psycho-Pass stands as one of the greatest shows to come out among the recent seasons. I say this despite having read several reviews claiming it to be an average show. No doubt the current philosophy which advocates greater government control and regulation in people’s lives is partially to blame for such poor reviews of the series. For example, my brother has told me of people reading Huxley’s A Brave New World raving about the perfect society therein. Of course, one may argue that my own political philosophy of liberty under the law and limited government make me blind to how much happier people could be under the totalitarian systems of both A Brave New World and Psycho-Pass.

foundingfathers1

At any rate, before I consider Shogo Makishima’s merits and demerits, let me delineate the deficiencies of the society in which he lives. First, it limits the freedom of what kind of career one wishes to pursue. Of course, this has the benefit of reducing unemployment and people’s angst about what career they should pursue. Also the findings of the tests may very well indicate one’s true vocation. Mikhail Botvinnik, the brilliant World Chess Champion of the 50’s and early 60’s, may indeed have wished to become both a scientist and a chess player; but, ought he not have had the freedom to merely pursue chess if he wished instead of the U.S.S.R. telling him that he must be a scientist? Test scores are a good indicator of talent; yet, had the Catholic Church relied on test scores alone, St. John Vianney, to our great loss, would never have become a priest. Then, who would have become the patron of parish priests?

mikhailbotvinnik Vianney_Szent_Janos

 

Besides the loss of freedom in choosing one’s career, this society has also lost its sense of justice and courage. The most fortunate people are the very enforcers who may be eliminated at will! One of the most telling scenes occurs when a man murders a women in the middled of a crowded street as the mob merely rubbernecks. One is reminded of a story in modern Britain where an old man was nearly beaten to death on a bus as the passengers looked on. In both cases, the onlookers would have been punished for assisting the victim. Only the police have the right to self-defense and defending a third party. Is it me or do not the majority of the citizens of Psycho-Pass seem little better than swine?

Few scenes have induced such a feeling of rage as this one.

Few scenes have induced such a feeling of rage as this one.

 

My final objection to this society lies in its destruction of the moral imagination. (Yes, Albert Camus and Russell Kirk have caused me to start viewing practically everything under the theme of the moral imagination. I promise to eventually beat this horse to death, but my dear readers may have to wait a while.) Man has essentially been reduced to their economic and carnal sides. The evidence of this lies in that literature is no longer considered essential to schooling; though, books do seem to be readily available. Society believes that the psychic part of man must merely be mollified, not nurtured.

Psycho-Pass-Episode-21-Makishima-blade

 

Oddly enough, the most literate and artistic people in this series tend to be the killers. What so drives this anti-social behavior? Surely not the humanities! I would have to say that the killers’ very literacy, especially Makishima’s, makes them outcasts from society. And between the level of outcast and wild beast stands only the mountain man—as the friend who helped Inspector Shinya Kogami’s investigation may be considered. People need society and other minds who are capable of relating to them. Otherwise, isolation builds mistrust and finally malice against one’s fellow men leads to the darkest depths of misanthropy—unless one has received a special mission and grace from God so as not to need the society of other men anyway.

Psycho-Pass-episode-15-screenshot-026

 

Indeed, the only person with whom Makishima could relate to was Kogami, who wished to kill him. Therefore, one impetus for Makishima’s crimes would be to form a connection with Kogami! Talk about killing for love!

Psycho Pass 1

 

But, in the idea of killing for love lies the reason for Makishima being a villain instead of a hero. Good acts must be accomplished through good means and for a good end. If either the means or the end is evil, the whole act is wrong—a sin. It is obvious that Makishima wishes for a better society than the present one; however, encouraging heinous crimes in order to reveal the flaws of such a system hardly counts as heroic! Better was his attempt to infiltrate police headquarters in order to expose the real nature of the Sybil System; but he ought to have found a different method of depleting the building of personnel than by instigating mass riots!

