AICO – 03

Aiko and Yuya have been captured by CAAC (Control Agency of Artificial Creatures), led by Director Nanbara, your obligatory Badass Director Lady giving orders in the back of a fancy car. She’s in frequent contact with Dr. Isazu, director of the Kiryu Hospital and once the doctor in charge of Aiko’s care. Clearly lots of people are interested in Aiko.

Thanks to a clever tracking strip in his paper airplane (activated when he goads a guy into crushing it), the Divers get a fix on Yuya’s location before the government takes harsher steps to interrogate him and fill Aiko’s head with lies (they insist her family is dead).

The Divers ambush the captors when they try to move their prisoners, in a decent action scene that demonstrates the Divers’ coordination and toughness, even in non-diving situations. That they were able to so easily infiltrate CAAC and retrieve their assets speaks both to their exceptional skills and CAAC not expecting an ambush.

With Aiko and Yuya back, the mission proceeds as planned—even as there’s a sudden flare-up of the Malignant Matter behind the Gate, spurring an increased military presence, which launches tranquilizer missiles over the gate that manage to calm the Matter down.

While preparing for zero hour, Aiko nods off and her dreams include the POV memories the other Aiko—her real body with an artificial brain. She and her double are connected. Not only that, the Matter is attracted to her artificial body; but Yuya hopes a certain drug will diminish that particular effect.

Aiko has decided to side with those who cultivate and embrace her belief her family is still in there, alive (the other Aiko seems to have encountered them, after all). We’ll see if she’s put her trust in the right people. The Divers are pros who will carry out their mission to the best of their abilities, but they also seem to have taken to Aiko and want to help her out, in addition to, well, trying to save Japan and the world.

Once she and the other Divers are suited up in their “Live Suits” (a process that reveals a lot of her and the Divers’ skin), they head to the Gate. Just minutes after they’re allowed through, however, the Gate is locked down by the government. There’s no turning back; if they’re going to do this, it’s now or never.


AICO – 02

Aiko’s new “friends” dump a lot of info on her in an episode that gets us up to speed, introduces some other players, and sets the stakes, which are far-ranging. To sum it up, Aiko’s natural body was all but destroyed in a car accident, so researchers decided to put her brain in an artificial body they made when she was born.

However, the surgery that allows her to be standing there today caused the Burst: an overpowered proliferation of “malignant matter” that threatens Japan and the world. She’s also apparently the key to stopping it. Oh, and her mom and brother are still in ground zero.

It’s obviously a lot to absorb for poor Aiko, whose world has just been flipped upside down. She’s a lot like Neo during his sprawling introduction to the Real World, though she doesn’t throw up, she RUNS…nowhere in particular, just away from all this scary shit.

While running, she ends up falling through a roof, right into the lunch a redheaded Diver named Misawa Kaede is about to tuck into. Kaede’s colleague Kazuki assists Aiko when he learns she just wants to get away, but Kaede and the others corner her and bring her back to Kanzaki, Dr. Korose & Co.

Kurose decides to hire the 4-person Diver team to infiltrate Ground Zero in order to retrieve Aiko’s real body. Kanzaki will be their guide, they’ll be paid handsomely even if survival can’t be guaranteed, and whatever 2-person team from the quartet fares better by a certain leg in the mission, will get a bonus and be the ones to accompany Kanzaki to the final leg.

Now that the situation and the plan for dealing with it have been established, it looks like it’s time to impliment it, but the team hits a snag: a SWAT team busts into the hideout and snatches up Aiko and Yuya.

In two episodes, Aiko has been plucked from school by one party, given an infodump, freaked out and run away, picked up again, and then kidnapped by another party. I’m not seeing a whole lot of agency for the titular character, nor are there any indications she’ll be gaining any of it anytime soon.

That could be problematic going forward, as we’re dealing with a Netflix “Original”-style series that has been intricately formulated to check a lot of boxes and satisfy multiple audiences, but in doing so lacks any kind of basic originality.

