Friday, March 16, 2018

A.I.C.O. Incarnation (Season 1)

While looking at a list of new offerings from Netflix, I found A.I.C.O. Incarnation.  I tend to put off watching series, as it’s difficult for me to binge.  I don’t like leaving too late for work and I can’t always watch a full hour before leaving the house.  When I saw that A.I.C.O. was only 25 minutes per episode, I decided to give it a shot.

The story is about a young girl, Aiko, who is bound to a wheelchair.  We see her going through rehab and eventually learn that she was in an accident.  The story is set in 2035, several years after a scientific project went awry and created The Matter.  People called divers go in, but don’t always come back out.  Aiko is mourning the loss of her parents and her brother, who we learn were killed because of The Matter.

Aiko’s class gets a new transfer student, Yuya Kanzaki, in her class one day.  It’s odd, as there are two days left in class.  It turns out that this transfer student is there for Aiko.  He manages to escape with her and take her into a border zone, where she meets people that try to fill her in on her past.

I don’t really want to go into too much detail, as the revelations are what the show seems to have going for it, mostly.  There are fight scenes and some politics, but it’s mostly about Aiko and what she might really be.  There was very little character development.  In some ways, it almost came across like a soap opera.  The characters seemed to exist just t move the drama along, with Aiko being the ultimate McGuffin.

Each episode might have a few minor details doled out or might have one big bombshell.  Not much time is spent on each detail.  I almost expected some dramatic music to play, as something was revealed and the story just moved on.  For instance, it’s revealed that Aiko’s mother and brother might still be alive.  This serves mostly as motivation for Aiko to continue, but she won’t know if it’s the truth until she gets there.

We don’t really learn a lot about what The Matter is, other than it’s a collection of cells that goes after people.  (We do learn the origin, but not much else.)  Yuya has hired two teams to escort him and Aiko to the lab where it all began.  Their objective is called Primary Point, where Yuya believes he can eliminate The Matter.

The government isn’t so keen on this.  Yes, it kills people and there’s a risk of it spreading, but they feel that it’s worth studying.  Yuya’s motives for wanting to rid the world of The Matter are somewhat downplayed.  He does seem determined to get to Primary Point.

I’m not sure why this was made into a full season.  12 episodes at 25 minutes each is about five hours of material.  It seemed like there was a lot of filler that could have been left out.  It seems like the story would have been better served with a two-hour movie.  (It’s always seemed a little odd when a group has to go through a dangerous passage when going around it seems much easier.)

Speaking of which,  calling it a season (as opposed to a miniseries) implies that there’s going to be a second season.  With other shows, like Stranger Things and Dark, there’s at least one loose thread that would make way for something next year.  This story seems to wrap up nicely.

I would hope that the second season is a little better than the first.  I get the impression, with names like The Matter, the project may have been rushed to development.  If that is true, it would explain certain aspects that were lacking.  It’s possible that this story sets up something else entirely or that the writers might not have had anything specific in mind yet.  I am curious as to what a second season would look like.

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