A.I.C.O.: Incarnation – Episode 5: Memory & Episode 6: Awakening
Episode 5: Memory
Now that we’re getting closer to the midpoint of the show, some aspects of it are becoming a bit more solid in terms of execution. In episode 5 the divers enter Yanagawara Camp in K1 to regroup and resupply before the set on towards the next point. In this more quiet environment we finally get a little back-story for some of the divers. It is very obvious that Kazuki is trying to get closer to Aiko, even if he’s often interrupted by something else. This time, as they are alone and he asks about her, Kaede shows up and we get a glimpse as their very much opposite backgrounds. It’s definitely cliché to have a rich character who ran away from home face off with a character from an underprivileged abandonment situation, but well I thought the way it was handled here was acceptable.
This transition episode was very effective in getting me more interested in the characters. I enjoyed Shiraishi’s and Yuya’s interactions as they are eye-opening in terms of belief systems of the characters. Shiraishi uses words like taboo and sin as she discusses the Matter, she talks as if some superior being brought punishment upon them, but Yuya speaks like a man of science, he says whatever happened is nothing more than lack of proper knowledge of the reaction. I must also say that I strongly suspect since episode 3 that Yuya is some sort of Yura successor, like a clone or an AI or something, but well, I have to wait for it to be confirmed.
The mention of a past relationship between Kurose and Nanbara was pretty interesting, too. I’m getting more and more into the more political aspect of the show (partially because the action, although exciting, has become repetitive) and I’m also figuring out where exactly allegiances lay. It’s definitely interesting to see fairly defined factions and then characters that are secretly involved with one or another and then the ambiguous nature in which they act and relate to others. The ways in which Kurose, Isazu and Nanbara are making their moves to play off one another is exciting to watch and not as difficult to follow anymore since their contributions to the show are more of a focus now.
I have to say though that the biggest and most important event in this episode is the discovery of Gummi. First off, isn’t it like super cute? Secondly, it triggers a conversation between Aiko and Yuya that has been coming around for some time. She obviously doesn’t react well to being called a thing/system, but to me it’s obvious Yuya has very different ideas of what an ‘existence’ is in comparison to Aiko or say Shiraishi, who seemed appalled at the idea of what Yuya is planning to do with Aiko’s artificial body once everything is done. I really want to think one of the main themes of this show relates to the nature of a being and how we define a real being and a fake being, but I also think that so far it’s only been mentioned in passing as a underlying topics, so I’m hoping they’ll go back to it more strongly later on.
Either way the episode ends with two potential conflicts that we can look forward to: CAAC agents entering the Zone and a meeting in the hospital where Kurose gets accused of embezzling funds and breaching trust.
Episode 6: Awakening
I’m conflicted about how this episode starts because on the one hand I complained before about how easily the divers were dealing with everything that was thrown at them, but on the other hand, I am not happy with the way they decided to add some trouble to the mission. These guys are supposed to be the best and Kaede showing off frankly seems like a dumb reason for her to make a mistake, more after how efficient they have been shown to be, but well, it is what it is. The situation she created did allow for some more development to happen, but still.
My favorite part about this episode was that checkmate on Kurose. We get some hints with the meeting about his breach of trust that didn’t include him as well as that phone call between Nanbara and Dr. Isazu. I like it for two reasons: one, I can’t wait to see how he’s going to bounce back from that and two, the way in which their goals diverge was finally made clear to me. Maybe I had been overly dense before, but it seemed to me that both sides were interested in Aiko’s real body in the facility, but now I see that both Nanbara and Isazu want to give priority to artificial organism development.
Kurose finds out he got fired and he seems unfazed by the news. This should be suspicious to Isazu, but he’s too busy gloating. I must say that I find this trio very interesting because of the way they negotiate with each other. I like their tactics and how subtle they want to be but still hint at some power struggle. I’m also pretty curious about who the person Kurose is speaking on the phone to, sounds like a super haxxor!
There’s still a more shocking reveal in this episode and I must say nothing prepared me for it. Yuya helps Aiko get through Dream Contact with this machine that seems to track the thoughts her other body and brain send to her as dreams. Intermingled with Aiko’s thoughts and memories they also find memories that seem to belong to Dr. Isazu’s daughter Yuzuha. It was a pretty exciting twist because there was an allusion to him making some breakthrough discovery before and there’s also his unrelenting drive to bring Yuzuha back from the coma. Interestingly enough Yuya doesn’t seem very concerned by this, instead he’s more concerned with the fact that the other Aiko seems to be losing consciousness and that eliminates the possibility of the surgery. As they race against time, they are engaged by malignant matter and right after that the CAAC catches up to them. Quite a cliffhanger!
These two episodes have been the most exciting to watch so far and I’m definitely looking forward to finding out how they’ll get out of their bind now that the story has picked up a bit.