AICO is (and will probably remain) watchable because’s it’s well-made competently executed, and isn’t gratingly gratuitous (likeDevilman Crybaby). But I like to think I’ve watched enough anime to make the determination that there’s no potential for AICO to be anything other than popcorn entertainment.

AICO – 01 (First Impressions)

Implacable organic masses don’t tend to be the most compelling villains…but we’ll see

Thanks in no small part to streaming services like Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix, there’s just too damn much television to watch. And if Netflix has anything to say about it, there’s going to be too much anime as well. A.I.C.O.: Incarnation is a Bones-produced original anime tailor-made for Netflix-style binge watching.

That’s quite evident from this first episode, which unloads an awful lot (and jumps around multiple genres) but doesn’t settle on any one thing, yet moves around at a good enough clip to entice you to watch more, provided you don’t get immediately irritated by the number of cliches that unfold.

A Bridal Carry? That was quick.

Mind you, many conventional network-airing anime give you this same kind of kind of thrown-into-the-deep-end, action-packed pilot, but it’s very much intentional here. There’s bits and pieces of characters and story in AICO’s first outing, but not quite enough to be satisfied with just … one … episode. You really want to watch on.

“You aren’t…a stoic Gary Stu by any chance?”

But it’s fairly late, and I typically like to space things out for the sake of my eyes and sanity, so I’ll be watching one episode at a time, unless I can’t resist to watch more for some reason. In that regard, I think I’ll be safe; thus far the presentation of AICO is such that I’d probably benefit from a slight respite between episodes, even if it goes against the Netflix credo of simply sitting in the same place until an entire season is done.


Oh, sorry, I haven’t said much about what AICO is about, just how I felt about watching it. Suffice it to say, there’s a huge threat to humanity in the form of some kind of formless ambulatory mass of gore called “matter” that consumes everything in its path. It’s believed their only hope against this scourge is Tachibana Aiko, who at first appears to be an ordinary high school girl gradually regaining the ability to stand and walk after some unspecified injury.

The reality, however, is that Aiko no longer possesses a natural body; hers is an extremely realistic, intricate, and above all tough artificial body, in which any bruises, blows or cuts are quickly healed. A rake to her face with a knife shatters the knife. This all comes as a shock to Aiko, who already has her plate full as the lone member of her family to survive some kind of calamity likely caused by the Matter.

As I said, the show moves relatively well, even if it moves a bit too much in one sitting; it’s decent-looking enough and the music is adequately atmospheric. Perhaps I’ll take another look or two soon…just not all at once, as prescribed.


Hundred – 06


Anyone hoping this week’s Hundred would out-do Bakuon’s T&A quota may come away disappointed: there was precious little time for girls to throw off their clothes and jump Hayato, what with all the battlin’ going on. And hey, what do you know, Sakura’s Hundred also gives her defensive capabilities. Why does she need a part-time bodyguard, again?


Apparently not from the pack of elite variants who poach savages. The group of three (four?) make the Little Garden students look a bit silly; though perhaps that’s not entirely fair as you’re talking about pros (albeit young ones) against amateur students. Nice outfits, though.


Sakura expresses a little confusion over Emile’s possessiveness towards Hayato (being a “boy” and all), but nothing comes of it, and in any case, there’s no time for fooling around since there’s savages to fight! Only the hunters fought and beat the savages for them. And there actualy was time for a lot of standing around and talking. As for the savages, they seem really slow and dumb.


The savage hunters, imaginatively called “hunters” by Claire at their debriefing, are after savage cores, because cores and variable stones are basically the same thing, both technologically and monetarily speaking. But this is all Top Secret, so don’t tell anyone, even though the science loli told half the cast.


Sakura spends a good amount of time on a beach with no bodyguard, it seems, because she’s already there when Hayato answers her summons. When Hayato says everyone’s looking forward to the concert, Sakura goes into a pity spiral, saying people are only affected by her song because she’s a variant and that’s her skill. Hayato rebuts: she touched him and Karen way back before she was an idol, so quit hatin’ on yoself!


