Parents' Guide to

A.I.C.O. Incarnation

By Mark Dolan, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Fast-paced anime series hobbled by weak lead character.

A.I.C.O. Incarnation Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 12+

Hope in a Hopeless world, in an oddball if effective story

AICO Incarnation unfortunately has a series of central problems working against it, and these are not small things. The first is the biggest, in that the situation 1/3 of the way through the Series is SO hopeless that one wonders if it is worth trying at all. The amount of danger that the heroes are in is constantly fluctuating in odd ways, going from impossible and overwhelming odds to 'Situation under control' in seconds, often times the characters not even taking things seriously! And lastly, there are human antagonists whom are working to prevent the undoing of the apacalypse, but their reasons are not convincing or compelling. Now, if you can look past that, it does tell an overall entertaining adventure story with likeable, if thin, characters, with solid artwork and good scene-to-scene momentum, but I could not shake the feeling that this was an 8-episode series stretched out unnecessarily to 12. Semi-recommended, and okay for teenagers, as the violence/gore is largely abstract and there's no Fanservice.
age 13+

A solid sci-fi that tackles big questions about humanity, honesty, and self-sacrifice

A.I.C.O. is a very interesting short sci-fi series which follows Aiko, a high school girl, and her various protectors as they attempt to break through a dangerous area to reach a research facility in hopes of reversing the 'Burst' - a bio-matter disaster that has overtaken part of Japan, killed many people, and threatens the world. Contrary to the staff review, Aiko is not a weak character and towards the end must make some very difficult choices. Her role on the team is passive (as her #1 priority is to reach the end-point alive - if she dies, the mission fails) but she herself is not comfortable with this as she wants to help. She finds where she can contribute to the team both to give a morale boost and to protect the others, without resorting to the common trope of trying to do things on her own or refusing protection and just making things worse. The series points out on several occasions that 'strength' is not measured by how many lumps of malignant matter one can kill, but has more to do with character, goals, and watching the back of your teammates rather than trying to show off your own skills. The other main character, Kazaki, also has an interesting arc as he starts as a basic aloof military boy trope (e.g. Heero from Gundam Wing, Sousuke from Full Metal Panic) but turns out to be far more complex with warring motives and feelings of his own. Overall the series is intriguing and would be good for many discussions on life, humanity, purpose, science, etc. The downside is the plot is a bit overly complicated so this is not a good 'intro' to sci-fi - you have to be able to connect dots to follow it, and the cast is a bit overly bloated. Even minor side characters are well developed with motivations and backstories which avoids stock tropes but can leave the feeling that one is missing some unexpressed history. Some sci-fi elements repeat several times (the matter has mutated! It's a new form! The matter is recovering faster than normal! etc.) however there are at least stated reasons for the sudden new forms/mutations/activity that are eventually explained. (Also, the English Dub on Netflix for this is really stilted.)

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3):
Kids say (4):

Fast-moving and full of interesting sci-fi concepts, this anime series certainly keeps your attention with intense battle scenes and rapid-fire dialogue, but little attention is put toward characterization. Aiko, in particular, is disappointing -- she barely does anything more than simper and act confused about the situation around her. The English language vocalization of her role doesn't help, either. It's so high-pitched and cartoonish that the character winds up sounding like a cross between Snow White and Glinda the Good Witch. It's really too bad, since Aiko is the central character whose very existence sets the story in motion. But she has no agency of her own and events simply happen to her or around her. She's mostly just along for the ride -- an observer, barely participating in her own story. But there's still a bit of fun to be had following the wild plotlines of A.I.C.O. Incarnation; just don't expect much depth.

TV Details

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