A.I.C.O.: Incarnation - The creation against the creator

A.I.C.O.: Incarnation

A.I.C.O.: Incarnation is an original Netflix series produced by Studio Bones and directed by Kazuya Murata. It was released on March 9, 2018, with all 12 episodes available for Netflix subscribers. The series belongs to the action and science fiction genres. Despite its original story, an adaptation into manga was announced and has been published since November of last year.

Netflix's substantial investment in the anime industry, involving not only acquiring streaming rights but also dubbing, has been widely reported. After careful consideration, I opted to review the Spanish-dubbed version. Any discrepancies in terminology are due to my viewing the Spanish version on Netflix. Without further delay, let's immerse ourselves in this futuristic world!


The Story

In the near future in Japan, in the year 2035, an accident occurs due to research on artificial life. Chaos ensues with the emergence of "malignant matter," and this incident is known as the "Burst." Our narrative unfolds two years after this event. Aico Tachibana attends a school near the hospital while continuing her rehabilitation. Everything takes a dramatic turn with the arrival of the exchange student, Yuuya Kanzaki. He discloses to her that her family is not dead, as she had been led to believe. Most importantly, she discovers that she is not the real Aico Tachibana. According to Yuuya, her brain is the real one, but her body is entirely composed of "artificial organisms."

According to Kanzaki's calculations, they have only seven days to reach the "Primary Point" and stop the "Burst." As the journey progresses, new truths are revealed, addressing significant questions such as: Who is Kanzaki really? Who or what is Aico? and What are Isazu's plans? All of these questions find their answers.

The Positives in A.I.C.O.: Incarnation

A.I.C.O.: Incarnation boasts several commendable aspects. To begin with, being an original Netflix series, all episodes were released simultaneously. This is the kind of narrative that captivates you from the first episode, leaving you eager to continue watching until the end. The prospect of having to wait a week for the next episode is, in fact, frustrating. I believe that if it had been released weekly, some viewers might have lost interest.

Another noteworthy aspect is the compactness of the story. The twelve episodes cover the narrative of events occurring over a total of seven days. Despite this, the series seamlessly delves into the past, explaining events from two years ago. In simple terms, the narrative used to convey the story is light and easy to follow. Throughout, viewers have a clear understanding of the timeline, with a distinct separation between the past and the present, facilitating their engagement.

While the idea of artificial intelligence has been extensively explored, A.I.C.O.: Incarnation seeks to reinvent the concept. It introduces an "artificial organism," where both the body and the brain of a human can be completely cloned. While this may sound futuristic and imaginative, Kanzaki's final explanation is compelling enough to overcome potential skepticism. Although it may not be the perfect explanation, it is convincing and contributes to understanding the origin of the problem. Perhaps what I appreciated most about this series is the abundance of ethical conflicts embedded in the actions of Isazu and Dr. Yura. Does the end always justify the means? How far does human hubris go when playing God?

A.I.C.O.: Incarnation Trailer

The Explanation in the Conclusion

Following the revelation about Aico's body and brain, various conflicts surface, primarily centered on the distinctions between the real and the created. The acknowledgment that Aico was false prompts contemplation. Despite possessing the ability to feel and reason, she isn't human. Her brain is artificial, crafted from synthetic organisms. Aico's creation achieves a level of "perfection" where she convincingly passes as human, despite being otherwise. This raises questions about what truly defines humanity and the nature of existence when one is essentially a copy.

For Aico, discovering that she had always been "false" and yet developed consciousness is a profound shock. This paradox sparks the question of whether this realization is what makes her inherently human. Initially, Yura's intention was to return the false Aico to the "malignant matter," thereby halting the "Burst." However, he undergoes a transformation, developing genuine feelings for her, leading to a shift in his objective. Saving Aico becomes his new purpose, encompassing both Aicos. In contrast, Isazu is solely driven to unravel the secrets within Aico's brain to awaken his daughter.

Yura elucidates the secrets behind Aico's brain creation. Employing an acceleration process and his newly developed technology called "dream contact," Aico Tachibana emerges. This technology essentially replicates brain functions based on sleep patterns, a convincing approach given that the brain is perpetually active, and its activity during the "sleep" stage is more observable. The importance of "dream contact" permeates the series, with Yura vigilantly monitoring the brain on every occasion. Only at the conclusion do we fully grasp the significance of this revolutionary technology.