The concert ensues, and, erm, it’s okay I guess? Pretty underwhelming. They never even bothered to animate Sakura singing; not even once! Which begs the question, why have such an ambitious idol concert scene if you don’t have the budget? I don’t know, but at the end Sakura breaks out the same song she sang to Hayato and Karen, which is nice.


After giving Karen, who really should be dead from all the exposure to the outside (why else would she be confined to a hospital room the rest of her life?) an autograph and handshake, Sakura closes in for a big ‘ol smooth on Hayato’s cheek, making the polyamorous lil’ scamp blush like a rose – and outrage all the other girls present currently crushing on him.


It wouldn’t be Hundred without closing with an even more ridiculous portrayal of Hayato’s harem, in which three of his girls tug and pull at him like he’s the last carton of milk at the store during a blizzard. You break him, you bought him, ladies…and what are you gonna do when you get him?



Dimension W – 12 (Fin)


I’ll be honest: I came into the DW finale with a “Let’s just get this over with” attitude. While initially promising, the Easter Island arc to close the show ended up repeating and amplifying the issues I had with the Haunted Mansion arc. In hindsight, I should have dropped the show then.

Over-stuffed with characters, plot points, explanations and contrivances, all surrounding an item—Genesis—that has no limits or boundaries to what it can do, Dimension W was just the latest demonstration that more is usually not more. More is meh. Cavalierly throw too much crap and I stop caring—and I stopped caring long ago.


But I got this far, so yeah, let’s get this over with. The big crucial memory Kyouma needed Mira to go into his head and “trace his memories” (what does that even mean?) is that when he had a chance to save Miyabi with Genesis, he didn’t. Instead, he destroyed it, and she died, perhaps to save the world from a cataclyism that would have resulted from its use. It’s the classic “too powerful for anyone’s hands” concept.


Haruka Seameyer, the most horrendously irritating villain I’ve come across in a good long while, wants that Genesis coil bad, but along the way offers Loser a chance to come over to his side (what side that is, why, or why in God’s name Loser would agree to that are all beside the point). When Loser refuses, Seameyer attacks him with his weird and pointless “Sophia Corpse-Bot”, which can morph into Sophia’s original human form.

Seameyer then turns his attention on Mira, who after the tracing is trying to get as far away from Kyouma since her coil is going critical. He considers using her to make improvements to his body, but Kyouma shows up to rescue her and ruin Seameyer’s day (which I’m all for) by telling him Genesis is gone.

With the help of Loo, the siblings, etc., they unearth a “particle accelerator” coil to tie up Seameyer’s monster, because all these characters need something to do.


Seameyer fumes and screams a lot, but Kyouma tells him to chill; nothing that happened is pointless; after all, because Miyabi died he has Mira as a friend and partner.

He tells Seameyer to go willingly into the “sea of possibility”, because even his future may not be as bad as he imagines. Of course, it sure looks like Seameyer is being swallowed up into oblivion, so I’m not sure what Kyouma’s on about…but I get his point about Mira…and I’m glad he gets it.

With the expulsion of Seameyer and closing of the gate, the island returns to a state of stability, and flowers start to bloom. Everyone returns to their lives, which for Kyouma is continuing his collector work with Mira as his official full-time partner.

As per usual, the nice Kyouma/Mira stuff saved the episode. If nothing else, I enjoyed the evolution of their relationship and where it ended up. But this arc was hampered by some serious restraint and focus problems.



Dimension W – 11


With KK captured, Yuri neutralized, and Chrysler disabled by Loser, one would hope things would start to simplify towards the end, but this second-to-last episode does not comply with that hope.

Rather, it is very quickly descending into the anime version of tl;dr: tc;dc, or too complicated; don’t care. No one can say DW doesn’t have enough stuff going on in the frame, but the problem is so little of it matters; it’s all had a numbing effect on me.


