ID: Invaded (Cert 18)
2 Discs DVD/Blu-ray (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 323 minutes approx.
“The Id is the instinctual component of personality that is present at birth, and is the source of bodily needs and wants, emotional impulses and desires, especially aggression”
In the future, the Mizuhanome System has been developed which allows specially trained detectives to enter the minds of criminals and explore their Id Well to determine who they are and their motives for committing murders. Akihito Narihisago is a top detective in this field, currently serving prison time for the murder of the man who killed his wife and daughter, though he is still called upon to assist in investigations.
Rookie detective Koharu Hondomachi is currently working in the real world on the case of a criminal nicknamed The Perforator, whose trademark is drilling holes in his victims, whilst Narihisago dives into The Perforator’s Id Well to seek his true identity. However, it seems there is more to this case as a mysterious figure named John Walker appears in every Id Well, and might be influencing the actions of these killers.
Take one part Ghost In The Shell, one part Paprika, one part of Psycho-Pass and a pinch of Summer Wars and you have ID: Invaded, an original anime series from the relatively new NAZ studio, formed in 2013. Like most high concept sci-fi, this is a reality bending series that requires full attention from the audience – blink, or doze off (as I did) and you will miss something crucial to that story and be left baffled.
Yes, this is one of those shows where the storylines are sinuous and involved, the script is full of psychobabble, and the animation startling and trippy. So much to enjoy if this is your bag, but as ever, no matter how inventive the concept may be it needs a sense of coherence to keep the audience invested. As I said above, I am guilty of watching this series when unintentionally sleepy so I may have missed some key points here and there, but writer Otaro Maijo also likes to throw everything into his stories.
As established above, the idea of being able to dip into a person’s head or subconscious isn’t entirely new, so this series has to work harder to avoid being seen as a clone of the titles that precede it. The Mizuhanome System is in fact a large chair in which the Well Diver is sat in and their minds are “Injected” into the Id Well by the Kura Department, a secret offshoot of the police.
Once inside an Id Well, Divers become new people with no memories of themselves; Narihisago is Sakadio “a brilliant detective”, this lone exposition triggered by the sight of a dead woman named Kaeru, whose role appears to be a visual clue as to what sort of devious mind they are dealing with. But, as we later learn, Kaeru was a real person, the last victim of a serial killer named Challenger, the same man Narihisago killed.
Referring back to the definition of the Id, the objective of the Divers is to ascertain the killing intent and desires of the criminal in their brains, where they are also likely to be confronted by a virtual manifestation of said killer. Meanwhile, in the real world, the agents searching for clues have a gun like device called a Wakumusubi which can read criminal intent in objects and locations (a’la Psycho-Pass) from fragments of DNA left on them.
So, this is very hi-tech, high concept stuff but what about the story? Admittedly, the first two episodes do a very clumsy job of introducing us to this world and the cast, instead opting to kick off with a mission for Sakaido and expecting us to be able to follow it with ease. Much of the backstory is revealed over ensuing episodes, so do stick with it no matter how dense the opening chapters are, it starts make a bit more sense as we go along.
From episode three to episode eight there is a nice mini-arc in which seemingly disparate investigations become intertwined, the culprit being more of a mystery as it progress. It puts as much focus on the Kura agents in the real world as it does Sakaido’s well dives, allowing us to get to know the plucky Koharu, the obligatory 23 year-old woman with the androgynous youthful looks. At the conclusion of this arc, Koharu is promoted to Well Diver, working independently and in tandem with Sakaido to discover the truth about John Walker.
With so much going on, and a cast of plenty – many of the Kura team don’t even get a name check – writer Maijo does his best to keep things moving in the hope people won’t have the time to recall the names, as the cod science and investigation breakdowns vie for our complete attention. That he did create a overarching storyline means Maijo gave this some serious thought, rather than throw together standalone adventures, whilst the scientific and psychological explorations do provoke some pondering.
Visually, this is a good looking show with nice fluid animation and detailed artwork, but, much like the derivative basis of the core premise, there are some motifs which are too close to the aforementioned similar titles – the Kura team are attired almost the same as the Psycho- Pass crew, Koharu’s short hair being an obvious target of similarity, whilst inside the Id Well owes a debt to Hosoda’s virtual world in Summer Wars.
Depending on how deep you like your existential sci-fi, I’m sure there is plenty about ID: Invaded to meet your requirements, more so if you can get past the palpable influences of older titles. Action fans should also find themselves well catered for too, but will have to contend with the mumbo jumbo of the script. It’s certainly a commendable title, but needs to be binged-watched, and maybe more than once, to get the best out of it.
English Language 5.1 DTS HD-MA
Japanese Language 2.0 DTS HD-MA
Disc 2 Only:
Inside The Minds And Staff and Cast of ID:INVADED
Textless Opening Song
Textless Closing Song
Rating – *** ½
Man In Black