Beatless Ep. 2: Bait and switch

Boy, was this a boring episode or what? It has maybe two intriguing scenes. First, Arato’s friends find out about Lacia, and after looking into her details — i.e., her registration number, “behavior management cloud serial,” etc. — one of them tells our hero to get out while he still can. In other words, keeping the hIE around will just invite trouble. Unfortunately, there’s no follow-up to any of this. The foreboding warning just gets dropped completely. If Arato’s friends are so worried about him, you’d think they’d try a little harder to convince the guy, but we don’t see him interact with them again for the rest of the episode. Huh.

The same sort of thing happens again when Arato and Lacia visit his school at night to retrieve his tablet. She says something odd about how she’s the interface for him to connect through… to what? The wider world? Then she asks,”If you trust me, how do you plan to use me?” But after she says that, we jump instantly to the next day. We don’t get an answer to Lacia’s question. What happened afterwards? All we see is Arato giving Lacia a quizzical look. Did he just say nothing and then they went home?

Another problem I have is the abundance of poor storytelling throughout the episode. Here’s the issue with Arato’s friends going on and on about how Lacia is some advanced model that they’ve never seen before: we have no point of reference for this whatsoever. We’ve barely seen any of the supposedly normal hIEs and what they can and can’t do. As a result, we have no idea what’s special about Lacia aside from the fact that she can fight. This is really just bad storytelling. According to his friend, “a normal hIE costs as much as a car….” But this is the future. I have no idea how much a car costs in this particular future. Again, I haven’t been given a proper point of reference.

On the train, everyone stares at Arato and Lacia. Why? Does she look that odd? Is it the giant black “Monolith” thing? But why would they think it’s odd unless they somehow know that it’s a weapon? And if it was obviously a weapon, I doubt she would’ve been able to carry it onto the train. Other than its size, it looks relatively unremarkable. In fact, I wouldn’t have noticed it at all if Arato hadn’t pointed it out. This is bad visual storytelling. The same thing happens when she goes modeling. People in public just turn and gawk at her like they’ve never seen a pretty person before. What’s so special about her looks? Again, we have bad visual storytelling.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention how Lacia spends the majority of this week’s episode modeling in public. Why though? Of all the possible stories to tell about persecuted androids, why this? Who cares about this? And yet, I’m literally watching Lacia go through her modeling routine. Even worse is the fact that people are apparently easily manipulable idiots in the future. Oh my god, a pretty robot is walking down the street. Let’s follow her because…? This feels like such a bait and switch. I thought I was watching a sci-fi anime about androids and personhood. Instead, I get this. But I haven’t even gotten to the best part:

“…they can create security holes in a person’s subconscious.”

What…? The crowd suddenly divides itself in two equal groups to follow the models, and Asuna says it’s all due to the hIEs.

“We use them to hack society itself by spontaneously moving people.”

Dude… what? This must be some Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan form of capitalism. We literally hack your mind to make you buy useless junk!

Anyways, the second interesting scene occurs after the credits. Kengo is freaking out at his desk, but it’s not exactly clear what he’s doing or who he’s talking to. At the very least, it appears he’s tracking Lacia, and this causes Kouka to suddenly show up in his room. I’m sure she must be wondering what her “sister” has been up to. Shh, it’s modeling. Unfortunately, the episode ends there. Yep, two interesting scenes out of the entire thing. Otherwise, I got to watch Lacia prance around in an outfit that honestly didn’t look all that special.

Misc. notes & observations:

— Well, at least she’s covered up.

— Yep, I’m skipping that OP from here on out. It isn’t noteworthy.

— Lacia is as boring as I feared she’d be. She’s happy to model. She’s happy to cook food everyday. She escaped her prison and earned her freedom… and this is the life she chose for herself. Yay.

— According to Arato, hIEs can’t really disagree with their owners. Well, that’s problematic. There’s a lot of evil people in the world. God only knows what they subject their hIEs to.

— He also adds that he had no clue hIEs could laugh. Sounds like a feature that they should’ve added a long time ago if they wanted hIEs to do all of society’s emotional labor. I’m not even being sarcastic. How often do women have to deal with people telling them, “C’mon, smile! You’re too pretty not to smile!” You bet your ass that androids would be forced to put on a happy face no matter the circumstance.

— Arato: “When a girl asks you to have her, how can you say no?” Well…

— They treat these hIEs like pets. His friend says he should have reported the “lost” hIE to the police. But of course, Arato doesn’t want to give up his kitten. She’s just so adorable! And she can cook!

This is so interesting… can you just feel the excitement emanating from this post?

— Arato is obviously attached to Lacia already. He wants to hide the fact that his hIE is a top-of-the-line model. Obviously, people would come asking questions. But c’mon, Lacia literally broke out of a laboratory. You don’t think the people looking for her would be combing the media for her? Our governments can already do that now. If anything, this should be a breeze in the future.

— Ah, here we go. Not only his Arato’s absentee father infamous, he is also the “pioneer of hIE technology who developed the autonomous systems Matsuri and Mikoto.”

— Whenever an hIE needs to know how to perform a task, they just have to tap into the correct cloud, i.e. knowledge library. Want to be a secretary? Tap into the secretarial cloud! Want to model? Tap into the modeling company’s cloud!

— Asuna brags about how her company can gather up to 10,000 people at once due to their modeling stunts. That sounds potentially dangerous. I think you’re underselling it a bit, lady.

— Those hands slay me.

— This modeling scene just keeps going and going. Now there’s three of them! This is getting out of hand!

— All these people just dropped whatever they were doing to stop and cheer for a trio of modeling robots. I’m gobsmacked.

But he didn’t do anything.

— Trouble brews when some guy tries to grab Lacia in a store. But uh yeah, don’t worry at all. This job isn’t dangerous, Asuna tells Arato. They offer to surround Lacia with bodyguards, but since she’s already a sexy combat unit, that isn’t really necessary.

— Oh dear, my hot modeling robot still wants to be with me. Doki doki.

— Arato: “I might be your owner, but you belong to everyone now.” Literally NTR’d by society.

— Later, they stumble upon an incident where three individuals tried to kidnap an hIE. This just seems like an excuse for us to see some guy lash out at a police hIE. Lacia thus wonders if all her analog hacking will create enemies. I still find the idea of it ridiculous. Analog hacking… seriously?

— She almost looks a bit sinister here, doesn’t she? Like there’s something malicious lurking beneath that smiling facade.

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