I’m glad the surviving collectors are more or less working together now, or at least looking out for each other, but there are still way too many of them and I simply don’t care about the vast majority of them.

Another problem is that as our people draw closer to the story’s conclusion, the general nebulousness and wishy-washy technobabble-as-plot becomes more exposed and more problematic.


There’s plenty of cool imagery and action, but this episode was often choked with lengthy explanations from all sides. At some point it all kinda sounds the same and becomes a sparkly-yet-muddled mess.

The fact that Kyouma and Mira are able to enter and observe Loser’s memories of the events that led up to the calamity on the island lose a lot of their gravity due to the utterly boring, shallow, generic mad scientisty evil of Seameyer.


Seameyer’s evil and cruel for the sake of evil and cruelty, and it doesn’t elicit much more than an apathetic shrug. And we know even if he (and the giant robo-monster he somehow turned Sophia into…don’t even ask) are defeated, the bigger problem of what to do about the Genesis coil is the true conflict here. Seameyer is just taking up space.

But the thing is, Genesis is even more generic and nondescript as Seameyer. At least he has some semblance of a personality (he’s a dick); Genesis is naught but an all-powerful MacGuffin; a Holy Grail/God Machine that isn’t safe in anyone’s hands.

I regret to report that my enthusiasm for Dimension W, and my optimism for a strong finale, have dwindled significantly in this, the home stretch, but I’ll watch it to completion nonetheless.



Dimension W – 10


I was looking forward to watching Mira (with the help of the siblings) protect the unconscious Kyouma from the killbot, and she doesn’t disappoint, kicking some serious ass without even ripping her schoolgirl outfit. However, a blow from the robot sends her flying towards the void.

Unable to stop her momentum, she takes solace in knowing she was able to save Kyouma. But she isn’t shut down for more than a couple seconds, as now-awake Kyouma reels her out of the nothingness, then rewards her with a gentle head-pat, (channeling Working!!’s “Katanashi”). The kid did good!


From there, Dimension W, so in love with all of the characters it brought to the island, and all the various clashing objectives, gets a little over-stuffed, overwhelming, and unfocused, reminding us of the similarly kitchen-sink Haunted Mansion mess back in week four.

Don’t get me wrong: the idea of someone opposed to Prince Salva’s plan to recover the uber-coil hiring KK to eliminate anyone who gets near Ground Zero is a good, basic place to start, and I appreciate the fact that hiring a bunch of unpredictable indie mercs to do a job backfired badly on the arrogant prince like it should have.


But holy crap there’s a lot that happens really fast with no time to process any of it. Loo meets up with Kyouma and Mira. KK and the zombified Yuri go after Loo and the others. Loser and Ellie are confronted by Jason Chrysler. KK lures everyone to a room with an obviously collapsable floor, which eveyone then walks out on to and let it collapse below them.


I’m not done: KK has rigged an awful lot of stuff, and really did his homework; I know this because he talks at length about all of it while dealing with Kyouma & Co. He even “raised” the now-soulless (and two-headed) body of Kyouma’s old Grendel comrade Doug to fight him.

KK also sets up a mean remix of “Danse Macabre” (actually a pretty nice choice considering the talk of souls) to accompany the battle. Too bad the sound mixers messed up: the action and dialogue drown out music that should be on the same level. It’s part and parcel of the problem with the middle two-thirds of the episode: it’s shouting everything without caring if anyone’s listening.

Pacing issues abound: the fierce immediacy of the battle with Doug and KK is undone by Kyouma retreating into his head to regain more memories, building on his recent realization Adreastea were mostly concerned with space development through the perfection of a transporter system, much-maligned by horrible accidents but pressed forward by Seaymeyer. Oh yeah, that guy. Not enough villains!