PSYCHO-PASS.full.1447619 psycho-pass-1105

 

Makishima’s one shining moment (Major Spoilers ahead!!!!) has to be where he turns down the Chief’s offer to join the Sybil System himself. Who does not love how he turned down the temptation to become a cog in a semi-omniscent machine? That he told off the Chief as the Chief was so certain that he would leap at the chance to exchange his humanity for a purportedly superior existence? I almost cheered when he called up Kogami to inform him that he was still at large.

Psycho-Pass-Episode-21-Kougami-phone

 

Makishima could easily have been a hero if he did not resort to crime in order to achieve his ends. If only he had taken a page from Lelouch Lamperouge in using just methods for ousting a tyrannical authority! But, just methods always are the most difficult and are undertaken with the most risk. One wonders whether Makishima could have been successful. After all, if the Soviet Union could send someone to the gulag after a trial having found him insane for believing in God, how much more easy would it have been for the Sybil system to have executed Makishima as an extreme malefactor sans a trial? Then again, when the majority of the citizens’ mental states have been reduced to that of cattle, could he really foment enough dissension to induce peaceful change? Especially when society discourages literate and intellectual activity?

psycho-pass-review-3

 

I rather find myself at a loss to suggest methods of reform. Perhaps the last method Makishima devised to destroy the Sybil System was the one which he ought to have attempted first. I really wanted him to succeed. The Old Testament prophets had a more receptive audience than Makishima met in the society of Psycho-Pass! Others who hated the Sybil System limited themselves to blogging complaints among their inner circle online. Perhaps the most one can do in a society more oppressive than any tyranny in recorded history is to shake the dust off one’s feet and leave. In exile, one can imitate Solzhenitsyn in writing novels and short stories about the evils of this system, hoping to change people’s minds and hearts or do something more effective: pray.

Solzhenitsyn

 

Attempting to reform such an emasculated, gutless, and heartless society seems impossible for any being less than God Himself. Violently attempting to bring such a society to its senses can only lead one to villainy—as was the fate of Makishima.

PSYCHO-PASS.full.1337084

 

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41 comments on “Shogo Makishima: the Villain who Should be Hero

  1. thompdjames says:

    Reblogged this on The Dusty Thanes and commented:
    I would just add that the fictional society has the very interesting trait of being exactly like a communist utopia. Not how these places actually turn out, starving and wretched, but what they always pretend to be. There is plenty of food, good work, leisure, and happiness… although the hollowness of that last is part of the show. The amazing thing is though, that this show displays how evil and horrible the intentions turns out to be; even without the mass starvation and misery. The perfect, successful, totalitarian society, cloistered away from the world, like everything North Korea is in its own propaganda, is still so vile that the best characters, the best humans, are the ones who are either ‘latent criminals’ or the villain. And that villain is very very interesting, and is excellently discussed in the linked post.

  2. GoodbyeNavi says:

    I definitely agree that Psycho Pass was one of the best shows of the most recent anime seasons. I saw that it served as a warning for allowing the government to having more and more control. The parallels it drew with the government determining what your job is was startling. If you think about it, your career is pre-determined for the most part in this society depending on your class. Public school education is creating workers for the government as it is government-fed education. The government controls what students learn which limits their growth.

    Honestly, Makashima was the anti-hero that I understood. Didn’t exactly like his methods but I understood why he went in the direction that he did. He made people aware and gave many choices that they hadn’t had before or realized they had. I wouldn’t be against a season 2.

    • So true, especially about education. Have you read the writings of E. D. Hirsch on why education is so faulty? He makes pretty interesting arguments for what needs to be reformed. In particular, he claims that the whole current philosophy of education is wrong. Very interesting stuff.

      Not sure if they can make a season 2. The series ended so nicely! I do wish that Makishima’s final plot had succeeded before he was caught. Down with the Sybil System!

      • tankyrase says:

        A season 2 is coming. Not sure exactly what will it be about though. Presumably it is going to take place a few years after the the end of the first season.

      • I’m not sure what to expect either. I almost get the impression from the preview that they will go back in time to the beginning of the original show. This makes me wonder whether there is not another major villain lurking in the shadows and hoping to reform society at the same time as Makshima Shogo. Anyway, I’m more than a little curious.

