The Winter 2022 anime season offers a treat for sci-fi fans in Tokyo 24th Ward, set in an alternate reality where Tokyo is in the middle of incorporating a high-tech island as its newest city ward. The 24th ward is the subject of serious controversy since it makes use of Hazard Cast -- a surveillance system used to halt crime with record speed. However, the people don't like being watched so closely by the ward government.
Protagonist Aoi Shuta finds himself in the middle of all this when he and his two friends gain the ability to see the near future, allowing them to prevent crime and disaster before it even happens. Shuta's ability and Hazard Cast may both bring the 2002 sci-fi movie Minority Report to mind, but so far, things aren't quite that grim in the world of Tokyo 24th Ward.
The Transparency Of Hazard Cast In Tokyo 24th Ward
In the world of Tokyo 24th Ward, the 24th ward's government uses a system named Hazard Cast to closely monitor the streets, and SARG first responders can arrive on the scene of any crime or disaster mere seconds after the incident occurs. Hazard Cast cannot actually view the future like the precrime police department of Minority Report, but Hazard Cast can use this data to spot the telltale signs of an impending crime or accident, and thus dispatch first responders with unusual speed.
Notably, this system won't lead to any arrests before a crime is committed, but rather, Hazard Cast allows police officers to confront and arrest criminals just as their criminal activities begin. In that sense, the controversial Hazard Cast manages to be less dystopian than most state surveillance systems in fiction.
Hazard Cast isn't about arresting people for crimes they haven't committed yet, nor is Hazard Cast used to detain people who are merely suspected of being criminals. This system only catches criminals in the actual act of a crime, meaning the system has some transparency when compared to Minority Report's own system. It's true that the ward's people don't like being monitored so closely, and not without reason, but at least there is always hard evidence of an arrested citizen's attempt at committing a crime. This should keep things reasonably fair in a court of law, and allow all parties to openly and accurately gauge the criminal's activities and reach a verdict.
When people are arrested for a future crime that hasn't happened yet, there's no evidence, and in theory, the state could falsely claim that someone was about to commit a crime as a pretext for arresting an undesirable person. Since the crimes are never seen occurring, there's no way to prove the person's innocence.
Fortunately, Hazard Cast doesn't work like that, and based on the first episode's contents, the ward's government wouldn't arrest people for pre-crimes even if it could. Instead, Hazard Cast is about minimizing the delay between a crime or accident and the arrival of first responders. It's about efficiency and timing. There may still be reasons for everyday people to protest the widespread use of Hazard Cast, but in all fairness, things could be much worse.
Precrime Policing And Idealistic Shonen Heroes
Up to a point, the world of Tokyo 24th Ward was devoid of future sight, and Hazard Cast was the closest anyone got to Minority Report's precrime police department. All that changed when one day, Aoi Shuta and his friends Ran and Koki received a phone call from their deceased friend, Suido Asumi. Asumi died a year ago in a dreadful fire, but now it seems she's back in digital form, and she granted her three old friends the power to genuinely see the future. In Tokyo 24th Ward's first episode, Shuta uses his future vision eyes to predict Sakuragi Mari's death when a runaway train hits her, so he and his friends leap in to save the day, My Hero Academia style.
This is the precrime system in action, but it's not in the hands of the 24th ward's government. Instead, Asumi's digital ghost -- if that's what it is -- trusted her three good friends with this power, and that helps establish Tokyo 24th Ward as a shonen anime. It's not a gritty seinen show where precognitive police officers bully the innocent, but rather a story where a kind girl gave her friends a gift from beyond the grave so they can heroically save the day when no one else can.
In many ways, that's a classic shonen paradigm, and it's good news for the people of the 24th ward. Given the choice, the people would rather have three reckless young men run around with recognition than the entire state, and so far, Shuta and his friends have proven themselves trustworthy with this formidable ability. Seeing the future is a serious responsibility, and fortunately, they respect it greatly.