Character Spotlight: Kamui Kirito, Psycho-Pass.
Why is it that all of my character spotlights are for characters with names beginning with 'k'?
Eh, probably just coincidence.
Kamui Kirito, the villain of the second series of futuristic dystopian crime series Psycho-Pass, has pretty much been an enigma from the moment he appeared. In a world where everyone is measured, tracked and judged by an all-seeing computer, Sybil, Kamui is a ghost, invisible to the computer and seemingly possessed of almost supernatural abilities, able to lower people's crime coefficients by talking to them, brainwash them into being his loyal followers, and disguise himself almost perfectly as other people.
There was always going to be a bit of a struggle when it came to finding a villain for the second series. Makishima Shogo, the villain of the first series, was beloved by fans despite being more than a little dull, being a more or less cookie cutter arch-manipulator with a fondness for exploiting the mentally ill. So it seems that the writers went as far in the other direction as they could: While Makishima is pale and yellow-eyed and generally villainous looking, Kamui is adorable and looks like he should be one of the good guys; while Makishima is knowingly exploitative and uncaring, Kamui genuinely believes that he's helping his followers (he's not); Makishima's plans lead towards an obvious goal, while Kamui's motivations are more alien; while Makishima is of undeniably sound mind, Kamui is clearly seriously mentally unhealthy.
In all honesty, I find Kamui a lot more interesting than Makishima, and the reveal of his motivations has only made him moreso. While Makishima's motivations were vague, hinging partly on thinly sketched out guff about revolution and self-governance (which is definitely something that needs to happen in the Psycho-Pass universe) and partly on lip-service to a tragic backstory of always feeling like an outsider, Kamui's motivations feel a lot more personal, and start to frame him as a victim as much as he is an (undeniably awful) villain.
|Pictured, Kamui doing something awful.|
All Kamui wanted was to go on a school trip with his friends, and events entirely out of his control caused the deaths of a hundred and eighty four of his friends, who then all had body parts (including living brain matter) implanted in him for reasons unknown and, it seems likely, very petty. He's a victim of conflicts between other people who has quietly ingratiated himself into society at large, with tendrils and influence reaching everywhere.
A villain who you can feel sorry for while simultaneously being repulsed by their actions is always pretty interesting, and Kamui fits that mould perfectly. His actions are definitely repulsive, showing a level of visceral brutality unmatched by anyone else in the Psycho-Pass universe, but he has a strangely sympathetic backstory. Not to mention, he's visibly and genuinely devastated by the deaths of his followers, seems to have fostered friendships with them, and seems to have absolutely no idea that they're all pretty brainwashed.
The other key difference between Kamui and his predecessor is that Kamui seems more convincingly a genius than Makishima. With Makishima, we are mostly told that he's intelligent rather than being shown it: Scenes in which he rhapsodises about books and art are intended to establish him as a cultured intellectual, but most of what he does is acting as a glorified networker, drawing on the abilities of those with special talents. Kamui, meanwhile, is seemingly much less cultured (and much less keen on lavish demonstrations of his intellect), but is a true polyglot, showing talent in the fields of medicine, computer hacking, hologram creation, factory logistics, and god knows how many more, since we know that he utilises one-hundred-and-eighty-four other identities that occupy 'every sector of society.'
Also, he wears ridiculous teal sweaters.
Gotta love a villain who wears ridiculous teal sweaters.