  3. GoodbyeNavi says:

    Makashima probably would have succeeded if he hadn’t pissed off Kogami. They could make a second season work that would be just as good as the first due to the many elements that were introduced. I agree that the ending was well done so it is not a necessity.

    I have not read the writings of E.D.Hirsch. When he is discussing education, is he discussing the education system of the United States?

    • He discusses the education system in the United States by comparing it to how much more successful foreign systems of education are. He also uses psychological findings to point out the flaws in progressive American theories on education. It is interesting that he backs up all this with historical data showing how the widespread use of Rousseau’s and other non-traditional writers’ theories on education have had a negative effect on students.

      It’s very interesting to read.

  4. […] Shogo Makishima: the Villain who Should be Hero (Medieval Otaku) […]

  5. Kell says:

    I agree. Makishima was [messed] up but he was MUCH better than the rest of the people in the series who pretty much enjoyed their lives while allowing people with clouded psycho-passes to get executed or imprisoned. A few murders doesn’t compare to what those people did/allowed. Makishima actually tried to change things.

    Anyways, considering that the story was written by Urobuchi Gen, and that Makishima died in the end, you could just assume that he was indeed the hero. Lol.

    • Well, in his end of trying to get rid of the Sybil system, he was certainly better than the rest of the characters, who either felt hopelessly bound to it or aided it. But, I am more inclined to focus on the means one uses than the end or intent, and using bad means for a good end cannot be admitted. For example, one could not go back in the past to kill Hitler as a baby, even though this might have averted the Holocaust. For, as a baby, Hitler had done nothing wrong, and it is always wrong to harm the innocent or the righteous.

      Makishima certainly died like a hero would, but I’m more inclined to call him an anti-hero–certainly the most interesting character in the series by far. I was really rooting for him to poison the grain and take down the Sybil system. By the heroes stopping him from doing this, they do seem like worse villains than Makishima–especially with everything Akane Tsunemori knew.

      (Pardon me. I took the liberty of bowdlerizing your comment a little. Please, keep the comments clean. I’m a prude. :))

      • Kell says:

        Ah yes, being anti-hero works just fine for Makishima. But I, for one, didn’t particularly have any trouble with the means he used to try and bring down Sybil. You mentioned he should’ve used tried at the beginning what he tried last, but that actually needed the Sibyl system to be less functional(the way it was after it suffered some damage during the riots). Also, such form of government is never simply taken down peacefully. To end such an orderly system like Sybil, a lot of chaos had to be introduced into the system. I think inciting riots by using mass-crimes as the catalyst was a great decision. Endings of such governments are always bloody, just like revolutions. That said, Makishima was much more evil than any revolutionary could be. But I was fine with that because I believed the rest of the society to be EVEN more evil. I mean, come on… considering certain class of people to be like dogs, imprisoning children aged 4 for crimes they have never committed, and executing others for the same reason. Thats worse than murder, the charge you can bring against Makishima.

        Btw, Lelouch didn’t use just means either. He chose the lesser evil. Is it defeatist to do so? I don’t think so.

        And anyways, if season 2 does show them bringing down the Sybil system, then everyone has Makishima to thank. Why? Makishima’s actions lead to Tsunemori Akane learning of the system’s truth. And Makishima’s actions will be what lead to the Sybil system making the truth about itself public. That should certainly increase resistance against the Sybil. In the long run, Makishima wins.

      • Yeah, Makishima was put in a tough situation. As I said, how does one combat a society that can imprison or execute one without trial and had its citizens completely brainwashed? Lelouch was fortunate in having a large group of citizens who were willing to fight on his side.

        But, I do think that Lelouch’s means were just. In one of his dialogues, Cicero asks the question of whether it is right to steal from a certain tyrant. He responds by saying of course it is just to steal from someone whom it is licit to kill. Lelouch targeted military and government personnel and installations, which is a just way to bring down a tyrant.

        However, going after civilians and non-government personnel is unjust. In a sense they are supporting the tyranny, but they do so in ignorance, and so I can’t countenance targeting them. But, then, how does one bring down the system? It must be bloody, but one must be selective in whose blood is shed.

