PSYCHO-PASS: Providence – Deep Backstory, Deep Questions

Set in January 2118, PSYCHO-PASS: Providence begins as Chief Inspector of the Public Security Bureau Akanie Tsunemori receives word that a visitor is mysteriously murdered on her way to Japan. The victim is Dr. Milicia Stronskaya, a professor who specializes in technological research. It is believed that Stronskaya has been killed by the Peace Breakers, a terrorist organization that has been on the Bureau’s radar for some time. Partnering with a former fugitive Shinya Kogami, Akane begins to unravel a case that threatens to unravel the rule of law in the entire nation.

Directed by Naoyoshi Shiotani, PSYCHO-PASS: Providence is an entertaining entry into the long running franchise. Featuring a blend of computer animation and 2D style, Shiotani ensures that the visuals of Providence remain as impressive as ever. (In fact, some of the CGI scenes are so impressive that that almost don’t look animated at all.) However, for those who are uninitiated to the franchise, it’s worth noting that PSYCHO-PASS is not for young children. This is one a series the prides itself on its willingness to bring R-rated drama to the animated world. Characters are struggling with genuine, emotional trauma and issues in a world that seeks to hold them back. Action scenes are intense and violent as characters put themselves in harm’s way. As such, there’s a certain level of power to its filmmaking that more family-friendly fare does not allow.

After its celebrated television series and trilogy of films, it’s safe to say that PSYCHO-PASS has a complex backstory. While this makes for compelling drama, it also could be challenging for newcomers to the franchise to understand the series’ more intricate plot threads. (In fact, they’ve even released a video to help people get caught up that you can view here.) This is a story that has multiple layers in character relationships that matter which may be overwhelming to those who are uninitiated. Set between the events of PSYCHO-PASS: Sinners of the System and PSYCHO-PASS Season 3, Providence is less of a sequel, in so much as it is a film that looks to develop its characters’ narrative in the fuller sense. There’s something beautiful about this aspect from a storytelling perspective, but it could become difficult for those who are new to the series. 

Having said this, Providence feels entirely relevant to our current cultural landscapes. This is a film that seeks to discuss humanity’s willingness to give up responsibility for creating a better world. Without giving any spoilers, Providence reveals mankind’s ability to abandon critical thinking at the hands of a charismatic leader, especially if they believe in the end goal. Despite the nature of his brutal tactics, followers offer an almost religious devotion to their leader when the opportunity to help create utopia arises. But who—or what—decides what it means to make a ‘better world’? Who defines the truth when opposition are both committed to their beliefs? These questions lie at the heart of Providence, creating compelling connections to our modern technologically-based world.

Furious and fiery, there’s a lot to enjoy about PSYCHO-PASS: Providence, especially for fans of the franchise. This is a film that asks big questions that relate to our current world. However, for newcomers, the intricate storylines and character relationships may ask a lot from them as well. 

PSYCHO-PASS: Providence is available in theatres on Friday, July 14, 2023.

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