Anywho, the episode ends strongly, with KK, who had been making others fight for him from afar, finally gets a taste of close-quarters combat with Kyouma. Kyouma spins into a rage after KK wastes Loo (or rather, Loo self-destructs before KK can shoot him in the head). The death hits close to home as Kyouma remembers his headless bride after her accident, is fully prepared to kill KK.

But he’s held back. At first, he thinks its Miyabi; always upbeat, optimistic, gentle and kind, not wanting Kyouma to lose anymore of his soul by murdering someone needlessly. But it’s not Miyabi, it’s Mira, who’s the same size and sounds very similar. Call it Mira saving Kyouma from himself, after saving him from that killbot (giving the episode’s bookends a nice symmetry).

The final twist at the end has a second Loo appear, apologizing for not telling Kyouma he has more than one body. I’m not sure why KK isn’t using his free hand to inject Kyouma with a lethal serum, but it looks like the situation is under control.

I’m glad Loo isn’t dead, but also miffed the show passed on the opportunity to whittle down the huge cast at least a little. I’m worried the last two episodes will continue the trend of vomiting out more and more plot and metaphysical technobabble. Prove me wrong, DW.



Dimension W – 09


I can’t say I fully grasp all of the metaphysical aspects of Dimension W, but as Kyouma delves deeper into Easter island, both he and I are getting the answers we wanted, and things are starting to make a tentative kind of sense.

Take the sudden confrontation with Loser. He’s not there to kill Kyouma, just stop him. Kyouma has no memories of went on there, so Loser feels he has no right to desecrate the ground where he lost his wife. Then one of those mysterious spheres appears and Kyouma makes contact with it, and passes out. We didn’t know until this week what happens next.


Kyouma wakes up to Al looming over them; he’s in a memory of training with Grendel. Then news comes of a revolt in the African Union, where Kyouma and Prince Salva’s lives overlap. War is official declared by the leader of the scientists rebelling against the New Tesla execs, a guy named Haruka Seameyer, who looks like a Bleach villain and demands “scientific freedom” to shape the world how he sees fit.

Prince Salva is set upon by an assassin, but Lasithi takes a bullet for him. When Salva orders the assassin killed, Lwai shows up right behind that assassin, and Salva ends up blasting both of them. Seameyer was there too; always present when “confusion” crops up.


Hell, we even get some Loser backstory, as a younger, strapping Julian Tyler—who has all of his skin!—is working at Central 61 (AKA Adrastea) with his wife Sophia (Ellie’s mom) when Seameyer starts his rebellion and makes Julian choose a side.

While not in one of those weird spheres like Kyouma or Salva, the place itself is filled with memories for Loser. Only when he reaches ground zero of the dimensional calamity, there is only nothingness. He presumes he still needs at least one more Numbers to proceed.


Kyouma continues reliving the past, and when he spots Mira for a moment sitting beside his dying wife Miyabi, he realizes he’s being made to relive his past, perhaps in order to get him to question the choices he made and the possibilities that resulted from those choices.

Seameyer reveals he is the energy sphere, and like Loser seems to think Kyouma is uniquely suited for this kind of dimensional speculation or some such. This is the harder shit to understand, but suffice it to say a ghostly Miyabi reassures Kyouma that his choices were sound, and to trust in himself and not let Seameyer push him around.


Back in the real world, Mira sees the picture of Miyabi, and remembers Mary telling her that her own body was once meant for Kyouma’s wife, which is why they have the same exact height, measurements, and shoe size. With this in mind, and knowing Kyouma can’t help but be reminded of his dead wife and what could have been every time he looks at her, Mira comes to an understanding with herself.

She may not be Miyabi, but she wants to be someone worthy of having the body meant for her. She also wants Kyouma to know he can rely on her. So when another killbot descends into the tunnels, and their escape is cut off by nothingness pocket, Mira resolves to protect Kyouma until he wakes up.

It’s the least she can do for someone who, however indirectly, was responsible for her being able to exist, and who despite his rough manner with her, has given her a chance to be a productive individual.