What if, instead of the Demogorgon, the portal to the Upside Down in Stranger Things unleashed an unstoppable fungus that consumed anything and everything in its path? That’s a good way to describe the terrifying conceit in Netflix’s upcoming anime A.I.C.O. Incarnation, a series that trades the ‘80s in for the near-future.
Familiar anime imagery meets gritty, apocalyptic sci-fi in the series, which is set in a 2037 plagued by an artificial life-form that runs rampant. Called “Matter,” the strange life-form has spread throughout the now-quarantined Kurobe Gorge, where it originally erupted during some kind of science experiment.
The secret to stopping the bizarre new menace lies in the body of 15-year-old Aiko Tachibana, who lost her family in the initial “Burst.” She learns from new friend Yuya Kanzaki that her body is some kind of replica, and her actual body is back on ground zero. To stop the growing outbreak, she’ll have to travel to the source to put an end to the horrific entity before it consumes the world. Weird as heck? Yeah. Totally badass? Definitely.
Check out all of these features in Netflix’s lengthy teaser right here:
A.I.C.O. is billed as an original “bio science fiction.” Unlike many other anime out there, it isn’t adapted from a manga of any kind. It’s an original story that pulls together different elements from a slew of other manga and sci-fi stories.
The quarantine zone is reminiscent of Darker Than Black, as is the inevitable need to infiltrate it in order to solve the world’s problems. Matter itself looks a lot like the organic mulch we see in series like Knights of Sidonia or even Blue Gender.
The futuristic militarized society riffs on Ghost in the Shell with Tachikoma-looking tanks and armored teams of soldiers called “Divers.” These freelance soldiers “dive” into the quarantine zone, outfitted with high-tech weapons, in order to reclaim lost technology.
These Divers have battle armor outfitted with … roller skates?
Actually, that looks like a lot of fun. That is, until two of those guys get straight-up consumed by Matter, which is an overwhelming and grotesquely frightening growth that just squelches violently towards anything that moves, smothering the life out of it.
The teaser is mostly an action-packed sequence featuring some Divers fighting the Matter with shockingly little info about Aiko’s story.
Among the large catalogue of anime Netflix has scheduled for the next year, A.I.C.O. Incarnation looks to be one of the most promising. It’s directed by Kazuya Murata, who also did Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet and Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos.
A.I.C.O is produced by Bones, the anime studio behind worthwhile action series like Wolf’s Rain and Darker than Black, but also both widely beloved Fullmetal Alchemist anime adaptations and the more recently popularized My Hero Academia. So this new Netflix series will join quite the pedigree once it’s released.
Masahiko Minami, Hiroshi Ōsaka, and Toshihiro Kawamoto founded Bones studio after working at Sunrise, the studio that created Cowboy Bebop, InuYasha, and several Gundam series — which are among the biggest names out of the many “classic” anime series. The very first Bones project was the feature-length anime film Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door which continued the franchise phenomenon that’s largely considered the “gateway drug” of anime.
As a completely original production, A.I.C.O Incarnation will give anime fans something they can’t possibly expect. That alone makes it worth checking out.
12 episodes of A.I.C.O Incarnation will debut globally on Netflix sometime in spring 2018.