Arguably the best way to scratch that action show itch, Production I.G.’s Psycho-Pass was a smart series that gave a wonderful mix of science fiction, ultra-violence, and the timeless classic buddy cop ingredients you see grace cable television. This instant hit was a little bit Robocop, a dash of Blade Runner, and plenty of that appeal from the “seen too much” cop being paired up with the hotshot rookie like in Seven. With fans incredibly split on the sequel series due to issues with creative liberties (which are actually not always a bad thing, but in this case, they certainly weren’t the most popular) taken by the team thanks to the lack of source material, most were turned off to any further anime being made for the series that caught lightning in a bottle. The series wasn’t finished, however, as in the winter of 2015, Psycho-Pass: The Movie was released in Japan. In a really impressive show of good faith, the original writer for the first series was brought back in Gen Urobuchi (who also was responsible for writing blockbusters Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero’s two seasons) instead of leaving him to a story supervision role like in Psycho-Pass 2.
Getting a short US theatrical release in Mar 2016 and later a home release later that year in June, the dub for this film was directed by Zach Bolton (Dragon Ball Z, Soul Eater) and temporarily by Cris George (Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Soul Eater Not!). The dub brought back their whole cast for the run, and everyone knocks the pins down with their unique style and cements this cast as a truly one-of-a-kind collection of voice talent.
Kate Oxley (Eruka Frog in Soul Eater, Catherine Elle Armstrong in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood) as Akane Tsunemori
When the first season of this show kicked off, Tsunemori was a brand new police officer and hadn’t seen the craziness she would end up seeing throughout the course of twenty two episodes. As it goes with cyberpunk cop stories, the things the inspector sees are brutal, and the conspiracies she uncovers are scarring. Nevertheless, she holds her resolve and actually manages to make waves in her new career field. By the time the film picks up, she has been hardened by her experiences and has a polished role working for Japan’s trusted enforcement agency.
When a character undergoes such a change, it is up to the actor to decide how they want to approach the performance. The safe bet is usually to just tread water and keep the delivery the same- after all, no news is good news most of the time. The riskier option, of course, is to change up the voice or make noticeable adjustments to hammer home the developments in a character. No, it doesn’t have to result in the actor running around in a nasally bass voice like Christian Bale’s Batman performance, but anime fans in particular are relentless on dub actors for taking creative liberties in a character. Maybe it does/doesn’t happen with Japanese voice actors (I don’t know Japanese well enough to really judge much more than “Goodness, I really am irritated by these Black Clover voice actors screaming a lot.”), but I remember how brutal fans were whenever an actor didn’t sound the exact same for an OVA or if a new actor was brought in and, heaven forbid, they decide to play the character how a combination of them and the direction team feel is right instead of somehow sounding exactly like the old voice.
Almost as evident as the very first scene, Oxley really impresses with a much more stern, confident, and stoic delivery as Tsunemori. It isn’t so daring that it risks the wolves coming out of their den to nitpick, but it is fitting for what the character endured. Akane is not the same cop she was starting off, and all of these traumatic experiences and deep soul dives have given her a lot more strength. Even those who have not seen anything in the series before and are going in blind can gather by Oxley’s adjustments to the character that this was someone who certainly has been through the rough and back. I can’t speak on her performance in Psycho-Pass 2 as I have not seen it (my friends have advised to go straight from the first season to the movie, but I won’t really fight on a particular hill for that argument here), but I assume she probably made this adjustment then, getting a lot of experience with delivering lines in this particular version of the character. The skill shows, and this feels like a very welcomed take on a developed character.
There is a surprisingly large amount of screentime for Tsunemori alone, and that gives an opportunity for Oxley to work as the narrator for some savvy sleuthing. There is one scene in particular I really like where the ace inspector is covertly hacking into a mainframe to get down to the bottom of a hunch she has. Rather than just letting the visuals do all of the work, Oxley actually makes the reasoning for the actions not come off as redundant- something even live action works that deal with investigation fall for. When she isn’t trying to figure out the mystery of her hosting country, she has heated debates with the other members of the cast and/or is getting tangled with guerillas. While the focus comes off of the investigator for the second act of the film, I really enjoyed what she had to offer in this film. It is an absolute treat to get to see inspired performances, and these sort of improvements Oxley made are the ones that keep me coming back to enjoy fantastic dubs.
