Technology in ID INVADED is advanced enough that individuals can plumb the depths of another person’s mind. In doing so, they hope to better understand and thus capture serial killers on the loose. We jump right into an ongoing case involving a sick individual who likes to drill holes into people’s heads. Naturally, he’s called The Perforator. Alright, full stop. I find that more comical than menacing. I suppose when you don’t know the killer’s true identity, then it helps to use a code name. Nevertheless, the Perforator just sounds so silly. But that’s the thing about ID INVADED. Intentionally or not, its tone just doesn’t quite hit the mark… like, for example, our brilliant detective’s spiky anime hair. I would say that establishing the mood and atmosphere goes a long way in crafting a proper mystery narrative, and ID INVADED is just slightly off kilter. I’m not as immersed in the story as I would like to be.
Technology is also advanced enough in ID INVADED that a special team of investigators wield devices that allow them to detect a person’s intent to kill. How? Apparently, people leave behind cognition particles. Yeah, you read that right: cognition particles. And since these are discrete matter in the real world, of course they would interact with the real world. So we have our intrepid investigators saying shit like, “[Cognition particles] have been known to be carried on the wind from far-away crime scenes.” No, my suspension of disbelief hasn’t been shattered, but it’s close! It’s damn close! Especially when we get to how they actually manage to track down the killer. So what you gotta do is enter one of his victim’s minds. Then when the giant drill kills you, you should be able to catch the reflection off of it, then extrapolate the room size from that info, and the cross reference this with ALL of the basement size in blah blah known area. It’s nutty! But it’s fine. I mean, it’s no crazier than mahou shoujos so whatever.
(Side note: The Perforator’s initial escape felt like an homage to The Silence of the Lambs.)
But really, what truly bugs me about the first two episodes of ID INVADED isn’t so much the fantastical nature of its science fiction, but the clumsy way in which information — whether it’s about the technology that allows one to dive into a killer’s id or the killer’s own intent — is relayed to us. As Sakaido pieces together the killer’s fragmented mind, we cut away constantly to the peanut gallery in the real world. Every action he takes is punctuated by these nuggets of clumsy exposition. “The battle lasts until our brilliant detective solves the mystery of [the girl’s] death!” “Id wells are the human unconsciousness!” “Only someone who’s killed can enter a well!” “His worldview assumes people are broken and in pieces.” This bothers me because you have right there a blank canvas for the imagination and I’m not even using a metaphor. Our hero can literally enter a killer’s mind. He’s in one for the majority of the first two episodes, in fact! The story can use this conceit to visually portray any sort of information that it wants to convey to the user — and it does! — but we still have to do our “due diligence” and check in on Sakaido’s handlers. Ooh, what are their reactions? What do they think? I’m reminded of those Japanese variety shows where it’s not enough for me to see some gag play out on screen. I gotta know how these famous people on the side are reacting. Are they laughing too? I don’t want to laugh if they’re not laughing!
Eventually, Mr. Drilly is captured. Eventually, his latest victim is rescued… though she did voluntarily drill a hole in her own head. It looks like she might be one of the main characters, so one has to wonder if there are any lasting effects from her injury. The drill must have touched some grey matter, no? Well, we’ll find out eventually. If I had to guess, I doubt she’ll be very impacted. In narratives of this type, there tends to be an archetype who often serves as the moral compass. Sometimes, this is the hero, but sometimes, it’s not. Sometimes, the hero simply has a personal reason, and we’ll get to Sakaido’s case in a bit. In contrast, the peanut gallery have their marching orders. The bad guys are obviously bad guys. And in our short, diminutive, arguably innocent-looking Hondomachi, I think we have our moral compass that must always point true. It just won’t do if she ends up a bit loopy even after her recovery from the incident. But moving along…
In capturing Mr. Drilly in such a quick fashion, the narrative establishes right off the bat that he is just one of many. A serial killer in a sea of plenty… which makes sense, I suppose. A former FBI agent estimated that there might be 15 to 25 active serial killers on the lose in the US alone? Of course, that nature could be exaggerated. And of course, Japan is very different from the US. What ID INVADED hopes to accomplish, however, is an attempt to link these serial killers together. When Sakaido was busy trying to understand The Perforator’s fragmented mind, he came across a mysterious figure known only as John Walker. This guy is so bad, dank and evil that even The Perforator is afraid of him! He’s the mythical ur-serial-killer from which all other serial killers originate! Lest you think I’m joking, this is apparently the overarching thrust of the series. Y’see, this isn’t the first time that John Walker has appeared in a serial killer’s well, and at first, our investigators regarded him as nothing more than a side effect of the whole mind diving thingamajig. But after this latest encounter, they feel more confident than ever that perhaps John Walker truly is real, and not only that, he’s the one responsible for creating all of these serial killers that they’ve been pursuing. Amazing. Astounding. Unbelievable. But even so, that’s not personal enough. We have to make this personal. We need that human pathos to ground this story.
As a result, Sakaido isn’t just some random schmo who wants to capture bad guys. He’s trying to capture the bad guy who murdered his dear precious daughter. Just look at the way her photos are arranged on the wall, though. This not-so-subtle indication that our hero’s love is more like a serial killer’s obsession. He has his memories splayed out as he’s just as fragmented as the mind he had just left. As the show has clumsily explained to us, only a fucked up mind can truly enter a well for reasons that have not really been expounded upon. So in effect, Sakaido’s job is to stare into the abyss, and as the cliche goes, the abyss stares back. He’s not such a peach himself. We learn (through expository dialogue) that he has apparently driven five serial killers to commit suicide, which in effect makes him a serial killer. Is that justice? I’ve no room nor the desire to get into that here. But I guess the thesis is that the best way to hunt the ur-serial-killer is to become a serial killer yourself. I’m just not confident that the show and it’s slightly goofy tone will execute this idea. Call me prejudiced, but it’s hard for me to think that Mr. Spiky Anime Hair will be all that evil.