Akane Tsunemori as seen in Psycho-Pass official website
|First appearance||Psycho-Pass Episode 1: "Crime Coefficient"|
Akane Tsunemori (Japanese: 常守 朱 Hepburn: Tsunemori Akane) is a fictional female character in the anime television series Psycho-Pass, which was produced by Production I.G. Akane is a young adult who has just graduated from college; she is a new member of Unit One of the Public Safety Bureau's Criminal Investigation Division, which follows several crime investigations. Akane befriends the unit's Enforcers and becomes involved in several crime scenes, which makes her question her views on society and causes her to become a strong detective. Akane has also appeared in manga and novel adaptations of the series. She also appears in the second anime of the series, now working in another case as well as in the 2015 film, moving to a superstate to unravel the mystery behind freedom fighters.
Akane was created to be a relatable character who would question the setting and answer the viewer's questions. Early in the show's development, the production staff planned the way Akane would mature throughout the story. In the animated series, she is voiced by Kana Hanazawa in Japanese and by Kate Oxley in English. Her character arc was also made to be a stronger main character in both the second anime and the film. Early critical reception to Akane has been mixed. Some critics saw her as typical new cop often seen in dramas; others criticized her as uninteresting. However, her growth in the story earned praise for becoming a highly appealing protagonist.
Creation and design
Akane Tsunemori was created by the Production I.G staff to be the most relatable character in the series. She would question the setting from the audience's point of view and have it explained to them. She was written as the heroine, who would come between the main character, Shinya Kogami, and his main rival, Shogo Makishima, and see their conflict from her own viewpoint. One of the staff's main objectives was Akane's growth.
Akane appears at the start of the first season as an innocent rookie who matures through her experiences. This was affirmed by Japanese actress Kana Hanazawa, who voices Akane in Japanese. Hanazawa said one of the focal points of the series after the third episode was the changes Akane would undergo; she would be influenced by many unfamiliar, traumatic experience she must endure as part of her policing role. As the first Psycho-Pass anime relied on the rivalry and similarites between Kogami and Makishimna, the staff wanted to give Akane her own antagonist in the sequel, Kamui Kirito. Similar to her growth in the first anime, Akane's characterization was made stronger for the film.
Akane was designed by manga artist Akira Amano. The series is "anti-moe", so the production team decided to avoid having Akane remove her clothes during episodes and instead had Kogami remove his. Akane is voiced in the English-dubbed version by Kate Oxley.
For the first Psycho-Pass film, the main idea brought by the staff was about Akane finding the renegade Kogami which was influenced by multiple films like Apocalypse Now and Saving Private Ryan. The non-romantical relationship between these two characters was found appealing by the staff due to trust both have on each other. Both Japanese actors behind Kogami and Akane agreed, with one of them believing Ginoza to fit more this relationship with Akane.
Akane is the 20-year-old main female protagonist of Psycho-Pass. Akane is the newly assigned Inspector of Unit One of the Public Safety Bureau's Criminal Investigation Division. She passes the exams with the highest score for employment on several public sectors and private corporations. Of more than 500 students, Akane was the only one to get an "A" ranking for the Public Safety Bureau and decided to join it because she thought she would be able to accomplish something that only she could do and find her purpose in life. She is initially uncomfortable with her job because it involved attacking and subduing potentially violent criminals before they can act. Enforcer Shinya Kogami's recognizes and is curious by Akane's views on these criminals. Akane befriends Kogami and Enforcer Tomomi Masaoka, which makes the veteran Inspector Nobuchika Ginoza—with whom Akane often argues—angry. In one case, Akane's best friend is murdered by criminal mastermind Shogo Makishima. However, her acceptance of society and will to fight to against conflicts prevent her from becoming a latent criminal, despite the trauma of seeing her best friend's death. Akane then resolves to arrest Makishima.
Akane and Kogami arrest Makishima but he escapes. Akane is disappointed when Kogami leaves the police force to hunt him alone. Akane soon discovers that members of the Sibyl System, a private organization that manages the Psycho-Pass technology, want to use her to capture Makishima alive. Akane agrees on the condition they rescind their orders to kill the defecting Kogami. Despite her efforts, Akane fails to stop Kogami from killing Makishima. The Sibyl System members allow her to live on condition she does not reveal the truth about them. In the epilogue, Akane becomes the de facto leader of Unit One; she is seen briefing a newly recruited Inspector in the finale of season one.
