By Gemma | 31 Mar 2018
A.I.C.O was licensed and released on Netflix exclusively in March of 2018, but still has a manga adaptation which runs monthly since November 2017. In typical Netflix fashion, the whole 12 episodes released all at once; instead of the one a week that we get with tradition animes and TV show releases. The opening theme song is sung by Japanese singer True, while the closing theme is actually performed by our lead character -- Aiko Tachibana.
This anime is set in the future, the year 2035 to be precise, where technology has clearly come a long way. During the first episode, we aren't fully sure what is happening, other than there appears to be a race of some sort to collect an item. There is also some monster like growth that is chasing the characters, which turns out to be an experiment gone wrong. People toyed with something they never should of and tried to experiment with, something that in most shows is seen as taboo and against their beliefs. They are toying with Artificial Intelligence (AI), specifically artificial brains. Which is already a big no. I mean come on, any robot film in history which contains AI goes wrong and tries to kill everyone. Why would people even attempt to do it when it's clearly a bad idea from the start I don't know. Luckily, the project is scrapped but there is one successful case of a young girl who was in a car accident and the only way to save her was to swap her brain with that of an artificial one. While also place her brain in an artificial body. All so that her body could heal without damaging her brain, and her brain would be fine and unharmed in the artificial body. The transfer goes fine but something goes wrong after, and the odd mass is formed. It spreads a huge distance and is a living organism attacking and killing anything in sight. See, AI is a bad thing, people. A.I.C.O stands for Artificial and Intelligent Cellular Organism, and conveniently enough our main character is called Aiko. The growth which is known as Matter is made up of synthetic organisms, and the event that caused this matter growth is known as the burst. The anime takes place 2 years after the burst and is all about trying to end the burst and finding out how it happened.
Aiko, our main character, is the girl who can end The Burst and who has an artificial body. My heart really goes out to Aiko, she's such a sweet and innocent girl with such a sad backstory -- she lost her family in The Burst. Aiko also keeps randomly passing out, not knowing why, while living in a hospital and having to go to school on the hospital grounds. She's very unaware of what she is or what was done to her, but does have brief glimpses through flashbacks and also in dreams showing what was done to her and her family. Only these just confuse her as she's unsure what it all means. Aiko is later told that what she sees is through her other body, which is rather strange as her other body doesn't really exist; I mean not fully anyway. As it's part of the matter. So when Aiko is told what happened and what they plan to do to end The Burst she happily goes along with the idea. She doesn't come to grips too well with being told she isn't real, but then who would? However, once she realises it's true she adapts very quickly and does what needs to be done.
Yuya is our other protagonist. He's peculiar, to say the least. I wasn't sure what to think of him. The way he acts and behaves is rather odd and I was just so unsure whether he was a nice guy or whether he was secretly a bad guy trying to trick her. As he transfers to the school and is simply there to tell Aiko about who and what she is, and how she can help save Japan. Now, this is where things get interesting, as a lot of things to do with Yuya are a mystery and become unravelled during the course of the series. Without going into detail, Yuya is a character who will definitely surprise you -- especially once you uncover all you can about him.
Every good show has its good characters and its downright villains. Well, Isadzu is definitely our villain. He is undoubtedly crazy, but it's more than that. As he was involved in the project which unwittingly caused The Burst, and so knows how it works. Isadzu also made copies of his daughter's body, but The Burst separates them. Isadzu's daughter has unfortunately been in a coma since she was little, and Isadzu wants Aiko for himself to conduct research on her to find out why she was a success. This is all so he can then place his daughter into a body and save her. Yes, this can be seen as a compassionate thing but he has been driven utterly mad and is no longer bothered about the rest of the world only himself, The Matter, and his daughter, and will do anything and kill anyone who tries to stop him; even if it means The Burst doesn't end or gets worse. Just as long as his daughter comes back it's fine in his eyes. He starts off not so bad but throughout the series he definitely becomes worse, until he just snaps and you see the pure craziness in how he looks and behaves. He just screams, "villain!"
There are of course plenty more characters in the anime, but what sort of person would I be to sit down and tell you about all of them, but I will ruin it. These characters are the ones I think will draw you in more. Of course, if you want to find out about the others, and how Aiko's story plays out, you're going to have to watch the anime yourself.
My opinion of A.I.C.O is "unique." The artwork is wonderful and beautifully done, and the music fits perfectly as well. The storyline, although starting off a little confusing, soon becomes understandable and even more enjoyable once you realise what you saw at the start. Learning and uncovering Aiko's and Yuya's stories is great and I love the mystery of it all. The twists it took, the things we uncovered, and the surprises we were granted throughout the anime I simply just loved and want to see more.
If you enjoy superhuman abilities, strange monsters with unbelievable abilities, a sad but sweet backstory, and even some mechanoid fun that isn't too overpowering, then I implore you to watch A.I.C.O. You won't be disappointed if you sit and watch this first season. Just grab a Netflix account, and watch.