Otaku USA Magazine
ID-0 [Anime Review]

Mostly a sci-fi miss

Space is the place to be in ID-0, a 2017 3DCG TV anime with direction by Goro Taniguchi (Planetes, Maria the Virgin Witch) and animation by Sanzigen. Set in the distant future, in ID-0 humanity has begun exploring and colonizing deep space thanks to two technologies based on quantum entanglement: the Miguel Network, a vast section of charted space littered with relays that allow for instantaneous telecommunications as well as hyper-space navigation; and the Mind Trance system, a technology that allows people to project their personalities into robots known as I-Machines that can perform difficult and dangerous work in the unrelentingly hostile conditions of outer space. Both of these technologies owe their existence to a miraculous mineral known as Orichalt, and extracting Orichalt is the daily routine of Excavator Ido and the rest of the crew of the STULTI, a mining ship owned by Excavate Company, an independent organization that operates on the borders of legality.

After a run in with space pirates results in Maya Mikuri, a young woman studying to be an astrogeologist, being press-ganged into the crew of the STULTI, things take a turn for the strange for Maya and her new company of mighty space miners. Their most recent payload of Orichalt is deemed illegal by the United Planets Force, and the situation gets even weirder when a young human girl materializes from the heart of the soon-to-be-confiscated Orichalt crystal. The members of Excavate Company then find themselves fugitives from the law, pursued by superior forces and wrapped up in a galaxy-spanning conspiracy. Meanwhile, the brooding Ido is trapped in an I-Machine body, suffering from amnesia and seeking to recover his lost memories. The plot is further complicated by a mysterious, teleporting alien life-form that threatens to absorb all the Orichalt in the galaxy and in the process bring human civilization to a crashing halt.

If all of that sounds complicated and scattershot, that’s because it is. ID-0 has two main plotlines (one focusing on Ido and his missing memories, the other centering on the intergalactic threat of the alien life form Rajeev) as well as numerous subplots involving everything from human cloning to unethical scientific experimentation. Although the series manages to tie up most of the plot threads introduced in its scant 12-episode run-time, the story never really comes together in an emotionally satisfying way. Veteran screenwriter Yousuke Kuroda (who also worked on such hit series as My Hero Academia and Gundam Build Fighters) is credited with both the series composition and the scripts for ID-0, but the writing for the series just falls flat when it doesn’t come across as jumbled to the point of confusion. On the other hand, the mechanical designs by Fumihiro Katagai, Takayuki Yanase, and Takeshi Takakura are on point, creating a richly detailed setting filled with realistic spaceships, orbital colonies, and the humanoid robots known as I-Machines. The character animation by Sanzigen is strong, although some of the scenes involving I-Machines are choppy and some of the heavenly bodies encountered (such as the fields of asteroids) look low-res.

An original series with solid production values but a weak script and an inconsistent tone, ID-0 is currently available via online streaming as part of Netflix’s original anime programming. The series is published with multiple international dubs (English, French, German, and Spanish) as well as the original Japanese language with various subtitle options. Although it has some relatable characters and some interesting Trans-humanist themes, ID-0 never quite sticks the landing like earlier Sanzigen works. It lacks the humor and emotional nuance of Arpeggio of Blue Steel and the visual splendor and breath-taking action sequences of BBK/BRNK, ultimately giving off the impression of a passion project where the creators bit off more than they could chew. If you’re heavy into science fiction and you already have a Netflix subscription, there are worse ways to spend your time, but otherwise ID-0 is a hard sell to both casual anime fans and hardcore otaku alike.

Studio/company: Netflix
available: Now
rating: Not Rated

This story appears in the Spring 2018 issue of Anime USA Magazine. Click here to get a print copy.