        But, I can’t see a way to accomplish this in a just manner. If they do give us a second season, I would love to see what the hero or another villain comes up with. Then, Makishima does win, and I’ll be happy to see the victory.

        Thanks for your comments! They give me much more to think about concerning this excellent series.

      • aqilaqamar says:

        Actually Matoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell would say that the youth wants to die after his actions of heroism have been done and dealt with but the mature man will then take responsibility for his actions. I found that Akane encompassed this to a T but neither Shogo nor Shinya did. I mean they had some problems with their own philosophies.

      • That might be the difference between courage and fortitude. The former encompasses more active feats of daring, while the latter includes perseverance and suffering passively. Akane definitely shows more fortitude than either Shogo or Shinya in being willing to continue living in the society based on the Sybil System. Yet, I often wonder how someone with such an attuned sense of right and wrong as Akane has can bear it.

      • aqilaqamar says:

        Akane acknowledged the evil and she will work inwardly to strive towards a better awareness. This is where Akane’s test scores don’t matter. What mattered was her assiduous way of holding empathy, integrity and curiosity

    • Moriarty says:

      Indeed. The sin of omission as theologians would put it. The sin of not doing what you should do is just as vile as doing what you know you shouldn’t.

  6. Saad Akram says:

    Makishima didn’t fail…………if you look into the intro of psycho pass 2 it says that the economy of japanese went down due to makishima and kogami tends to destroy the sibyl system from the shadows and tsunemori from within…….both of them got this will of destroying sibyl system from makishima……in other words half of his role in destroying sibyl system was passed down to kogami just as he planned……….he didn’t consider other criminals as toys but as some people who could succeed him and could destroy sibyl after he dies………that’s exctly why he killed them all except kogami.

    • Of course, I was writing from the vantage point of the first season, where it seemed like his plot to poison the grain was foiled. This only makes me more interested in seeing what happens in season two. Will the society of the Sibyl System unravel? That would be nice to see.

  7. […] begin to occur along with gruesome crimes. Even throughout this time of turmoil, he believes that he’s doing the right thing. Similar to the philosophy which states, “the ends justify the […]

  8. Isaac Lipner-Riza says:

    Eh I never liked the idea of Makishima truly being an anti hero in fact its near absurd. Yes his society was wrong and yes he tried changing it but not for the better, he wanted a society in which killers could chose to be killers on their own free will, in his heart he was still in love and entertained by those darkest corners of humanity he wanted to sink as many people he could into that darkness during his life, seeing those cruel and evil parts of humanity bubble to the surface was his true pleasure. He’s the absolute embodiment of sin and evil he combines the temptress with the devil himself he’s the epitome of a villain second to only Johan Liebert in anime. In terms of how good a villain he truly is.

    • Well, if you recall that the first character ever termed an anti-hero was Satan in Milton’s Paradise Lost, Shogo Makishima might easily fit in that category!

      Yes, Makishima loved evil too much, but the system he fought against was also evil. If only he had the right motivations for fighting against the Sybil system, he might have made for a great hero.

    • aqilaqamar says:

      I think he loved the madness of humanity because when one is born in a clinical, sanitized society they will be fetishistic of things of humanity that are debauche and macabre. Even Shinya said that he must have faced hardships in life and so it is why his characteristic involving that made his hue white. Well, he wanted a society where people could chose to do things. That doesn’t mean really killing. Rather I think Shogo would be happy if his hue turned black or changed. The fact he was criminally asymptomatic made it hard for him to bond with anyone and he even hated that Sybil celebrated their robotic monochromes. I think if Makishima had a different kind of life, as said even by the writer of the series and it is trustworthy enough, he would have been a very kind and empathetic person. I can even see him challenge people like Johan Liebert and especially Light Yagami. Light Yagami would want to be the primer of the Sybil echelon and Liebert wouldn’t mind being its watchdog it would be Shogo, Shinya and Akane who would oppose them outwardly.