Robert McCollum (Jellal Fernandes in Fairy Tail, Kazuma Yagami in Kaze no Stigma) as Shinya Kogami
Remember when people were getting excited for Justice League and there was that one guy who was super into Superman and he actually thought that Superman would not be in it? The promo art came out that clearly had him in it, and yet he never saw it? I like to think that there was someone who went into this film actually convinced that Kogami would not be here because of the way the first season ended for the show. For the sake of keeping the article spoiler free, I will boil the plot down to this: Kogami is in a race to be the most loose cannon cop who doesn’t play by the rules.
McCollum had to have the most fun out of everyone on the cast with this character, because he hams it up to fit the ethos above. I wrote about it before, but Kogami almost comes off as a parody of a cop film protagonist more times than not. Given his situation in this film, the silliness should not have the same effect, however it somehow still fits...out in a jungle...yeah, it doesn’t make any sense and has no business being as hilarious as it is. I understand this is a serious role in a hyper-violent drama, but you can’t help but to love McCollum being the embodiment of all of the edgy cops to ever be written. All that is missing is a super unhealthy amount of chain smoking and the character would be enshrined in the hall of fame for cop protagonists.
All of the positive traits in how Tsunemori develops can be given thanks to Kogami as her first partner, and somehow the character development is not exclusive to the former rookie. Kogami gets a really emotionally charged scene and there are some phenomenal lines from a character that is usually pretty predictable. I don’t mean to disrespect the role or anything when I say how corny it is, as McCollum is a really fun voice actor and brings out a lot of the exciting pace of the chase in the action bits. In his big scene here, he is going toe to toe with another actor (see immediately below) and makes it a candidate for one of the most rewatchable dubbed scenes in the series. I only wish this character got more screentime, even though it is obvious that this was entirely about his former partner and not him. Don’t fault McCollum though, he did fantastic here.
Major Attaway (Urogue in One Piece, Ton Jravolta in Space Dandy) as Desmond Rutaganda
The role of “action anime movie bad guy” is one of the most overlooked roles in the industry- chances are there are <30 lines for the character, most of the sequences with the character don’t have any dialogue for them, and sadly once the credits roll, the characters are forgotten about when people look back on a franchise as a whole. After all, people constantly bicker about which films are canon and which ones are filler, and how seriously they should be considered. After all, when was the last time you saw an anime pull of a Transformers: The Movie where the main character dies and stays dead throughout the rest of the airing series (besides the finale)?
Besides having one of the coolest names I’ve ever written about, Attaway plays opposite of McCollum for what feels like only a brief moment, but in reality it takes up the spotlight of an entire act, nay, the entire film. Kind of like those mercenaries in Black Lagoon, the government that is totally not trying to outright say it is Vietnam hires Rutaganda and his team to take care of the edgiest of the edgy and his Japanese inspector friend- Kogami and Tsunemori. I’m almost certain that no one else on his team speaks more than a combined four lines, and even then he has two or three exchanges max. Attaway makes high efficiency off of his usage, however, as he tears off for a pretty intense torture scene between his character and McCollum’s. The bad guy role in an action anime is a typically thankless job, but having an instant classic scene in a high profile film is a pretty good accolade.
Jason Liebrecht (Yato in Noragami, Train Heartnet in Black Cat) as Nicholas Wong
Speaking of bad guys in action anime, Wong is a character that fits the necessary role of “guy who won’t get his hands dirty but is totally behind everything bad”. Probably best known for his hit role as Yato in Noragami, Liebrecht manages to control the tempo of this character well and dial up the crazy when he needs it most. I love it when a voice actor hides their real range for a long stretch of the role and then really starts hammering it home when it comes time to throw the hand down. No, he doesn’t have any big scenes that will keep you coming back like Attaway did, but Liebrecht does a lot in the short time this film gives him.
Cherami Leigh (Kudelia Aina Bernstein in Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans, Kazari Uiharu in A Certain Scientific Railgun) as Mika Shimotsuki
Probably the only name that has come up on more than one occasion with Dubs w/ Dil here, Leigh has cemented herself as a bona fide all-star in the industry. I’ve had to write her roles so many times that I have decided to just go with two roles in bigger names that hadn’t been listed yet. Probably best known this year for one-two punch in video games as Makoto in Persona 5 and also A2 in NieR: Automata, Leigh has stolen the show and made countless anime dubs worth listening to. From what I’m told, she gets quite a bit of mileage out of the character Shimotsuki, Tsunemori’s new co-worker in Psycho-Pass 2. Similarly to how you can tell Oxley was comfortable with her character by the time this film’s dub was up, you can certainly tell there is a lot of feel for Leigh’s character as well.
