Anime Challenge #9 Favourite anime villain: The Sibyl System


Good news! This article is largely spoiler free – yaaay!

When I saw that I had to write on my favourite anime villain I felt a bit like I did with number five in this challenge (a show I’m ashamed to watch – it was Haikyu!! by the way) in as much as it was difficult to choose because I like nice characters. Villains are to be disliked and that’s just a fact. So I had a think and came up with a bit of a curve ball.

For those of you that have watched it, you’ll know that Psycho-Pass’s strong point above all else is it’s characters. Akane is the perfect up and coming detective complementing her troubled sidekick/safety buffer Shinya. On this same wavelength then it wouldn’t be a bad decision to choose Shougo Makashima as my top villain. He’s intelligent, calculating and knows how to play the system – on top of that he’s written in such a way that he compliments Shinya to the point where they form a rivalry that is so intense that only they can understand it, putting them on a level above the other cast members.

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Or so we think. Psycho-Pass is not an anime that could allow a human being to be the villain. The real villain is the system itself.

If you haven’t seen the show, law within the society of Psycho-Pass is not subject to judicial system that we are accustomed to. Instead, it is controlled by the Sibyl System; an artificial intelligence capable of discerning how likely a person to commit a crime simply by looking at them and reading their ‘Psycho-Pass’.

It is the ultimate dystopian novel put into anime. Society allows technology to grow to such a point unchecked there is no way to regulate it. The Sibyl System is that technology.

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Where we might assign a petty criminal to a rehabilitation course, Sybil would lock them up or simply kill them secure in the knowledge that there is no hope for the individual. Not only is there a huge scope for incorrect decisions (as in the first season), we must surely ask what happens if the system learns to evolve (as in the second season).

Not only do I personally find the concept of Sybil repugnant because of what it shows us about a society that has allowed it to gain such a foothold but also because it offers no compromise or leeway. While my point on Makashima being able to play the system is the case in point, it’s also worth comparing to Akane who isn’t permitted to operate outside of the system to make up for its shortcomings.

There is much to be gained from asking who is truly at fault in a society were technology has such a great hold – the creator or the technology itself, although Psycho-Pass even offers a rather unique compromise there as well.

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No doubt about it, the Sybil System is hardly a typical villain. In the first season in particular, it can be seen at its best as a force for good but in reality, over the course of the two seasons, Sibyl so imperfect it’s dangerous while also being unfair to boot. It is the subtleties that show of how dark and unfair it really is – think of Ginoza’s father as just one example. It’s reach, power and subliminal control in society mean the Sibyl System is well justified as a top anime villain.

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6 thoughts on “Anime Challenge #9 Favourite anime villain: The Sibyl System”

  1. I think the Sybil system is such an effective villain because it embodies us and people wanting to relinquish control over their lives. it kind of makes you think about all the times you allow others to make choices for you and why you allow that. Also, I liked that Akane didn’t just go for a blow the system up approach at the end but realised that the void left by its absence needed to be filled first.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right: Sybil serves as a bleak, but probably reasonably accurate, of what could happen if we continue to rely on technology. It was an impossible situation for her but given the possible consequences of a society without law it had to be the right decision.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sibyl System does make an excellent antagonist and it’s all the more menacing because it’s responsible for a whole society. It’s kinda terrifying, but also really interesting, to think of an entire country ruled by such a power.

    Like

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