      • Cambrian says:

        “I think if Makishima had a different kind of life, as said even by the writer of the series and it is trustworthy enough, he would have been a very kind and empathetic person.”

        It’s possible that Makashima only felt that his murders was acceptable because those in the society he was killing were no better than the cattle they grew to be. It’s quite clear that Makashima sees Sybil as robbing some core value from human life (this point being the easiest to sympathize if not outright agree with). It’s quite possible that it was only in the absence of that value that he felt the killings justified, or at least not morally compromising.

      • aqilaqamar says:

        Yeah in his final monologue he did lament the loss to the values and significances of life

  9. aqilaqamar says:

    Reblogged this on aevumus ♠.

  10. aqilaqamar says:

    Your topic on Shogo is one of the top default results on google I think even on Images panel. Be proud ;3

    • Why, thank you! I had no idea. But, this article of mine seems to be very popular, and I’m happy to have stirred the imaginations of so many readers by it. 🙂

      • Joe Harrison says:

        you definitely stirred my imagination! I am so happy I found this and I am glad that there are others out there that view literature and entertainment while actively applying their beliefs to what they see.

      • I’m glad that you enjoyed this post. It’s the most popular one on this blog, partly because of its creativity and partly because we might be living in the world of Psycho-Pass (under an all-controlling government) pretty soon. I hope not though!

  11. […] the above case, I declined to feed the troll and was surprised when this individual found my apparently famous Shogo Makishima post.  In his deleted comment, the troll denied the idea of sin, writing the absurdity “the only […]

  12. jubilare says:

    “For example, my brother has told me of people reading Huxley’s A Brave New World raving about the perfect society therein.” …can’t stop my eye from twitching.

    There’s a lot of food for thought in this post. I can easily see why it’s popular!

    • Thank you! It is interesting how the left has such a different paradigm for what counts as human flourishing. But, refusing to believe in God makes the state the highest power people believe in, and one’s greatest happiness is to be found in this life. The amount of errors produced by these false premises is endless.

  13. Nobody says:

    Ignorance is truly a bliss, we throw smart peoples books at each others head, but most likely haven’t understood a things that has been said.
    Why don’t we name the devil by it’s name, the society portrait in the anime is just the society we are living in.
    We trample others down for our own glory and purpose, pretend lie and keep the beast alive by feeding it. Moaning and Groaning about how things should be better, showing our responsibility on Governments and Political Systems and streams instead of taking the power into our hands. But when the shit goes done we turn our backs, and run.
    As if the things portrayed by the series were something surreal, out of touch with our reality.
    What has Man become, a brute powered by hate, greed and egoism.
    Our lifespans have extended on the costs of our brains and the blood of those that are truly innocent.
    The life’s we lead are determined the masses think of as reality, the very moment we take our first breath in this hellish place, we are doomed to become what THEY want us to become. Forced to endure the tortures THEY laid into our cribs.
    Why? Because the MASS likes to eat whats dished to them by the few like cattle, greedily sucking IN ALL THE GOOOODSTUFF RIGHT? WE ALL LOVE THE GOOOOOODSTUFF. AND IF YOU DON’T!? WELL THAN YOU MUST BE AN ABOMINATION.
    So we have no other choice but to fake our part in this SOCIETY, in this MODERN society, this ADVANCED society. Killing ourselves with every step we take until there is no more. It’s scary so scary… please… someone…
    We play innocent even thought our hands are died brown, with rotting blood and our bellies are filled with rotting limbs of animals and humans, our skin is covered in the tears and the backs of innocent born into the wrong place at the wrong time.
    BUT WHO GIVES A SHIT RIGHT? LOOK AN ACCIDENT AHAHA LETS FILM IT AND PRETEND TO BE SHOCKED! SOMEONE GET BEATEN TO DEATH? THAT’S AMAZING WOW IN REAL LIFE, HOPEFULLY THEY DIE I WANT TO FEEL CLOSE TO DEATH YES! PLEASURE ME; YES!
    I CRAVE BLOOD, BUT FEAR PAIN. I LOVE TO DISH OUT, BUT I AM WEARY TO TAKE CONSEQUENCES. CONSUME WANT CONSUME WANT CONSUME TAKE CONSUME MURDER CONSUME RAPE CONSUME FORCE CONSUME BETRAY CONSUME DIE!
    Most people are already dead anyways, they might still bleed when you cut them, but how? How can something that’s already rotting still whale, heh, just remnants of their true selves I presume. How foolish.
    Reduced to their carnal instincts, whats the point of existing in such a state. A life like that is not worthy to be lived, it’s sad it’s painful. PLEASE I don’t want to see those waxy dead faces anymore…
    Have we already reached the PEAK the point of no return? How many of us are actually still alive? I don’t know anymore, the sight is to dim and the stench and smog of the decomposing bodies to thick. – Whats the point of me to exist?

