ID: Invaded – Anime Review
Synopsis: Sakaido is a genius detective who can track down any criminal. But when his daughter is murdered, revenge lands him on the other side of the law. Now in prison, he helps the police solve mysteries using a system that invades a person’s identity. Little by little, a trail of blood forms, and it all leads back to his daughter’s murderer. (Official Funimation Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: While ID: Invaded is a fun melding of a few different, more out-there, sci-fi concepts (think Minority Report crossed with Inception) it’s also a series that fails to truly come together. With only 13 episodes to flesh out its more original aspects, delve into its large cast of characters, and hammer through the overarching narrative, only one of those three elements feel’s fully realized and only just. This marks ID: Invaded, in my mind, as an interesting title but not exactly a memorable or high-quality one.
Linny: It is definitely hard to ignore how rushed and cramped ID: Invaded feels. The show is just begging to be told across 24-26 episodes as it plays with too many concepts and characters that aren’t given the time or foundation needed to blossom into a well realized and satisfying final product. ID: Invaded leaves sooo much of its various sci-fi elements under explained that they end up feeling like half baked concepts while the various characters get so little background and buildup that it becomes challenging to connect with or sympathize for any of them.
Tom: The characters are perhaps the series first, and perhaps most major failing. ID: Invaded opts for an ensemble cast, letting multiple characters drive the story at any given time. Narihisago, or Sakaido as he is also known, feels the most fleshed out. He’s a former cop turned murderer and used as the primary subject for diving into serial murderer’s ID wells, exploring their subconscious, and thus helping his law enforcement colleagues apprehend said killers. A problem crops up here thanks to the series’ core concept. When Narihisago dives into an ID well he becomes Sakaido, essentially a different persona near dissociated from his original identity, with no memory as to who he is. While a fun idea, it leaves little room to then explore Narihisago himself, or more particularly his emotionally charged past, which becomes a problem later when the series attempts to hammer home more emotional developments for his character. Since we get little opportunity to come to know him, and what made him the man he is today, he remains distant and scenes that should feel poignant or cathartic land flat. It doesn’t help that the story constantly shifts to other characters, like Momoki, the head of the investigation unit, or Hondomachi, a youthful but talented field investigator who also never quite get their due. Momoki takes a primary role in climatic events. He gives an emotional speech to cap off the series’ final confrontation, but again this also feels empty. Because Momoki has otherwise been so under-explored, not to mention his very relationship with the character he’s confronting developed near exclusively off-screen, it leaves audiences with non of the set up and all of what should be emotional pay off, but is instead just things happening to happen.
Linny: Besides the under-explored cast, the equally under explained gadgets and elements make ID: Invaded come off as more pseudo sci-fi than actual science fiction. So much is left unexplained that the show is constantly throwing in predicaments and then solutions to said predicaments all at the drop of hat. It’s never really explained how the id wells work and since id well machines are not a real life thing, the show can claim some made up term is misbehaving causing ‘made up term’ to happen and the viewer can’t go ‘that’s not possible’ because they have no real life or show based knowledge to debate it. Strong sci-fi writing tries to explain how things work, even if they’re made up, so that when something goes wrong, or a surprise happens viewers can look back and go “of course!” But here the viewer is reduced to a spoon fed baby, forced to accept whatever the show claims is happening and expected to feel whatever emotion it’s demanding without a proper logical foundation to back it all up. By leaving so much information up in the air, the creators are able to throw in whatever twist or obstacle he/they want but none of them feel particularly clever because there is no solid foundation or prior established knowledge for said reveal to shake up. Ultimately, this makes ID: Invaded’s story telling feel lazy and not at all convincing.
Tom: Things just sort of happen in ID: Invaded and you have to be prepared to just be along for the ride. There’s definitely places where it feels contrived, and your suspension of disbelief is challenged. Also, as much as the show teases mystery as part of the appeal, there isn’t much of any you can follow along with. As Linny said without giving audiences a conceptual understanding for how the ID well works, that makes any later surprises feel more like magic than technology run amok. The one aspect to the series that is a mystery is the identity of one John Walker. He’s teased as this kind of mastermind that’s somehow tied to all the other killers wrecking havoc. Yet this singular mystery as to John Walker’s identity is painfully disappointing, as most any viewer will have guessed it long before the series actually builds to the reveal.
Linny: Despite all my complaints, I have to admit that ID: Invaded did manage to impress me with one of its surprise reveals. It’s not something directly affecting the plot but rather makes you see one of the characters, Hondomachi, in a whole new light. When Hondomachi is given a promotion of sorts, we as the audience assume it is because her supervisor is impressed by her skills and talent. But when he reveals his actual reasoning, the promotion goes from a happy event to a dark development. It’s one of the few twists that actually feels like a true surprise. However, even then this revelation never leads to anything major. Despite its dark tone, Hondomachi seems mostly unaffected by it and continues to be more or less the same person she came off as from the very beginning of the show and ultimately adds more credence to my opinion that ID: Invaded has good ideas but lacks the solid follow up needed.
Tom: Ultimately ID: Invaded feels like the outline to a good story. We have the majority of the main plot successfully crammed into 13 episodes, but without room for character exploration or foreshadowing/ground work for the major sci-fi concepts and surprises the series has in store. If you’re fine just being along for the ride, don’t mind distant characters or sci-fi that operates more like lukewarm fantasy, then ID: Invaded is at least a fun trip in that regard. I think though that the series was begging for double the episode count and could have truly been something impressive if allowed to really spread its wings.
Linny: If you want well developed plot and characters, it feels like a guarantee that ID:Invaded isn’t the show for you. The one character that gets any kind of solid backstory is the pseudo protagonist, Narihisago and even his backstory is ultimately cliched, hollow and largely glossed over. He has the typical tragic anime protagonist backstory of having his entire family slaughtered by some villain and because we see so little truly warm and tender moments between him and his family, this backstory ends up feeling like nothing more than a trope injected for easy sympathy points. If you are an ‘ideas man’ meaning you feel greatly drawn to and impressed by high shooting concepts and ideas and enjoy seeing them being played with and don’t need them to be thoroughly established and explained to enjoy them, then ID:Invaded should be a great fit. The whole concept allows for interesting worlds and interactions and creative deductions and so long as you go in with tempered expectations, you might walk away entertained.
ID:Invaded is available for streaming, both subbed and dubbed via Funimation.