Takehito KoyasuJunji MajimaTaishi MurataHaruka Shiraishi
A.I.C.O. Incarnation
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2018: A
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2018
Director: Kazuya Murata
Writer: Yuuichi Nomura
Actor: Ai Kayano, Atsuko Tanaka, Ayaka Asai, Haruka Shiraishi, Hiromichi Tezuka, Ikumi Hayama, Junji Majima, Kaori Nazuka, Kazuyuki Okitsu, Maaya Uchida, M.A.O, Makoto Furukawa, Mugihito, Nanako Mori, Ryota Takeuchi, Sayaka Harada, Sayaka Ohara, Shizuka Ishigami, Shizuka Itou, Taishi Murata, Takehito Koyasu, Tarusuke Shingaki, Toru Ohkawa, Yusuke Kobayashi
Keywords: anime, SF, rubbish
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=19989
Website category: Anime 2018
Review date: 30 July 2019
Arisu or Arisu
It's the kind of "bad" that demands post-mortems and analysis. This show didn't just fail. It sat in a warm bath and opened its arteries.
Normally one at least reacts to a bad show. Here, though, I bounced off so hard that I was just blankly watching the minutes pass and trying to work out where the show went wrong. After ten such episodes (I managed to connect with ep.1 and ep.10), I have some theories.
1. It's a Netflix Original Anime. Seriously, that's a warning sign.
2. One wonders if the anime producers weren't trying too hard to please the American market. It's as if they fed lots of cool SF into a blender and programmed their sausage machine for "gritty", "hard SF plot" and "no character involvement". There's also lots of cliched music. (Admittedly, when it's good, it's good, especially the theme song. However the show's frightened of silence.)
3. A plot summary would have lots of complicated SF terms, backstory and worldbuilding. There's some dangerous artificial life called Matter. We'll be following some people with guns called Divers. They fight the Matter! Carbon nanostructures appear on someone's body! Scientists disagree about the origins of some technobabble! You could fill pages and pages with all this... and almost none of it would have anything to do with the characters. They're plot passengers. They're being carried along. There's only one character you'll notice: Aiko Tachibana. Otherwise, the show would be unchanged if you replaced the cast with androids.
(In fairness, some Divers have personalities... but those personalities exist at right angles to the plotting. The bloke who falls in love with Aiko, for instance, does nothing beyond protesting. You could cut him from the script in ten minutes. The only exception to this is Yuya Kanzaki, who has a fundamental plot role and couldn't easily be rewritten away... but he's also boring beyond all reason.)
4. Partly as a result of this, very little characterisation comes across. Someone dies about halfway through, for instance. Everyone's upset. It's a big deal. I couldn't remember which one he was.
5. The plot advances by revealing SF secrets. You know, instead of by having characters make choices.
Structurally, it's a bit like James Cameron's Aliens. Aiko is Ripley, going with a bunch of space marines (Divers) into somewhere that's infested with dangerous inhuman life. Unfortunately the action is bland, repetitive and has no emotional weight, so we get no sense of cowardice, bravery, loyalty, etc.
Aiko I liked. She's the schoolgirl in the middle of all this. Ep.1 is good because we're seeing her doing schoolgirl stuff and being herself. (In a wheelchair.) Similarly, I was able to engage with some of ep.10 because Aiko meets Aiko and hence is interacting with someone interesting. (Even that episode is still giving screen time to the boring characters, though.)
Lesser things that briefly woke me up: (a) everyone has to get nude to wear their bio-suits. (b) there's an artificial living translucent blob-hamster, which is sort of cute. (c) someone hardly seems to notice their arm getting severed, because the arm's artificial.
This is the kind of story where you'd bet the scriptwriters had all the episodes planned out in detail before they even started thinking about the cast. It's not a story about people. It's about action scenes, impossible high tech and an intricate web of revelations. It's Serious, Gritty SF with Serious People being Very Serious (with guns). Furthermore, if you'd written this, you'd realise it was stone cold dead.