    • I know that feeling quite well. The present state of society is enough to make one despair. But, so were the Dark Ages of Europe, as barbarian tribes threatened to tear Christendom apart. However, humble monks kept the flame of faith alive and small armies protected the freedom of nations against the barbarian hordes.

      The most we are called to do is to remain faithful and not to give up. Society is corrupt and vapid? Well, don’t be corrupt and vapid yourself, and other people will either rally to you or want to destroy you. In the first place, you will gain allies to slowly turn back the tide of the dissolution of the West. In the second place, you will gain more allies as people see your courage. Though the masses live like a herd, they still have the image and likeness of God within their souls no matter how much they have repressed it for the sake of mere animal life. One never knows when God shall inflame them with a desire for real life, and we should hope and pray for that change in our brothers and sisters as we do what good we can for this change.

      We are very close to the society of Psycho-Pass (I disagree that we are fully there), but we should fight more valiantly to the degree we find ourselves cornered. One never knows how courageous one can be until one has no choices but to fight or to die!

  14. aqilaqamar says:

    I am watching the extended version right now. Have you seen the second series? And the movie?

    • I’ve seen the second season, but I have yet to watch the movie. I expect that the movie is better than the second season. But, I hope to see for myself soon.

      • aqilaqamar says:

        I liked the second TV series because it showed Akane Tsunemori as a formidable person and opponent. Yes I feel some people dont like it as Shinya is not there nor is Shogo. I like how Kamui is different than Shogo. Shogo is AA but Kamui is actually empathetic and seems to care about people to some extent unlike Sybil. I like that Akane is shown to be pretty strong and that is why Sybil doesn’t underestimate her. I feel that Shogo should have stayed alive. I like his character. What did you like/dislike about 2nd season?

  15. i says:

    I think I’ve become accustomed to thinking I’ve found the truth of what I should and shouldn’t believe is right or wrong, but every time he talked I felt like there is some fundamental piece I’ve left out, that there is something new to learn or some new perspective.

    His parts in this anime were definitely the highlights. And it wasn’t just his slightly tragic background that sold me on his character, it’s his actions and goals that make him the best. And I don’t think it’s even this rejection from society that made him want to destroy the sybil system. I think what he wanted is for people to be free. He only focuses on his goal and is willing to pay whatever price to accomplish it. His goals, resolve, intelligence, and looks are all top notch and make him one of the best ever.

    I remember hearing a quote that said ,”Anything that can be destroyed by the light should be.” If you take into account the oppressive government and the secrets they have, I think it can be said that he was the hero of this story.

    The only problem he had was that his end result was failure. It was clear from the anime he believed that the ends justify the means. Since he failed in his goal his own standard makes him evil due to all the people he’s killed and destruction he’s caused.

    And to be fair to this amazing character. I don’t think it was entirely wrong to have killed those people in pursuit of a better world. Everything about these people’s lives were controlled by the sybil system. Afraid to do anything lest their hues become worse they accept anything they’re told is right or wrong. They don’t question truth or morals. How individual can these people have been? How human? And in what quality did they exist? Maybe they lived in a peaceful society but they weren’t free. Maybe they were alive but their sheep-like existence seems inconsequential/of no true value.

    TLDR: His story is a tragedy with good intentions.

Legens, scribe sententias tuas.

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