The Downfalls of A.I.C.O.: Incarnation

While it's true that the story is captivating, it succumbs to predictability. By the midpoint of the series, you already have a fairly clear idea of what will unfold. While predictability isn't necessarily a flaw, in this case, it is considered a drawback. This is primarily because all the major revelations were handed to the audience through subtle hints. Consequently, when the "big truths" are finally unveiled, they no longer carry the same weight of significance or astonishment.

Another drawback of this series lies in its characters. Note that I'm not asserting that the characters are poorly crafted; in fact, they are quite well-developed. The issue, however, is their lack of substantial growth. Telling the story within just seven days serves the narrative well but doesn't allow for deep character exploration. To be straightforward, the series features strong characters, but they are overshadowed. Aico and Kanzaki take the spotlight as protagonists, to the extent that the names of other characters are easily forgotten.

What truly poses a problem is the Deus Ex Machina at the end. What does that mean? Right at the end, when we discover that Kanzaki aims to save both the false Aico and the real one, a "miracle" unfolds. The operation is successful, and the real Aico is saved. However, the false Aico doesn't reappear, leading everyone to assume she is dead. Yet, thanks to Gomita, the false Aico gets a new body and can continue living. This serves as our Deus Ex Machina! The resolution doesn't stem from Kanzaki's research but from the intervention of a living organism introduced into the plot solely to emphasize Aico's father.

Was the ending good or bad?

We might say it falls into an intermediate point, somewhere between good and bad. It's a positive conclusion because it definitively addresses the major issues presented. We witness a reconciliation between the false Aico and the real one, receive answers about what happens with Yuzuha and Isazu, and witness the successful rescue of Aico's mother and brother. There's also a final meeting with the false Aico, even though they are unaware of it. Despite the use of a Deus Ex Machina, at least the false Aico is saved in the end.

The downside of the series wasn't the ending, but one could expect more. As mentioned earlier, the series features strong characters that are not fully utilized. Unfortunately, this repeats with the ending, as we are given an epilogue showing what happened to the rest of the characters, but it feels incredibly incomplete. It's of no use to see them working on other things if the real questions remain unanswered. Several emotions are left unresolved, such as Kazuki's feelings for the false Aico. Since she survived, it would be logical to assume he didn't give up. Or maybe I'm the one who is mistaken? What happened between Kaede and Sagami? From what could be seen, there was a possibility of something developing between them. In fact, they promised to have a conversation, of which we will never know anything.

In the end, this series doesn't have a completely good or completely bad ending; I would say it's an incomplete ending. It can be overlooked, and we can accept it, but it doesn't remove the feeling that something is left unfinished. However, considering the duration and the time span in the story, honestly, we couldn't have asked for more.


A.I.C.O.: Incarnation is a series worth watching. The storyline is straightforward yet incorporates several original elements. The narrative unfolds at a captivating pace, making it easy to follow. It's an ideal series for a leisurely afternoon, providing a blend of emotions and an engaging journey. Despite some predictability in the plot, it manages to sustain interest. The simplicity of the story poses significant questions that will keep you contemplating, adding depth to the narrative.

In terms of animation, the series deserves accolades. The action scenes and more serene moments are portrayed with clarity. The depiction of the malignant matter is also noteworthy. The soundtrack complements each moment; although occasionally feeling a bit unusual, it generally integrates well. Both the opening and ending themes suit the series, even if you may not feel compelled to listen to them repeatedly.

As mentioned earlier, I watched the Spanish-dubbed version on Netflix for this review. I can attest that, while adjusting to dubbed voices may take some time, the adaptation is accurate, and the voice actors' performances are fitting. It worked well for me, given that I didn't watch it in the original language. In a direct comparison, I'd say it's a commendable dubbing.

For those who have already watched the anime, what are your thoughts? And for those who haven't, will you give it a chance? I'm eager to hear your opinions, and any recommendations are always appreciated. Feel free to leave your comments, and we'll be reading them until next time.

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