Akane returns as the leading character from Psycho-Pass 2 working with Inspector Mika Shimotsuki to arrest a criminal named Kirito Kamui. After a betraying Enforcer Sakuya Tōgane attempts to raise her Crime Coefficient, Kamui calms Akane down before sacrificing himself in order to shoot Togane as he is intent in lowering people's Crime Coefficients.
Akane also appears in the printed adaptations of the series, which include a manga in which she is the titular character. Additionally, a novel expands on the ending and Akane starts having hallucinations of the people who died during the story. In the audio drama After Stories, she contacts Kogami after the events of the series and promises to meet him again as equals.
In the 2015 film Psycho-Pass: The Movie, Akane learns that Kogami is now in Southeast Asia Union, a superstate which has begun to import the Sibyl System technology from Japan. Believing Kogami to be a terrorist, Akane is sent to the Union to capture him. However, as the two meet, they end up working together to uncover conspiracy within the Union. With help of Unit 1, Akane and Kogami managed to defeat their enemies, but once again not meet again in the finale.
Initial reactions to Akane were mixed. Hiroko Yamamura from Japanator liked the way the first episode focused on Akane's first day as a police officer and her opinions of it. Thomas Zoth from The Fandom Post said Akane's personality is typical of those in dramas; he called her a "naive waif who gets over her head with her first case". Zoth said that in later episodes, he liked the relationship Akane established with Masaoka and Ginoza, which resulted in several interesting scenes. Zoth said he grew to care about Akane during the first half of the series in "a somewhat ironically 'moe' way, as she's grown as a character". In a similar review, Rebecca Silverman from Anime News Network said Akane's actions in the first episode "[set] her up as the clear-eyed, albeit naïve, outsider of the story, willing to look at things differently". David West from Neo noted how weak Akane's character was in early episodes due to how often Kogami did her work. Moreover, once Kogami was impressed by Akane when she requested to revive her traumatic experience to see Makishima's face, West still felt the character was underdeveloped in contrast to Kogami's comments about her growth.
Bamboo Dong from Anime News Network was more critical of the character, calling her "a blank slate". She said Akane is "uninteresting and forgettable, and her previous role in the show as the moral compass seems to have waned as well". Chris Beveridge from The Fandom Post was more optimistic; he said, "Akane provides a good voice for this, since she’s new to it all and wants to bring nuance to the numbers and the situations, but we see how experience plays out against her at times, but also that she does have something to offer with it".
Despite mixed reactions to the character, her growth during the series earned praise. Silverman said that ever since her best friend's death at Shogo Makishima's hands, Akane underwent major character development as she "further distances herself from the bright-eyed rookie she began as, recognizing the flaws in the system while not being entirely certain that she can be the force for change in it". Silverman also praised the impact Akane brought to the climax and her relationship with Shinya Kogami. In a later review, Dong said the character's uninteresting traits stop appearing in the second half of the series.
Zoth said episode 20, in which "Akane finally snaps", was one of his most expected parts from the story. Zoth also said, "Akane has grown as a character, and a detective, and in a bit of a heavy-handed move, she’s shown transforming into Kogami in Ginoza's eyes". Similarly, Bamboo Dong said, "No longer the dull and meek woman she was for over half the series, [Akane's] now confident and capable, doling out commands that are instantly followed and respected by her comrades". Dong said Akane is an appealing main character who is "worth paying attention to, and her presence on screen is the perfect complement to the much more complex side characters that populate the show". Richard Eisenbeis from Kotaku said he found Akane more interesting than Kogami because her overall development. In anticipation for the movie, IGN writer Miranda Sanchez expected to see more interactions between Kogami and Akane due to Psycho-Pass 2 lacking that. However, she noted this bond was not fully explored. Jacob Chapman enjoyed her interactions with Kogami in the role such as one dialogue where Akane starts comparing Kogami with the late villain Makishima. Alexandria Hill from Otaku USA also praised the first interactions between these two characters for its action as it contrasted the heavy use of dialogue in the beginning. In the book Law and Justice in Japanese Popular Culture: From Crime Fighting Robots to Duelling Pocket Monsters, Akane is regarded as a committed person in regards to following the law despite acknolwedging its issues.
Akane also won the "Miss Noitamina" award in an official poll involving characters that appeared in noitamina television series. In the 2013 Newtype anime awards, Akane was voted the third-best female character. In 2015, she once again took that place. The same year, a Charapedia poll, which asked fans to list their favourite "cool" women in anime, had Akane placed 10th with 257 votes.
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