If this franchise hits every beat of a classic cop flick, then surely it needs the skeptical co-worker that gives off that “I can do your job much better, punk!” vibe. Thankfully, Shimotsuki covers that need and does it in glorious fashion. I was in stitches over the recurring theme of her impatiently explaining things to Tsunemori and the camera zooming in on her index finger tapping along impatiently. Much like the rest of the cast here, there wasn’t a whole lot of time for her to deliver lines, but Leigh shows up and dunks the scenes while they are there.
Josh Grelle (Armin Arlert in Attack on Titan, Fumikage Tokoyami in My Hero Academia) as Nobuchika Ginoza
Unfortunately, most of the characters from the original Psycho-Pass don’t get more than one or two lines thanks to the plot sending Tsunemori to...Not-Vietnam. Minor Spoiler: once the team rendezvous with Tsunemori, the inspector’s former boss Ginoza gets to have his own scene chasing down everyone’s favorite loose cannon cop Kogami. Once stiff and the epitome of your boss who needs copies in by the time you go home tonight, Ginoza goes through a transformation not unlike the one Tsunemori did due to endgame events of the first season of Psycho-Pass. Similarly, Grelle makes some fantastic adjustments to his character and turns him into a witty, likeable character (something that his character had trouble with for some fans). There are a handful of great exchanges between both Oxley/Grelle and McCollum/Grelle that make me wish Ginoza had a bigger role. Regardless, he gives yet another layer into a fun dub film.
Lydia Mackay (Trisha Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist, Madam Red in Black Butler) as Shion Karanomori
Mackay is a name that might not immediately jump out to most, but her voice acting has been consistent throughout the 2000s. I can’t stomp my foot enough for the role that she did in Fullmetal Alchemist because that ensures anyone who has heard the dub for arguably one of the most universally accepted anime of the 21st century has heard the Ft. Worth actress. Compared to a lot of the actors in the series, Mackay actually gets a bigger role than she did from the regular series. Playing essentially Q to Tsunemori’s James Bond, Mackay gets two of the bigger sleuthing scenes in the movie. Any time someone working with computers can not make technobabble sound dry or forced, that is a major plus. I’m curious to see if Mackay will go off on another couple year stretch where she picks up a lot of hidden gem dubs. Here’s hoping!
Somewhat baffling, fan favorite Yayoi Kunizuka, played by Lindsay Seidel (Nagisa Shiota in Assassination Classroom) had two one-liners, which is really odd for a character who had an entire backstory in the previous series. Linda Leonard plays the spooky high-up police commissioner Joshu Kasei- I’d like to talk more about her role, but it would entail spoilers. It is fascinating to me that Michael Federico has only ever been criminal turned philosophical scholar Jouji Saiga as he a fantastic voice. The rest of the cast that speaks more than one line would be huge spoilers, so I’m going to leave it up to the reader to decide if they want to look them up.
Oh and Jad Saxton is great as the overly cheery automated police system.
It is really tough to develop chemistry for the dub cast in an anime film, among all of the issues the difficult format presents. Case being that the film runs for 113 minutes, however that includes the credits (both the fantastic opening and your standard credit roll in the end) which have to pull it down to just above 100 minutes. Using the standard 24 minute episode format, you’re only looking at two to three episodes tops for the amount of time for lines to be delivered. Factor in scene pacing and the fact that this is an action series, it is probably realistically more like two episodes worth of script. Everyone has such unique talent unlike most dubs here, so the mood and feel reflect fantastically. The team will always have the Psycho-Pass franchise under their belts to stand proudly by.
Psycho-Pass will always be one of the forgotten dubs of the early 10's- it didn’t scream as loud as it could to get attention, nor did it have a fanbase that stayed faithful after the shaky waters of the second season (or so I am told, like I said I haven’t seen the second season, but I am well aware of the divide it made in the fanbase of the anime). Maybe there will be a high profile run on a platform like Netflix, but even if there is not, this is a go-to anime for anyone looking to introduce someone to anime (given they can stomach the ultra-violence). The cast gives a one of a kind collection of talent that will stick out to whoever is watching the series in a way that would be perfect for beginners to the world of anime.
What is a dub you found to be the most fitting for newbies to anime? Is there a series you liked the dub to that might not have been very popular?
Thanks for the read, I’ll be back before the holiday next time. I hope you have a fantastic weekend (or week if you’re reading this during the week...I guess this isn’t a great statement to make in these, but you get the idea). For updates on my writing, anime impressions, and guest appearances on podcasts, be sure to follow my Twitter @DilKokoro.